How do I change the "default working" directory of terminal applications in RHEL6 ?

Solution Unverified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  • GNOME Desktop Environment
  • K Desktop Environment (KDE)


  • In GNOME Desktop, when user right-click on his desktop and select "Open in Terminal", a new gnome-terminal process starts default in ~/Desktop directory.

  • Similarly in KDE, when trying to launch Terminal Applications (eg: gnome-terminal, konsole or xterm) from Application --> System --> konsole/terminal menu, the default working directory is ~/Documents.

  • How to change the default working directory of Terminal Applications to ~/ instead of ~/Desktop or ~/Documents directory ?


GNOME Desktop :-

  • Use gconftool-2 to make Open in Terminal start in ~/ or $HOME instead of ~/Desktop. This can be done per-user and the global default can also be changed.

    • As a user, run following command to change the behavior immediately:
    $ gconftool-2 --set --type=bool /apps/nautilus-open-terminal/desktop_opens_home_dir true
    • As root, run below command to set the default behavior, which will be source when new users first log in:
    # gconftool-2 --direct --config-source xml:readwrite:/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults --set --type=bool /apps/nautilus-open-terminal/desktop_opens_home_dir true

KDE :-

  • It's a KDE feature that terminal applications launched from Menu items or from krunner default start into $HOME/Documents directory.


  • For konsole

    • Specify ~/ or $HOME as the default working directory in Konsole's profile for individual user:

      Open konsole > Settings > Edit current profile >  In General tab specify the default directory path  in "Initial directory" section. > Click Ok
    • Change the system wide setting for Konsole by specifying ~/ or $HOME as the startup working directory in konsole.desktop file.

      • Edit /usr/share/applications/kde4/konsole.desktop file and add "--workdir $HOME" option to "Exec=konsole":
      # vim /usr/share/applications/kde4/konsole.desktop
      [Desktop Entry]
      Exec=konsole --workdir $HOME      <<---------
  • For gnome-terminal

    • Edit /usr/share/applications/gnome-terminal.desktop file and add "--working-directory=$HOME" option to "Exec=gnome-terminal":

      # vim /usr/share/applications/gnome-terminal.desktop
      Exec=gnome-terminal --working-directory=$HOME   <<------
  • For xterm

    • xterm does not have such config variable to change default working directory in it's configuration file.

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