I run Ubuntu in VirtualBox. 18.04 is considerably less responsive than 16.04, with exactly the same VM settings (3D acceleration, 3 cores, 4 GB RAM, guest additions installed, host: macOS, VirtualBox 5.2.18).

18.04 is often slow to respond to clicks and even typing. It is borderline unusable. 16.04, on the other hand, works perfectly fine. The 18.04 is a fresh install.

Is this considerable performance drop an inevitable consequence of switching to Gnome 3? Are there any simple settings I can try to make it usable? I do not need animations or fancy visual effects—this in an OS in a VM so it gets only occasional use, and I mostly just need the terminal.

More details:

  • Right after boot, performance is satisfactory

  • After opening a Terminal, and maximizing it, performance becomes awful. It does not recover even after unmaximizing the Terminal window, or closing it.

  • Turning off 3D acceleration in VirtualBox makes is more sluggish after startup (e.g. moving window on the screen is choppy), but it never gets unusably slow after maximizing a window.


You can install different desktop environments on Ubuntu. Xfce or Mate are pretty fast. Or even better install fresh Ubuntu Mate or Xubuntu 18.04.

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    I am willing to do that if I know that it will help, but before going to this much trouble, I'd like to make sure that the issue is really the desktop environment, and not something else. Note that the base Ubuntu 1604 flavour worked just fine. – Szabolcs Sep 21 '18 at 12:30
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    @Szabolcs I wouldn't say that executing a sudo apt-get install another-de, following by reboot, and choosing a DE in login screen is much trouble. Sure you spent more time writing the question here than you would for the 3 actions above. – Hi-Angel Sep 24 '18 at 7:10

You could install the virtual box guest additions, that optimizes the virtual machine because I have one installed with 512MB RAM and it runs quite well with it.

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    I specifically mentioned that the guest additions are already installed. – Szabolcs Sep 24 '18 at 11:22

Check your boot logs:

sudo journalctl --boot > boot.log

Sometimes there is stuff that broke (but does not prevent normal booting) which can add to delays. You will be looking for lines that contain "error", "warning" etc

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    I specifically mentioned that 18.04 was a fresh install. – Szabolcs Sep 24 '18 at 11:22

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