How to Enable Low Graphics Mode in Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 7

For those running Ubuntu Desktop in a virtualised environment, or a Ubuntu computer is being controlled remotely over VNC, RDP etc, Low Graphics Mode can be enabled to reduce the overhead and speed up the user’s experience.

Ubuntu 7 has a low graphics mode for a long time, it reduces the amount of visual effects:

  • Reducing the amount of animation in elements such as the window switcher, launcher and menus (in some cases down to zero)
  • Removing blur and fade in/out
  • Reducing shadows

How to Enable Low Graphics Mode in Ubuntu 16.04:

1. Launch Ubuntu Software, search for and install CCSM (CompizConfig Settings Manager):

CompizConfig Settings Manager

2. Then launch CCSM from the Launcher or Unity Dash, click Desktop -> Ubuntu Unity Plugin:

unity-plugin

3. Finally scroll-down and check the box after “Enable Low Graphics Mode”. And it takes effect instantly.

enable-low-gfx

Low Graphics Mode can also enable itself when it detects certain GL features are not available.

1. Open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run command to create and open a config file:

gedit ~/.config/upstart/lowgfx.conf

2. When the file opens, paste below lines and save it.

start on starting unity7
pre-start script
    initctl set-env -g UNITY_LOW_GFX_MODE=1
end script

To disable this feature, simply comment the 3nd initctl line by adding “#” (without quotes) at the start of the line.