Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CMD.EXE Is 32 Times Slower Than Gnome-Terminal!

Linux has an abundance of excellent terminal applications. Since I use the command line a lot, I want text output that is as fast as possible. Interestingly, I did not ever manage to find any decent comparison of their effectiveness in terms of speed, memory consumption and ease of use. And I was of the opinion that the ubiquitous xterm was a likely candidate for a terminal with less memory footprint. Well I couldn't have been further from the truth.

Martin Ankerl benchmarked a number of terminals available in Linux including xterm, gnome-terminal, KDE konsole, wterm, eterm and aterm. He even included MS Windows' CMD.EXE for comprehensive comparison. Well, his results surprised me a lot. The two most weird facts are:
  • CMD.EXE is almost 32 times slower than gnome-terminal! (OMG...)
  • Xterm which is probably the most widely used terminal, is also the slowest one
And his findings indicate gnome-terminal and konsole as the best choice of terminals for its speed. And by speed I mean the speed of execution of commands in it and not the program's startup time. But the down side is that these two terminals consume a significant amount of memory. For example, Gnome-terminal is found to consume around 45 MB.

Martin states that he found wterm as the best bet for a low memory footprint with just 6.5 MB consumption. And it is sufficiently fast in executing. xterm loses in this department too with each instance consuming around 16 MB.

Take a look at full benchmark details.

For the impatient here is the brief conclusion:
  • If you want speed, use gnome-terminal or konsole.
  • If you are low on memory, use wterm, rxvt, or Eterm.
  • xterm is slow.

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