[xubuntu-users] xubuntu-users Digest, Vol 120, Issue 29

Steve Litt slitt at troubleshooters.com
Sun Jan 22 00:20:01 UTC 2017

On Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:28:36 +0000
Peter Flynn <peter at silmaril.ie> wrote:

> On 01/21/2017 01:39 PM, Joanna Hoyt wrote:
> > Thanks all for your advice.
> > 
> > I ran swapon -s and got the following message:
> > 
> > Filename /dev/sda5    Type partition  Size 2079470  Used 0
> > Priority -1
> > 
> > Does that suggest that the swap space is adequate?  
> I'm not qualified to judge, but the rule of thumb I was given back in
> the days when you had to establish all the partitions manually, was to
> set swap to be twice the amount of installed memory.
> > I'm confused about the RAM issue. Askubuntu.com says that Xubuntu
> > requires 512 MB RAM... but you're saying it actually requires eight
> > times that much RAM in order to run bug-free?  
> Nothing to do with bugs (bugs are programming faults, which are going
> to be there no matter how much or how little memory you have).
> Linux will technically *run* in 512MB but IMHE it will absolutely
> *crawl*, taking many minutes to respond to the mouse or keyboard. I'm
> on a 2GB laptop at the moment, and it's working OK, but occasionally
> slows down when switching from application to application. And it
> takes 7-8 mins to boot.

Hi Peter,

7 minute boot isn't about RAM, there's some horrible thing going on
during boot. If your init system is systemd, you can run that
systemd-blame or whatever to find what's taking the time (I can't
believe I just recommended systemd). If you're running a better init
system, temporarily shut off all the daemons and see if the problem
goes away. If it does, restore the daemons a few at a time until you
find the timehog daemon.

Also, I've found that networking and dns/reverse-dns often cause
obscene boot times. Try to get them working early in the boot (I know
that might go against the xubuntu/networkmanager philosophy, but if it
changes the boot time to 30 seconds, why not?

> I wouldn't want to run more than 3-4 user applications (eg mail, web,
> wordprocessor, spreadsheet) simultaneously unless you have more than
> 2GB memory. 

Me neither. That being said, I use a pair of 2007 laptops with 2GB RAM
quite frequently.

> But there are *lots* of other factors involved.

> There are things you can do to lessen the demands on memory -- one is
> to run Xubuntu so that you use xfce as your interface instead of Unity
> (Unity sucks all your memory into a black hole). 

If the OP was using Unity with less than 3GB, he was asking for
trouble. Unity is a pig.

A little known fact is that Xfce is a little porky itself. If he were
to use Lubuntu (Ubuntu with LXDE) or simply install and run LXDE on
Xubuntu, 512MB would be runnable. I've done it. But like you said, no
Thunderbird, use Claws or better use Alpine. No Firefox, stick to
xombrero (xxxterm) if it works, or perhaps qupzilla. And just like you
said, do housekeeping so only a few apps are running.

> Use lighter software:
> eg Claws-Mail instead of Thunderbird. Use AbiWord instead of
> LibreOffice. Use command-line utilities instead of graphical ones.
> Unfortunately on the web browser front, they all seem to be
> memory-hogs.

Personally, I follow your advice in the preceding paragraph even if I
have a quad processor and 16GB of RAM. All other things being equal,
simpler apps tend to be more stable and often also more able to be
assembled into specialty programs via shellscripts.

By the way, I highly recommend installing and creating a hotkey to
dmenu. It's a spectacular way to start programs, and it takes next to
no resources.

Steve Litt 
January 2017 featured book: Troubleshooting: Just the Facts

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