Comparing different desktop environments on Ubuntu in terms of speed using fgl_glxgears

It is not fair to say certain desktop environment is faster than others only based on fgl_glxgears’s output. There are many more factors than, just having some FPS gain in an opengl tool to consider a desktop environment over others. One more fact to consider, a distro which has say e.g. twm as default window manager might have more benefits (ease of use, performance) than running on Ubuntu. Following results reflect the output on my hardware, and might be different on yours even on similar setup.

Few years back, I was even unable to boot without using acpi off. When catalyst drivers started working on this hardware, it started to become better every time. With this new release the performance was even better. I was eager, how each desktop environment take advantage of this, so I wrote this article.

Note: Go to end to know the final list.

Operating System: Ubuntu 12.04.1
Kernel Version: 3.2.0-36
Catalyst Version: 13.1
Architecture: x86_64
Graphics card: Radeon HD 6470M, Intel HD 3000 (though this test is done on Radeon HD)
OpenGL Version: 4.2.12002 Compatibility Profile Context 9.012
RAM: 4 GB
Desktop Resolution: 1366x768
fgl_glxgears: 600x600 (It is default, no resize or maximize).

Note: On each environment I will list the output of first 5 results. There will be two such results (each 5) with following commands simultaneously.

$ fgl_glxgears
Using GLX_SGIX_pbuffer

$ fgl_glxgears -fbo
Using GL_EXT_framebuffer_object

Cinnamon 3D

3294 frames in 5.0 seconds = 658.800 FPS
3835 frames in 5.0 seconds = 767.000 FPS
3742 frames in 5.0 seconds = 748.400 FPS
3770 frames in 5.0 seconds = 754.000 FPS
3756 frames in 5.0 seconds = 751.200 FPS

Cinnamon 3D (fbo)

3545 frames in 5.0 seconds = 709.000 FPS
4017 frames in 5.0 seconds = 803.400 FPS
4019 frames in 5.0 seconds = 803.800 FPS
4012 frames in 5.0 seconds = 802.400 FPS
4016 frames in 5.0 seconds = 803.200 FPS

Cinnamon 2D

1229 frames in 5.0 seconds = 245.800 FPS
1081 frames in 5.0 seconds = 216.200 FPS
1050 frames in 5.0 seconds = 210.000 FPS
1085 frames in 5.0 seconds = 217.000 FPS
1075 frames in 5.0 seconds = 215.000 FPS

Cinnamon 2D (fbo)

1458 frames in 5.0 seconds = 291.600 FPS
1530 frames in 5.0 seconds = 306.000 FPS
1568 frames in 5.0 seconds = 313.600 FPS
1552 frames in 5.0 seconds = 310.400 FPS
1466 frames in 5.0 seconds = 293.200 FPS

Gnome

3122 frames in 5.0 seconds = 624.400 FPS
4017 frames in 5.0 seconds = 803.400 FPS
3770 frames in 5.0 seconds = 754.000 FPS
3774 frames in 5.0 seconds = 754.800 FPS
3783 frames in 5.0 seconds = 756.600 FPS

Gnome (fbo)

3641 frames in 5.0 seconds = 728.200 FPS
4029 frames in 5.0 seconds = 805.800 FPS
4321 frames in 5.0 seconds = 864.200 FPS
4047 frames in 5.0 seconds = 809.400 FPS
4053 frames in 5.0 seconds = 810.600 FPS

Gnome Classic (with effect)

3578 frames in 5.0 seconds = 715.600 FPS
3948 frames in 5.0 seconds = 789.600 FPS
4002 frames in 5.0 seconds = 800.400 FPS
3961 frames in 5.0 seconds = 792.200 FPS
3919 frames in 5.0 seconds = 783.800 FPS

Gnome Classic (with effect fbo)

4070 frames in 5.0 seconds = 814.000 FPS
4541 frames in 5.0 seconds = 908.200 FPS
4518 frames in 5.0 seconds = 903.600 FPS
4559 frames in 5.0 seconds = 911.800 FPS
4530 frames in 5.0 seconds = 906.000 FPS

Gnome Classic (without effect)

3977 frames in 5.0 seconds = 795.400 FPS
4612 frames in 5.0 seconds = 922.400 FPS
4744 frames in 5.0 seconds = 948.800 FPS
4634 frames in 5.0 seconds = 926.800 FPS
4734 frames in 5.0 seconds = 946.800 FPS

Gnome Classic (without effect fbo)

4790 frames in 5.0 seconds = 958.000 FPS
5606 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1121.200 FPS
5593 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1118.600 FPS
5588 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1117.600 FPS
5596 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1119.200 FPS

KDE Plasma Workspace

3606 frames in 5.0 seconds = 721.200 FPS
3844 frames in 5.0 seconds = 768.800 FPS
3829 frames in 5.0 seconds = 765.800 FPS
3798 frames in 5.0 seconds = 759.600 FPS
3807 frames in 5.0 seconds = 761.400 FPS

KDE Plasma Workspace (fbo)

3413 frames in 5.0 seconds = 682.600 FPS
4413 frames in 5.0 seconds = 882.600 FPS
4515 frames in 5.0 seconds = 903.000 FPS
4445 frames in 5.0 seconds = 889.000 FPS
4377 frames in 5.0 seconds = 875.400 FPS

OpenBox

3793 frames in 5.0 seconds = 758.600 FPS
4682 frames in 5.0 seconds = 936.400 FPS
4666 frames in 5.0 seconds = 933.200 FPS
4630 frames in 5.0 seconds = 926.000 FPS
4772 frames in 5.0 seconds = 954.400 FPS

OpenBox (fbo)

5334 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1066.800 FPS
5609 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1121.800 FPS
5614 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1122.800 FPS
5613 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1122.600 FPS
5611 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1122.200 FPS

TWM

3223 frames in 5.0 seconds = 644.600 FPS
4963 frames in 5.0 seconds = 992.600 FPS
4941 frames in 5.0 seconds = 988.200 FPS
4806 frames in 5.0 seconds = 961.200 FPS
4849 frames in 5.0 seconds = 969.800 FPS

TWM (fbo)

3807 frames in 5.0 seconds = 761.400 FPS
5629 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1125.800 FPS
5623 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1124.600 FPS
5637 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1127.400 FPS
5635 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1127.000 FPS

Ubuntu Unity

3782 frames in 5.0 seconds = 756.400 FPS
3892 frames in 5.0 seconds = 778.400 FPS
3958 frames in 5.0 seconds = 791.600 FPS
4032 frames in 5.0 seconds = 806.400 FPS
4011 frames in 5.0 seconds = 802.200 FPS

Ubuntu Unity (fbo)

4183 frames in 5.0 seconds = 836.600 FPS
4507 frames in 5.0 seconds = 901.400 FPS
4606 frames in 5.0 seconds = 921.200 FPS
4501 frames in 5.0 seconds = 900.200 FPS
4489 frames in 5.0 seconds = 897.800 FPS

Ubuntu (Unity 2D)

1024 frames in 5.0 seconds = 204.800 FPS
1374 frames in 5.0 seconds = 274.800 FPS
1376 frames in 5.0 seconds = 275.200 FPS
1375 frames in 5.0 seconds = 275.000 FPS
1386 frames in 5.0 seconds = 277.200 FPS

Ubuntu (Unity 2D fbo)

907 frames in 5.0 seconds = 181.400 FPS
1086 frames in 5.0 seconds = 217.200 FPS
1102 frames in 5.0 seconds = 220.400 FPS
1120 frames in 5.0 seconds = 224.000 FPS
1071 frames in 5.0 seconds = 214.200 FPS

Here is the total of each section

Cinnamon 3D: 3679.4 
Cinnamon 3D (fbo): 3921.8 
Cinnamon 2D: 1104 
Cinnamon 2D (fbo): 1514.8 
Gnome: 3693.2 
Gnome (fbo): 4018.2 
Gnome Classic (with effect): 3881.6 
Gnome Classic (with effect fbo): 4443.6 
Gnome Classic (without effect): 4540.2 
Gnome Classic (without effect fbo): 5434.6 
KDE Plasma Workspace: 3776.8 
KDE Plasma Workspace (fbo): 4232.6
OpenBox: 4508.6 
OpenBox (fbo): 5556.2 
TWM: 4556.4 
TWM (fbo): 5266.2 
Ubuntu Unity: 3935 
Ubuntu Unity (fbo): 4457.2 
Ubuntu (Unity 2D): 1307 
Ubuntu (Unity 2D fbo): 1057.2

I found openbox on ubuntu to be buggy, because it was trying to load many gnome applications at start, and crashed all of them. Without those gnome packages surely, the bugs would go away. Openbox and TWM does not seem like modern desktop, that everyone could use. Omitting those two results here is the list in terms of most FPS.

Gnome Classic (without effect fbo): 5434.6 
Gnome Classic (without effect): 4540.2 
Ubuntu Unity (fbo): 4457.2 
Gnome Classic (with effect fbo): 4443.6
KDE Plasma Workspace (fbo): 4232.6 
Gnome (fbo): 4018.2 
Ubuntu Unity: 3935 
Cinnamon 3D (fbo): 3921.8 
Gnome Classic (with effect): 3881.6
KDE Plasma Workspace: 3776.8 
Gnome: 3693.2 
Cinnamon 3D: 3679.4 
Cinnamon 2D (fbo): 1514.8 
Ubuntu (Unity 2D): 1307 
Cinnamon 2D: 1104 
Ubuntu (Unity 2D fbo): 1057.2

Note: Sorry I could not review KDE (repository in my country is broken), and all tests were done without enabling anything special e.g vsync etc.

Conclusion: As I said earlier, there are many other things determining the efficiency of a desktop system. For the same reason, I had to omit the results of TWM and OpenBox. Graphics card I use is not the newest one either. I expected overall result to be similar, though I think Gnome desktop had to be higher on the list. Since its ubuntu and not fedora, that seems fair too. It would be great to know results of you guys, if the ratio (considering graphics card) changes largely or even the list gets altered in your test.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Comparing different desktop environments on Ubuntu in terms of speed using fgl_glxgears

  1. tracyanne

    You didn’t test KDE. What an absolute waste of time that was.

  2. might I ask what the fbo switch does?

    • I don’t much about fbo (may be frame buffer object). The frame buffer object architecture (FBO) is an extension to OpenGL for doing flexible off-screen rendering, including rendering to a texture – wikipedia

  3. After disabling vsync on kde following was the result without fbo

    4004 frames in 5.0 seconds = 800.800 FPS
    4821 frames in 5.0 seconds = 964.200 FPS
    4747 frames in 5.0 seconds = 949.400 FPS
    4785 frames in 5.0 seconds = 957.000 FPS
    4802 frames in 5.0 seconds = 960.400 FPS

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