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I've installed RedHat 7.2 on my HP Pavillion zt1170 laptop. However, I'm just not completely happy with the result. Among other things I need to work on, there is this lockup problem.
The problem occurs in two phases. Phase zero is right after install. Response time is great. System behaves fine.
Every five seconds, the disk light sticks on for about 1-2 seconds, and user interface response (shell or gui) is frozen. 'vmstat 1' shows idle time knocked down to 0% every 5 seconds. Most of cpu is in system time. gtop and top shows kjournald sucking upto 20% of cpu.
'vmstat 1' shows no idle time all the time, if it gets a chance to print. Don't even ask me what top/gtop prints. Even the 'off' button has a response time of 10 seconds. All gui operations (mouse movement, xterm input, etc...) have 5-10 second response time.
Transition from one phase to another seems indeterminate. Last night, it appeared that phase 1 started when I added 'sound monitor applet' to gnome desktop, but that was the first time I had done that. phase 2 appears to kick in at time of high disk transfer, like an rpm install or large program load. Look, I'm not standing by any of these observations. I'm only offering them up in the hope that it may help.
All I can do is wait.
This problem affects my normal user account, but root account seems to be immune (strange; so I'm not sticking to this story).
What can I do to debug this problem?
I'm thinking of re-install using ext2 exclusively. I don't know if this will turn off kjournald, but worse, I know the problem is not gone, just pushed aside (this is not satisfactory to me). I've changed the fstypes in fstab from ext3 to ext2 and rebooted. This seems to affect all fs except the root fs (/). However, the lockup persists.
There is no 'iostat' like program in linux, as far as I can tell. (iostat in Solaris prints per partition disk utilization) This would be useful I think.
Where can I find a description of what kjournald does? Is it tunable? Can I change parameters and see if there are change to behavior?