Look before you leap – Kubuntu Maverick

Here at my house we have three desktops, two different kinds of netbooks, and a laptop running Kubuntu.  They all have two things in common:

1.  They all have Intel graphics of one variety or another.

2.  None of the work very well (or at all) with Kwin compositing in Maverick.

These appear to be mostly properly blacklisted from compositing to start with, but the thing is, they all work with compositing just fine on Lucid (the upstream Kwin solution to compositing issues with KDE 4.5 is to make sure the black lists disable compositing where it won’t work well and that generally works).  The problem is (from my perspective) that I have a beautiful, functional composited “desktop” in Lucid with KDE 4.4 and to move to KDE 4.5 in Maverick and lose that would not be an “upgrade”.

None of my hardware is cutting edge for Intel.  The newest is i965.  I have one of those, four i945 variants, and one i865.  It may be that newer chips are fine, I have no way of testing.

Personally, I find this extremely demotivating.  After investing a truly ridiculous amount of time and effort into Kubuntu development, I discover at the end that I literally have no systems I can reasonably run it on (my servers are staying LTS anyway).

I’m posting this as a warning to people considering upgrading.  Don’t just upgrade, burn a live CD and try it out first.  Make sure you’re happy with the graphics performance.

P. S.  The current KDE in Maverick, 4.5.1, is the one we will release with.  If you want to know why 4.5.1 instead of the usual 4.X.2 we’ve released with for the last four release cycles?  It’s because 101010 binary = 42 decimal.  Enjoy the extra bugs.


28 Responses to “Look before you leap – Kubuntu Maverick”

  1. 1 Yves September 5, 2010 at 02:52

    My laptop has a radeon r600 chip, and with Lucid, compositing in kwin worked fine and fast (I had it enabled permanently).

    With maverick, since I upgraded to it some month ago already, X would crash as soon as I enable compositing.

    And now for some weeks it tells me “Desktop effects are not available on this system due to the following technical issues:
    “, without actually giving a reason.

    So the problem is probably not intel-only.

    In case it matters, I am on amd64.

  2. 2 zenarcher September 5, 2010 at 03:10

    Being an Nvidia user rather than Intel, I’ve been extremely happy with the progress of Naverick. I’ve been testing since Alpha 1 and this is the first version, while testing thus far, has not been broken so badly I needed to do a fresh install.

    As for the KDE 4.5.1, at least for what I use, it’s been pretty bug free. The one annoying bug I’ve been experiencing for a couple of months….setting the Trust Level of encryption keys in KGPG was finally fixed in 4.5.1. Actually, two annoying bugs in KGPG have been fixed since 4.5.0.

  3. 3 Colin Watson September 5, 2010 at 04:48

    I can’t say I’m particularly happy about the earlier release date either. Maybe we should do a point release (‘cos that’s an efficient use of everyone’s time … er …).

  4. 4 lml September 5, 2010 at 05:26

    Oh man, I thought I was the only one to suffer from this. And I have been quietly putting my laptop aside between alpha releases in the hope that the beta would have solved various issues. Amongst the worst, one is Kwin and the other is the invisible pointer.

    As for Kwin, I read extensively how the maintainer thinks about the whole issue of poor drivers and all, but that chattering just leaves me unsatisfied. As you said, compositing is OK on Lucid, so upgrading to enjoy a regression is just meaningless.

    As for the mouse arrow, it’s just ridiculous that we’ve been left in such a situation for weeks already. Some on Launchpad suggest temporary workarounds such as suspend/awake the system to see it reappear. Yeah, only problem is I haven’t been able to use suspend mode since Jaunty. But that’s another regression I’ll leave aside for another rant (along with volume/brightness OSD, by the way).

    And I’m sorry I have to do this, for I really enjoyed Kubuntu, but I’m afraid I’ll feel forced to move to Arch or Mint+KDE if these issues will not be addressed in time for release.

    I understand all the hype around Unity, the application “don’t call me dock” launcher, the latest useless feature in Software Center, the “interesting” debate revolving around Ubuntu new wallpaper, and I can even force myself to understand the logic behind Canonical leaving Kubuntu to its own destiny, but I just can’t take releasing a major distribution like it stands today, leaving users behind if they don’t use the latest netbook on which to install UNE, or the latest technology to use the latest cool effects like blur. Heck, I bet I could still install Windows 7 on my hardware and it would run just fine, if only the idea didn’t disgust me this much…

    Anyway, thanks for this warning! I think we really needed a reality check, behind all the glossy news we’re used to on the Planet…

  5. 6 melanes September 5, 2010 at 08:55

    I have an Intel graphics chip i845 which also works with Lucid (no special effects though). Thanks for the heads up on Maverick.

  6. 7 andrew September 5, 2010 at 11:32

    Right, since KDE has a policy where only .2 releases are stable? Blame KDE for the mess that is 4.5 + kwin. Pretending a minor point release will fix such problems is just wishful thinking.

  7. 9 stevenwr September 16, 2010 at 12:30

    Im on 4.5 at the moment with lucid10.04 32bit desktop affects gives me the same message but 64bit how ever does not im going to see if gnome has any issues with compiz on this machine with 32bit in a few i have to install it if it does not then its the 32bit version of 4.5 thats causing it..but if it does then its the newest driver for atihd4650 driver thats the issue.

  8. 10 skitterman September 16, 2010 at 13:18

    I should update this to mention there is now a Mesa 7.9 git snapshot in Maverick that, in my experience, helps the situation a lot. It’s not perfect, but much improved.

  9. 11 stevenwr September 16, 2010 at 13:25

    Well i was correct Ubuntu Lucid on gnome 32bit compiz works perfect!!

  10. 12 stevenwr September 16, 2010 at 13:27

    Yeah i learned a while back about mesa-utils being pretty much a must have.. Im still new to linux only about 3 months now but learning pretty fast over-all but by far from being an expert.

  11. 13 Bigbrovar October 2, 2010 at 03:55

    This problem has been on now for quite a while. Even on lucid where compositing is enabled. The performance is very bad and not as smooth as what you get on a system composited by compiz. The kwin developers blames bad graphic drivers for the problem claiming that kwin uses features which exposes hidden driver bugs. I had to sell my laptop which ships with Intel GM965 and got me a core i5 with the Arrandale chipset which seems to have better graphic performance and does not seem to be affected by the blacklist in kde 5.1 This is not a good thing for linux which prides its self to work with legacy hardware. That I had to get the latest and great hardware to get better performance on a latest software release sounds so Microsoftish

  12. 15 hsantanna October 13, 2010 at 14:43

    You have to edit ~/.kde/share/config/kwinrc

    At the lines [Blacklist][Blur] and [Blacklist][Lanczos] you have to add your GPU.

    This will disable the advanced features that those bugged drivers don’t support.

    To know what you have to add (driver description), paste this on terminal:

    echo “`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL renderer string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`:-:`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL version string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`”

    The result is something like this:

    Mesa DRI R600 (RV710 9555) 20090101 TCL DRI2:-:2.1 Mesa 7.10-devel

    Copy and paste the entire line.

    In my case, I have 2 graphics cards Intel/ATI (switchable)

    I added both at ~/.kde/share/config/kwinrc

    with resulted on this:

    Advanced Micro Devices=DRI R600:-:7.8.1,DRI R600:-:7.8.2,Mesa DRI R600 (RV710 9555) 20090101 TCL DRI2:-:2.1 Mesa 7.10-devel
    Ati=Radeon HD 3650:-:3.3.9901
    NVIDIA=GeForce 6150/PCI/SSE2:-:195

    Advanced Micro Devices=DRI R600:-:7.8.1,DRI R600:-:7.8.2,Mesa DRI R600 (RV710 9555) 20090101 TCL DRI2:-:2.1 Mesa 7.10-devel
    Intel=GM45 Express Chipset GEM 20100328:-:7.8.2,GM45 Express Chipset GEM 20091221:-:7.7.1,965GM GEM 20100328 2010Q1:-:7.8.2,965GM GEM 20091221 2009Q4:-:7.7.1,Ironlake Mobile GEM 20100328:-:7.8.2,Mesa DRI Intel(R) Ironlake Mobile GEM 20100330 DEVELOPMENT :-:2.1 Mesa 7.10-devel

    Note that already was some drivers there before I added mine.

    If you do this, everything will work pretty much well.

    Both, my Intel Arrandale (from i5) and my Radeon Mobility HD 4550 are working good with almost all effects enabled.
    (There are one or another that cause problems so i disabled those.)

    Ah, I have to say that if you can’t enable effects anymore because the option is disabled on KDE, you have also to edit ~/.kde/share/config/kwinrc and change OpenGLIsUnsafe=true to false.

    This are my compositing settings:
    (I don’t recommend to just copy and paste everything)


    • 16 skitterman October 13, 2010 at 14:50

      Fortunately the situation by the time we released Maverick was much improved from when I wrote this post. I have several systems working fine with all the Kwin 4.5 effects that were pretty non-functional before. There are still some that need to be dialed back to work smoothly.

    • 17 hsantanna October 13, 2010 at 14:58

      Forgot to say:

      After editing, you can ALT+F2 -> kwin –replace

      So you don’t have to restart KDE to apply the changes.

  13. 18 James October 16, 2010 at 02:37


    I do not know grep and sed well enough to figure out what the issue is, but there is something effed up in your command:

    echo “`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL renderer string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`:-:`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL version string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`”

    I have tried copying and pasting this into a terminal. When I do this, I get the following:

    ~$echo “`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL renderer string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`:-:`glxinfo | grep ‘OpenGL version string’ | sed -e ‘s/^.*: //’`”
    sed: -e expression #1, char 1: unknown command: `�’
    grep: renderer: No such file or directory
    grep: string’: No such file or directory
    grep: version: No such file or directory
    grep: string’: No such file or directory
    sed: -e expression #1, char 1: unknown command: `�’

    Could you (or anyone else) explain what the problem is here??

    Thanks in advance!

    • 19 Marcelo Oliveira October 28, 2010 at 05:31

      hi James.

      the problem is the quotes which were replaced with wrong ones (possibly because the blog).
      maybe it will happen again when with this comment =/

      echo "`glxinfo | grep 'OpenGL renderer string' | sed -e 's/^.*: //'`:-:`glxinfo | grep 'OpenGL version string' | sed -e 's/^.*: //'`"

      i did this change to my kwinrc but it still doesn’t work here.
      i also tried the new kernel with no lucky. see:

      uname -a
      Linux mansaox.net 2.6.36-020636-generic #201010210905 SMP Thu Oct 21 10:17:53 UTC 2010 i686 GNU/Linux

      lspci | grep VGA
      00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GM/GMS, 943/940GML Express Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 03)

      it was working ok in lucid!
      i’ve tried several variations in advanced tab of compositing without any success.

      lsmod | grep video
      video 20030 1 i915

      dpkg -l | grep xserver-xorg-video-intel
      ii xserver-xorg-video-intel 2:2.12.0-1ubuntu5 X.Org X server — Intel i8xx, i9xx display driver

      i’m still looking for a solution.
      my laptop is a hp dv2000 (dv2247 to be precise).

      • 20 Marcelo Oliveira October 28, 2010 at 05:36

        ah! i also upgraded to kde 4.5.2 and still have no compositing.

      • 21 skitterman October 28, 2010 at 16:35

        Upstream kwin is likely to just disable capability checks in 4.5.3 because they aren’t working well in 4.5 for reasons that aren’t clear. You can disable functionality checks yourself in the advanced tab of desktop effects in system settings. If that doesn’t work you might also remove ~/.kde/share/config/kwinrc, restart KDE, and let it regenerate a fresh config file.

      • 22 Marcelo Oliveira November 2, 2010 at 00:27

        Hi folks.
        Tks for all the info and help.
        My compositing is now working again after I changed all configurations in desktop settings (general, plugins and advanced) to defaults ones.
        Using kernel 2.6.36-020636-generic and kde 4.5.2
        The compositing its not activated on startup but I can activate it with alt + shift + f12 and then it works ok. enough for me…

  14. 23 James October 16, 2010 at 18:34

    For me this issue has been largely (though not entirely) resolved by different means than those suggested by hsantanna.

    In the Ubuntu Forums, one poster suggested upgrading to RC7 of the 2.6.36 kernel.

    After having done this, my system is now very usable, despite occasionally still noticing some video lag.

    See post #93:

  15. 24 Raoul October 28, 2010 at 08:51

    Jep installing the new kernel solved most of my problems!

  16. 25 Stoyan Deckoff May 26, 2011 at 16:01

    Hey, I moved to Kubuntu just because 10.10 was unusable with hardware acc enabled 🙂 Natty works worth xrender for me only, but it is much better than ubuntu 11.04, where gnome wont work at all
    82852/855GM video

  17. 26 Mr. Wolfe June 12, 2011 at 15:56

    I have the Vostro 1015 which came pre-installed with Ubuntu 8.05. I cannot tell you what was a hit or miss in the distro as my wife did the upgrades for me when i was on the road for work. It would seem that the only distro that works most excellent for me is sadly m$ Xp pro, i have been switching back and forth between M$, Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10 gnome versions and Ubuntu 10.10 KDE. I have tried the 11.04 but when i try to use my mobile stick it will only appear when i plug it in then start the computer.

    But aside from all that and seeing as this is a Intel issue, i did find something here at this site: http://ubuntuku.org/10/how-to-fix-intel-graphics-issues-in-kubuntu-maverick/ Where it says you can upgrade the Intel driver by:
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:glasen/intel-driver
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
    keep in mind please i have not tested this and though i have the Intel 4 series, i am not sure if this will work or not, but will be testing this out ASAP. It would seem running m$ is fine for making sure the laptop does not overheat just being on, but i do miss using Gwenview and Kdenlive for the work i do

    • 27 skitterman June 12, 2011 at 16:33

      I’ve found Intel support to be much improved on 11.04.

      • 28 Mr. Wolfe June 12, 2011 at 17:10

        Just for the sake of saying that i tried everything with Kubuntu before i through in the towel and resign myself to the fact that i need M$ Windblows and the evil empire of virus with the personal guard of Trojan’s, and the grand army of hackers (This is *spartan*…opps got lost in the moment…) i will try 11.04. I am curious if there is some sort of support that was dropped for the Huawei (E1691) Mobile stick that had been in 10.10 and not ported over to 11.04? Has anyone else had this issue? I mean i can insert the stick in the computer then start it up and boot into 11.04 no issue, but if the computer is already going and i remove the net stick, or even plug it in, then again i need to reboot for Kubuntu (or even Ubuntu, Xubuntu- 11.04 or 10.04 and below) to read it. If there is anything i have to edit then go gentle on me (it is my first time running commands and working in files like this: Yeah me for being a noob!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: