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I have an IBM Thinkpad T42, with a Radeon Mobility 7500 graphics chipset. On all versions of Ubuntu that I have tried (Natty, Xubuntu 11.10), playing any video(e.g a DVD in vlc) causes tearing, whether full screen or not. Furthermore, playing videos under a composited desktop (e.g. Metacity or Xfwm compositing) results in very poor framerate.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I have found a way to improve the performance massively: I have made a custom setting for the radeon driver. This is my /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-radeon.conf

Section "Device"
        Identifier "Radeon"
        Driver "radeon"
    Option  "SWcursor"              "off" #software cursor might be necessary on some rare occasions, hence set off by default
    Option  "EnablePageFlip"        "on"  #supported on all R/RV/RS4xx and older hardware and set off by default
    Option  "AccelMethod"           "EXA" #valid options are XAA and EXA. EXA is the newest acceleration method and its the default.
    Option  "RenderAccel"           "on"  #enabled by default on all radeon hardware
    Option  "ColorTiling"           "off"  #enabled by default on RV300 and later radeon cards.
    Option  "EXAVSync"              "off"  #default is off, otherwise on
    Option  "EXAPixmaps"            "on"  #when on icreases 2D performance, but may also cause artifacts on some old cards
    Option  "AccelDFS"              "on"  #default is off, read the radeon manpage for more information
EndSection

The key option that makes the difference is the EXAPixmaps, which increases the performance a lot.

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You could give a try to the xorg-edgers ppa..there is an updated version of the ati opensource driver there, but I don't know if it may solve your problem or add some more problems:

https://launchpad.net/~xorg-edgers/+archive/ppa

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