Speed up the Gnome Menu and Fix the Annoying Icon Delay

Written by Mark Sanborn: Sep 17, 2007

Recently I installed a copy of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04 on an older computer and I noticed that the Gnome menu was slow and the icons next to the menu items were taking a few seconds to load. At first I attributed this to the old slow computer. I later went home and booted up my new dual core system with 2gigs of RAM and noticed the same problem. At this point I knew that there was something wrong.

The first problem with the Gnome menu is that it loads the menu icons as needed causing a delay before you can see the icons. By default when you click the Gnome menu the icons are retrieved and loaded after the click (this is why there is a delay) and put in memory so they can be called later. Once the icons are in memory there will be no delay the next time you go to the same menu item. However, I think this is a bug since you should never see a delay in a menu system even if it is the first time you click on it. You can fix this problem by typing the following command as root.

gtk-update-icon-cache -f /usr/share/icons/THEMENAME/

Remember to replace the THEMENAME with the actual icon theme set you are using. The default is ‘gnome’.

The second problem I find with the Gnome menu is that it as a built in delay before sub menus are generated when you hover over them with your mouse. Unlike the ‘bug’ I described before this one is actually a feature :). Many users don’t want the sub navigation menu popping out as they are moving their mouse down the list to their final destination. The only problem is the delay is too slow by default and I recommend speeding it up a bit. You can do that with the following command.

echo gtk-menu-popup-delay = 100 >> ~/.gtkrc-2.0

If this speeds up the menu too much or not enough you can modify the speed by opening up the file .gtkrc-2.0 in your home directory and change the ‘100’ to a smaller number (faster) or a larger number (slower). You can do this with your favorite text editor or Nano text editor if you don’t have a favorite :).

nano -w ~/.gtkrc-2.0

This tweak should work on all distributions of linux.

So far I have tested it on Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04.

For another performance tweak you can also Turn Off Gnome Animations and Hide Window Contents While Dragging. This is especially useful for older machines or servers.

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