GNOME Shell + Mutter 3.31.4 Deliver Desktop Performance Improvements

Written by Michael Larabel in GNOME on 10 January 2019 at 03:54 PM EST. 25 Comments
While released too late for making it into GNOME 3.31.4 proper as the newest GNOME 3.32 development release, out today are GNOME Shell 3.31.4 and Mutter 3.31.4 and both of these components offer up performance fixes/improvements.

GNOME Shell 3.31.4 improves the icon grid performance, which is for a bug opened for nearly one year about high CPU usage when scrolling the app grid. This was reported by Canonical's Daniel van Vugt and even for a Core i7 Kabylake desktop CPU the app grid scrolling introduced high CPU overhead while now has the necessary fixes in place.

The GNOME Shell update also drops its broken browser plug-in, introduces a DBus API for introspecting the application state and a variety of random bug fixes throughout.

Mutter 3.31.4 meanwhile has performance improvements for secondary GPUs. The performance issue came from pixel format confusion between the driver components and duplicated pixels. These secondary GPU performance improvements are part of other performance work this cycle for improving hardware like USB-based DisplayLink display adapters with GNOME's Mutter on Wayland now supporting GPU hot-plugging and other performance shortcomings.

This update also corrects GNOME Wayland's behavior for non-60Hz refresh rate displays as another big win and getting its Wayland compositor closer to parity with X11. This Mutter update also now allows reporting the rotated physical dimensions of an output via XDG-Output, support for buffer transforms on Wayland, touchscreens are now turned off together with DPMS, the wallpaper is now mipmap'ed when shrinking, EGLStreams fixes, improved render performance for KMS devices with software GPU, and various other fixes and improvements. That improved render performance with KMS devices on software EGL is what dramatically improves the Wayland performance when running on ASpeed display hardware.

Overall, these are some big performance fixes/improvements now available as development releases and will be christened as stable -- along with other performance optimizations -- in the March GNOME 3.32.0 reveal. Particularly due to many performance improvements on Wayland building up this cycle, I am quite looking forward to GNOME 3.32 in the likes of Fedora 30 and hopefully Ubuntu 19.04.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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