Simple Linux installation followed by severe machine slowdown 4 hours later
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Simple Linux installation followed by severe machine slowdown 4 hours later
Good evening everyone -
I hope that you can help me out here. I have two essentially identical
rebuilt IBM Net Vista desktop machines on which I am attempting to get
Linux installed. The installation goes fine and without trouble, but
after three or four hours of absolutely no user activity, the machine
just grinds to an absolute crawl. I can accurately measure how long
this takes because even my Gnome desktop time display quits updating!
I've been trying to get both CentOS 5.3 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.3
going, and both behave identically on both of my machines. Both of these
distributions are derivatives of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Update 3.
This is extremely frustrating, and I hate to think that I have two huge
paperweights now. I bought these machines with WinXP pre-installed,
and they worked just great with that OS. I need to do some Linux work
here at home, and I do not want to go back to Windows.
My installations are as simple as they come. I install none of the
vendor-supplied program groups (e.g. development, cluster, etc.) and
at the end of the installation I have a basic desktop machine that
zooms along. But I walk away and can count on an essentially dead
system a few hours later. Nothing in the OS messages strikes me as
out of place. My machines aren't overheating as far as I can tell.
I have 2 Gb of RAM with a Pentium 4 processor and no peripheral devices
at all. Any thoughts?
Here are some selected vital statistics from my machine(s):
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 15
model : 2
model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.26GHz
stepping : 7
cpu MHz : 2259.201
cache size : 512 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic mtrr pge mca cmov pat
pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe up cid xtpr
bogomips : 4520.65
uname -a output:
Linux tgnv1.localdomain 2.6.18-128.el5 #1 SMP Wed Jan 21 07:58:05 EST 2009 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux
Release Date: 04/17/2003
Runtime Size: 113488 bytes
ROM Size: 512 kB
PCI is supported
PNP is supported
APM is supported
BIOS is upgradeable
BIOS shadowing is allowed
ESCD support is available
Boot from CD is supported
EDD is supported
ACPI is supported
USB legacy is supported
AGP is supported
LS-120 boot is supported
Smart battery is supported
BIOS boot specification is supported
Do you have any suggestions on what I can check from here? I'm
trying to avoid installing dozens of Linux distributions in the hopes
of finding just one that works for me!
Thanks very much for the prompt reply. I'm sorry to report that
the presence of Gnome is irrelevant. One of my machines has an
X-Windows-incompatible video card and so I am restricted to the
command line there exclusively. But the behavior of both machines
is identical as far as I can tell; almost complete slowdown within
a few hours of the machine being rebooted and with no user activity
The machines behave almost as though they're in hibernation or
saving power or CPU cycles in some way. My first thought weeks ago
focused on overheating, but I'm convinced now that this is not an
issue. The covers on both of my machines are off and they're both
in my stone-code basement and getting good air circulation. The
heat sink and case fans run occasionally, and that's good. This
is driving me crazy!
A particularly telling side effect of my little situation occurs when
the requisite four hour (approximately) mark is reached: I type simple
text into my shell session. I backspace until all the characters
are erased. I backspace once more and expect a simple beep as a warning
to say I've gone too far. But instead of a single beep, I'm met by
the constant whine of a never-ending beep. Nothing will end that except
for a machine poweroff. I'm sure that this is just a reflection of
my situation, but it illustrates what I'm facing.
I just upgraded my wife's system from 1 GB memory to 4 GB because it was behaving similarly to what you describe, although the swap file usage was well above what you report (when the system was slow, of course). and we could hear the drives churning. (She was running a $400 HP 64-bit dual AMD system that was shipped with two 512MB memory chips and a 32-bit Vista OS. We'd tossed the Vista and installed Fedora 11 x86_64, but the 1GB was insufficient for running both Firefox and Thunderbird at the same time without waiting five minutes for response to any key-press.
I wonder, though, if your report of no swap usage (above) came from when your system was running well rather than from when it had slowed down. Have you considered running top and letting it sit 'till you have a slow system? That might provide a clue to your problem.
Do you have any suggestions on what I can check from here?
The top suggestion was a good one (in some ways ksysguard would be clearer, but would require that you are running a GUI, which isn't currently possible on one machine), but I would also ask you to take a look at the hard disk activity light. If there is a flurry of activity on the disk drive, that could be swapping or it could be one of the many programs (updatedb??) that index the hard drive.
If it does seem to be a hard drive indexing program, if you leave it for a while -maybe, an hour or so- the machine should come back again.
Hard disk indexing is normally scheduled to occur in the middle of the night (unless there is no valid hard disk index and there is no recent user activity), so also check that the time zone is set correctly.
Promising future with Oracle Enterprise Linux Rel 4
Thanks for reading and making suggestions. Last night, I downloaded
Oracle Enterprise Linux Release 4, Update 7 and tried the dance again
with a brand new, no frills installation. Some ten hours later, I'm
pleased to find that a simple "top -d 10" command is churning away
and updating every ten seconds as it should. Previously, the display
would stop after a few hours and the damage would be done; no amount of
waiting for life would do any good.
I'm a tad alarmed by the increase of RAM consumption as reflected in
the "top" output. The command showed about 177 Mb (out of 2048 Mb total)
memory consumption immediately after startup, and this morning that
had increased to about 650 Mb or so. I suspect that a number of daemon
programs had not yet started last night, but we'll see about that.
Anyway, when I get home tonight I'll check my machine. If it's still
responding well, then I'll declare victory and vow to avoid putting
Red Hat Release 5 (and its derivatives!) on my apparently underpowered
machines. Oracle Enterprise Linux Release 4, Update 7 is supported
with Oracle Database 11g, and database work is what I need to be spending
my at-home time on anyway.
I'll update this thread late tonight, September 29, for anyone still
curious about what's going on.
Curious--especially when taking into consideration that Oracle Enterprise Linux is, itself, based on Redhat . I'm not familiar with the Oracle distro's; perhaps the version you're using is based on RHEL4 instead of RHEL5?
In any case, congrats on what appears to be a usable configuration! Hope your next update shows this to be the case.
Just FYI re RAM usage; Its a common 'worry'. In fact, it's not an issue. Linux (and *nix generally I think) regards all unused RAM as wasted (makes sense), so it caches everything it can until the RAM is nearly full.
From then on it purges/re-uses RAM as and when needed.
The only time to worry is if your swap usage keeps going up...
I realize that I was a bit tardy in replying after saying that I would
My reverting to Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 update 7 did no significant
good at all. All that it did, as far as I can tell, is extend the
"good" life of a newly restarted system to about 15 hours from the
former four. But it's behaving the same way in essence and so I'm back
at square one now.
The symptoms tell me that the CPU is slowing down dramatically. The only
things that I'm aware of that can affect the CPU in that way are
environmental. Specifically, temperature. But my temperature
as measured in /proc/thermal_zone/whatever (I'm not at my machine,
but you know about the ACPI measurements) is no more than about 50 deg
celsius. My first trip point is at 105 degrees. I don't see
temperature playing a role at all, but I don't see alternatives now.
My next task is to discover the specific Intel processor make and
research that. I may even buy a new motherboard, but I'll hate doing
Since those are rather old systems, consider running a full memchk on (one of) them. The full check should run several hours using 100% CUPU, so it would not only check for subtle memory problems, but also for problems not related to your OS.