What distinguishes kitty from the vast majority of terminal emulators? It offers GPU-acceleration combined with a wide feature set. It’s targeted at power keyboard users. It’s billed as a modern, hackable, featureful, OpenGL based terminal emulator.

What are the advantages of hardware-accelerated terminal emulators? Is it speed? How you notice that in daily command execution? Classic terminals seem not too slow, the bottleneck is mostly the human typing.

1 Answer 1


They can potentially be faster at outputting and refreshing vast amounts of information. It could also allow for smooth(er) scrolling. Human beings however are quite slow at reading this information, so I'm kinda doubtful this can be beneficial - the average person is unlikely to be able to comprehend it anyways. CPU usage could be lower but it needs to be tested.

At the same time such terminals are eating your VRAM which could be an issue for users who have little VRAM or VRAM stored in RAM (users with integrated graphics).

One way to measure performance is to generate or find a very large text file and measure the time and CPU time it takes to output it.

$ cat bigfile > /dev/null # cache it
$ time cat bigfile

Could be enough. I don't have terminals with HW acceleration, so I cannot test it.

I've just installed kitty.

XFCE4 Terminal:

real    0m1.760s
user    0m0.000s
sys     0m0.342s


real    0m1.007s
user    0m0.000s
sys     0m0.282s

That's for a 41MB file with over 700K lines:

$ wc -l test.txt 
751900 test.txt

In both cases you barely can see or read anything on the screen.

  • 2
    There's a couple of hints here: sw.kovidgoyal.net/kitty. Specifically, "Offloads rendering to the GPU for lower system load and buttery smooth scrolling." and the fact that the terminal supports graphics. That could be making the use of the GPU worthwhile.
    – terdon
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 17:07
  • 1
    After playing with kitty for a few minutes I've uninstalled it. It doesn't properly support bitmap fonts like Terminus (which is IMO the best ever for terminals), it doesn't have a scrollbar (probably I've overlooked it but nothing in man kitty.conf indicates it can be enabled). I mean what's the point of outputting large amounts of info if you cannot scroll it with a fast enough speed? Page + Up and Down are extremely slow. XFCE4 Terminal/Konsole both have scrollbars which make scrolling a breeze. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 17:23
  • Huh. Well, there's no accounting for taste :) I never use the terminal's scrollbar.
    – terdon
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 17:48
  • OK, then, kitty is all for you then. It doesn't even support it. :-D Granted I've used the scrollbar maybe a couple times in my entire life. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 18:01

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