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Jan 10 / kkrizka

Why NOT To Run Compiz On A Laptop

I have often seen different people running compiz and other desktop effects on the their laptop, but I never understood why they do it. Sure it looks cool and you can easily impress your friends, but it takes a lot of processing power to calculate the shadows and other eye-candy, which in turn requires a lot of energy. This means that you battery will train much faster than if you did not have any effects. Proof? Well, look at the screenshot of the GNOME Power History that I took after I turned on simple desktop effects for a few minutes.


Can you see the sudden dip in estimated time that remain for me to run on battery power? That happened right after I enabled the most simple Compiz effects that were available. Now imagine if a person was to enable all of them — cube, expose –, then the drop would be much larger.

There are a few things that could be implemented to allow for desktop effects on laptops. I think it would be great if they were automatically turned off after I unplug my computer from the wall socket. Different distributions should consider doing that, and I don’t think it would be too hard to implement. They already can hide the battery icon if the computer is fully charge and plugged in, so why not add another such event listener? Especially if Compiz can be enabled/disabled through gconf, then it is only a matter of adding a simple file to the /etc/acpi/events directory. I will investigate this further in the future and blog about it if I succeed.

So if you are wondering why you computer dies after only an hour of use, make sure to check that there are no fancy eye-candy enabled and try to go into the simplistic mode possible.

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