4-core slow due to disk access

CLIFFORD ILKAY clifford_ilkay at dinamis.com
Mon Apr 26 14:48:14 UTC 2010

On 04/26/2010 06:57 AM, Joep L. Blom wrote:
> I have in Karmic (2-6.31-20) a nasty problem for which I cannot find a
> solution.
> My system: AMD Phenom II 4 -core 4 GB of memory, 1 HD 250 GB and 2
> external USB disks (resp 250GB and 1 TB), which are irrelevant for the
> problem. I have an 8 GB swap-space.
> After starting the system it's speed is acceptable but not superfast. I
> have e few applications running (terminal, Thunderbird, Firefox and
> gkrellm). I see in gkrellm that I have now 2 GB free and and ~ 1 GB of
> swap-space in use.

How many tabs/windows do you have open in Firefox? How is Firefox 
configured to deal with browsing history? Do you have the Flash plugin 
installed? If so, do you notice a difference when you're on pages with 
Flash? What about on pages with heavy use of Javascript?

I often see similar problems with my system, which has an i5-750 CPU, 
4GB of RAM, and 1TB of disk. One or more of the cores will be pegged at 
100% and all available RAM and most of the 8GB of swap will be used up. 
The culprit is invariably Firefox. I tend to have many tabs open (> 100 
sometimes) and have the Flash plugin installed and often visit pages 
with buggy Javascript on them. I have Firefox configured to save history 
for six months. I've read reports of high I/O with Firefox when you save 
history for long periods of time.

My "solution" to the problems above is that when Firefox is causing my 
system to misbehave, I kill it and restart it. I then bookmark tabs that 
I don't need and close them. I haven't changed the history settings yet. 
Firefox can go for days with a large number of tabs open without any 
problems but landing on a problematic page can be enough to send it over 
the edge. Thunderbird, which I use for IMAP mail, also misbehaves 
occasionally. I haven't seen any particular pattern for its misbehaviour 
but it's infrequent enough that it's hard to see a pattern anyway. The 
only discernible pattern seems to be that both of the most troublesome 
apps are by Mozilla.

Clifford Ilkay
1419-3266 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON
Canada  M4N 3P6

+1 416-410-3326

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