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I have a multi-user Linux Mint machine running Cinnammon that is having a really strange graphics issue with regards to one user only, which I have not been able to find an answer to in scouring Stack sites, Mint forums, or the internet in general. The issue is that one user seems to be stuck on software rendering, while the rest can use hardware rendering without issues.

The Problem

The machine in question has 5 separate user accounts, two admins and three standard/non-privileged users. The machine has an AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card, and on all accounts but the problematic one hardware video acceleration works properly. Games work with good performance, navigating the desktop is smooth, and video playback is smooth and stutter-free. Output from inxi -Fzx on one of the users (an admin if that helps, but it's roughly the same on the non-privileged users):

System:    Host: TheNotSoTinyPC Kernel: 4.15.0-91-generic x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 7.4.0 Desktop: Cinnamon 4.0.10 
           Distro: Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa base: Ubuntu 18.04 bionic 
Machine:   Type: Desktop Mobo: Gateway model: DX4840 serial: <filter> BIOS: American Megatrends v: P01-A0 date: 03/19/2010 
CPU:       Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core i3 540 bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Nehalem rev: 2 L2 cache: 4096 KiB 
           flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 24470 
           Speed: 1388 MHz min/max: 1200/3067 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 1303 2: 1309 3: 1437 4: 1455 
Graphics:  Device-1: AMD Pitcairn PRO [Radeon HD 7850 / R7 265 / R9 270 1024SP] vendor: PC Partner Limited driver: radeon 
           v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.0 
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.6 driver: ati,radeon unloaded: fbdev,modesetting,vesa 
           resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz, 1920x1080~60Hz 
           OpenGL: renderer: AMD PITCAIRN (DRM 2.50.0 4.15.0-91-generic LLVM 9.0.0) v: 4.5 Mesa 19.2.8 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Device-1: Intel 5 Series/3400 Series High Definition Audio vendor: Acer Incorporated ALI driver: snd_hda_intel 
           v: kernel bus ID: 00:1b.0 
           Device-2: AMD Cape Verde/Pitcairn HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 7700/7800 Series] vendor: PC Partner Limited 
           driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.1 
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k4.15.0-91-generic 
Network:   Device-1: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet vendor: Acer Incorporated ALI driver: r8169 
           v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: e800 bus ID: 03:00.0 
           IF: enp3s0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter> 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 232.89 GiB used: 72.23 GiB (31.0%) 
           ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Seagate model: ST9250410AS size: 232.89 GiB 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 33.38 GiB used: 28.31 GiB (84.8%) fs: btrfs dev: /dev/sda1 
           ID-2: /home size: 191.88 GiB used: 43.92 GiB (22.9%) fs: btrfs dev: /dev/sda5 
           ID-3: swap-1 size: 7.63 GiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda6 
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 30.0 C mobo: N/A 
           Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:      Processes: 248 Uptime: 2m Memory: 7.78 GiB used: 920.9 MiB (11.6%) Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 7.5.0 
           Shell: bash v: 4.4.20 inxi: 3.0.27 

As can be seen here, AMD PITCAIRN is being used as the OpenGL renderer, so the graphics card is being used properly.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for the problematic user.

For the user having issues (one of the non-privileged users), desktop navigation is slow and choppy with lots of visual artifacts and tearing on the screen. Video playback is unwatchable, as it is terribly slow and choppy. Video game performance is similarly terrible with low FPS, and very choppy visuals making games hard/impossible to play. Looking at inxi -Fzx for that user gives:

System:
  Host: TheNotSoTinyPC Kernel: 4.15.0-91-generic x86_64 bits: 64 
  compiler: gcc v: 7.4.0 Desktop: Cinnamon 4.0.10 
  Distro: Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa base: Ubuntu 18.04 bionic 
Machine:
  Type: Desktop Mobo: Gateway model: DX4840 serial: <filter> 
  BIOS: American Megatrends v: P01-A0 date: 03/19/2010 
CPU:
  Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core i3 540 bits: 64 type: MT MCP 
  arch: Nehalem rev: 2 L2 cache: 4096 KiB 
  flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 24470 
  Speed: 1613 MHz min/max: 1200/3067 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 3019 2: 3032 
  3: 2962 4: 2962 
Graphics:
  Device-1: AMD Pitcairn PRO [Radeon HD 7850 / R7 265 / R9 270 1024SP] 
  vendor: PC Partner Limited driver: radeon v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.0 
  Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.6 driver: ati,radeon 
  unloaded: fbdev,modesetting,vesa 
  resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz, 1920x1080~60Hz 
  OpenGL: renderer: llvmpipe (LLVM 9.0 128 bits) v: 3.3 Mesa 19.2.8 
  direct render: Yes 
Audio:
  Device-1: Intel 5 Series/3400 Series High Definition Audio 
  vendor: Acer Incorporated ALI driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel 
  bus ID: 00:1b.0 
  Device-2: AMD Cape Verde/Pitcairn HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 7700/7800 Series] 
  vendor: PC Partner Limited driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.1 
  Sound Server: ALSA v: k4.15.0-91-generic 
Network:
  Device-1: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet 
  vendor: Acer Incorporated ALI driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: e800 
  bus ID: 03:00.0 
  IF: enp3s0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter> 
Drives:
  Local Storage: total: 232.89 GiB used: 72.23 GiB (31.0%) 
  ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Seagate model: ST9250410AS size: 232.89 GiB 
Partition:
  ID-1: / size: 33.38 GiB used: 28.31 GiB (84.8%) fs: btrfs dev: /dev/sda1 
  ID-2: /home size: 191.88 GiB used: 43.92 GiB (22.9%) fs: btrfs 
  dev: /dev/sda5 
  ID-3: swap-1 size: 7.63 GiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda6 
Sensors:
  System Temperatures: cpu: 55.0 C mobo: N/A 
  Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:
  Processes: 296 Uptime: 9m Memory: 7.78 GiB used: 1.41 GiB (18.2%) 
  Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 7.5.0 Shell: bash v: 4.4.20 
  inxi: 3.0.27

As can be seen, the OpenGL renderer is listed as llvmpipe, not AMD PITCAIRN, so that user is for some reason running software rendering only. I figure this is the issue, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why only that one user is on software rendering and all 4 other users are using the hardware acceleration.

What I tried

I tried deleting the problematic user, creating a new account for them, and then copying their personal files and settings back but the problem persisted. Deleting the user and creating a fresh account, and only copying their personal files (not settings) back seemed to fix the issue, but after some time the issue comes back. I'm sure they're doing something to cause it since copying all of their settings back causes the issue to persist, I just have no idea what they are doing, or how to fix it.

The Crux

How can I get this user back using hardware-acceleration, not software acceleration without deleting their account? Additionally, is there some way I can keep them from screwing this up again?

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I figured out the cause of the issue and wanted to update here in case anybody gets stumped like I was. It turned out that the "issue" originated in the session manager from the login screen. At some point, the user had entered that menu and selected the "Cinnamon (Software Rendering)" option without understanding what it did. In retrospect this accounted for the poor desktop performance and graphics issues that were the biggest issues faced.

What I did NOT EXPECT, was that selecting that option would disable ALL hardware rendering for that user. I would have expected the software rendering mode to only affect the desktop, not everything. I wanted to make sure to post this answer so anybody else running into this same issue would be able to find that crucial clarification which I did not.

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