Computer is slowing down

Kenneth Marcy kmmos1 at
Wed Dec 4 17:31:31 UTC 2013

On 12/4/2013 1:54 AM, John R. Sowden wrote:
> I have been using the same computer (Pentium 4 3.0GHz 1GB RAM (shared 
> 875 MB for non-video use) 1.5GB swap, 13.10 xubuntu/xfce desktop) for 
> several years, and its been working fine.  Click on an icon, the 
> program executes right away, etc.
> In the last year, the system seems to have been slowing down.  It 
> takes 2-3 seconds from a click on an icon until the program starts to 
> execute (not up and running).  I am wondering if xubuntu is getting  
> bigger and bigger, taking more ram (I assume that is the issue) 
> without letting us know that requirements are changing.  I also am 
> wondering if more non-essential programs are being added to the 
> install that are running in ram, that are not necessarily needed.
> Any thoughts?

Yes.  First, although not directly related to your question, imagine you 
returned to your machine to find it running as usual, but all your data 
files were missing -- just vanished.  What would you miss first?  What 
would you miss most?  Most important -- is your data backed up 
completely and up-to-date?  Do you know exactly how to restore it 
exactly?  Grandfather-father-son is a phrase referring to three 
generations of removable data storage for safe backup and restore.

Pentium 4 is a 32-bit processor that can address four gigabytes of RAM, 
which should be installed both for better performance, especially if 
video processing is sharing general RAM, but also to help cope with the 
apparently inevitable and unstoppable code bloat that has been occurring 
for decades.  (Why bloat? Because average available RAM across many 
machines has been growing an order of magnitude about every four years 
for three decades -- 32 KB, 32 MB, 32 GB).

Secondary storage cruft accumulated over time and/or sub-optimally 
divided storage capacity for changing usage patterns can result in 
slower response times.  Backing up data and doing a software fresh 
installation after another analysis of drive partitioning choices can 
help alleviate this situation.

Beyond this point the analysis gets complicated with costs-benefits, 
needs vs. wants, 32-bit vs. 64-bit technologies, system stasis vs. 
system growth, etc., etc.  Upgrading a 32-bit box to 4 GB is something I 
would do immediately, but that may not be your preference.  Upgrading to 
larger, faster drives is a consideration. Promoting an upgraded 32-bit 
machine to server status, and adding a 64-bit machine as a workstation 
is another possibility that changes many performance factors in one fell 
swoop.  Again, your call, not mine.  However, a 64-bit, four-core 
processor coupled to 16 GB RAM, a solid state storage drive, and faster, 
larger-capacity rotating-platter drives will have speedier performance 
characteristics.  The challenge then becomes finding, or writing, 
software that will accomplish what you would like to do while taking 
optimal advantage of the newer hardware's capabilities.


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