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KDE + KWin compositor performance on NVIDIA GPU


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I've setup a Manjaro Linux with KDE desktop environment back in July on my desktop PC and out-of-the box, the desktop is quite laggy (mouse response, window animations fluidity). I've skimmed through this topic, changed KWin rendering backend from OpenGL 2.0 to OpenGL 3.1 and created the executable script that sets certain environment variables at ~/.config/plasma-workspace/env/kwin.sh:

#!/bin/sh

export KWIN_TRIPLE_BUFFER=0
export __GL_YIELD=USLEEP
export __GL_MaxFramesAllowed=1

Seems better, though there are still moments when window animations are choppy. None of the options above are what I'd consider radical. Reading about triple buffering it doesn't sound like something I'd want considering the input lag and the fact that it's system-wide settings. ForceFullCompositionPipeline seems ever more of a mystery in this context...I have 2 screens simply running at their native resolution and 59,93 Hz and 60 Hz refresh rates, so nothing special here.

The GPU is NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti, using proprietary NVIDIA driver version 465.31 that came with Manjaro.

Just curious about others' experiences and thoughts in the similar situation (KDE with enabled compositor + proprietary NVIDIA driver).

Edited by UCyborg
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I had similar issue on my test system with debian 11 and KDE, but also had mouse glitching out on compositor enabled (black box where mouse was sometimes). On me problem ended after switching off from proprietary NVIDIA driver to free one, but then lost most of 3d features and had lower performance on anything using hardware accerlation. Gpu I used was 1050 2gb. It is not distro specific issue rather driver. Does free driver make different? Manjaro has device manager that allows toggle between free and non free driver, so reverting is easy

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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From my personal view, KDE always makes the impression of being inefficent and ressource-heavy. I couldn't run that on the computers that are older than yours. Maybe try a different window manager to see if the performance is better? Is it worth KDE?

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After some more testing performing repetitive actions, opening program windows and minimizing/restoring them, it doesn't appear those environment variables are actually making any difference. One user reported he just set KWIN_TRIPLE_BUFFER to 1 and it made things better without enabling it at driver level. Tried that too and it's not any better and likewise doesn't seem worse neither.

Maybe power management makes things seem inconsistent along with whatever you're doing at any one moment. The old Ubuntu MATE 15.10 install definitely did not scale performance up well automatically (ondemand power governor), at least it was noticeable with games. It tried to keep lower frequencies too much, resulting in stutter.

I used Compiz on the old Ubuntu install. It wasn't exactly on the level of Windows 10's DWM performance, but was a bit smoother than KWin on this system. Could also set rendering rate, I put it 1 frame below screen refresh rate to improve mouse responsiveness. I tried installing it while running live image of Manjaro (for testing) from USB but AUR server blocked me midway with HTTP error 429 while downloading/checking dependencies with (I ran pamac build compiz-easy-patch in the terminal).

The laptop with AMD Radeon R2 definitely fares better with KWin. It's got 1366x768 screen, though it probably shouldn't make too much difference, considering such GPUs these days don't have much of a problem driving even multiple (cca. 2-3 screens). At least not those that don't do fancy resolutions like 4K.

The compositor is even more easily bogged with nouveau driver. As for KDE, well, it's got most of bells and whistles I could ever ask for. :thumbup The only unrelated characteristic that I don't even know how to word the search term to find out on the internet how to change, some programs' certain GUI elements are really big, things like text fields, menu strips, buttons. I'd like to make them smaller.

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No wonder those variables don't make much difference as effect of the one was already applied and the other one was just a workaround according to this. I set VSync option to "Only when cheap" (at least I think it's called this in English) and it's better, at least it does't bring back tearing when scrolling web pages. But simple things still slow it down tremendeously, like having a notification on screen, even when running both CPU and GPU at max clocks.

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On 9/3/2021 at 4:50 AM, UCyborg said:

The laptop with AMD Radeon R2 definitely fares better with KWin. It's got 1366x768 screen, though it probably shouldn't make too much difference, considering such GPUs these days don't have much of a problem driving even multiple (cca. 2-3 screens). At least not those that don't do fancy resolutions like 4K.

Amd drivers are better on linux than Nvidia. Even though they are not perfect. I was never able to make AMD hd cards work proper under Linux. I had laptop with AMD R8 and AMD driver caused any desktop to hang since power management error that spammed console. Interesting enough same error did not appear on legacy mode only uefi. Only error free is Intel igpu but those cannot run games or other 3d intensive things properly

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3 hours ago, Mr.Scienceman2000 said:

Amd drivers are better on linux than Nvidia.

That's not what they were saying years ago. Want good 3D on Linux? NVIDIA is your only option. That was the word. And they did prove themselves, I still remember the blog post of Dolphin Emulator developers about their experience with different drivers. Though people said 2D was worse, I assumed this applied to window managers that don't do compositing.

The main reason to get NVIDIA then was to get decent OpenGL support, which was historically bad with ATI/AMD, even on Windows, let alone Linux.

Either way, it's what I got ATM and I don't buy new graphics card every 2 years, obviously. Even this one doesn't get much exercise anymore and the spare cards I got (ATI Radeon HD 4890 and onboard NVIDIA GeForce 8200) are only worse as far as Linux compatibility is concerned.

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1 hour ago, UCyborg said:

That's not what they were saying years ago. Want good 3D on Linux? NVIDIA is your only option. That was the word. And they did prove themselves, I still remember the blog post of Dolphin Emulator developers about their experience with different drivers. Though people said 2D was worse, I assumed this applied to window managers that don't do compositing.

i mostly meant if can use AMDGPU driver it works great for most part, but AMDGPU only works with new ones for most parts. I was diagnosing one pc with ATI Radeon HD 6800 I think and my way test any system I got is fire up linux on it since got full desktop from pendrive. I had black screen on after grub and loading text and though gpu was broken until did swap to console mode and had warnings. So AMD only partially fixed it recently, but unless got RX series GPU you are SOL.

1 hour ago, UCyborg said:

The main reason to get NVIDIA then was to get decent OpenGL support, which was historically bad with ATI/AMD, even on Windows, let alone Linux.

ATI Windows drivers were trash. Omega drivers were half decent to them since they fixed most ATI shortcomings.

1 hour ago, UCyborg said:

Either way, it's what I got ATM and I don't buy new graphics card every 2 years, obviously. Even this one doesn't get much exercise anymore and the spare cards I got (ATI Radeon HD 4890 and onboard NVIDIA GeForce 8200) are only worse as far as Linux compatibility is concerned.

that compatibility with graphics card and other hw is why I cannot go linux full time. Many claims linux will magically work on older hw which is in reality is not true. I have had issues with older Broadcam wifi cards, intel wifi card flashed led like crazy by default, many times gpu lacks hw accerlation that works on Windows no issues. Maybe if all did is using office programs and browsing web can replace, but I still cannot get my hardware or software run under linux properly.

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Aye, the development is focused on what's current. Just the nature of the whole thing. It's kinda impossible to support everything, even if there wasn't an incentive to sell current stuff. Linux only got more steam over later periods of time and the things of past are frozen in their current state.

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1 hour ago, UCyborg said:

Aye, the development is focused on what's current. Just the nature of the whole thing. It's kinda impossible to support everything, even if there wasn't an incentive to sell current stuff. Linux only got more steam over later periods of time and the things of past are frozen in their current state.

Best soluction for me seems to be using older less updated versions like debian 9 or other works well. Maybe you could try oldstable builds instead of rolling releases like manjaro unless your mainboard or some of your utilities or other need newer linux kernel.

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I doubt current versions of stuff is much of a problem in this case. I'm mostly concerned with common Linux problems. Needed a bit of refresh after having the old rotting Ubuntu install without ability to pull anything from repos (which I haven't updated since it was installed or at least only updated shortly after installation, can't remember exactly). Can always nuke it and start over, possibly with another distro if something goes south. Not a lot of extra stuff to install and setup for my use.

My remark was concerning hardware that never had good support to begin with.

I imagine in the future it won't be possible to use last NVIDIA's drivers for my card with then bleeding edge and eventually LTS distros as well after NVIDIA drops driver support. Kepler cards were dropped this summer, I guess 1st gen Maxwell is next in 2 years. Unless has something has changed (or will change) and Linux folks have added backward compatibility for these types of drivers?

Edited by UCyborg
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