Ubuntu Linux: reducing CPU load caused by compiz

Geek warning: You can skip this post if you’re not familiar with words like Linux, Ubuntu, Unity, and compiz :-)

Note: Several readers have let me know this tip didn’t help them. I put the tip here because it does seem to help in some cases, but evidently it is not a bullet-proof solution. Do your own research before you decide to try the following. My sources are provided as a starting point.

I’ve long had a problem on my Ubuntu computer that compiz would use a lot of CPU power even when the computer was idle, even when no programs were running. My computer is quite powerful so when compiz uses 20% of all CPU cores, that’s a lot of processing going on. It causes the CPU to heat up which causes the fans to run faster which causes noise which annoys me. Clearly, something needed to happen.

I have finally come across the solution and because it was hard to find, I’ll take this opportunity to share it with the world.

  1. If you haven’t already, install compizconfig-settings-manager and start it. This is a nifty tool that lets you modify many otherwise hidden settings of compiz.
  2. Under General, click on OpenGL:
    ccsm
  3. Uncheck Sync To VBlank and select “Fast” in Texture Filter:
    change

The changes take effect immediately, as you can see from this screenshot of my own CPU monitor before, during, and after I made this change:

sysmon

Now this is what the same computer looks like when it’s idle after the above changes were done, without even rebooting:

flatline

I don’t (want to) know the technical reasons for this problematic behavior, or why the solution works. I’m just happy that it works!

Source: AskUbuntu and FollowTheGeeks.

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