Gnome3 (gnome-shell) is very slow using latest ATI Catalyst Drivers

Well, the 12.1 upgrade (Jan 25) at least made Gnome3 usable… The tearing and bad rendering seen with fglrx have finally gone but everything is painfully slooooooooooow.

Two things helped me get an almost responsive desktop, and I don’t know which one actually did the trick. They should actually do the same thing, but who knows?

The first thing I did is to go to the Catalyst Control Center and disable both Vsync (under 3D section) and Tear-Free (under Monitors) options. That seemed to give a little boost to the overall responsiveness of my desktop, but another thing I found out from a comment to a bug report on ATI’s bugzilla is to add this little magic line to your /etc/environment file:

export CLUTTER_VBLANK=none

This should be the equivalent for disabling the Vsync option from the Catalyst Control Center, I guess, but after rebooting everything seems to run a lot more smoothly!

11 thoughts on “Gnome3 (gnome-shell) is very slow using latest ATI Catalyst Drivers

      • Interesting…

        Do you know if this would affect rendering in Unity then? I disable the VSync engine in Compiz because it seems to conflict with the ATI one (don’t know if it’s the same though).

        Once that’s done, it’s smooth as ever.

        I just don’t want to edit a text file every time I have to switch between the two.


  1. The option should disable the ATI VSync no matter what desktop manager you use. Even though I disabled the VSync for every ATI card I ever used (4, all integrated) I never experienced tearing, so my bet is that you can leave the line in /etc/environment and be fine.

    Tearing while playing HD videos is a lot more common, but then the VSync option in Compiz or amdccle doesn’t help anyway, you should use xbmc and let it do its own vertical sync, it never failed me so far šŸ™‚


  2. Thanks for a tip. now my Ubuntu 11.10 runs much faster with gnome-shell. But despite this improvement, I see noticable gnome-shell process utilization when I run some application (i.e. vlc or when Im browsing on Google Chrome) šŸ˜¦
    6661 mark 20 0 452m 105m 38m R 53 2.6 1:08.52 gnome-shell
    5925 mark 20 0 419m 82m 34m R 40 2.1 0:55.86 chrome
    6882 mark 20 0 155m 33m 18m R 30 0.8 0:00.97 chrome
    5003 root 20 0 384m 150m 97m S 27 3.7 2:31.65 Xorg
    6791 mark 20 0 186m 49m 28m S 14 1.2 0:20.81 vlc


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