Other than a few … all the major desktop in GNU/Linux are slowly switching to advanced 3D graphics rendering using the OpenGL API. Ubuntu’s own Unity desktop, Gnome Shell and KDE have already done that.
Although it’s getting better when comparing with the past, but still the GPU driver support under GNU/Linux ain’t as good as with MS Windows when it comes to 3D rendering. And to make things worse, most of those drivers are proprietary ones so most distros don’t even ship with them by default.
Anyhow, if you just don’t care about the “nature” of the GPU driver then after installing a proprietary driver you should be able to easily configure advanced 3D rendering settings through that driver anyway.
But what if you don’t want to install a proprietary driver or still got one of them old ones (like me) which is no longer supported by the vendor and looking for few ways to tweak some of those settings.
In that case, there’s a dedicated utility called DriConf (GUI!) that lets us tweak few advanced settings in Ubuntu with ease.
*. Settings are categorized in “Performance” & “Image Quality”, so easy to understand.
*. Change Verticle refresh synchronization tweaks.
*. Change rendering latency settings (helps to get better/lower responsive times from your GPU).
*. Disable/Enable larger texture loading into the Memory based settings.
*. Separate advanced settings window.
*. Exclude applications to a list so those settings won’t affect when launching them.
That’s it for the features. Another thing about this utility is that it lets you apply these changes to system wide or user specifically as well (which is a bit safe since if something goes wrong then you can log-in using a different user account and con undone the changes).
You can install DriConf in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by using the below command in your Terminal window.
sudo apt-get install driconf
But remember, as said before, if you already own a never GPU and have installed a proprietary driver then I recommend editing 3D settings using the tool that comes with those drivers rather than using this utility because this could easily mess with your OpenGL rendering settings otherwise. Good luck.