As in this question: Ubuntu 17.10: high CPU usage by gnome-shell 3.26.1, and this question gnome-shell 3.26.1 constantly uses 20-30% CPU, I also have an issue where gnome-shell is constantly above 20% CPU, even with nothing other than terminal open:

$ top
 8029 xxxxxx    20  10 1714052 601696  54568 R  46.1 15.0   1179:08 gnome-shell

$ lspci | grep -i vga
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Atom Processor 
Z36xxx/Z37xxx Series Graphics & Display (rev 0e)

$ glxinfo | grep -i render
direct rendering: Yes
    GLX_MESA_multithread_makecurrent, GLX_MESA_query_renderer, 
    GLX_MESA_multithread_makecurrent, GLX_MESA_query_renderer, 
Extended renderer info (GLX_MESA_query_renderer):
OpenGL renderer string: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Bay Trail x86/MMX/SSE2
    GL_ARB_compute_shader, GL_ARB_conditional_render_inverted, 
    GL_MESA_texture_signed_rgba, GL_NV_conditional_render, GL_NV_depth_clamp, 
    GL_ARB_compute_shader, GL_ARB_conditional_render_inverted, 
    GL_NV_conditional_render, GL_NV_depth_clamp, GL_NV_light_max_exponent, 
    GL_OES_element_index_uint, GL_OES_fbo_render_mipmap, 

I have gnome-tweak-tool installed, but I have no extensions running (I've disabled them through the menu).

Is there any way of reducing the background gnome-shell CPU usage to something sensible? At the moment I can't have a browser open, a terminal open and Dropbox syncing without the load average reaching 6+, slowing everything down.

EDIT: I've dodged the problem by logging into Unity not GNOME with Wayland or GNOME with xorg, but this is not a long-term solution, as Unity is being phased out.

2 Answers 2


Another solution is to upgrade all extensions (via https://extensions.gnome.org), and then to disable them one by one and see if it solves the problem. Most of the time, it comes from a faulty extension.

  • That seems to have solved it for now. Though I don't quite understand how, when extensions weren't running. (Unless there was some other sort of conflict in gnome-shell that was causing it, which was fixed by redoing the extensions)
    – user36196
    Jan 29, 2018 at 11:20

Try using gnome-tweak-tool - or one of the alternatives here: How to configure GNOME 3 to show icons on desktop - to turn off 'Show Icons' on the Desktop tab.

After some months of wondering, that seems to have made an immediate difference for me.

  • I tried this at the last reboot, and it didn't solve the issue, so still sticking with Unity(7) for now
    – user36196
    Jan 24, 2018 at 15:02

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