There is a little-known setting to make Ubuntu use less system resources, and this can help users with older, low-end machines run it more smoothly. Actually it’s a setting for Gnome, or to be more precise, for the default Metacity window manager. The short description for this is: “If true, trade off usability for less resource usage“, which makes it sound more aggressive than it really is.
Basically, what you’ll be cutting down on is redrawing of windows, as well as disabling animations. Here’s the full description:
“If true, metacity will give the user less feedback by using wireframes, avoiding animations, or other means. This is a significant reduction in usability for many users, but may allow legacy applications to continue working, and may also be a useful tradeoff for terminal servers. However, the wireframe feature is disabled when accessibility is on.”
To achieve this, open Applications > System Tools > Configuration Editor (or Alt+F2 and enter gconf-editor). Once open, browse to /apps/metacity/general/, and in the right pane you will notice the option “reduced_resources”, so tick that to set it to true.
You can also do it via the terminal, by running this command:
--type bool /apps/metacity/general/reduced_resources true
Now all window animations (for minimise/maximise etc) will be disabled, and when you drag windows/apps you will only see a wireframe grid until you let go.
Note that if you are running Compiz-Fusion‘s desktop effects, you will need to disable them and let Metacity take care of things (otherwise nothing will change, since it is a Metacity setting). This probably won’t be an issue, since if you are using this setting to cut down on resources, it’s doubtful you’d be running resource-hungry Compiz-Fusion anyway.
Users of earlier versions of Ubuntu (pre-8.10) may find artifacts (basically leftover bits of windows) left behind when moving or maximising/restoring windows. This has been fixed in later versions.
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