I've been experiencing major graphical glitches in gnome-shell and its derivatives (such as cinnamon). The glitches are present on every menu/modal/etc managed by the shell (applications such as nautilus seem to be fine)

Could it be something to do with my graphics card?

$ fglrxinfo
display: :0  screen: 0
OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400 Series
OpenGL version string: 3.3.11005 Compatibility Profile Context

This is a bug with the current version of the fglrx graphics driver. There are two ways to solve it:

You can remove fglrx and use the built in driver instead. You can remove the fglrx driver in System Settings › Additional Drivers. Select the driver that is currently installed and click Deactivate. That might solve everything, depending on how well the built in driver supports your graphics card. It might feel a lot better in some cases, because it is much better integrated, but results are quite varied.

So, your other option is to manually upgrade to the latest version of the fglrx driver. This bug is (almost) fixed in version 12.1. Upgrading is explained on the Ubuntu Wiki:

First, download the latest drivers from http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/Pages/index.aspx And remember where you have downloaded them

Open a terminal and type the following:

cd ${*Where you downloaded the driver*}
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libqtgui4
sudo sh amd-driver-installer-*.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/oneiric
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
sudo aticonfig --initial

In the step with amd-driver-installer-*, you might need to change that to the name of the file you downloaded.

And then restart your computer.

After you do that, you might find that Gnome Shell still runs quite slowly, even with the latest fglrx. If that is the case, you need to set something in an environment variable.

Open a terminal again, and type the following:

gedit ~/.profile

A text editor will appear, showing your .profile file. At the very bottom of the file, add a new line with the following:

export CLUTTER_VBLANK="none"

Now log out and log in again.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion. I'd blithely assumed that the official drivers would have better support. – AClockWorkLemon Feb 12 '12 at 6:42
  • They do have better support, I think, but Ubuntu won't have the cutting edge drivers, as they need to test it first, and get it into a release state, making sure all dependencies are met. Not everyone can compile a new driver, since you need some stuff that isn't in the default installation. And, if there is a kernel upgrade, you're screwed until you compile a new one, I believe. To me, that's not what I call support. I prefer to avoid the issue when possible by using the standard driver if it meets my needs (which it does). – Marty Fried Feb 12 '12 at 18:33

I get the same sort of problems with my ATI graphics card (Radeon 5450) using the proprietary drivers. It has always worked fine with everything else. I also have shutdown issues in Unity (and maybe Gnome shell) with the proprietary drivers.

I find that everything works well with the standard drivers. My computer will even suspend successfully that way. However, I have tried gnome shell a few times, and it never lasts long before I give up on it. I'm using gnome classic with compiz, and Awn launcher. and the Cardapio menu. I find I like this best so far.

If you don't need the proprietary drivers, try it without them. I don't notice any difference, but then, I don't play games or anything.

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  • I find it amusing that the official drivers are worse than the OS provided by the community. goes to show the power of OS i suppose. also, yeah. i'm not a huge fan of gnome-shell, i was first getting the issue trying to get cinnamon to work – AClockWorkLemon Feb 12 '12 at 6:44
  • I never even bothered with cinnamon - maybe in the future, but after using Gnome classic for a while, and getting Compiz to work with it, I'm pretty happy. And I kind of like awn now, after having tried it a few times in the past. It has some nice features that I've discovered, but that's another discussion. :) – Marty Fried Feb 12 '12 at 18:28

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