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Ubuntu slows down





leontius
I am trying ubuntu on my laptop and I loved it at first - everything was fast and fun (except when dealing with the internal winmodem). My problem is... recently Firefox becomes slower. If I use the system manager I can see that Xorg and firefox take so much cpu usage (about 30 - 50% EACH) when doing normal browsing (which for me means opening 3 to 5 tabs and pidgin at the same time).

I tried searching for remedy in the internet and I did find some interesting tweaks to speed up ubuntu (noatime, changing driver options in xorg.conf) but none seems to get me back to the speed of a fresh install.

I don't remember installing or tweaking anything before and after the speed-down (this is why it is weird). Any suggestions? Should I switch to another distro or (mmm) Windows?
tdfranc
leontius wrote:
I am trying ubuntu on my laptop and I loved it at first - everything was fast and fun (except when dealing with the internal winmodem). My problem is... recently Firefox becomes slower. If I use the system manager I can see that Xorg and firefox take so much cpu usage (about 30 - 50% EACH) when doing normal browsing (which for me means opening 3 to 5 tabs and pidgin at the same time).

I tried searching for remedy in the internet and I did find some interesting tweaks to speed up ubuntu (noatime, changing driver options in xorg.conf) but none seems to get me back to the speed of a fresh install.

I don't remember installing or tweaking anything before and after the speed-down (this is why it is weird). Any suggestions? Should I switch to another distro or (mmm) Windows?


hmm, maybe you could try a fresh install of Ubuntu? (I do it at least 2 times a year, when there is a new distro-upgrade)
Flarkis
If you feel confident enough to try making tweaks to ubuntu i would suggest switching to Gentoo. IMHO it is one of the most powerful distributions. You can literally change anything. On top of that software is not downloaded in the form of binaries, instead the source is downloaded and it is compiled on you computer allowing you to use all the tweaks you want. I only suggest this if you want the hardcore linux experience though. It will require alot of work and you will pull your hair out in the beginning (especially if you do a manual install not an automated one, i do suggest the manual one though) but the rewards are great.

If that doesn sell you i have one suggestion though. If you are using open source drivers (i use the ATI open source but this also works with nvidia) . In your xorg.conf try changing in the device section "accelmethod" to EXA. The default is XAA, but EXA gives a big performance boost to your computer. for example this is my xorg.conf

Code:
Section "Device"
        Identifier      " ATI Technologies Inc RV280 [Radeon 9200 SE]"
        Option          "XAANoOffscreenPixmaps"
        Driver          "ati"
        Option          "AccelMethod"    "EXA"  #either XAA or EXA. "XAA" is the default and safe choice
        Option          "ColorTiling"    "on"
        Option          "EnablePageFlip" "true" #only works with accelmethod "XAA"
        Option          "AccelDFS"       "true" #seemed to speed things up using EXA acceleration
        Option          "TripleBuffer"   "true" #This *might* help if you use something like Beryl and have slow video playback.

        Option          "DMAForXv"       "true" #This can speed up movie playback but can in rare cases case instability
        Option          "GARTSize"       "64"   #This is the size of the "GART" that xorg will use.
        BusID           "PCI:1:7:0"             #must match your lspci output
EndSection
leontius
tdfranc wrote:

hmm, maybe you could try a fresh install of Ubuntu? (I do it at least 2 times a year, when there is a new distro-upgrade)


I've thought about that but I prefer a solution that does not require me to re-tweak everything once more Wink I will do that if I don't have any choice though (or maybe switching distro).

Is dist-upgrade that unreliable so that you need to reinstall everything?

Flarkis wrote:

If you feel confident enough to try making tweaks to ubuntu i would suggest switching to Gentoo.


I don't want to switch to a source-based distro. It is too much hassle and compiling costs time and hard disk space for the source. A decent number of ubuntu users switch to arch linux, do anybody has experience with it?

Flarkis wrote:

If that doesn sell you i have one suggestion though. If you are using open source drivers (i use the ATI open source but this also works with nvidia) . In your xorg.conf try changing in the device section "accelmethod" to EXA. The default is XAA, but EXA gives a big performance boost to your computer. for example this is my xorg.conf


Yes I am using an open source driver, the vga card is intel one. Actually I have tried the EXA thing and it does speed up glxgears but firefox scrolling is still slow. I've not tried the other options you have in your xorg.conf though, I'll check about it later in the day (running the laptop on battery now, so performance may be different).

I also want to add that I use compiz and the processor is intel dual core @ 1.7 GHz - this is a cheap one. Firefox does seem to be faster (a little bit) if I turn off compiz, is compiz that slow?
Studio Madcrow
I can't see why the system would have started out fast, then gotten slower over time, unless perhaps you changed something. Did you try doing anything such as turning on Desktop Effects or something?
AftershockVibe
You could try running top from the command line to see what's going on - it will give you a readout every so often (3 seconds is default). To begin with it's ordered by processor usage but you can change that.

I'm pretty sure it's installed by default but if not you can just apt-get it.
Cool
dmystic
tdfranc wrote:
leontius wrote:
I am trying ubuntu on my laptop and I loved it at first - everything was fast and fun (except when dealing with the internal winmodem). My problem is... recently Firefox becomes slower. If I use the system manager I can see that Xorg and firefox take so much cpu usage (about 30 - 50% EACH) when doing normal browsing (which for me means opening 3 to 5 tabs and pidgin at the same time).

I tried searching for remedy in the internet and I did find some interesting tweaks to speed up ubuntu (noatime, changing driver options in xorg.conf) but none seems to get me back to the speed of a fresh install.

I don't remember installing or tweaking anything before and after the speed-down (this is why it is weird). Any suggestions? Should I switch to another distro or (mmm) Windows?


hmm, maybe you could try a fresh install of Ubuntu? (I do it at least 2 times a year, when there is a new distro-upgrade)


It is indeed smart, but a fresh install is something to think very carefully, becouse if you forget to back something up what is very important (to you) you got a problem
leontius
AftershockVibe wrote:
You could try running top from the command line to see what's going on - it will give you a readout every so often (3 seconds is default). To begin with it's ordered by processor usage but you can change that.

I'm pretty sure it's installed by default but if not you can just apt-get it.
Cool


"top" usually shows that firefox and Xorg use the most %CPU and both CPU usage spikes to about > 30% when scrolling in Firefox. I googled "linux firefox 3 scroll slow" and found that there are lots of people having the same problem...
Flarkis
Try disabling all compiz effects and tell us if that has an affect on your scroll speed.
leontius
Turning off compiz helps a bit actually.

But I updated libpoppler, compiz, xorg-xserver-video-intel, ubuntulooks, and libcairo (essentially anything display-related), and those updates make my computer speedy again even with compiz! Oooh I'm so happy Smile

I also added Option "FrameBufferCompression" "false" to xorg.conf at the same time, so I don't know which one helped the most though (this option or the updates). libcairo changelog says that the developers reverted something that make rendering slow anyway (and cairo is used by Firefox for rendering).

Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
Studio Madcrow
leontius wrote:
Turning off compiz helps a bit actually.

But I updated libpoppler, compiz, xorg-xserver-video-intel, ubuntulooks, and libcairo (essentially anything display-related), and those updates make my computer speedy again even with compiz! Oooh I'm so happy Smile

I also added Option "FrameBufferCompression" "false" to xorg.conf at the same time, so I don't know which one helped the most though (this option or the updates). libcairo changelog says that the developers reverted something that make rendering slow anyway (and cairo is used by Firefox for rendering).

Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

Clearly that was the issue then. GNOME (which is the default Desktop environment in Ubuntu) uses Cairo quite heavily, so if some update to Cairo slows stuff down, then it only follows that GNOME would slow down too.
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