Severe Performance Issues in Linux Caused by Xinerama?

As of the writing of this entry, I have been a Linux user for several months. Ever since the first installation of Fedora Core 4, I’ve noticed that my P4 computer was running way slower then it should. Today, I finally found out the reason why.


It was the summer of 2006 when I first started playing around with Linux. My first experimental installation was with Fedora Core 4 on an AMD Athlon 750MHz computer. I liked the fact that it was free and had many server capabilities. By the end of the summer, I had a dual boot setup on my main computer with WinXP and Fedora Core 4.

First off, my computer specs:

  • Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • GeForce FX 5500 128MB 4x AGP

The main difference between my main computer and my experimental computer, is that my main computer has two displays. Once I got it to work in Fedora (which took a lot of learning), I continued to install software and tweak settings. Later on, I noticed that there were several performance issues, and everything was running extremely slow – almost like my GPU wasn’t helping the CPU at all. After many debugging hours, several reformats, and tons of help from the forums, somebody suggested Ubuntu. It was #1 on the distro watch at the time, so I installed it.

To make a long story short, I was still having the performance problems, but by now, I loved the software and didn’t want to go back to Windows, so I just dealt with it. After a few months, it was getting to be unbearable, to I went into debugging it once again.


I disabled my nvidia-glx driver and found that it actually improved my system performance, so it was obvious that my GPU wasn’t functioning properly. This lead me to hours of debugging my xorg.conf. Many hours later I found that Xinerama was the problem. I promptly disabled that and used TwinView instead. My system now runs much better! :)

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2007 at 6:30 pm and is filed under Linux. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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