In Linux Mint 17, I was testing the printing speed of the default ttys versus the speed of a mate-terminal running on Xorg.

To test the speeds, I generated a random file:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=randomfile bs=1M count=2

And ran the following as a method of testing the time:

/usr/bin/time -o outputfile cat randomfile

The time for printing in mate-terminal is consistently lower than the time for printing in any tty. The real time elapsed is about 5 seconds on average (1% CPU) for mate-terminal, and 30 seconds on average (99% CPU) for the tty consoles. This seems unintuitive for me, considering the extra work that the graphical components have to do to render the text.

Does this have to do with some type of acceleration or buffering? Or is not all the text actually being rendered by Xorg? Is there some way to speed up the tty consoles to be equal or faster than mate-terminal (perhaps the way the text is buffered and written is different, and could be configured differently)?

  • 1
    This is highly dependent upon whether you're using BIOS video mode selection, kernel mode setting, or framebuffer (and then which framebuffer).
    – phemmer
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


Most terminal emulators will not render all the text when there's a lot of output in a short time; they will skip data to save time. E.g. rxvt has the -ss option for "skip scrolling" (multiple screens per refresh) and -j for "jump scrolling" (multiple lines per refresh).

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