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GNOME Bug GUI Graphics Ubuntu Games Linux

GNOME Shell Hurts Gaming Performance 232

An anonymous reader writes "According to recent benchmarks by Phoronix, using the GNOME Shell will cause a large performance hit when running OpenGL games on Linux. Using Unity and GNOME Shell are also hitting various bugs in the open-source drivers."
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GNOME Shell Hurts Gaming Performance

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  • by notsoclever ( 748131 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @02:15AM (#36316668) Journal
    GNOME shell exposes performance issues and driver bugs, which in principle means that those performance issues and driver bugs will (hopefully) be fixed, making the drivers more robust and performant down the road. How's this a problem?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yep. Anything that bugs out on you and doesn't work is actually A Good Thing (tm). Those who disagree run Windows.

    • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @02:44AM (#36316812) Homepage
      There's no problem at all, unless of course someone would go ahead and make this the default setting for the most popular and visible Linux distribution for non-techies out there today. But why would someone put together a hack like this and release before it's stable.
      • There's no problem at all, unless of course someone would go ahead and make this the default setting for the most popular and visible Linux distribution for non-techies out there today. But why would someone put together a hack like this and release before it's stable.

        ::Sigh:: Well, perhaps its due to the fact that this "unstable" hack is not a long term support release. If any other OS Vendor released every 6 months you may find the same situation for the newest releases -- Even with infrequent OS releases what's the saying? "Wait till service pack 1 before you upgrade."

        There are no doubt "non-techies" that accidentally installed an operating system that was not as stable as they would like.

        For this I can make no excuse. If only it were noted somewhere prominently on the download page: "...long-term support (LTS) releases are supported for three years on the desktop. Perfect for organizations that need more stability..." -- Perhaps it would be best to place such text right next to the download options [ubuntu.com], near the giant "Start Download" button.

        If only there were several ways to try out the operating system before installing it, as well as step by step instructions on how to do so; Perhaps these should go on the download page as well?

        Alas, What fools they are! If only they were even more user friendly! Or -- Perhaps they've made it too easy to upgrade. MS wouldn't think of having a single button + admin password upgrade feature... I bet they don't have this problem on Windows.

        • Well, Ubuntu does have some failings. IIRC, their upgrade process just tells you that there's a new version of Ubuntu, not whether it's LTS or unstable. (And yes, after 11.04 I won't assume that "release" means "well-tested and stable".) The download page gives you everything you need to make up your mind but the upgrade screen implies a simple "newer = better" relationship.
        • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @08:24AM (#36318364)

          If only it were noted somewhere prominently on the download page: "...long-term support (LTS) releases are supported for three years on the desktop. Perfect for organizations that need more stability..." -- Perhaps it would be best to place such text right next to the download options [ubuntu.com], near the giant "Start Download" button.

          If only they went the extra mile and made the giant "Start Download" button default to LTS. If only they warned people that, in Ubuntuspeak, "Latest" meant "Unstable" and "Long Term" meant "anything after six months" and "Support" meant security bug fixes rather than any application updates. If only they hadn't got the reputation as "the Linux for the rest of us" which lets them lead potential "switchers" up the garden path. If only Linux devs were as good at designing GUIs as they are at writing solid systems stuff. If only they'd finish playing (GUI) catch-up with OSX 10.2 and Windows XP before they tried to play catch-up with iOS and Android. If only Linux GUIs didn't still feel like a cargo-cult mishmash of eye-candy ideas from Mac and Windows thrown together by nerds who only ever use a GUI to run 6 copies of vim side-by-side.

          Linux in general has a major problem with its model: the only user-friendly way of installing applications is via the distribution repositories, forcing such people to upgrade their entire OS when they just want to upgrade one application (unless they're lucky and someone backports it). Techies see only openness (I wouldn't run a server on anything else, and I usually end up building all the server-side software from tarballs anyway), but non-techies see a garden with even higher walls than an iPad.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by bky1701 ( 979071 )
      Oh, I've got to remember that one. "Oh, sorry I crashed your car, but hey- you should thank me for proving it couldn't stop that fast! Hopefully, you'll buy a better one next time."

      You do realize this is why people don't take open source seriously, right?
  • ...and I have noticed some weirdness here. It seems like KWin disables desktop effects on fullscreen windows, yet disabling them entirely (there's a hotkey to toggle it) has a huge impact on the performance of most things (like games) that use the GPU.

    • Disable thumbnails in desktop effects. This was what used to kill full-screen windows. While it usually do not impact performance of kwin, it seems for some reason to impact performance of apps with many updates per second.

      Btw. Do not disable deskop effects on nvidia GPU with the proprietary driver. Disabling effects on nvidia will make graphics slower and use more power. The problem is the nvidia has terrible 2D performance, the composer uses XGL which is heavily optimized in the nvidia driver.

  • Seems a shame not to test Intel seeing as they go to the trouble of producing open drivers.

    Intel might not be your first choice if gaming was the primary function for your computer, but then Linux probably wouldn't be either.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:04AM (#36316902) Homepage
    Not that long ago I had to actually make a decision as to which window manager to use based on the features they supported. However, over the last three years, I've watched both Gnome and KDE go from stable to hacked together pieces of crap that barely run. I stayed on KDE3 for a very long time after 4 was released, because, as has become common, it was released completely unfinished. However I was forced to upgrade because almost no distro supports KDE3 anymore.

    Well, that was great! Almost every feature I used either gone or mangled. It can no longer render windows properly, causes video playback to jump and freeze, and is now almost entirely unusable with my new video card. Gnome is even worse.

    So, as a strong proponent of open source software, I am really dismayed. I can't even use Linux anymore because no window manager works right with my ATI card, and even before that, were barely usable (older Nvidia) without glitches. How am I supposed to advocate that others use it if I can't?

    I think Linux needs a complete change in focus and methodology, or it is going to end up losing what little market share it has. It is time to stop trying to copy Apple UIs and time to start worrying about stability. This whole batch of project managers has failed us - we need mass forks of major projects.

    But then, what do I know? I'm a windows user, again...
    • Well I'm running KDE 4.6.0 to my full satisfaction! Everything works as it should, it has a lot of features and it looks good. Seriously, I'm turning into a fanboy over here...
      • Me too; funnily enough, I've set it up rather like Unity with a vertical hybrid task-manager-with-launchers. Being KDE, though, it's easily malleable to new whims and needs. Plasma is a bit of a assemble-your-own-desktop kit. And I love Kmail and Knode, Kate, K3b, and Dolphin. It looked like a gutted toy version of Konqueror at first, but it can easily be set up as an informative but uncluttered and elegant file manager.

        But I did disable Nepomuk/Strigi and the fairly puzzling aggregating notification syste
    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:23AM (#36316980) Journal

      [all WMs seem to suck now...]

      Use FVWM :)

      I think Linux needs a complete change in focus and methodology, or it is going to end up losing what little market share it has. It is time to stop trying to copy Apple UIs and time to start worrying about stability.

      I wholeheartedly agree (caveats below). The obsession with copying interfaces is getting really annoying now. Back in the day when Win9X seemed to be the thing to copy, I could afford a Windows machine (in fact I had a partition then), but I preferred the unixy UI that Linux had. I found creeping windows-isms an unpleasant change. Now Apple seems to be the thing to copy. I can afford to buy an Apple if I want one, but I don't. I prefer the user interfaces that Linux has available, and so I find the creeping appleism's really annoying.

      It also comes with this rather annoying de-facto assumption that anything Apple does must necessarily be better.

      Ever time I sit down at a new ubuntu install, I find the interface less like what I am used to, and more like interfaces that I actively avoid.

      It seems like the only thing I can do is to keep using Linux while the things I love about it are slowly chipped away by people who seem intent on destroying it for what?

    • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:29AM (#36317012)

      Before the above comment is moderated away as a troll or something (it isn't by the way), I'd like to completely agree! I used linux almost exclusively from 1994 until about 2009. Then I gave up, despite my ideals, and just installed Windows. I even bought Windows 7 when it came out and am happily using it. Why? Because I just want shit to work. I don't have the time any more to tweak an OS to a point where it almost works; I need to get work done. But even with that considered I was using linux and KDE to develop my open source app using KDE and KDevelop until KDE 4 came out. Yes, yes, yes, I could have changed my development methods and made things work, but I had (and have) very little spare time these days to "set up an environment" so I just stopped developing it. My app didn't even rely on KDE... had nothing to do with it in fact, but my dev environment was KDE-Based and I had no time to adapt. I reckon others may have been in the same position. I still have linux installed, but instead of on my primary partition it's not even on a real partition anymore -- it's in a VM. I can't see that changing in the near future because, as I said, I need to get shit done and not fuck around with tweaking an OS.

      • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @07:53AM (#36318196) Homepage Journal
        Sad as it is for me to admit, I'm in complete agreement. I used to have just one windows machine for games, I now have two more windows machines and two less linux ones simply because I also want shit to just work. I still keep linux on my HTPC's (using a light debian/XFCE or fluxbox/XBMC combo) and servers because it's so low maintenance, but for the most part the desktop swiftly started to vanish up it's own arse a few years ago.

        When I started with linux back on mandrake 8, you had the utterly awesome sawfish/sawmill built into Gnome - I played with that for weeks just because it was fun, but when doing Real Work I found that some of those esoteric window functions really did make a huge difference to my workflow. Then metacity was brought in to the exclusion of everything else and I switched to KDE, which had broadly similar WM capabilities. So far so froody until everyone decided that desktops needed to be 3D accelerated because apple had done so (and everyone loved the swooshing dock), so both KDE and Gnome throw the baby out with the bathwater and redesign their WM's from scratch, losing a lot of the functionality along the way (or almost all of it in the case of Gnome 3), because apparently "most people don't use feature X" means the same as "no-one uses feature X". Granted, KDE4 is still pretty configurable and IMHO orders of magnitude better than Gnome 2 or 3 but I still feel like I'm fighting it for attention all the time, when it should really be getting the hell out of the way.

        Windows 7 may try very hard to make you fit into it's "the user is stupid" mould, but with the right reg hacks I can customise it almost as much as I could on my KDE setup; heck, focus-follows-mouse support (an utter deal breaker for me) is waaaay better in 7 than it was in 2000/XP and doesn't cause half the glitchiness in some apps like it used to do. Overall, it's not perfect, but good enough and once the initial pain of configuration was done with (and then exported to a reg file which makes it a 2s change on every other machine) I no longer have to fight it. Throw cygwin + mintty and a few other choice apps into the mix and all of a sudden I've got me the best of both worlds (cue Borg joke).

        My main problem is usability "experts" and neophiliacs who keep telling me that I'm doing things the wrong way, or that "clicking on a launcher is so old hat, that's why we removed launchers! Just open the X menu, start typing what you want to run, and then click one of the programs that show up!" or other such counter-intuitive bullcrapshitturds which for some inexplicable reason have become the default in all the major DE's. Not interested, and yes I have tried it. Not against new ways of doing things by any means, but devs shouldn't expect users to re-learn every paradigm at the drop of a hat because some self-appointed expert says "this new way I just invented is the best for me, therefore it's the best for everyone!" and then someone else sees that as a great way to do away with the old "inferior" method, making it painful to add back. A bit like Wikipedia deletionists actually; "shading the window of type X is not notable enough, and therefore will be removed!".

        Not that I'm singling out Gnome here, almost every non-niche DE/WM I've used in the last few years is guilty of the above, MS and Apple included.

        </second rant of the thread>
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      Which ui is copying apple?

      Birth kde sets are fairly their own, with the desktop one most like windows pre seven.

      Gnome three was completely it's own thing when I last tried it.

      Gnome two was perhaps an updated take on os 9, maybe, but again I'd say it was more it's own thing.

      Unity is closest to os x, but also is quite different.

      Unity makes default old apple features (menu at top), and the dock is fairly similar to os x, and the button placement, but it still looks and feels fairly different (window snapping,

    • First of all, Linux is doing quite well from servers to cell phones. What you're complaining about is GUIs that run on top of X, both of which do not rely on Linux for their existence. GNOME and KDE may have issues, but those issues don't involve Linux at all.

      And with regard to desktop environments, I used XFCE 4: it's relatively small, lightweight, and not resource intensive. OTOH I use my XBox 360 and PS3 for gaming.

      • Yes, so you don't actually use your OS to do work and get things done (apart from maybe web browsing or development).

        • Yes, so you don't actually use your OS to do work and get things done (apart from maybe web browsing or development).

          What exactly do you consider "work"? And no, I don't use the OS to do work. The OS gets out of the way while I do work, which is exactly what it should do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have been a long time Red Hat (started 6.0) and Fedora user. Due to the limited support cycle of 1 year, I recently had to upgrade my Fedora 13. Decided to go straight to Fedora 15 to avoid the same trouble 6 months from now. Unfortunately, that GNOME 3.0 thing is totally f*cking UNUSABLE. They indeed tried to mimick Mac OS X but then a job very badly done. It is a pity that a couple of arrogant developers think they are usability experts. Same thing happended years ago with the Spatial view in Nautilus,

      • by Sir_Kurt ( 92864 )

        If I had mod points today I would mod you up. I have been a Redhat user since the old version 4.2 and Fedora since V. 1. When the Gnome developers made spacial view the default, I truly began to question their judgement and competence as interface designers. I mean WTF? What are these people actually doing with their computers? Not much apparently or they would "get" why these interface solutions are increadibly irritating to true desktop users. And no amount of comment from disgusted users seems to make a

      • I updated from F14 to F15 and made sure I had XFCE installed, just in case Gnome 3 wasn't for me. It wasn't.

        Admittedly there are tweaks you can do to make it more "normal" but yeah it's very iOS-y. Fallback mode isn't a solution because you lose some functionality that way, and you can't theme fall back mode to look more Gnome 2-ish. As far as I know there IS a way to add app launchers to either the top bar or bottom bar thingy.

        I had no problem with wired networking at all on F15.

    • by DEmmons ( 1538383 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @05:19AM (#36317376)
      no, you're on to something. I'm neither a windows user nor a KDE user, i like Gnome 2 on Fedora, but my experience is the same. it's supposed to be about personal choice. Gnome 2 was simple and gave room for customization and generally had become something i could proudly show my friends and have them say "oh, this is Linux? it's not hard to use. and the effects look nice! why did i keep hearing Linux was hard?". Gnome 3 with Gnome Shell, or even in fallback mode, is crap. it takes away tons of tools, features, customizability etc. that are sorely missed and gives in return, what? a new ugly interface that no one likes, which is clearly designed for touch screens. why do i need a touchscreen interface for my six-year-old laptop? it means several extra clicks to get anywhere and a first-time Linux user isn't going to intuitively find Firefox or LibreOffice and be able to get to work on it like they can with my current setup. I can see making this interface available as an option for high-end touchscreen computers, but making it the default for everyone with no way to get back the old, useable Gnome 2 desktop? it's unforgivable. I'll hold out until my Fedora 14 install starts showing its age too much and jump to XFCE. note to Gnome devs: there are many people using linux with touch screens - they're using Android. We Gnome users are using actual, proper computers, and we want a proper desktop, or at least one customizable enough to turn into a proper desktop with a little tweaking, and you already made that. wtf is this new crap?
    • KDE on slackware 13.37 works beautifully.

      My only complaint is the inclusion of the nouveau driver - which despite being present as the default driver for all NVIDIA cards, doesn't work with all NVIDIA cards. It's included in every distro I've tried recently, despite this shortcoming - a poor decision from all distros.
      Not a problem with slackware as it treats its users as intelligent beings instead of clueless eyecandy junkies and installing the blacklist package is a doddle.

      There's little, if any, r
    • Maybe it you just used the default settings instead of incorrectly trying to tinker with stuff, it would work for you as it works for everybody else?
      I have no problem with Gnome 2 nor KDE4, be it on ATI or Nvidia cards.

      Now it is widely known that some ATI cards were only well-supported by fglrx and fglrx dropped support for them (ATI's decision), so if you're using one of those (like the Radeon 9800 Pro) you're better off buying a new one if you're using Linux.
      But the nvidia drivers usually work flawlessly

    • by shovas ( 1605685 )

      Same here. I've been using CentOS w/KDE 3.5 simply because I couldn't yet get used to new distros with KDE 4. CentOS 5 is getting a little long in the tooth (can't run Firefox 4) but you'd be surprised how usable it is (and it still gets security updates).

      To be honest, I think people like you and I really need to investigate the alternative WMs. Some of them have never changed from their core presentation as far as I can see. Maybe that's the kind of stability we want.

    • And was there ever quality in the Linux desktop? I've never seen. Whenever I complained of some functionality missing or defective, someone replied with a tone of fanatic "but it's free and so is better than Windows !!!!"
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Huge desktop environments on *nix have always been crap. All you really need is a window manager and a terminal. Nothing on Windows comes close to the convenience and power of a simple wm and terminal.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:11AM (#36316932)

    Disable Desktop effects shut off Compiz. This has been known for a very long time, whether it be Warzone 2100, Quake 4, Doom 3, Unreal Tournament, or Warcraft 3. These "desktop effects" do nothing but slow the box down.

    • Doesn't GNOME Shell use its own compositor (Mutter) instead of Compiz? It might be required to run.
    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      Cool story, ever tried to turn off desktop effects in the new version of Ubuntu? It's not in the usual place where you'd find it, in fact, that option is completely gone! So people unfamiliar with the terminal can't turn off compiz so easily. Thus you end up with a completely buggy desktop that's supposed to have been stable upon release (or at least close too).
      • Or you could log out and log back in with a Compiz-free session. Or you could create another user and switch to that user to play games. I have a limited memory system running Natty and I installed XBMC on it, created a user with a non-login "shell" not in /etc/shells, set the password to a nice mess of characters and then ate the characters, then permitted that user to log in to gdm without a password via PAM. If I were to install some game that wanted all the RAM on that system I'd make a user for that, t

        • For the longest time I kept a blackbox [sourceforge.net] login for gaming from, because of the very low overhead.

          I now do all my Linux gaming from within Gnome, mostly because I'm running 8GB of RAM though.

          • I now do all my Linux gaming from within Gnome, mostly because I'm running 8GB of RAM though.

            you and me both. I don't even mess with window rules unless the game is visibly slow.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:36AM (#36317040)

    Support the Trinity Desktop Environment, it is KDE 3 upgraded to work on Modern distros.

  • The new GUIs are bloated pigs and eat processor and GPU resources.

    Yeah, that's about the sum of it. I'm still on Fedora 14 and I don't see any cause to go to 15 just yet. I may never go to 15. If they resolve these problems, I might go to 16.

    I hate to say it, but I think it's just about time that Linus Torvalds started wearing black turtlenecks and began influencing vendors and developers to come together under a grand mystical vision. The biggest problem with Windows is the multitude of directions deve

    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      The new GUIs are bloated pigs and eat processor and GPU resources.

      So don't use them. Noone forces you to, not even on a new machine with all of some flashy, userfriendly new Linux distribution installed.

      My desktop environment is, and has always been, at work and at home, on Linux and Solaris, on huge 16-core multiuser systems with 66GB RAM and on old Pentium boxes with 0.032 GB RAM, ctwm as a window manager. It has a menu for starting programs, and it has multiple desktops. It's supported everywhere, and always will be. The same goes for fvwm and many other window mana

  • just gaming? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Errtu76 ( 776778 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @06:16AM (#36317642) Journal

    gnome-shell hurts productivity as well, taking away all the nice features that were in gnome 2. Like hamster-applet and being able to easily customize .. well, anything! Sure if you know javascript it's cool, but for those who were used to adding items to gnome-panel the new gnome-shell is horribly complex to use and customize.

    It feels like we just jumped 10 years back in time.

    • Gnome2 did that too, partially as a misguided effort for elegance by wholesale removal of functionality, but mostly because it had not been ported/implemented. Gnome 3 will be useable in a year or so. When software is actually used, you can tell what is important.
  • Hid the 'shutdown'-button in the menu, forces you to press alt to reveal it. The logical step was to log out, and then shut down, was the claim of one of the GNOME developers. This is why I use KDE.
  • .. with all the different compositing effects going on. And you would certainly hope that this will cause the drivers to improve in the long run.

    However, there is a question why any desktop shell / window manager should have any noticeable effect on running OpenGL games in FULL SCREEN. Surely, the desktop compositor and all that jazz should be suspended while the whole screen is being controlled by a game?

  • Running a GUI uses system resources. Shock. You seriously expect to run two biggish programs and not have the computer slow down?
  • ...where you'll see that it's not as simple as the summary suggests (wow, on Slashdot, who'd've thought). If you look at the results for the NVIDIA proprietary driver, Shell keeps pace pretty much precisely with GNOME 2 / Metacity and GNOME 2 / Compiz. It's only with the ATI proprietary driver where there's a clear performance deficit.

    The numbers for the free drivers are more mixed, and utterly incomplete anyway because they insisted on testing in Ubuntu for some bizarre reason.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson