1. I only install packages from the ubuntu repos. except firefox 1.5 that I just extracted to /opt/firefox (bc. it is far more usable than the one that comes with ubuntu). I'd prefer to skip this step if it's okay for you).
2. I had troubles understanding the output of vmstat, but I'll try the memory test during my next boot (wouldn't that check for physical memory problems?)
3. done bf this started to happen
4. as far as I know (and powernowd reports -tried it a while ago using an ubuntu forum howto-), this cpu doesn't support scaling. the frequency seems to be at 2.8GHz at all times.
5. I tried xfce4 (from ubuntu repositories, called xubuntu-desktop) and fluxbox (latest version compiled from source). fluxbox is fast as it is supposed to be (but I need more time with it), xfce4 is slow when it is drawing stuff (open xfce menu, firefox, like in gnome, small hangs of 0.5 - 1 second), which makes me even more suspicious abut that gtk / cairo link I posted previously. the post says that ubuntu switched to cairo too early as an investment. in that case, I wouldn't have any hopes but to change the distro (but winmodem doesn't work with anything else
) or maybe wait for the new version (which I plan to install anyway).
hdram says dma is enabled on this hard disk. the problem seems to be related to cpu usage (or gtk? cairo? X? video drivers?) though.
PS. I just changed my xorg.conf from ati to radeon with a couple of options enabled. fps increased according to glxgears (by ~200-300) on the average, but sluggishness is still there.