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How Unity, Compiz, GNOME Shell & KWin Affect Performance

Filed under
Hardware
Software

Those that follow my Twitter feed know that over the weekend I began running some benchmarks of the various open-source and closed-source graphics drivers. But it was not like the usual Phoronix benchmarks simply comparing the driver performance. Instead it was to see how each driver performed under the various desktops / window managers now being used by modern Linux installations. In this article are the first results of this testing of Unity with Compiz, the classic GNOME desktop with Metacity, the classic GNOME desktop with Compiz, the GNOME Shell with Mutter, and the KDE desktop with KWin. These configurations were tested with both the open and closed-source NVIDIA and ATI/AMD Linux drivers.

While the original plans were grand, various Linux graphics driver bugs were hit along the way. For example, on Git master of Mesa and with the latest Linux kernel DRM from Linux 3.0/2.6.40 (it's likely a Mesa bug though), Compiz as found in the Natty repository is broken.

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