Linux Mint – Solving slow frame rates in games

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Another issue that may come up is slow frame rates when playing games on Linux. An extremely common cause for frame rate issues in Linux games is due to something called desktop effects, also known as compositing. Many desktop environments, Cinnamon included (but also others, such as KDE), use special effects to make GUI actions look more stylish, such as animating when you minimize windows or showing a transparency effect in menus. These features certainly make the desktop look more appealing, but they come at a cost; they steal resources from your video card.

The typically accepted solution that most developers seem to try to include into desktop environments is the act of automatically disabling desktop effects when full-screen applications are being run. In fact, many developers claim that desktop effects are disabled for full-screen windows (games typically run on full screen) by default and that this should no longer be an issue. However, your author plays games on Linux daily and can confirm this issue is anything but fixed on any desktop environment at the time of writing this tutorial.

The manual work-around is to disable desktop effects yourself prior to playing a game, then re-enable desktop effects (if you wish to keep them) after you finish playing. To temporarily or permanently disable desktop effects in Cinnamon, access System Settings and then click on Effects. There is a checkbox in the top-left corner of this window; it reads Enable desktop effects. Disable this checkbox, and then try your game again. You may find that the game runs much better.

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