Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Speed Up Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

After the removal of Unity 2d from 13.04, I've found a few ways to speed up the Unity desktop on slower hardware. I have a number of low-end computers lying around that are still being used, but don't have much graphics power, nor do they have much RAM. With a few minor tweaks to 13.04's Unity, your desktop can become a little more snappy.

Please be careful with the CompizConfig Settings Manager tool. Choosing the wrong checkboxes could result in an unresponsive Unity Desktop. I've done this myself and the only way out is to use dconf to reset the desktop to defaults or just do a complete reinstall. This is not fun.. You have been warned!

First off, make sure CompizConfig Settings Manager is installed. This can be installed via Ubuntu's Software Center.

After CompizConfig is installed, launch it. In the main window, uncheck Animations and Fading Windows. Be sure to wait for the desktop to catch up. Sometimes, Unity pauses and flickers (maybe it's a Unity restart).

After that, click the Window Decoration button (don't uncheck that one). Expand both the Active Shadow and  Inactive Shadow boxes. Reduce in both areas, Shadow Radius to the lowest value 0.1000 and  Shadow Opacity to 0.0100. In addition, set the Shadow Offset X and Y to 0. This reduces the need for compositing the shadow over other objects. 

So far, these minor adjustments have brought a few slow machines back from the grave. Hope this info helps and if anyone has anything to add that could speed up older hardware, I'm all ears.