Kasperian Moving Parts

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Replace Laptop Video Card? Replace Laptop? Give Up Hope?

| 22 Comments

I just read Alexander Dymo (adymo)’s blog post “KDE4 performance on NVidia 8600GT: problem solved by bying ATI” and am quite sad because I’m pretty sure that it’s impossible to rip out the nVidia Quadro NVS 140M that’s crammed into the motherboard on my laptop and replace it with an ATI (or Intel?) chip. I know I blogged recently about how zippy KDE 4.2/trunk was after the latest nVidia driver update, but it only takes running for about a day solid until the performance on this laptop becomes unbearable again. And I’m not even using Firefox–thinking that Opera would fare better being Qt4 and all. Also making me sad is the fact that all 5 of the things Alexander mentioned as problems have plagued me for the last year and that they’re all still there. I didn’t realize that the system tray icon corruption problem only happened on nVidia cards. I thought it was a KDE4 bug. =:(

Nuts.

If I was made of money, I’d be sorely tempted now to go looking for a personal laptop to replace this frustrating hunk of Thinkpad with. New macbooks come out on Tuesday, no?

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Geek. These are our stories....

22 Comments

  1. Pingback: Video X Drivers » Replace Laptop Video Card? Replace Laptop? Give Up Hope?

  2. Actully, talking about the system tray icon corruption, I have an ATI RadeonHD 3600, and I still see those issues (using openSUSE 11.0, KDE 4.1.2). But, I’ve noticed that Mandriva 2009 (with KDE 4.1.2 also) doesn’t have that issue. I wonder what they did there? I have a feeling that the corruption actually is a KDE4 bug.

    Xtreme Kommander

  3. Some bug reports that may be relevant: http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=158094, http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=170283. Currently with an ATI card I only have the problem with the systray transparency in KDE4, and the systray gets corrupted if I change an xorg.conf setting. Also, Xorg and plasma seem to have some serious memory leaks here, after one day memory use increases by ~300 MB.

  4. Yes, I have noticed those memory leaks as well. I wish I could get a bunch of guys together dedicated to making KDE4 EVEN FASTER! That’s my dream….if KDE4 is already fast, imagine KDE4 even faster. And also make it use as little memory as possible, oh and also get it to login in 2 or 3 seconds. But dude, I love KDE4 even with it’s bugs. Thanks KDE team!

    Xtreme Kommander

  5. Pingback: Six Sense Blog » Blog Archive » Replace Laptop Video Card? Replace Laptop? Give Up Hope?

  6. I have the same Thinkpad with the same crappy quadro 140m.
    If you manage to replace the video card please do blog about it, I hate having to run kde3 on it.

  7. I’m sorry to say that not always switching from nvidia to ati is a solution.

    I made the exactly opposite switch. My old laptop with an ATI card was having really bad performances in kde. The effects were only working with xrender, opengl was a no go, and the cpu usage was always very high.

    I have now a new laptop with a “nvidia geforce 9600m gs” and everything is really fast.

    A friend of mine has another laptop with an ATI card and it works fine (I personally installed linux on his machine and so I know it’s not a configurations issue)

    To conclude, it’s not a problem with nvidia or ati. Some cards work fine and some others don’t.

  8. I forgot somethign:
    at some point I configured dual head on this new laptop, and while everything initially was really fast, after a while it became unuseable, with high cpu usage.

    Thinking that this was related to the dual head setup, I tried deleting from the plasma config files, the containments on the second screen, and everything returned to normal.

    I now have re-added the containment to the second screen (now only with a panel and a task manager on it) and it’s still normal. I don’t know exactly what triggered the problem but maybe yours is similar to mine. Try deleting (or moving) your plasma configuration files.

  9. > but it only takes running for about a day solid until the
    > performance on this laptop becomes unbearable again

    Are you saying that performance starts out fine and then gradually deteriorates? In which case that would be an entirely different problem. Intuitively I would not expect changing your graphics card to affect that at all.

  10. @Robert Knight: heya! Yeah, I agree with your hunch in that it sounds more like a memory leak or something. And I haven’t been scientific in my trials/errors. This is my main work laptop, so it’s not something I like to (or have time to) futz around with. I’m sitting here right now, doing nothing more than typing in Opera and I see this:

    32275 jkasper 20 0 168m 65m 37m R 59 3.3 300:25.23 kwin
    31935 root 20 0 362m 265m 11m R 33 13.3 310:51.15 Xorg

    *sigh*

    @Massimiliano Torromeo: Yeah, I’ve gone that route before. Deleting every plasma config file makes it start up nice and quick. And that’s good for about a day? *shrug* Maybe I’m just overly tired and frustrated.

  11. the new macbooks are rumored to have nvidia in them, in addition to the whole slew of linux on macs issues.

  12. > And I haven’t been scientific in my trials/errors.
    > This is my main work laptop, so it’s not something I
    > like to (or have time to) futz around with.

    If you’re asking in a blog whether you should replace your laptop then I’d definitely recommend trying a few quicker and cheaper alternatives first:

    – Install and run ‘xrestop’ to see which applications are using the most X.org resources, report back and the maintainer of the application might be able to do something.
    – When the system gets sluggish, kill and restart suspicious applications (like KWin or Plasma) and see if the system speeds up.
    (eg. Alt+F2, enter ‘killall kwin’ then ‘kwin’)
    – Try running a different window manager and see if that makes any difference (eg. metacity)

    > Maybe I’m just overly tired and frustrated.

    I have a maxim that I always try to make my blog posts on Planet KDE constructive in some way – even if they are reporting a very frustrating problem. I would encourage you to do the same by taking a couple of minutes to try a few things and perhaps file a bug or even just blog your findings. Then you’ll be helping other users who run into the same bug.

  13. In notebooks, the powerful graphic cards are attached to a MXM slot. I believe that your card is that type. if you want you can substitute the video card to ATI (may be the on board graphic card is Intel). Let’s talk by e-mail, so i can better explain the details. Best regards

  14. @Robert Knight:

    - Install and run ‘xrestop’ to see which applications are using the most X.org resources, report back and the maintainer of the application might be able to do something.

    Yeah, I’ve done this, and pretty consistently, what I see looks like the following. At the top of the list is plasma, although xrestop hasn’t traced it back to its pid. Second on the list is kwin. Nor surprising with all the compositing, animations, window previews, etc.?

    2c00000 34 1 0 231 381 52413K 9K 52422K 32303
    1a00000 114 1 0 5725 4334 48220K 104K 48325K 32275 kwin

    - When the system gets sluggish, kill and restart suspicious applications (like KWin or Plasma) and see if the system speeds up.
    (eg. Alt+F2, enter ‘killall kwin’ then ‘kwin’)

    Yes, I’ve done this lots before too. And restarting Plasma sometimes helps. But far too many times I’ve gotten into the situation where kwin doesn’t come back after being killed.

    - Try running a different window manager and see if that makes any difference (eg. metacity)

    Yes, openbox doesn’t exhibit any of these problems to be certain, and neither do metacity or compiz. And when kwin isn’t able to restart itself this is what I’ve resorted to (openbox) until I can shut everything down and restert X. But it’s a frustrating situation and not by any means the stable work environment that I need being that I’m still trying to get real work done. =:/

    Mind you, this is not the rant you’ve seen elsewhere about how awful things are and it’s all KDE’s fault, etc. I know the situation with nVidia. It’s just really frustrating and my point is that I’ve been trying to work through these problems for the last year and, sharing adymo’s sentiments, it’s really really frustrating. And, exactly to the point, I’d REALLY like to just be done with this and get a system that doesn’t have these problems, but that’s rather difficult with a laptop. =:)

    BTW, thanks for all your work on konsole! =:) One thing that truly has improved in the last nVidia release has been konsole speed. =:)

  15. @Marcos Barbosa: Hey! Wow, thanks for the info! I had no idea that MXM slots even existed on laptops! However, according to what I can find and according to nVidia’s list on notebook cards, my work laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad T61) does not have an MXM slot?

  16. also, you can look into actually phsyically replacing the card with your laptop chassis model. If you find out the original vender who manufactured the model and motherboard used you can see what is supported and find a manual. I have a system76 notebook (system76.com) and when I asked them whether I could upgrade my nvidia card to a newer one later on they sent me a manual with step-by-step instructions on how to replace various parts including the monitor and graphics card!

  17. I have new ATI card and systray problems too, so please, stop posting bullshit about “nvidia bugs”!

  18. I have an ATI card – infact, historically, one of the poorest supported cards (r350 chipset) – and I don’t have any of those systray bugs. I’m using 4.1.2 from gentoo and the proprietary drivers, and as far as I can tell, there are no patches in my installation.

    The upgrade from 4.1.1 to 4.1.2 improved performance and stability significantly on my system. Nothing changed except the KDE version. Honestly, it’s shocking how much better it is. I have no quantitative proof, but it’s nice: my first time using a composite WM for more than 4 hours. I’m not even getting performance drops.

    This is just to say that the fault isn’t entirely KDE’s. Sure, there can be improvements, but it’s still really good.

    As for web-browsing, give Arora a try. It’s QtWebkit based, and runs very smoothly for me. No support for flash, or some other stuff yet, but great javascript.

    Also, Opera is actually Qt3 based, not 4.

  19. I’m using a laptop w/ an ATI Radeon XPress 200M and get pretty good performance out of KDE. XRender based composite (sadly no GL, but better than none), good GL performance outside of KWin (with compositing), no window resize glitches, viewable tray icons… Naturally, I would recommend an Intel card if you want to abandon NVidia, though, since my (very) few problems (read: no GL compositing), are non-existent on Intel cards. I know this since someone I know has used KDE4+Linux on a Macbook with an Intel card.

  20. @Jason ‘vanRijn’ Kasper I don’t know, but is probably not. Quadro is onboard chipset. If a powerful graphic card like NVidia 8600GT then would be off-board.

  21. @Soap: You can download (and I have) a statically-linked Qt4 version of Opera. =:)

  22. The systray icon backgrund corruption also shows up with Intel 965GM, at least on 4.1.0 and 4.1.1, it’s not an nVidia-specific issue. Interestingly, I see it happen only with KDE 4 systray icons, not KDE 3 or GTK+ ones. And it didn’t happen with 4.0.

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