KDE performance problems with 3.2.x (not a flame)

Brian Lee Yung Rowe public_browe at cenozoa.com
Wed Mar 31 21:30:42 BST 2004


I recently installed Gentoo Linux 2.6.4-r1 onto a Shuttle SN85G4 with Athlon 
64 (amd64), 1GB PC3200, and ATI Radeon 9200 .  KDE 3.2 looks great (nice 
improvements over 3.1 and 3.0) but the performance is really poor on this new 
box.  I initially installed KDE + X from pre-compiled binaries and then 
upgraded via compile.

Below are some symptoms that I am experiencing.

1. Long load times for KDE applications.  Most KDE apps take >30 seconds to 
load.  I get the bouncing cursor for a very long time.  As an example, the 
Control Center takes 90+ seconds to load.

2. Buttons momentarily freeze after clicking them.

3. Opening links in new Konqueror tabs causes system to stutter/hang until the 
page begins to render.

4. Switching virtual desktops takes 5-10 seconds to redraw screen.  The input 
freezes until it is done.  Perhaps this is an X issue?

5. Resizing windows causes banding (what's the proper term?) as the display 
doesn't refresh fast enough.

6. Multitasking seems to really confuse the system.

7. etc.

I have made numerous diagnostics to determine what the problem is.  Here are 
some of my observations.

1. Non KDE apps are very snappy.  XMMS, Xine, GIMP, multi-gnome-terminal all 
load quickly and are responsive.  In addition, Java and other terminal apps 
are fast.

2. Other desktop environments are fast (e.g. Enlightenment)

3. top shows that kdeinit takes up to 99% CPU while loading apps.  X is also a 
big CPU user, particularly when switching desktops (makes sense, but perhaps 
it's using too much?)

4. I ran strace -T on a number of applications and found nothing consistent 
for the apps.  Here's a sampling of what I discovered.
  a. for kopete: read(3, "\2\5\0\2\"\0\0\0", 8) = 8 <8.204047>
  b. for khelpcenter: read(3, "\2\5\0\2\"\0\0\0", 8) = 8 <3.251070>
    read(3, khelpcenter: WARNING: Main template file name is empty, 
"\2\6\0\0027\0\0\0", 8) = 8 <16.990973>
  c. for korganizer: read(3, "\2\5\0\2&\0\0\0", 8) = 8 <3.301196>
    QMetaObject::findSignal:KListView: Conflict with 
QListView::doubleClicked(QListViewItem*,const QPoint&,int) 
"\2\6\0\0026\0\0\0", 8) = 8 <22.278729>
  d. for kwrite: Lines containing 'No such file or directory': 1693
  e. for konqueror: Lines containing 'No such file or directory': 1743 -- is 
this normal?  For reference, kopete's output has 123 and khelpcenter has 113 
and korganizer has 111.

  For comparison, here is GIMP: Lines containing 'No such file or directory': 

5. Also note that setting the preload option for Konq helped but only for 
Konqueror (and only sometimes).

6. .xsession-errors shows a few errors
  a. Xlib: extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
  b. QPixmap: Cannot create a QPixmap when no GUI is being used
  c. ksplash: WARNING: KGenericFactory: instance requested but no instance 
name passed to constructor!

The GLX errors are probably because I can't get Direct Rendering or OpenGL 
working with XFree (presumably a separate issue).  I'm using the radeon 
driver.  Using ati won't even load X.

7. XFree86.0.log shows nothing interesting.

I have also tried a number of hacks posted on various mailing lists and 
forums.  None of them made any noticeable difference.

1. Turn off sound.
2. Kill any extraneous mount programs
3. Turn on DMA in kernel (already enabled -- using nVidia nForce3)
4. Verify hostname is in /etc/hosts.
5. Using a different desktop environment.  KDE apps are still slow, although 
the rest of the environment is fine (aside from the KDE apps hogging all of 
the CPU).  Also, I prefer KDE and KDE apps over their counterparts.

So, I'm at a loss.  Not too many people are experiencing this problem.  Is it 
a kernel configuration issue?  A compatibility issue?  Bad luck?  

Any help on this matter is greatly appreciated.  I have refrained from filing 
a bug, but if nothing comes up here, then that might be the next step.

Brian Rowe

Brian Lee Yung Rowe (President, Chief Architect)
Cenozoa Corporation
3 East 28th Street, 9th Floor, New York 10016
646 536 3066
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