Linux Desktops slow?

Michael Torrie torriem at
Fri Feb 3 21:22:09 MST 2012

On 02/03/2012 09:00 PM, Tod Hansmann wrote:
> I have run Win XP on both and it seems to completely out-perform the 
> popular Linux variants.  Why are things not responsive and zippy when 
> I'm doing nothing but browsing the web or editing text files?  

One of the main reasons why you are perceiving a speed difference is not
necessarily speed, but latency.  X11 is an asynchronous.  So sometimes
this manifests itself as very stuttery resizing of windows as the
content struggles to resize itself.  There have been a number of things
proposed to fix this, including a special X11 extension that would allow
widget toolkits like GTK or Qt to synchronize things like redraw.  And
by sync I mean sync the frames to the screens' refresh rate or something
like that.  On OS X, things appear silky smooth because everything is
synchronized to the screen refresh rate.  Moving windows does not tear
the window, and resizing windows is smooth (though even just a few years
ago this was actually very slow on OS X).

Compositing managers on Linux smooth out the display and make it seem
faster as well.  In the olden days you could drag a window across
another window and it would visibly redraw the underlying window.  Now
of course each window has its own backing store, which makes some things
like dragging windows faster and smoother now.

So things are getting better, but yes, I agree, Linux desktops still
don't feel quite as "fast" as the competition.

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