Linux,  Uncategorized

Fix bad performance with NVidia 177.80 drivers

Since I upgraded to Nvidia’s beta driver series which were supposed to improve performance for KDE 4 (including the now stable version 177.80), my GNOME desktop on my system with a Geforce 6600 GT graphics card, felt a lot slower. It was most noticeable when browsing the web with Firefox. When quickly scrolling a web page with my mouse’s scroll wheel, X started eating 100% of CPU time and the image on the screen started lagging behind a lot. Also just rendering a page seemed to be much slower. Disabling smooth scrolling in Firefox, did not help at all.

Searching on the web, I found out that I’m not the only one with this problem. However, setting the InitialPixmapPlacement to 0 made the Compiz/Emerald window manager crash. I found out that setting InitialPixmapPlacement to 1 also seemed to fix the problem, without compiz/emerald crashing.

So if you also suffer from bad performance in GNOME with the proprietary NVidia drivers, create a script called in /usr/local/bin with contents:

/usr/bin/nvidia-settings -a InitialPixmapPlacement=1

Then go to GNOME’s System – Preference menu and start up Sessions. In the startup programs tab page, click on Add, and choose /usr/local/bin/ as the command. Save the settings, and restart X. Firefox now works a lot faster for me: web pages now appear instantaneous and I can scroll web pages without my CPU getting overloaded.

Thanks to NVidia for bringing me such great performance with their new drivers. Out of gratefulness, I’ll make sure my next graphics card is an Intel or ATI one.


  • Frederik

    I am not sure it is really useful to file a bug. The work-around I use, will probably cause performance regressions for KDE 4 users (the problematic InitialPixmapPlacement=2 is one of the recommendations for KDE 4 and the default value). And I doubt a new version of the NVidia drivers will be published as an official update for 2009.0. As far as I know versions 177.60, 177.70 and 177.80 are problematic.

  • Frederik

    I am using Mandriva’s NVidia 177.80 from backports for 2009.0. This version has InitialPixmapPlacement=2 by default, and this is the setting which caused the huge performance regression for me in Firefox.

  • Morris

    The 177.XX drivers seem really slow in KDE 4 as well. When I was running PC Linux OS with KDE 3.5.X and earlier Nvidia drivers, the whole KDE experience seemed to run smoother and faster.

    It’s possible the issue is KDE 4 and that it’s seriously bloated.

  • Frederik

    Yes, the Intel graphics chipsets integrated in Intel based motherboards. For example in my Dell Latitude E6400 I have an Intel GMA4500 graphics chipset, and that one works very stable and has enough performance for my needs.