Linux Blog

Linux Performance Boosting – Graphics

Filed under: General Linux — at 12:24 pm on Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is your Linux box chugging along? Does it take a while for web pages to load or to boot up? Does your screen lag when you scroll a web page?

Well my friends, you’ve come to the right place. The issue with your Linux box performing poorly could be a graphics issue. A lot of distributions do not install the correct graphics drivers by default. Yes, your graphical user interface might work, but without the correct Linux graphic drivers you will not get the performance that you should be getting.

Linux has a default video driver called VESA, most video cards work with this driver but perform poorly. The reason behind this is VESA uses the CPU to do graphics processing and does not rely on the video card for 3D acceleration. If you have a 3D accelerated video card (most ATI / NVIDIA’s I will not go into detail here) then you might be able to offload graphics processing from your CPU onto your GPU.

Here is how to test to see if your frames per second if you are using the VESA standard driver:


[owen@LinuxBlog ~]$ glxgears
2623 frames in 5.0 seconds = 524.096 FPS
1677 frames in 5.0 seconds = 334.784 FPS
1948 frames in 5.0 seconds = 389.488 FPS
XIO:  fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable) on X server ":0.0"
after 19707 requests (19415 known processed) with 0 events remaining.

Now, the performance of this machine is quite good so the resulting frames per second (FPS) is not too shabby, but its not the best either. After installing the correct Linux video card driver for this Linux box lets take a look at what kind of performance I get:

[owen@LinuxBlog ~]$ glxgears
6179 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1235.749 FPS
6558 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1311.449 FPS
6489 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1295.583 FPS
XIO:  fatal IO error 22 (Invalid argument) on X server ":0.0"
after 39 requests (39 known processed) with 0 events remaining.

As you can see from the results the graphics driver make a huge difference in the number of FPS I can achieve, but this is not the only benefit from using the correct 3D accelerated driver. When the correct driver is installed, the graphics card does most of the work therefore freeing up the CPU do other tasks. Its a win-win situation, so get your graphics card set up properly today!