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Why KDE Plasma Makes Sense For Linux Gaming 152

Posted by timothy
from the compatibility-matters dept.
sfcrazy writes "Martin Gräßlin, a lead KDE developer, addresses some queries around a topic bugging Gnome and Unity users — the fallback mode. In this post he says that 'having the non-composited mode around allows us to do things like turning compositing off when running games or heavy OpenGL based applications such as Blender. So if you want to get some of the now finally available games for Linux, KDE Plasma should be your primary choice to enjoy the game. I have also heard of users switching to KDE Plasma because we still provide non OpenGL based setups.'"
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Why KDE Plasma Makes Sense For Linux Gaming

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  • Alternative: XFCE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gagol (583737) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @08:04PM (#42157771)
    I much prefer the simplicity and conservatism of XFCE4. Can optionally use compositing too and no need to relearn interface.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      sure, but you dont look like your using a movie OS ;-D
    • Re:Alternative: XFCE (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @08:19PM (#42157861)

      I switched to (Linux Mint 13) KDE precisely because I didn't want to learn a new interface (Unity). It's great. I used XFCE and LXDE previously, having read of their great suitability for lower end hardware, but..well, I don't have any low end hardware. I have nothing special but it runs KDE perfectly, and it looks great. I can't be bothered to learn all the ins and outs of it - I launch stuff via what I'll always call the 'start menu' or shortcuts or from the 'task bar' - but it's good to know that there's more to it if I could be bothered to learn it. The point is, nobodies forcing me to use it. There seem to be a rash of these Mac-like OSes these days (including the hilarious Windows 8) - I don't quite understand the appeal.

      • Re:Alternative: XFCE (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @08:55PM (#42158043)

        There seem to be a rash of these Mac-like OSes these days (including the hilarious Windows 8) - I don't quite understand the appeal.

        That's because you (like most of us here) learned about computers using devices with separate keyboard, mouse and screen. We are currently at the tipping point where more youth learn about computers through devices with only a touchscreen (phones, tablets) and have never used a laptop.

        That tipping point is driving interfaces that cater to the touchscreen user experience, even though those interfaces don't allow for as much interaction as UIs driven by the keyboard/mouse/screen user experience.

        • by Threni (635302) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @09:11PM (#42158161)

          Yes, but I had no problem picking up Android, whether on phone or tablet. It's just intuitive. I didn't have the first fucking clue how I was supposed to use Unity to do anything. Windows 8 is worse because you now have to learn two completely different interfaces instead of one. I need a 'normal' interface on a 'normal computer' because I develop software, edit photographs, tag/copy mp3 files between devices, use one device to control another etc. Sure, if I were a user and had no need to actually create anything I'd use a tablet. But these desktop OSes (Windows 8, unity etc) will mostly be running on regular computers without touch screens, so i'm not sure of the utility of making this change. I'm sure Microsoft and Canonical believe that their OSes will soon be on millions of touch-enabled devices; I find this unlikely.

          (BTW: You're the first AC I've responded to in years. Why haven't you created an account here? I almost didn't see your reply as I filter ACs away).

          • Re:Alternative: XFCE (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Inigo Montoya (31674) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @12:48AM (#42159191) Journal

            It's very likely, as interfaces evolve, that we will have specialized "developer" versions of these interfaces. These developer versions enable you to be creative, and to do all that you need to do to make an application that is primarily targeted at these newer interfaces, including having keyboard access, pen, 3d input mice, multiple monitors, system simulators, etc...

            This is already the case with game consoles; There is always a developer version of the hardware.

            In time, I expect the same from an OS targeted for end-users.

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              A sad day that will be if it comes to pass. One of the wonderful things about the internet is the way it's turning the "traditional" (for a couple centuries anyway) few->many publishing industry on its ear and letting everyone join the creative process. Sure, most of it's stuff that could readily be done from a dumbed-down tablet, but there's a nice smooth learning curve for those who want to take it to the next level - maybe you have to learn a new more powerful program, but the computing interface is

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pentium100 (1240090)

            Yes, but I had no problem picking up Android, whether on phone or tablet. It's just intuitive.

            I got an Android phone to try and was fuming most of the time I used it.

            OK, so I have this new phone, I want to copy the call and SMS ringtones from my old phone (call ringtone is an mp3, SMS ringtone is a midi file). So, I transfer them over bluetooth and now they are sitting in the phones memory. OK.
            On a few Nokia phones I had you selected a custom ringtone just like the builtin ones, except you selected "custom" and then browsed to where the file was. So I try this here, no "custom". OK, maybe I can sele

          • by horza (87255)

            Didn't have a clue? Was it that the menu bar was vertical instead of horizontal that threw you? Other than that, everything else is nearly the same. The software is identical as the OS doesn't change that. The only other thing is the Dash instead of the Start button, but after 10 seconds you figure that out then will not enjoy going back to the old way of doing things.

            Phillip.

          • by alexgieg (948359)

            But these desktop OSes (Windows 8, unity etc) will mostly be running on regular computers without touch screens

            The impression I have is that people are slightly missing the point on the proper way to interact with this new generation of OSes. It isn't that they're touch-screen-focused, but actually only touch-focused, meaning you need some form of touch to use them as they're meant to be properly used, but not that you're limited to screens for that purpose. Replacing your standard mouse for either a touch pad or a touch mouse will provide the required input interface. For instance, last time I passed in front of an

        • by Karzz1 (306015) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @09:26PM (#42158237) Homepage
          That's because you (like most of us here) learned about computers using devices with separate keyboard, mouse and screen. We are currently at the tipping point where more youth learn about computers through devices with only a touchscreen....

          I agree with what you are saying, to a point. I have been using computers of one sort or another since the early 80's and have always had a keyboard at minimum, and a mouse and possibly other HID devices later.

          Recently (past ~3yrs) I have used several tablets/smartphones. While I am continuously impressed with what can be done on these devices, I am always cognizant of what *can't* be done on these devices.

          Tablets/Smartphones are great for instant satisfaction, but are quite weak compared to a desktop, unless you have great eyesight and you only do a few minimal things. Even browsing the web becomes cumbersome quickly when you need to *type* anything. Forget about doing any actual work on one of these things such as replying to emails or anything that is enhanced by more than one 10" screen.

          I realize that the hardware/software manufacturers love the idea of these portable devices and all of the restrictions (hardware/software locks) contained within, but I like to think that people will not always be content with the lowest common denominator.

          I agree that these devices have a place , however they will never fully displace desktops/laptops.
          • While I am continuously impressed with what can be done on these devices, I am always cognizant of what *can't* be done on these devices.

            Exactly. The interface for a less complicated device (a car) should be different from the interface for a more complicated device (jet airplane).

            Even browsing the web becomes cumbersome quickly when you need to *type* anything.

            You hope that you are in a place where you can use Siri and that Siri understands what you are saying.

            And don't forget the web sites that just suck

            • by horza (87255)

              And don't forget the web sites that just suck on a mobile device. Like when you have to scroll and scroll and scroll left to read something.

              We had the same with normal web sites on the desktop for a while, where they were designed fixed for 800x600 and IE only. Looked awful 1600x1200 on Firefox. With the current move to rewriting all the sites as 'responsive' the web will clean itself up for mobile.

              They are designed for consumption of media. Not for production of anything.

              Not true for real estate any more.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:00PM (#42158405) Journal

          There seem to be a rash of these Mac-like OSes these days (including the hilarious Windows 8) - I don't quite understand the appeal.

          That's because you (like most of us here) learned about computers using devices with separate keyboard, mouse and screen. We are currently at the tipping point where more youth learn about computers through devices with only a touchscreen (phones, tablets) and have never used a laptop.

          That tipping point is driving interfaces that cater to the touchscreen user experience, even though those interfaces don't allow for as much interaction as UIs driven by the keyboard/mouse/screen user experience.

          Your statement is not that far removed from "Most youth learned about computers through devices with only a gamepad. It's true, but it doesn't mean much. The thing that makes what we call a "computer" a "computer" is that it's general purpose, and designed to empower creative work. Barring radical developments, tablets and phones are not going to displace the traditional computer any more than game consoles did.

          • "The thing that makes what we call a "computer" a "computer" is that it's general purpose, and designed to empower creative work. Barring radical developments, tablets and phones are not going to displace the traditional computer any more than game consoles did."

            I have a problem with your definition of "computer". The first computers weren't general purpose in any modern sense, simply because they were too low-powered to be anything other than glorified adding machines, or primitive calculators.

            Even a smart

            • Note how I specifically mentioned "alphanumeric data" above. A hardware keyboard has definite advantages for programmers and users of alphabetic writing systems. But for users of writing systems that require up to thousands of unique symbols, a hardware keyboard with its fixed set of keys isn't that more efficient than having the on-screen ability to summon different sets of virtual keyboards.

              Are you aware of how those systems with unique symbols operate? The fastest method by far is converting "alphabet" to symbol then using an autocomplete (or button on the keyboard) to compound the "word". The claim, that hunt n peck is not that less efficient than 10 fingers, is not based in reality. Lookups by radical or brushtroke are slow, and so is your solution with different sets of virtual keyboards which cater to this proposed solution.

            • What the hell? How many writing systems with unique symbols are there? Just say Chinese Glyphs...

            • Within the context of their times, the first computers were definitely general purpose. The two major alternatives were the abacus (and various geared adding machines that basically worked the same way), and the sliderule. Neither type could easily do the work the other was designed for, and neither type had a mechanism for accurately repeating a series of operations.

              Young'uns today have no sense of history.

              With regard to the future, the first tablet that is delivered with bluetooth peripheral connectivit

          • by Sigg3.net (886486)

            This.

            We should move away from the 'y' will replace 'x', because what we always end up with is y in the y-usecase and x in the x-usecase.

            I play L4D2 on Wine on my Fedora PC, because any self-respecting FPS require Keyboard and Mouse. I play Skyrim on ps3 because it's a kick-back and relax enjoying the great outdoors type of exploration, for which the couch provides the perfect seating. The scenario for laptops (work), PCs (gaming), tablets/phones (communicating and commuting) and consoles (relaxation) are wh

          • by Hatta (162192)

            You miss the fact that the vast majority of the population does not use computers to empower creative work. They use it to facebook and watch cat videos. They can do that just fine on a tablet or phone, perhaps even better. Those people really will be displaced from general purpose computers, and general purpose computers will become a niche item.

        • even though those interfaces don't allow for as much interaction as UIs driven by the keyboard/mouse/screen user experience.

          I'm not sure that's fundamentally true - we're currently looking at the early steps of touch-based interfaces, it might be better to compare them to the early pre-unix years of the command line interfaces, or the early Apple and Amiga GUIs - functional, but horribly anemic by today's standards because we've had decades to refine the user experience. Give touch interfaces a few decades to mature and they may we'll exceed the capability and versatility of keyboard & mouse. I can already think of a few t

        • The next generation of students will not even know how to type. SIRI will convert text to words. Now we need a C and a C++ version of SIRI. Even better, lets include a dynamic translator with SIRI.

          Bye bye spelling and handwriting.

          Brave New World

      • by yusing (216625)

        Not only is LM13 KDE a great distro, it's very turnkey. Audio, second monitor, wifi, usb, mice, touchpads ... all just work. I tried it in August - my first Linux install - and have only visited the previous OS once a month since. WIth dozens of apps added (and some Office grunge uninstalled) takes up a whole 6GB.

    • Last time i tried, KDE4 just took too long to boot, AND would easily eat 1g of ram for itself. XFCE (and LXDE) on the other hand, are instant and provide anything needed to quickly launch apps and stay out of the way.

      As a gamer, i wouldn't want that memory hog lying around, but i can see its appeal to windows vista users; unlike gnome which makes no sense whatsoever.

      I'm not a fan of unity but it gets the job done, albeit slowly and bug prone (and its a dependency nightmare). Unity just mimics a bit of the M

    • by g00ey (1494205)
      My pet peeve with all of those window managers is that they don't scale well on high resolution displays, especially xfce. I know Linus Torvalds have written a critical post about this awhile ago in connection with Apple's retina displays on their macbooks. But even on a low-resolution 1080p display, fonts and the user interface don't scale well.
  • Options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @08:15PM (#42157839)

    I just switched to KDE because the developers aren't against the idea of me configuring and theming it as I please. It's also faster. Games are now an added bonus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @08:19PM (#42157865)

    A week or two ago I tested LXDE and KDE to see which one would run the best with the new Serious Sam and Unigine. With the Nvidia 304 driver, LXDE was always slower than KDE with or without compositing. This issue went away with the Nvidia 310 driver, LXDE and KDE without compositing were just about the same speed.

    I have no idea what caused the slowdown, however it shows that the game's FPS does not necessarily improve with a "light" DE. Compositing however made a difference.

    • by gagol (583737)
      Something seems to be very wrong with LXDE... on my XFCE netbook I see no noticeable performance hit with compositing and battery life is very similar in both cases. Have you submitted a bug report to LXDE?
      • Compositing shouldn't case any problems with LXDE and game performance unless the GPU has issues. Are we by random chance talking about a Intel laptop of a earlier chipset?

  • Or, you know... (Score:2, Informative)

    by akiwiguy (1113293)

    There are other DEs/WMs out there. XFCE, LXDE if you want a somewhat complete DE, WindowLab [nickgravgaard.com] if you want something minimal but like your mouse, i3 [i3wm.org] if you like tiling (or xmonad if you swing that way).

    KDE's sure to use more memory than some of the other competition, and if you're like me and only have 2GB of RAM in your primary machine, that's important.

    • by captjc (453680)

      Only 2 Gigs? KDE runs fine on half that. I only have 2 Gigs and even with the visual effects it runs great. Sure, you can run a Window Manager that runs on a Pentium 1 with 256 Megs, but don't do it just because you think KDE requires some monster machine with like 64 Gigs and an i7 processor.

    • by Narishma (822073)

      I only have 1 GB of RAM on my netbook and KDE runs fine on it.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        Thinkpad R32 - 11 years old - 512 M of RAM
        Now running Kubuntu 12.4 (with KDE). 30 second boot time if I type the password fast.

  • That article a few days ago about scaleable icons sent it over the edge for me. We equate high resolution with small icons, it doesn't have to be that way. I hate squinting at my screen just because I want high res graphics.

  • Games frequently require large amounts of RAM, so the fact that the desktop uses a lot makes it somewhat bad for games.

    Somehow the game makers got stuck in the 32 bit era though, which means that if you have more than 4GB of ram, you won't have a problem.

    • by Swarley (1795754)

      Sounds like you just killed your own argument. As you said, games hardly ever use more than 4GB of RAM. 4GB of RAM is not "large amounts of RAM". Ram is so cheap now, and even insanely cheap and small machines like the Zotac Zbox computers will support up to 8GB. I really don't see how this could possibly be a problem for anybody who would want to play games enough to even care that it's a problem.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      That's what swapping is for.

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        That will not help you if you run a 32-bit non-PAE kernel, like many people still do. (Apparently, Ubuntu still recommends the 32-bit version)

  • by julian67 (1022593) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:08PM (#42158449)

    Xfce allows the user to switch off compositing in the settings GUI or, more usefully for scripts and launchers, with a command:

    Compositing off: "xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -t bool -s false"
    Compositing on: "xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -t bool -s true"

    A KDE dev pretending that Gnome 3 or Unity are the only other options makes him seem slightly desperate way.

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      A KDE dev pretending that Gnome 3 or Unity are the only other options makes him seem slightly desperate way.

      There are dozens of desktop alternatives for GNU/Linux/*BSD/etc. That a fan of one of the dozens of minor ones is complaining that a KDE dev only mentioned the major alternatives and didn't mention his favorite of the dozens of others makes him seem slightly butthurt...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1. He pretends nothing of the sort.
      2. KDE requires no such modification.
      3. A complete gentleman, Graesslin devotes an entire closing paragraph to not criticizing other projects for their choices.

      Ride your strawman outta here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kde: shift + alt + f12
      And you can switch between a plain wm behavior good for intensive games, or fancy but configurable effects.

    • I think it has more to do with "we've built all this neat infrastructure to accomodate both devs and users; the latter have a pretty interface that's powerful, the former have a bunch of stuff to leverage--and none of the prescription, feature-removing, frustration of Gnome or Unity!!!" when many think "I just want something that (1) looks good enough and (2) that doesn't eat my hardware in the process; 1 is optional". I like KDE for all its integration, advantages, etc., but XFCE far better because I can d
      • by julian67 (1022593)

        I think that makes a good point: appeal to self/other developers being prioritized to the detriment of actual or potential users is a failing that is quite common, and those who do it are naturally enough completely blind to the issue.

        Years ago I did use KDE. It could run nicely on the kind of normal hardware most of us have at home, the stuff we buy with our own money and don't throw out after a year. It was also OK on medium and small screens. But KDE4 made it painfully obvious that it was developed by

        • But KDE4 made it painfully obvious that it was developed by people using very large displays (probably more than one) and very powerful hardware. The huge amount of space taken up by window decoration make it utterly useless on any but the largest laptops (hint: if your photo editor dedicates more display space to (mostly empty!) window decoration than the image then your UI is seriously fucked up),

          This made me smile. : ) I encounter that sort of thing in software too much!

          I'm very grateful to the Xfce de

  • This is the first I've heard that a decent compositing window manager (ie. not early Compiz builds) actually significantly affecting 3D fps. Windows has used a compositing windows manager since Vista (dwm) and, if anything, FPS got better for windowed apps, and vsync is "free". The worst I've ever seen compositing affect fps (in non-alpha Compiz, GNOME3 or Unity) is in the single digits.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      With nvidia, any compositing at all halves framerate.

      Without nvidia, forget gaming on linux.

      • by aaron552 (1621603)
        I'm reporting my experience with the open source Radeon drivers. And compositing has next to no noticeable impact on Windows, so my guess is it's nVidia's fault here.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    IMO, the best "Linux gaming solution" is: any desktop environment you like + separate X server for games. This solution may be very handy in situations such as game hang, and it can compensate lack of Alt+Tab functionality.

    • Is there an easy way to start a new X server in a separate control-alt-F*?

      • by csirac (574795)

        startx -- :1

        Assuming you're happy to use the locally connected display, and your local X server isn't running on :1. startx -- makes all the opts on the right-hand-side of the -- get passed on to X binary verbatim. See man X

      • by riondluz (726831)

        The easy way was previously replied, the robust way is this:

        change etc/init/tty4.conf to something like this:

        start on runlevel [2345]
        stop on runlevel [!2345]
        emits starting-tty4
        script
        # startx -- -logverbose 6
        exec /bin/openvt -f -w -c 4 -- su - -- username -l -c "/usr/bin/startx -- :4 -config xorg.conf -layout DefaultLayout -depth 24 -dpi 96 -nolisten tcp vt10"
        end script

        Above will start X using a specific conf, layout, dpi, ... Then use home/username/.xinitrc to launch and manipulate the desired app:

        aTTY=`

  • Compiz developers have fixed the option "Unredirect Fullscreen Windows" and enabled it by default in 0.9.8.6. So games should have the same performance as when running on a non-compositing window manager.
    • But only in fullscreen? In KDE I have my games or whatever, let's say Minecraft, and a few extra windows, and it runs very well. In anything else with compositing, it almost halves its FPS. Even if I am playing a game I might need to not be isolated from my system or IM windows. And I think I am not the only one doing that.

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