Compositor

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If you use a DE with X11, then you probably have a compositor. The compositor does nice things like window shadows, animations, transparency, blur, or other effects. But it also reduces fps, adds input lag, and introduces stuttering. That's why you should disable it when running a game. You can verify that composition is disabled, by looking at your desktop effects. For example, you should not see shadows. They either vanish, or get pitch black.

Disabling composition for your games[edit | edit source]

Disabling composition will dramatically improve performance, input lag, and "smoothness". Here is how to do it:

Gnome[edit | edit source]

This is the default DE on Pop!_OS, Nobara Official, and Nobara Gnome.

You don't have to do anything. Gnome uses unredirection (the same thing Windows does), which is almost as good as disabling compositon. Disabling composition in Gnome is not possible.

KDE[edit | edit source]

This is the default DE on Nobara KDE.

There are many options to disable composition:

  • You can use Autocomposer. This should make it unnecessary to do anything of the following.
  • For Lutris:
    • To disable it for a single game: Right click the game -> Configure -> System options -> Disable desktop effects.
    • To disable it for all games: Click ... in the top right corner -> Preferences -> Global options -> Disable desktop effects
  • You can manually disable composition with shift + alt + f12 before launching a game. The same combination re-enables it.
  • If you want to use a terminal command (for example for automation, launch options for Steam, Gamemode etc):
    • disable: qdbus org.kde.KWin /Compositor suspend
    • enable: qdbus org.kde.KWin /Compositor resume
  • You can also disable it completely with System Settings -> Display and Monitor -> Compositor -> Enable compositor on startup.

Xfce[edit | edit source]

  • Disable composition with xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -s false[1]
  • Enable it again with xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -s true

Mate[edit | edit source]

  • Disable composition: gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager false[2]
  • Enable composition: gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager true

Cinnamon[edit | edit source]

As of Cinnamon 5.4, there's an option to disable composition for fullscreen applications, essentially referring to unredirection. However, it is disabled by default, forcing composition on all apps, making it not ideal.

To enable it: System Settings -> General -> Disable compositing on fullscreen applications

This might lead to visual degradation in desktop mode (no effects, no shadows, no transparency, no window previews, more tearing), but is still recommended if you want to reduce latency.

Pantheon[edit | edit source]

Unfortunately it appears to not support the option to disable composition.[3]

Automation[edit | edit source]

For DEs that support disabling/enabling the compositor with a terminal command, you can automate it. In the following <disable> and <enable> are to be replaced with the respective command to disable or enable the compositor.

Gamemode[edit | edit source]

The easiest way is to automate it with gamemode. You can edit gamemode.ini and set

[custom]
start=<disable>
end=<enable>

Steam[edit | edit source]

Set the launch command <disable>; %command%; <enable>.

For example xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -s false; %command%; xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -s true to disable composition on Xfce[4].

References and notes[edit | edit source]