I'm on an atom-powered (read: under-powered) netbook, which is nevertheless sufficient for most of my needs (it has good graphical acceleration for videos and 2D graphics such as the browser, and terminal operations with sh are inherently quite fast).

The biggest pain point of the setup is that all gtk-based terminal emulators seem to be really slow (scrolling is slow, and I need scrolling for reading man pages--it really sucks when you can't go RTFM properly).

xterm and konsole are fast. (Tty's are the fastest but sometimes I want a terminal next to a browser window.) On the other hand, gtk-based terminals integrate better with MATE (I tried gnome-terminal, guake, mate-terminal and a couple of others and they all scroll slow compared to konsole and xterm, which both scroll fluidly).

What could be the cause of the speed difference and could gtk-based terminals be made as fast as xterm or konsole?

  • What fonts are you using on all of these terminals? Bitmap fonts can only be used decently at the size they were designed for and lack antialiasing (which can either be a boon or a curse), but they can be significantly faster. Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 22:13
  • I don't think gnome-terminal is slow at all. Could you please be much more specific? Which versions, and which version of the underlying vte library? What font, what font size, what window size? What are you exactly doing inside? What's your experience? Is it drawing slowly, or is the keyboard rate slow, or what exactly?
    – egmont
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 22:02
  • Note: gnome-terminal used to be very slow (and mate-terminal probably still is) when suddenly producing tons of output (e.g. cat'ing a giant file). But you mentioning you want to read manuals is probably a different case.
    – egmont
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


It depends on how terminal works, really. Some terminals aim to be lightweight, others do not. Some features require more overhead which can have visible impact(this is what you've encountered).

You may want to look for lightweight terminal emulators, try out few and pick the one that fits you best. I've personally used Sakura nad Terminator, both of which were satisfying and lightweight. However, since I've never had a speed problem, you might want something faster.

Generally, don't limit yourself to one terminal emulator - try out few and see which one fits you best.

Still, if you're really inclined, you might want to read this question. You can find good explanation there.

  • 1
    Thanks. The link answer the question by explaining why konsole is faster. I hadn't tried Sakura and Terminator so I did and they're both slow. But I either konsole or xterm+tmux coupled with a keyboard shortcut to bring the latest instance to the front is enough for me. Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 11:26

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