Thunar responsiveness issues

Viktor Semykin at
Mon Mar 8 20:55:33 CET 2021

Hello Xfce team!

Some time ago I faced performance issues while using Thunar with my phone
connected by MTP. The Thunar UI froze often and was not very responsive with
scrolling, selecting files and other mere file actions. I think it's not only
MTP but any slow GIO.

I tried to find the cause of issues and this is what I discovered so far. Some
UI functions make calls that drill down to IO, and freeze while waiting for IO
to finish.

This is the list of calls I found. The tree structure represents the call stack.

* List model performs IO:

          `-g_file_query_info                         -- [1]

* Icon renderer performs IO:

          | `-thunar_file_get_preview_type
          |   `-g_file_query_filesystem_info          -- [2]
          +-g_loadable_icon_load                      -- [3]
              `-g_file_query_info                     -- [4]

* UI performs IO:

            `-g_file_query_filesystem_info            -- [5]

I believe there are other IO calls too, but I haven't found them yet.

I'd like to solve the issue, but before doing so I wanted to discuss the
solution with the community. I see two approaches to it:

1. Ad-hoc solution

    * Prefetch `GFileInfo` with content-type beforehand. This solves [1] and
      [4], but slows down folder opening.

    * Prefetch file system info in `ThunarFolder` to prevent [2].

    * How to deal with [3]? I have no good clues for now.

2. Async model solution

    * Create a layer that connects GtkTreeModel to async values. When the value
      is pending the `get_value` call returns a placeholder (blank or "...");
      when the value is ready return it.

    * Use asynchronous `thunar_file_async_get_content_type` in the list model.
      This solves [1].

    * Move the code from `thunar_icon_renderer_render` to a new
      `thunar_file_async_get_icon` that returns the icon asynchronously. This
      solves [2] [3] and [4].

    This solution increases code complexity because it introduces a new layer
    and a notion of async values that can be pending or ready.

For the status bar ([5]) it seems just enough to listen to the
`notify::statusbar-text` signal.

I'm looking forward to the opinion of the community. Do you think any of these
solutions could be accepted to the Thunar code? Maybe you could think up
something better? Because I'm not absolutely happy with the approaches above.

Thank you. Let me know if the message formatting is broken and has to be fixed

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