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Fix: Ubuntu 20.04 stuttering animations & video

Ok, this was driving me nuts, but I’m glad I finally figured it out thanks to this.

So the issue was: every 500ms or so, any  graphic output would briefly freeze, be it a video playing, a page scrolling, or moving a window around. This issue was persistent right after I upgraded from Ubuntu 19.10 to Ubuntu 20.04.

The troublemaker: the issue was caused by the “System Monitor” extension. The extension was running in my app indicators toolbar, since I like seeing small bits of stats about CPU load, network usage, etc. Unfortunately, it seems that there is an issue with this extension on the newest version of Ubuntu.

Unsuccessful attempts: I tried reinstalling the Nvidia driver (390.132), tried to install the driver manually instead of using the Ubuntu Drivers tool. Switching to the Nouveau driver had no effect. Choosing a different session from the log in screen (Default Gnome) had no effect either, since my Gnome extensions were running there too for some reasons.

The solution: Disabling the “System Monitor” extension, instantly fixed the issue. If you have the extension running in the app indicators area, simply clicking on it, and choosing “Quit” will do the trick.

Update (June 10th, 2020): My suggestion above is to close the “System Monitor”, also known as the “Indicator Multiload” Gnome extension. If you don’t want to have to deal with closing the app on every system reboot, you can either choose to:

  • Disable the extension by unchecking the “System Load Indicator” entry in “Startup Applications”. Hopefully the extension is fixed in the future, so you can re-enable this easily when that happens.
  • If you want to completely remove the extension: sudo apt-get purge --auto-remove indicator-multiload which will remove the extension, its dependencies and the config data.

If you found this helpful, or have a suggestion for this article – let me know in the commentary section below 🙂

25 Comments

  1. Ariel Andrade

    what would you try if disabling all extensions doesn’t work? i’ve tried switching the nvidia drivers to no avail and i’m trying to downgrade the kernel but then the screen is only 640×480. I have a fresh install of ubuntu 20 since june but this just happened now, i suspect that with a kernel upgrade but i’m not sure.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!!!

  2. RK

    This is insane. It literally worked. For me the issue was that I recently changed the refresh rate of my monitor tool from 5s to 1s. After changing back to 5s now its fixed!!!

  3. m

    Wow, thank you a lot too, it helped me after just recently updating to 20.04 and installing my favorite system monitor. Now it has to stay disabled though.

  4. Johan S

    O.M.G thanks so much, I almost developed autism during the last week from this bugging me, and not once did it strike me that it could be the system monitor extension.
    You saved me from doom, thanks!

  5. Gordon Uretsky

    In my case, the gnome-system-monitor was not active although it is loaded in startup.
    When I looked through all the hidden processes that were loaded at startup I was struck by the thought that Orca screen reader might be set to read my screens every 1-2 seconds like my video pauses.
    I did NOT remove sys monitor but DID remove Orca from startup (along with the backup tool) and cured the problem.
    – YMMV

  6. klo

    Thanks for this! It’s been bugging me from day 1!

    I’ve narrowed it down to the GPU monitor; disabling GPU “Display” and “Show In Menu” fixed it for me.

  7. Ryan

    +1 thanks for posting! I had this problem too, although I’ll miss indicator-multiload as I’ve used it for many years previously and never had this problem :'(

  8. Zaliek

    I’m surprised this extension was still “working” for you. It would randomly disappear on me when I upgraded to 19.04 a year or so ago so I removed it. Overall gnome extensions have caused me more pain than it’s worth so I removed all of them.

  9. Adrien Rey-Jarthon

    Oh my god thank you, I noticed this and was just sitting like: “if I start searching why it’ll take me hours and I’ll break my system trying random fixes”. I finally tried a lucky google search and found this post. Now it’s clearly visible that the shuttering occurs exactly when the monitor refreshes (every 2 sec in my case).

  10. inediblePotato

    This worked for me too. The stutter is very visible using glxgears. With the system monitor indicator off, no issues. Thanks!

  11. JeanJacques

    OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH. I was starting to consider going back to windows because I thought it was some weird driver issue

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