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I would like to know as a new Mac user if anyone has any idea why scrolling or moving the cursor in the terminal is so slow.

It may be common to Mac apps but I use the terminal more. Even installing and running builtin commands at the terminal seem sluggish. Is the Unix environment native to Mac OS X or are the tools and utilities just ported to the Mac.

It definitely isn't a resource shortage because I am running 4G RAM and it is a 2.1 Core 2 Duo processor so I would imagine the command line apps at the very least shouldn't seem sluggish.

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That's very strange in mine run as fast as strolling anything else. Mac OSX is UNIX at the core, so no "porting" or anything. Many of the utilities come directly from some UNIX branch, some other are taken from gnu. –  OscarRyz Sep 8 '10 at 20:13
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OS X is a dialect of Unix. The utilities are ported to OS X to the same extent (roughly speaking) as they are in any dialect of Unix or Linux. I would say that something isn't working correctly, but without more information there's no way to diagnose it. I've always found OS X to be very responsive both in a terminal and in the GUI. –  Dennis Williamson Sep 8 '10 at 21:03

2 Answers 2

Are you scrolling and cursor-positioning by holding down the arrow keys and relying on automatic key repeat? If so, then the problem may simply be your key repeat rate. You can adjust that in the Keyboard panel of System Preferences.

If you already have your Key Repeat Rate and Delay Before Repeat set to their fastest settings, then you may want to think about tweaking them manually using this trick that was posted on StackOverflow: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/171326/how-can-i-increase-the-key-repeat-rate-beyond-the-oss-limit/429465#429465

You might also want to turn off Smooth Scrolling in the Appearance panel of System Preferences, in case that's slowing you down.

It would also be interesting to compare Mac OS X's built-in Terminal.app to other terminal emulators on Mac OS X, such as iTerm, or xterm in the built-in X11 environment, or even Single User Mode (hold down Cmd-S at boot until you get a shell prompt) to see how those other emulators compare for the speed issues you're talking about.

Once upon a time, Terminal.app was a bit slow when dumping tons of text to the window like cat'ing a huge file, because it insisted on drawing every character to the screen no matter how far behind it was getting on outputting the queued text, and it was taking too long to draw proper antialiased glyphs for every character. I haven't seen that be a problem in years and years though.

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An answer on another question suggested it might be the font or the version of vim. But the key-repeat setting ended up being the solution for me. I guess it somehow got set faster on my previous mac. –  DragonFax May 31 '12 at 14:35

maybe you can clean up your terminal logs

sudo rm -rf /private/var/log/asl/*.asl

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