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I have a Zotac ZBOX ID84 with Intel D2550 proc and Nvidia GT520M GPU, 2GB memory and 320GB hard disk.

I tried XBMCbuntu first and it ran perfectly for a few months until I started to mess around with the Terminal. After a re-install I could get the HDMI sound to work again so I installed the latest version of Ubuntu (13.04) instead.

That worked fine. The sound and everything worked right away, but the interface of Ubuntu is sluggish and XBMC doesn't run as good as it did in XBMCbuntu. The video playback is slow and it stutters. It speeds up and slows down with the complexity of the video.

So, the PC is more than capable to run XBMC and play the videos, but something in Ubuntu (GUI?) slows it down to an unusable pace.

Can anybody tell me what I can do to speed things up? Since I'm new to Ubuntu I have no clue where to start looking.

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Is this what you're looking for? – Mochan Apr 29 '13 at 8:03
The reason is Unity (see this question…). For Ubuntu 12.04 the solution is given in the linked question, however in 13.04 that solution no longer works :( – Gerhard Burger Apr 29 '13 at 8:46
@mochan, I'll try the suggestions in your link. Thanks! – Dreamdealer Apr 29 '13 at 13:08
yes it will work, moreover 12.04 is a Long Term Support (LTS) release, so it will be supported for another 4 years. You can also try openelec, it works like xbmcbuntu but without the ubuntu part, it is optimized for small devices such as yours. – Gerhard Burger Apr 29 '13 at 13:46
You could try to start XBMC without any desktop environment being loaded - i.e. load it from the login screen as a custom session. See – gertvdijk Jul 13 '13 at 1:10

What helped for me (only for the unresponsive GUI, not the video playback) is in System->Settings->Video Output setting Vertical blank sync to Disabled.

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Here is the link to the "how to" I have used with a similar setup. It's another re-install for you but if you are planning to stay with a Ubuntu based setup, not openelec, then a minimal install, is the way to go. This guide has been around a while and is updated regularly, just today in fact. It is directed at Zotac systems like yours, though older and AMD based I am sure you'll find an option that works for your needs.

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Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Braiam Sep 12 '13 at 11:04

IF you want to keep 13.04 or not re-install:

Try logging out of unity and select XBMC on the login menu. You can exit from XBMC to get back to the login screen.

This requires some extra work to get to XBMC, but it seems to have worked for me in 12.10 and 13.04.

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