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KDE is slow – for dummies

Posted in kde, opensuse by mschlander on 23/01/2011

On forums, IRC, mailing lists etc. you get a lot of people complaining that “KDE is slow”. I finally got fed up trying to answer the same question over and over, hence I’m writing this blog post, to explain how most people can solve their problem in a few very simple steps.

Step 1: Check System Activity

If you think your KDE is slow, first check if some process is hogging the CPU.

Press Ctrl+Esc to bring up the System Activity window

if something is hogging the CPU, fix this situation before proceeding.

Step 2: Disable Oxygen Animations

Most of the time perceived slowness of KDE is caused by graphics cards/drivers and various animations not getting a long very well. Additionally some people might perceive all the Oxygen Widget Style and Oxygen Window Decoration animations as slowness – even when they perform as intended.

To turn off the Oxygen Widget Style animations press Alt+F2 and type oxygen-settings go to the Animations tab and disable animations. (This method is only valid for KDE SC 4.5 or later, in earlier versions use systemsettings => Appearance => Style => Configure)

Now go to the Window Decoration section of oxygen-settings and disable animations here too. (This method is only valid for KDE SC 4.5 or later, in earlier versions use systemsettings => Appearance => Window Decoration)

Step 3: Disable KWin Desktop Effects

Like the Oxygen Animations the KWin Desktop Effects might be slow depending on your graphics card/driver – and for some people they might feel slow even when performing as expected. So either turn off effects completely – or figure out which specific effects don’t perform well with your specific combination of graphics card and driver, and disable only those specific effects.

Go to systemsettings => Desktop Effects (in KDE SC 4.4 and older, use systemsettings => Desktop => Desktop Effects)

Step 4: Disable Strigi

Strigi is the file indexer, indexing your files to make “Desktop Search” possible. It can also be a resource hog depending on various things. On some distros it’ll be disabled by default.

If you don’t use Desktop Search, make sure it’s disabled in systemsettings => Desktop Search (in KDE SC 4.4 and older, use systemsettings => Advanced => Desktop Search)

KDE is still slow?!?

Naturally there are a lot more little tweaks you can do to improve performance a bit. But if you’re running KDE on a relatively contemporary computer, and you still think it’s unbearably slow after going through the above steps, you should probably consider just switching to IceWM, FVWM or another lightweight window manager.

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20 Responses

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  1. Thomas Olsen said, on 23/01/2011 at 11:23

    Great post! I haven’t been able to use oxygen widget style because of my really crappy NVidia card. Now I’ll give it another try.
    I luv KDE4 even on my low-end box and I couldn’t think of not having plasmoids – I’ve made a few myself.

    • Will Stephenson said, on 23/01/2011 at 20:01

      I hope they’re in the openSUSE Build Service – KDE:Extra and KDE:Unstable:Playground are their natural habitat.

      • Thomas Olsen said, on 24/01/2011 at 0:43

        They’re living their own life on http://kde-look.org under Scripted Plasmoids – if that was your question?

  2. Markus said, on 23/01/2011 at 16:04

    Unless GPU drivers are actually severely broken (sadly a common problem), it’s usually better to keep compositing enabled but to just disable the effects.
    That way rendering work is still offloaded to the GPU without displaying any effects.

  3. christoph said, on 24/01/2011 at 3:32

    Additionally, you could selectively enable/disable effect plugins. For example, the “Blur” effect is known to cause major performance penalty with some video drivers or driver versions. You should disable it first.

  4. Felix said, on 30/01/2011 at 0:34

    Thanks for the tips! :) With these tips KDE is a lot more responsive – even with enabled desktop effects. Oxygen effects should be disabled by default! Without Oxygen effects there are still desktop effects as eyecatchers.

  5. Tiberiu Ichim said, on 08/02/2011 at 18:28

    Disabling Oxygen animations didn’t do much good in my case, on an Nvidia powered laptop. Changing the application style from Oxygen to Cleanlooks, the Gnome style engine (I’m using Kubuntu) has really improved performance.

  6. Kevin Learner said, on 30/03/2011 at 1:23

    I tried these things and still thought KDE4 was a dog until followed another post about speeding KDE up and now I’m back on KDE with all the KDE-centric apps I love.

    So this post + the other = a really nice setup I can live with and maybe even love.

    The other changes consisted of using the classic menu, turning off debugging, using Openbox instead of kwin, turning off taskbar thumbnails, replacing dolphin with PCManFM (which also gave access to my windows partition), and making sure that plain X11 rendering is never used.

    The step-by-step was very easy and didn’t involve hacking up the install or anything weird: http://on-disk.com/cms/index.php?wiki=How-To-Speed-Up-KDE4

  7. Nick said, on 12/04/2011 at 21:38

    I used Kde in a few distros and most were too heavy but the way Mepis 8.5 has it is really a lot faster than some. why is that?

  8. […] […]

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  11. […] You could try to tune the desktops for more speed, but that could be a lot of work for 50 systems: KDE is slow – for dummies If your users can live with a less shiny desktop, then I recommend the LXDE desktop which is […]

  12. 12.1 RC2 Is Now Available - Page 9 said, on 15/11/2011 at 19:43

    […] It obviously is invalid since the rest of OpenSuSE has been b*tching about slow KDE relentlessly KDE is slow – for dummies Re: [opensuse-kde] Slow KDE 4.6.1 response for some application nVidia Quadro NVS 295, openSUSE […]

  13. SciK said, on 21/12/2011 at 12:44

    Using the “raster” Qt Graphics System usually helps too.

    Since Qt 4.7, it’s quite simple and doesn’t require to rebuild Qt anymore:

    $ echo export QT_GRAPHICSSYSTEM=raster > ~/.kde4/env/qt-graphics-system

  14. […] is another post in the common complaints about kde […]

  15. KiltJoy said, on 15/10/2012 at 14:38

    I turned on several KWin desktop effects and the desktop went into super-slow mode. Disabled, seems to be back to default performance.

  16. […] Disabling animation and kwin effects: http://mschlander.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/kde-is-slow-for-dummies/ […]

  17. Mcfly said, on 27/06/2013 at 2:13

    I have a superfast computer an $8000 computer and running Debian 7 with KDE 4.9, KDE is slow it has that millisecond lag which is anoing as hell same on other distros and other computers, so it’s come to Dear KDE project developers freaken learn how to code allready PS, thank you maybe this link will help http://www.developer.com/open/article.php/925741/Programming-with-C—–101.htm or if you cant read that well here is a youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjHFbL2CyWE :P

  18. anand said, on 26/05/2014 at 6:48

    Ha ha :)

    Disable Animations
    Disable Desktop Effects
    Disable Compositing !!!!

    Brilliant advice indeed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why the hell are you even then talking about using KDE at all without those 3 basic stuff that Compiz works well eve in slow machines ?

    From my experiences no matter what White Collared Hi Fi Card you throw at it, it will still be bloody slow.

    Even basic stuff like Task Switching also is so slow.

    On Virtual Machines it is even more slow.

    How can Compiz to all that KWIN does and so much more and so much better ? Better Programmers ?

    Give some better Advice, listeners, switch to Xubuntu / XFCE and use Compton for Compositing if you find the XFCE’s compositor not good,

    Minus those Crappy MAC styled crappy Magic Lamp effects, you will have a much better life and a more professional workable and fast desktop.

    Switch to XFCE today. or use Gnome Classic Flashback.


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