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SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Deployment Guide
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9.8 Improving Performance

This section discusses several preference settings you can change to improve the performance of the GNOME Desktop. You can use the gconftool-2 command to set values for preferences for users. The example commands in this section show how to set values in the user configuration source.

You can also use the --direct and --config-source options to set mandatory values or default values for preferences. And you can use the gconftool-2 command in a script to set the values of many preferences. For more information on the gconftool-2 command and the options that are available with the command, see Using GConf for Defaults.

9.8.1 Reducing CPU Usage

There are a number of preferences that you can set to reduce CPU usage by the GNOME Desktop.

Using Theme Options That Require Less CPU Resources

Some window frame theme options load image files to draw the window frame. Other options use simpler techniques to draw the window frame. The Crux window frame option loads image files, but can be slow on systems with limited CPU resources. To reduce CPU usage, use one of the following window frame options:

  • Atlanta

  • Esco

The following window frame options also use fewer CPU resources than Crux:

  • AgingGorilla

  • Bright

  • Metabox

HINT:Metabox does not work well with inverse controls options such as HighContrastInverse. Use Atlanta with inverse controls options.

To change the window frame theme option, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/metacity/general/theme option-name 

For example, to use Atlanta, run the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/metacity/general/theme Atlanta

Users can also use the Theme preference tool to select the appropriate option.

You can use the Metacity Theme Viewer to measure the performance of a window frame option and to preview the option. To start Metacity Theme Viewer, use the following command:

metacity-theme-viewer option-name 

For example, to measure the performance of Atlanta and preview Atlanta, use the following command:

metacity-theme-viewer Atlanta

Turning Off Display of Icons in Menus

Some items in menus display an icon beside the item. To turn off this feature, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set  /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons false 
    

Users can also use the Menus & Toolbars preference tool to deselect the Show Icons in Menus option.

Turning Off the Splash Screen

When users log in to the desktop environment, a splash screen is displayed by default. Icons are displayed on the splash screen while the user logs in. You can turn off the splash screen to reduce CPU usage during login.

To turn off the splash screen, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/gnome-session/options/show_splash_screen false

Turning Off Panel Animation

When users show or hide panels, the panels can show or hide in an animated style. To turn off panel animation, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/panel/global/enable_animations false 

Users can also use the Panel preference tool to deselect the Drawer and Panel Animation option.

Improving File Manager Performance

The Nautilus file manager includes some features that you can modify to improve performance.

Modifying Performance Preferences

The file manager includes performance-related preferences. Each of these preference can take any of the following three values.

Table 9-12 Performance-related Preferences

Value

Description

always

Performs the action for both local files and files on other file systems.

local_only

Performs the action for local files only. Using this value reduces CPU usage.

never

Never performs the action. Using this value reduces CPU usage and network traffic.

The following table describes the performance preferences for the file manager. For the fastest performance, set the value of the preferences to Never.

Table 9-13 File Manager Performance Preferences

Preference

Description

show_icon_text

Specifies when to preview the content of text files in the icon that represents the file. To never preview the content of text files, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/ show_icon_text never 

Users can also perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit > Preferences in a file manager window, then click Preview.

  2. Select an option for the Show Text in Icons preference.

show_directory_item_counts

Specifies when to show the number of items in folders. To never show the number of items in folders, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/ show_directory_item_counts never 

Users can also perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit > Preferences in a file manager window, then click Preview.

  2. Select an option for the Count Number of Items preference.

show_image_thumbnails

Specifies when to show thumbnails of image files. To never show thumbnails, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/ show_image_thumbnails never 

Users can also perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit > Preferences in a file manager window, then click Preview.

  2. Select an option for the Show Thumbnails preference.

preview_sound

Specifies when to preview the content of sound files. To never preview the content of sound files, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/preview_sound never 

Users can also perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit > Preferences in a file manager window, then click Preview.

  2. Select an option for the Preview Sound Files preference.

Turning Off the Side Pane, Toolbar, and Location Bar

The file manager includes preferences that let you turn off the side pane and the toolbar. Turning these off improves file manager performance.

To turn off the side pane, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/start_with_sidebar false 

To turn off the toolbar, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/start_with_toolbar false 

You can also turn off the location bar. Users can use the Ctrl+L keyboard shortcut to display a location bar when required.

To turn off the location bar, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/start_with_location_bar false 
Turning Off the Desktop

The file manager contains a preference that lets users use Nautilus to manage the desktop. You can disable the desktop to improve performance. However, if you disable the desktop, you cannot

  • Use the Desktop menu.

  • Use the file manager to change the pattern or color of the desktop background.

  • Use the desktop objects, such as Trash. (The desktop objects are not displayed on the desktop.)

To disable the desktop, use the following command:

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop false 

9.8.2 Reducing X Window System Network Traffic

There are some preferences that you can set to reduce X Window System network traffic on the GNOME Desktop.

Using Theme Options That Create Less Network Traffic

Remote display protocols do not transfer every pixel in a block of pixels if all pixels in the block are the same color. To reduce X Window System network traffic, use one of the following window frame options that uses solid colors:

  • Atlanta

  • Esco

For information on how to change theme options, see Using Theme Options That Require Less CPU Resources.

Turning Off Display of Icons in Menus

Some items in menus display an icon beside the item. This feature can increase X Window System network traffic if the icon is located on another file system or if the panels are displayed on a remote host.

For information on how to turn off this feature, see Turning Off Display of Icons in Menus.

9.8.3 Reducing Color Usage and Improving Display Quality

Many modern computer systems support 24-bit color (that is, 16,777,216 colors). However, many users still use systems that support only 8-bit color (256 colors). The GNOME Desktop uses the websafe color palette. This palette is a general-purpose palette of 216 colors which is designed to optimize the use of color on systems that support 8-bit color. However, some visual components of the GNOME Desktop are designed for systems that support 24-bit color.

The following display problems might occur on systems that support only 8-bit color:

  • Windows, icons, and background images might appear grainy. Many themes, background images, and icons use colors that are not in the websafe color palette. The colors that are not in the palette are replaced with the nearest equivalent or a dithered approximation, which causes the grainy appearance.

  • Applications that do not use the websafe color palette have fewer colors available; therefore, color errors might occur. Some colors might not appear in the user interface of the application, and some applications might crash if the application cannot allocate colors.

  • Color flashing might occur when users switch between applications that use the websafe color palette and applications that do not use this palette. The applications that do not use the websafe color palette might use a custom colormap. When the custom colormap is used, other visual components might lose colors and then become unviewable.

The following sections describe how to optimize the appearance of the GNOME Desktop for systems that support only 8-bit color.

Using Theme Options That Use the Websafe Color Palette

Some window frame theme options use colors that are in the websafe color palette. Bright and Esco use colors from the websafe color palette and do not have the grainy appearance of other window frame options on 8-bit color displays. Use Bright or Esco for the best color display on 8-bit visual modes.

For information on how to change theme options, see Using Theme Options That Require Less CPU Resources.

Reducing Color Usage by Turning Off Display of Icons in Menus

Some items in menus display an icon beside the item. If the icon contains colors that are not in the websafe color palette, this feature can increase the number of colors used.

For information on how to turn off this feature, see Turning Off Display of Icons in Menus.

Reducing Color Usage by Turning Off the Splash Screen

You can turn off the splash screen to make more colors available for the GNOME Desktop and for applications.

For information on how to turn off the splash screen, see Turning Off the Splash Screen.

Reducing Color Usage by Using a Solid Color for the Background

Use a solid color for the desktop background. This reduces the number of colors used by the GNOME Desktop.

To set a solid color for the background, use the following commands:

gconftool-2 --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/picture_options none 
gconftool-2 --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/color_shading_type solid 
gconftool-2 --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/primary_color \#hexadecimal-color 

Users can also use the Background preference tool to choose a solid color for the background.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Deployment Guide
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