Alt+Tab static switcher feels slow

Bug #772177 reported by Mario Limonciello on 2011-04-28
226
This bug affects 50 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Compiz
Undecided
Unassigned
Compiz Main Plugins
Undecided
Unassigned
One Hundred Papercuts
Undecided
Unassigned
Static Application Switcher
Undecided
Unassigned
compiz-plugins-main (Ubuntu)
Medium
Unassigned

Bug Description

Binary package hint: compiz

version: 1:0.9.4+bzr20110415-0ubuntu2

Ever since coming from 2D gnome-classic I felt like Alt+Tab felt really slow in Unity 3D. Like it was an unnecessary delay for how long until I was given a menu of options to switch between apps.

I was just pointed out compiz config settings manager can configure this value. I promptly changed the "Popup delay" to 0 and i'm now much happier with how quickly I can switch apps.

I feel like I can't be the only one who feels this way about the popup delay though, it can certainly slow down a workflow for someone who alt+tab's all the time.

Can the delay maybe be reduced? Is there a reason for it being there in the first place?

Related branches

Tarnay Kálmán (tarnay-kalman) wrote :

I cannot think of any reason for having a 0.2 second delay before showing the Alt+Tab window.
It is just a bad default. The default value for popup_delay should be 0.

It's just a trivial change, and almost all users use Alt+Tab nowadays, and a 0.2 second delay is quite noticeable in this case.
So I'm marking this as confirmed.

Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
another_sam (anothersam) wrote :

Yes, I think it should be 0. 0.2 has no sense to me. It quite breaks my focus on the task.

Marc Bowes (marcbowes) wrote :

FWIW, this setting is configurable under 'Window Management' -> 'Static Application Switcher', under the 'Behaviour' tab. And yes, 0.2 makes no sense so much so I came looking to file a bug.

MarcRandolph (mrand) wrote :

Marked as triaged since the cause is documented. Medium since it affects users first impressions of Ubuntu and Unity.

Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
importance: Undecided → Medium
One-Man-Bucket (erik-lindblad) wrote :

It's not only the delay configuration Marc mentions. For me the static window switcher widget appears after a couple of seconds and is extremely laggy. If do alt+tab a couple of times Xorg cpu usage hits 100%.

It seems it broke with todays updates.

Mario Limonciello (superm1) wrote :

One-Man-Bucket, that might be specific to your install. There's been no updates to compiz in natty at this point, so I would recommend you file a new bug using

#ubuntu-bug compiz

To gather your system specific details. This bug is only for changing the default popup delay from 0.2 to 0.

Bilal Akhtar (bilalakhtar) wrote :

Compiz bugs are now a part of the Bitesize bugs campaign, and are no longer a part of the Papercuts initiative. Marking appropriately.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Invalid
tags: added: bitesize
Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → kzmd (kzmd)
status: Triaged → In Progress
Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Confirmed
assignee: kzmd (kzmd) → nobody
Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → In Progress
assignee: nobody → Elvis Dominguez (elvisd79)
Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
Didier Roche (didrocks) wrote :

As it's already the second branch with the exact same patch, let me copy here why setting from 0.2 to 0 isn't the solution:
Indeed, if you alt + tab between two applications very quickly, you will then see a flickering dialog appearing. The delay is there to prevent that and it was discussed in natty as part of a design decision.

we already tried to change the popup delay from 0.2s to 0.0s, but design came back because it's flashing when you just alt + tab quickly.

See the debian/changelog history:

compiz-plugins-main (0.9.4-0ubuntu4) natty; urgency=low

  * 03_default_options.patch:
    - revert the ubuntu change from 0s to 0.2s delay back to avoid flickering
    - show other window when doing alt-tab and ensure that the settings are
      according to LP: #736938

compiz-plugins-main (0.9.4-0ubuntu3) natty; urgency=low

  * 03_default_options.patch:
    - change default option from 0.2s delay to 0s for compiz staticswitcher plugin
    - don't get a close animation on gnome-screenshot (LP: #93234)
    - Change <Super> + e to <Super> + s for switch workspace (trigger expo mode)
      in the classic session as in unity (LP: #723273)
    - deactivate mipmapping in staticswitcher as it can make alt Tab very slow
      (some seconds) on some hardware (LP: #684843)

That's the reason why we reverted the change made in 0.9.4-0ubuntu3 as a design decision. That's why I will have to disapprove this change.

Changed in compiz (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Committed → Triaged
assignee: Elvis Dominguez (elvisd79) → nobody
Anthony Tippett (atippett) wrote :

seems like a hack to prevent something that should be fixed. Why make a keep a design decision that users are describing as an unpleasant experience just to prevent a "flickering" effect that probably should be fixed. I have zero delay and experience no flicker, btw.

Pigeonman (aaron-smaco) wrote :

honestly i'd way rather see the "flickering" than tolerating the 0.2sec delay every single time i press and hold alt-tab. It makes ubuntu feels very sluggish and subpar comparing with Win and Mac.

Agreed. And we shouldn't fix an issue by breaking another. The delay is
annoying. So much so that I started googling for a fix right after I
installed unity unbuntu
On Jul 12, 2011 12:01 PM, "Pigeonman" <email address hidden> wrote:
> honestly i'd way rather see the "flickering" than tolerating the 0.2sec
> delay every single time i press and hold alt-tab. It makes ubuntu feels
> very sluggish and subpar comparing with Win and Mac.
>
> --
> You received this bug notification because you are subscribed to the bug
> report.
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/772177
>
> Title:
> Alt+Tab "Feels" slow
>
> To manage notifications about this bug go to:
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/hundredpapercuts/+bug/772177/+subscriptions

This is the main reason I always disable desktop effects/compiz/unity.

When I'm working I alt+tab very quickly. Most of the times I don't even need to see the window switcher, I keep switching between the last 2 windows.

The problem is that the way it's done here not only you need to wait for the window switcher to appear, you also need to wait for the fancy selection to complete the slide animation in order to actually switch, otherwise it stays in the current window. So, in order to actually switch you need to wait 0.5 seconds, which I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that is unable to tolerate it.

Gnome Shell has this fixed this btw, they don't wait for the animations to complete in order to switch windows.

Marcus Haslam (marcus-haslam) wrote :

I'm out of the office until 1st August.

On 3 May 2011, at 11:57, One-Man-Bucket <email address hidden>
wrote:

> It's not only the delay configuration Marc mentions. For me the static
> window switcher widget appears after a couple of seconds and is
> extremely laggy. If do alt+tab a couple of times Xorg cpu usage hits
> 100%.
>
> It seems it broke with todays updates.
>
> --
> You received this bug notification because you are a member of
> Papercutters, which is subscribed to One Hundred Paper Cuts.
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/772177
>
> Title:
>  Alt+Tab "Feels" slow
>
> Status in One Hundred Paper Cuts:
>  New
> Status in “compiz” package in Ubuntu:
>  Triaged
>
> Bug description:
>  Binary package hint: compiz
>
>  version: 1:0.9.4+bzr20110415-0ubuntu2
>
>  Ever since coming from 2D gnome-classic I felt like Alt+Tab felt
>  really slow in Unity 3D.  Like it was an unnecessary delay for how
>  long until I was given a menu of options to switch between apps.
>
>  I was just pointed out compiz config settings manager can configure
>  this value.  I promptly changed the "Popup delay" to 0 and i'm now
>  much happier with how quickly I can switch apps.
>
>  I feel like I can't be the only one who feels this way about the
> popup
>  delay though, it can certainly slow down a workflow for someone who
>  alt+tab's all the time.
>
>  Can the delay maybe be reduced?  Is there a reason for it being there
>  in the first place?

I'm out of the office until 1st August.

On 2 May 2011, at 13:39, ifj. Kálmán Tarnay
<email address hidden> wrote:

> ** Also affects: hundredpapercuts
>   Importance: Undecided
>       Status: New
>
> --
> You received this bug notification because you are a member of
> Papercutters, which is subscribed to One Hundred Paper Cuts.
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/772177
>
> Title:
>  Alt+Tab "Feels" slow
>
> Status in One Hundred Paper Cuts:
>  New
> Status in “compiz” package in Ubuntu:
>  Confirmed
>
> Bug description:
>  Binary package hint: compiz
>
>  version: 1:0.9.4+bzr20110415-0ubuntu2
>
>  Ever since coming from 2D gnome-classic I felt like Alt+Tab felt
>  really slow in Unity 3D.  Like it was an unnecessary delay for how
>  long until I was given a menu of options to switch between apps.
>
>  I was just pointed out compiz config settings manager can configure
>  this value.  I promptly changed the "Popup delay" to 0 and i'm now
>  much happier with how quickly I can switch apps.
>
>  I feel like I can't be the only one who feels this way about the
> popup
>  delay though, it can certainly slow down a workflow for someone who
>  alt+tab's all the time.
>
>  Can the delay maybe be reduced?  Is there a reason for it being there
>  in the first place?

I finally found a solution for this here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Metacity

You run "gconftool /apps/metacity". When the window opens, go to General and turn off "compositing_manager". That's it!

You won't get the nice drop-shadows around your window borders nor the nice thumbnails, but that's what was making alt-tab so slow on my old Dell Inspirion 6000.https://launchpad.net/~marcus-haslam

Justin Force (justin-force) wrote :

The user experience is degraded FAR MORE by the 0.2 second delay than it is by the flicker of the window (which I do not experience when setting the delay to 0). My googling has indicated that the solution that many people opt for is to disable compositing completely. That should be an indication that the default should just be changed to 0 seconds.

The perception when you're using Ubuntu on a new computer with a high end graphics card is that something in Ubuntu is just fundamentally broken when a feature as familiar and ubiquitous as Alt-Tab is slow.

Please just change the default Static Application Switcher > Behavior > Popup Window Delay to 0 seconds. The flickering issue will be resolved when Ubuntu moves from X.org to Wayland. In the meantime, everyone will benefit from a snappier, more responsive desktop experience.

Thank you.

Could this be solved by switching instantly, and only showing the window if the user doesn't release the Alt button in 0.2 seconds?

Justin Force (justin-force) wrote :

Hm. This may not matter for Ubuntu anymore, as Oneiric features a completely new Alt-Tab interface.

http://www.jonobacon.org/2011/08/26/ubuntu-11-10-so-far-screenshot-tour/

It looks like it will also be configurable via the Unity pane in CompizConfig Settings Manager.

http://iloveubuntu.net/alttab-ing-gets-automatic-preview-oneiric-ocelot

Svein Tore Seljebotn (sveint) wrote :

Well, I find it strange that the behavior is exactly the same with the new switcher. I'm using latest Oneiric, and there's still a delay on the switcher (has bugged me a lot!) AND the switcher appears briefly (flickers) when Alt+Tab'ing quickly.

Svein Tore Seljebotn (sveint) wrote :

Marking Unity as it seems integrated into the Unity interface (shares for instance config with Unity).

There's by the way no option for adjusting the delay in the Unity config, just a lot of other switcher related options.

Omer Akram (om26er) wrote :

the bug in compiz switcher and unity are not related. closed. You might want to report a new detailed bug for Unity.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid
JP (vectorpoem) wrote :

I am seeing this even after setting the window popup delay to zero. I think the configurable delay is actually a red herring for the real bug, a lack of responsiveness when hitting alt-tab. On my machine the lag between the keystroke and the window appearing is about 400-500ms. Other compiz-related keystrokes, such as the expose view, something starts to happen /instantly/ once the key is pressed.

This bug really hurts the overall feeling of the OS's responsiveness.

TomasHnyk (sup) wrote :

By the way, this should be fixed because not everybody uses the unity window switching ability - I turned it off because it was slow (bug 836023 ).

JP (vectorpoem) wrote :

In my opinion, this bug belongs in the "One Hundred Paper Cuts" list. It was marked invalid for that list in May of this year, but the alt-tab functionality has been completely reimplemented since then, so it's worth re-evaluating now.

See my comment above; the responsiveness should not be measured in terms of the compiz setting, but on the actual latency between the keystroke and the alt-tab visual menu appearing. It's as high on 1000ms on my machine, which handles other window management changes with perfectly acceptable speed. Something is broken. People switching from windows will notice this the first time they hit alt-tab.

My specs: 11.10 32-bit, 3GB RAM, Nvidia GT 240 running the 280.13 drivers, in case that's relevant.

Omer Akram (om26er) on 2011-12-05
no longer affects: unity (Ubuntu)
Alexander Broshevich (vcosvic) wrote :

Any progress on this? For me it is not a problem to set to 0 the delay in static application switcher on every ubuntu install for so many months. However i'm sure that new users do not appreciate this 'design decision', which hurts the responsiveness.

Ken Clive (ken.clive) wrote :

I'm having absolutely no issues with Alt-Tab in Unity 3D on my end. Perhaps it depends on the video driver in use?

System specs: 3.3 GHz AMD Phenom II X2 560, 4GB DDR3, Nvidia GT 520 on 295.40 drivers (proprietary), 12.04 LTS x86-64.

summary: - Alt+Tab "Feels" slow
+ Unity Alt+Tab switcher feels slow
summary: - Unity Alt+Tab switcher feels slow
+ Alt+Tab static switcher feels slow
affects: compiz-core → compiz-plugins-main
affects: compiz (Ubuntu) → compiz-plugins-main (Ubuntu)
Changed in compiz-plugins-main:
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in compiz-staticswitcher-plugin:
status: New → Confirmed
Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

All, please note: This bug is about the compiz staticswitcher plugin. That was ONLY used up to and including Ubuntu 11.04.

Starting with Ubuntu 11.10, Unity got it's own switcher with the fancy blur effect. The discussion about the Unity switcher being slow (11.10 and 12.04) is bug 836023 and not this one.

Changed in compiz:
status: New → Confirmed
To post a comment you must log in.
This report contains Public information  Edit
Everyone can see this information.

Other bug subscribers