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I recently turned on compositing in my laptop using the following command:

gconftool-2 -s --type bool /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true

Performance seems to be same after that except for the fact that there's a small noticeable delay in switching windows now when I hit Alt+Tab. Also, there's now a bit of lag when I play a game called teeworlds (not graphics intensive).

My laptop is low-end so I'm not sure if it's just my video card. I'm debating if I should install the proprietary drivers to improve performance. Can I get some advice on this?

output of lspci | grep -i VGA is as follows:

01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc M880G [Mobility Radeon HD 4200]

I'm not sure as to what drivers I'm currently using, all I know is that I didn't touch it since installing Karmic 9.10 so I know I'm using an open source one. I'm currently using 10.04 LTS (upgraded, not a clean install).

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2 Answers

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I've found that proprietary ATI drivers induced more lag on my laptop than the open-source drivers. They were also crashing Xorg from time to time - I have no idea why though.

If you're not going to play 3D games that require graphics acceleration, then I don't think you should bother with installing proprietary drivers. However, it is up to you and your hardware, so I don't think anyone here can give a 100% correct advice on what is best. Try it out yourself and see which suits your needs.

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This is quite a hard question to answer as both the open source radeon driver, and the proprietary ATI fglrx driver have their advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to performance and support of fancy features including energy save modes the fglrx still is better than radeon but the latter improved considerably, and it's main advantage is it's being quite stable.

I understand that you are not so much dependent on high end GPU power and you are happy with your system as it is now - so why change it? You will risk to be faced with incredible hard to tackle errors including an unbootable desktop when anything goes wrong with the driver installation. Performing upgrades of your Ubuntu may become more difficult. In addition it may not be easy to get rid of fglrx once it was installed. Fglrx is not open source!

My advice would be to stay with your system, even though many people are happy with the fglrx drivers and love the challenge to get it running the way it's supposed to.

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