i have been using nixos for two years now on all my desktop computers/laptops.
My favorite desktop environment turned out to be GNOME3 because the presets fit my needs very well.
GNOME3 seems also relatively slow, but i did not wonder much about it because my laptops are all relatively old and that desktop environment being so feature-rich.
Now i have a new laptop and i am really disappointed with the desktop performance using GNOME3. The laptop is a Dell XPS 13 7390 with pure intel CPU/GPU hardware and 16 gigs of RAM.
After double-checking if i have configured all the performance related things:
- activate https://github.com/NixOS/nixos-hardware/tree/master/dell/xps/13-7390
- latest linux kernel package selected
- all laptop firmware updated
- enable the acceleration from the wiki: https://nixos.wiki/wiki/Accelerated_Video_Playback
- xserver settings according to https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/blob/70b888b613f8b54d64958ac5c032af7baa88f8d0/nixos/doc/manual/configuration/x-windows.xml:
services.xserver.videoDrivers = [ "modesetting" ];
services.xserver.useGlamor = true;
The general observation is a laggy UX:
- start apps like firefox, gnome sys settings, terminal, etc. - all takes multiple seconds
- when running 3-5 apps that all use < 5% cpu time, switching work spaces is really laggy.
- Even after i disable the work space switch animation in gnome-tweaks, it sometimes takes seconds.
- clicking into the firefox address bar and entering a URL often hangs for multiple seconds and never looks fluid
- firefox loads really slowly, but it’s not my wifi connection. (even in safe mode with all extensions turned off)
- At the same time RAM is never full, overall CPU utilization is seldomly higher than 20%
I have no idea if it’s the NixOS’s gnome3 setup as i did not try legacy linux distros for years.
But i have switched to XFCE today and boom everything works really quickly.
It looks like i am going to stick to XFCE for now, but i am missing GNOME3’s user comfort a bit. Is this a known phenomenon that gnome3 is so much slower, or might it be something that i missed in my config, or is it just NixOS’s default gnome3 module that might simply be slower than on other distros because no one who is interested in optimizing it is actually using it?