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 Post subject: Linux desktop feels slow...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 9:44 am 
Maximum PC Editor
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Hey guys,

Three months and still running Debian on my primary work machine...

For the most part, everything is groovy, but there is one thing that really annoys me about my Linux install.

I've got a 3.0GHz P4, with 1GB of RAM, and a pair of fast videocards. The problem is that the UI feels slow compared to the same machine with Windows installed. Switching between windows, or even tabs in Firefox takes a noticeable length of time, which shouldn't happen with a machine this fast.

The only possible culprit for this that I can think of is the fact that I'm running three displays using Xinerama. I'm running a 2.6 kernel SMP kernel and Gnome right now, although I've used KDE in the past and had the same problem. I'm not running any fancy themes, or anything else that should make the UI slow.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like to lock down the problem so that I can tell the readers how to fix it when I write my final article, but I've reached the limits of my optimization know-how.

Thanks!

///Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:35 am 
Klamath
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I don't have a fix but I thought I'd let you know that I have a 3.06 proc. and a gig of rdram and my computer runs slow with Redhat and Mandrake. I also noticed it takes longer to load pages on the internet and I have cable that runs at 1.5mbps.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux desktop feels slow...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 11:18 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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WillSmith wrote:
Hey guys,

Three months and still running Debian on my primary work machine...

For the most part, everything is groovy, but there is one thing that really annoys me about my Linux install.

I've got a 3.0GHz P4, with 1GB of RAM, and a pair of fast videocards. The problem is that the UI feels slow compared to the same machine with Windows installed. Switching between windows, or even tabs in Firefox takes a noticeable length of time, which shouldn't happen with a machine this fast.

The only possible culprit for this that I can think of is the fact that I'm running three displays using Xinerama. I'm running a 2.6 kernel SMP kernel and Gnome right now, although I've used KDE in the past and had the same problem. I'm not running any fancy themes, or anything else that should make the UI slow.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like to lock down the problem so that I can tell the readers how to fix it when I write my final article, but I've reached the limits of my optimization know-how.

Thanks!

///Will



This is a bit of an odd question, but what filesystem are you using? If you're using ext3, that's probably your main culprit right there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:11 pm 
Maximum PC Editor
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I am using ext3... Why would that make it slow?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:18 pm 
8086
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Because it is awful just like debian.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:32 pm 
Maximum PC Editor
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I missed the part in the installer when it said ext3 was awful.

Any particular reason it's awful, or just more partisan-ness?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:39 pm 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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Not sure of the exact why's here, but just from observation, just seems ext3 formated machines do run slower then something running say ReiserFS.

..but in the same breath, I wouldn't consider Reiser just out of supportability, so I'm not sure what choice you really have.

Don't have anything to offer with your issue though. I hate to say this, because we do have some some knowledge around here, Being that you're running three cards here, and having doubts that anyone here has any indepth experience with Xinerama (from a previous post you made), I might suggest looking for an answer at a xorg specific area.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 1:20 pm 
Maximum PC Editor
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I'm actually running XFree86, not Xorg... I thought about making the upgrade manually, since everyone says performance is better, but I haven't found any decent walkthrus for manually installing X.org on a Debian machine, so I've been afraid to take that jump.

I'm going to wait til there's a package for X.org to upgrade I think. I bet it will show up in sid as soon as sarge ships.

I loaded up an alternate XFree config with only one monitor, and it still feels sluggish, so I guess it's not the Xinerama stuff...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 5:12 pm 
Forum's 3dfx Zealot
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Ok,

Rieser is nice but at times it can be pain. Rieser tools are not as great as they should be if you run into hd trouble.

EXT3 seems sluggish at times.

XFS is nice and can be very secure but just recently added support for it.


For a personal machine I use Rieser On some production servers I use rieser while others i still use EXT2....

also see what services you are running. Not to point out any specific distro as debian is one of the better ones of not enabling a bunch of crap at startup but just check if there is services just running that are not being used by you like mysql , apache , or other defualt servers that you simply do not use.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 5:26 pm 
Maximum PC Editor
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I just looked at the running processes and it says that X is using 806MB of memory. That seems a bit high, but I don't know if it reserves a bunch of the swapfile or something goofy...

There don't seem to be a whole lot of running processes that I don't understand what they do.

The system doesn't feel slow once I get into an application. However, tasks like moving windows and redrawing windows seems to be much slower than the same machine using Windows...

I guess I'll wait until Debian incorporates X.org and see if that fixes the problem...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 8:16 am 
Coppermine
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WillSmith wrote:
I am using ext3... Why would that make it slow?


ext3 does require SOME overhead but not THAT much overhead. ext3 (as well as reiserfs) performs something called journaling. That means on every "write" operation to the hard disk, the filesystem also writes a little bit extra, this extra "write" operation encodes state information. So if you lose power or your system crashes, when you reboot, you don't have to do an fsck (like ext2) since it can be recovered from the journal. Reiserfs performs this task using a slightly different algorithm (a balanced tree) for bookeeping.

Here is a (biased) link for some benchmarks:
http://www.namesys.com/benchmarks.html# ... .6.8.1-mm3

BUT, from these configurations, a normal user should not see much difference between reiserfs and ext3 when referring to desktop usage. Most of your desktop state is in main memory, which keeps it speedy. In other words, its not your file system. I think something else is causing the sluggishness.

I have a Slackware P3 733, 512 RAM at home, using reiserfs/ext3 and i dont notice any sluggishness.

I also use xfce (www.xfce.org), a minimal (small overhead, small memory footprint) desktop environment.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 8:19 am 
Coppermine
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i just though of something...do you have DMA mode turned on for your hard drives?

as root:

# hdparm -d /dev/hda -- or whatever partition/drive you want to check.

If it is off, then that would probably be the cause of your sluggishness.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:38 am 
Maximum PC Editor
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DMA is on...

I think I'm going to post on Slashdot and see if anyone there has any suggestions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:50 pm 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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WillSmith wrote:
I am using ext3... Why would that make it slow?


Sorry for the late reply, but ext3 is just ext2 with journaling support. ReiserFS or XFS are great Filesystems. Personally, I refuse to touch ext3 for the life of me, I use ReiserFS on my Linux boxes. If you're using Linux kernel 2.6.8, you're at a great start as that, IMHO, they have awesome support for ReiserFS or XFS.

Oh, and Debian doesn't suck, just ignore Jawa the Slackware Slut (or is that Slutware?) ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:51 pm 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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kkith wrote:
i just though of something...do you have DMA mode turned on for your hard drives?

as root:

# hdparm -d /dev/hda -- or whatever partition/drive you want to check.

If it is off, then that would probably be the cause of your sluggishness.



Good advice, I forgot about DMA. I thought that Debian will automatically activate DMA for you during the install, so I just ignored that. Otherwise, ext3 is a terribly slow Filesystem (ironically, it's the most stable out there).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:54 pm 
Maximum PC Editor
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I'm running the 2.6.6 kernel right now. I can update to 2.6.8 pretty easily though, I'll just have to recompile video driver support.

A couple of questions about the format, when you say reiser is less stable than ext3, does that mean that the system is suddenly going to start crashing all the time, or does it just mean that the machine is going to not recover as easily when it's shut down unexpectedly or something odd happens?

Is there any way to change the format of my partitions without reinstalling everything? I'd desperately like to avoid doing that if at all possible.

Thanks again for all your help...

///Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 3:33 pm 
Coppermine
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WillSmith wrote:
A couple of questions about the format, when you say reiser is less stable than ext3...


Well, IMHO I disagree with whoever made that statement. I believe the ReiserFS code has matured enough to be considered stable (for at least a year now?). Regrettably, I have nothing to substantiate the previous statement. However, from personal experience, I have never had a problem with ReiserFS as the FS for my desktop system. I don't run any processes (that I can think of) that requires frequent disk I/O. Having said that, I've lost power to my system a few times and upon reboot, have never had any problems with Reiser's journal recovery. I've also never had any problems during operations, as well as never had problems during normal bootup or shutdowns.

Oh shit, what's that screeching sound coming from my h/d?

The Fresh Prince of BelAir wrote:
Is there any way to change the format of my partitions without reinstalling everything? I'd desperately like to avoid doing that if at all possible.
///Will


One possible way you could do it is to repartition ur drives. Copy the files you want to keep onto this temp partition, repartition the old partition, copy the files back. That approach would require:
1. having enough space
2. ]-[@\/in6 a program that can repartition drives.

"Parent's just don't understand" - Will Smith


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 7:40 pm 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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WillSmith wrote:
I'm running the 2.6.6 kernel right now. I can update to 2.6.8 pretty easily though, I'll just have to recompile video driver support.

A couple of questions about the format, when you say reiser is less stable than ext3, does that mean that the system is suddenly going to start crashing all the time, or does it just mean that the machine is going to not recover as easily when it's shut down unexpectedly or something odd happens?

Is there any way to change the format of my partitions without reinstalling everything? I'd desperately like to avoid doing that if at all possible.

Thanks again for all your help...

///Will



1) Well, ReiserFS has had its share of "horror stories" in that some people find that using Reiser has caused their machines to crap out. However, I was running ReiserFS on my Gentoo box for like a whole year and not a single crash nor did it crap out. XFS is a great Filesystem if you're willing to risk it. Why? Because XFS aggresively uses RAM as a temp buffer (IIRC) so while it is fast, a sudden power failure can cause the system to go corrupt.

FYI, ReiserFS is better since it uses smaller cluster sizes (1K, IIRC) and is more robust than ext3. I use ReiserFS on my Laptop and on my Server ( / uses ReiserFS, hdb and hdd use XFS from a previous install). Like kkith said, there's really not a whole lot of substantial evidences to prove that ReiserFS is necessarily worse off than ext3. Just go and use ReiserFS and you'll be fine. :) And like I said, 2.6.8 is a really robust kernel, BTW.

2) As far as formatting, you're out of luck. You have to backup your data and start all over again. However, all is not lost, when you do reformat you'll get a really up to date system with a new filesystem. You're better off, IMHO ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 8:14 pm 
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I'd say run hdparm and configure your drives properly. Your system could be held back by slow paging.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 6:26 am 
Forum's 3dfx Zealot
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Been using Reiser for years with slackware never had a problem.


I did just test out Vidalinux 1.0 aka Gentoo with gui installer.

it automatic made EXT3 parititions had a bunch of non recovery errors. And for everyone else i checked the drive 2 with drive spin no bad physical errors.


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