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Virtual terminal

Virtual terminal

(also VT, terminal emulator)

Virtual terminal definition

A virtual terminal is a text-based interface within a graphical user interface (GUI) or another program that enables users to access a computer or server. Virtual terminals essentially replicate the functionality of hardware terminals without the need for physical devices. So, the process usually occurs remotely over a network connection. A virtual terminal has a command-line interface (CLI) and uses protocols such as SSH or Telnet so two different operating systems can communicate. Users usually use virtual terminals alongside operating systems like Unix, Linux, and Windows for system administration tasks, running command-line tools, and managing servers. In e-commerce, a virtual terminal refers to the software that processes card payments.

See also: graphical user interface, network security protocols

Virtual terminal examples

  • PuTTY. An open-source software initially created for Windows that provides network tools for secure remote access and file transfers through protocols such as SSH and Telnet.
  • SecureCRT. A commercial emulator that supports several network protocols, including Rlogin, SSH, and Telnet.
  • Tera Term. An open-sourced, free terminal emulator that works on Windows and supports SSH, Telnet, and other protocols.
  • iTerm2. An open-sourced, free emulator that is designed for macOS, supporting a line of network protocols.

Virtual terminal benefits

  • Convenient access and management of systems and networks from anywhere.
  • Can be integrated with other software applications and tools, such as code editors.
  • Help businesses reduce maintenance costs because they don’t require physical terminals.
  • Increase productivity by allowing more efficient work and remote access to data.
  • Allow users to open several terminal sessions in one tab and manage multiple terminal sessions at once.
  • May offer customizable services, such as configuring the terminal window size, font, and keyboard shortcuts.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security