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What short comings can I expect from this mode, and what are some use cases for which I should really prefer my operating system's terminal emulator?

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I use ansi-term almost exclusively, so I would say "almost".

Speed is your main concern -- anything which rapidly generates large amounts of output is going to cause some pain, as Emacs won't keep up with it. If I know I'm about to issue such a shell command, I pull up a dedicated terminal emulator.

If you're using Emacs 24 then https://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/AnsiTermHints#bidi can cause awful slow-downs in certain situations.

Emacs commands can potentially put the buffer in an inconsistent state, which is confusing at best. You might find https://emacs.stackexchange.com/a/17086 helpful.

  • This one is a bit tangential, but if you're making regular use of term then you may also find the following idea useful as well: emacs.stackexchange.com/a/18678 – phils Dec 22 '16 at 8:32
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This is a helpful overview of ways to use the various shells and terminals in emacs. I use eshell for most things (here's my config for eshell) if you care to take a look. But as the other answer notes, if you're going to be dumping a lot of text in a terminal, emacs will likely be too slow.

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