Compiz and Firefox Performance in Hardy

Actually I don’t remember quite well since when I have been suffering because of the performance of the Xorg/Compiz/Firefox, maybe since I upgraded to Hardy. The problem is: when rendering any GIF animation or playing any Flash movie, the process Xorg occupies very high the CPU load. Even the loading animation (the “rotating dot”) of Firefox its own could slow down the system very much.

Today I decided to find a way to solve this and after some googling, I came across this bug report. From the comments I got this work-around which works quite nice for me:

You should try with EXA (Option “AccelMethod” “EXA”), and if it slows down a lot, you should also add Option “MigrationHeuristic” “greedy”

By default, if you are using “xserver-xorg-driver-ati” for your ATI card, the “XAA” mode is used, it works quite nice with Compiz but not quite well in the above case (at least with ATI card).

So we need to change it to “EXA” which will dramatically decrease Compiz’s performance, but the animation and flash will not cause too much CPU loads (and actually Firefox feels much responsive this way). To make sure the system is usable, the second option is used to speed up Compiz. From my experience, most operation will be OK except that “Application Switcher” become dragging especially if there are a lot of applications running. (You may want to disable the Saturation/Brightness/Opacity changes during switching.)

By the way, if the flash video content like Youtube always crashes you Firefox 3, please refer to this bug and try this hack which summerized some work-around suggested in that bug report’s comments. My firefox works much more stable after I applied that trick.

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