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Old 06-14-2004, 06:43 PM   #1
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Slow performance


I after some advice with my slackware box.

I have an 850mhz Athalon with 384 mb ram, 2 x 20gb disk, a GeForce2. I have built it to kernel 2.6.5 and have KDE 3.2.3 installed along with openoffice, fire fox and so on.

Anyway. while this is great the computer seems a bit slow and disk accesses a lot. I had get this output from the command 'top'

65 processes: 63 sleeping, 1 running, 1 zombie, 0 stopped
CPU states: 13.8% user 9.4% system 0.0% nice 3.1% iowait 73.5% idle
Mem: 384620k av, 380528k used, 4092k free, 0k shrd, 11400k buff
241816k active, 96816k inactive
Swap: 1084304k av, 0k used, 1084304k free 268760k cached

30558 tom 17 0 2032 1108 1768 R 5.6 0.2 0:00 0 top
30488 tom 15 0 52448 32M 31524 S 4.6 8.6 0:36 0 mozilla-bin
30408 root 15 0 46736 12M 36984 S 1.8 3.1 0:27 0 X
25 root 16 0 0 0 0 SW 0.9 0.0 0:00 0 kjournald
30448 tom 15 0 9780 6360 8904 S 0.9 1.6 0:01 0 artsd
1 root 16 0 480 240 456 S 0.0 0.0 0:04 0 init
2 root RT 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 migration/0
3 root 4 19 0 0 0 SWN 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 ksoftirqd/0
4 root 5 -10 0 0 0 SW< 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 events/0
5 root 5 -10 0 0 0 SW< 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 kblockd/0
7 root 5 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:04 0 pdflush
6 root 15 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 khubd
8 root 15 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:01 0 pdflush
10 root 4 -10 0 0 0 SW< 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 aio/0
9 root 15 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 kswapd0
11 root 15 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 kseriod
12 root 16 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:23 0 kjournald
26 root 16 0 0 0 0 SW 0.0 0.0 0:00 0 kjournald

As you can see, the vast majoirity of the memory is used even very there are no apps using much system resources. The mouse jumps about a bit, programms are slow to load etc.

Am I expecting too much from this old PC, or is somthing wrong here (apart from that zombie! if that's not one of the probs). Maybe I am misinterpreting the top command.

Can anyone make any comments on this? Maybe i am pusing the old girl too hard... COuld I have messed the kernel compile up?
Old 06-14-2004, 08:08 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2003
Location: Canada
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I'm not sure why your system is using so much memory, but it looks like that's the reason why your performance is so slow. (800 MHz is more than decent.)

I find it curious that your system is using NO swap space. Do you have a swap partition? (Assuming you do.) I would recommend reformatting it. I recall seeing something about this posted here, probably in that (now huge) kernel 2.6 thread. As root:

mkswap /dev/<swap partition - you can get this from /etc/fstab>
swapon -a

(may require a reboot - I don't know)

Regarding cutting down demand on your memory, check out /etc/rc.d to see if there are any things in there you can do without and chmod -x them (eg. bind,sendmail). You can also look in /etc/inetd.conf to see if there are any items you can do without (eg. ftp).

Old 06-14-2004, 10:19 PM   #3
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Arch Linux
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Don't worry about the high ram usage. Linux handles ram quite differently than, say, Windows. Lots of stuff gets cached there, which is a good thing. What good is ram if things aren't already loaded up into it in the first place for them to load faster?

The kernel aggressively flushes memory out if you need it, so to have most of it filled is neither unusual nor detrimental to system performance. See the "Memory Management" section of here:

As to the high drive access I have no idea. All I know is, your ram and processor are fine. If you're really worried about performance, might I suggest switching windows managers? KDE and gnome can be kind of bloaty, which is being worked on but future progress means nothing to people who want things now. I personally use fluxbox, but you can check out the alternatives yourself with the command xwmconfig.
Old 06-15-2004, 05:52 AM   #4
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First of all, your computer seems more than adequate to run Slackware correctly. I wish I had a computer as powerful as yours...

I suspect that the NVidia driver for your GeForce2 is buggy and/or out of date. Try updating it. Make sure the driver is compatible with a 2.6.x kernel, as this can slow things down.

Like 'major.tom' recommended, you should also check if you are running unnecessary services. Make sure your /etc/rc.d/rc.* files do not start things like Apache or Sendmail, which can require a lot of CPU cycle.
Old 06-15-2004, 09:02 AM   #5
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Thanks for your suggestion.

I deleted the user 'tom' and re-added it which seemed to help (clearing out the KDE config files etc). Now the top command shows less memmory usage.

I suspect you are right with regards to the Nvidia thing. The module was compiled by the installer program as it said that no module was availlble to match my kernel (which i built myself). I guess there is not much I can do about this. Turning off some off the graphical stuff in KDE has helped too.

I'm not sure about turnig off services to be honest. I presume I have to comment them out in the files you are talking about. The swap seems to be working. I guess KDE is quite a large for this older PC. I have just put slack on a 2.4ghz, 0.5gig ram, 120mb HD (8mb cache) machine and it is VERY fast

So any advice on turning off services? I also tried to put slack on a 400mhz dell latitude craptop but it crashes when loading up. Is it worth even bothering with this awful dell doorstop?

PS, how do you get the KDE volume control programme? I had it in kde 3.2.2 but it's not there in the new one. Is is a sepertate programme. I want to turn the radio down.

Is Dropline Gnome 2.6.1 worth considering? My other PC is pretty fast.

Noryungi, what are you running it on? Do you use KDE.
Thanks for your help.
Old 06-15-2004, 09:09 AM   #6
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well, i get this now, with 2x mozilla 1.6 and 2x konquerer and a konsole open. Running fairly smoothly, Will try turing off sendmail etc, if you can advise.

76 processes: 73 sleeping, 1 running, 2 zombie, 0 stopped
CPU states: 6.3% user 2.5% system 0.0% nice 0.0% iowait 91.0% idle
Mem: 384620k av, 279260k used, 105360k free, 0k shrd, 13252k buff

184016k active, 51936k inactive
Swap: 1084304k av, 20k used, 1084284k free 146324kcached

Still have 2 zombies tho! but my konsole throws up errors about not finding certain fonts.

oh it never rains.

#To be, or not to be: that is the question:
#Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
#The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
#Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
#And by opposing end them?
Old 06-15-2004, 09:31 AM   #7
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To turn off services, just take a look at the files in the /etc/rc.d/ directoryn that are named rc.inet1, rc.inet2, etc...

They contain a lot of comments and indicate when services are launched. Make sure you take your time and read the information. Then, simply put a '#' (pound) sign in front of the services you'd like *not* to be started.

Then, do a /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 'restart' (for instance) to stop the services. That should do the trick. Hope this helps!
Old 06-15-2004, 11:58 AM   #8
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top's not a good way to check your memory usage - try using free -m, or just take a look at /proc/meminfo
Old 06-15-2004, 02:51 PM   #9
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800Mhz is more than adequate. I'm on this p3-450 laptop now, kde runs.. albeit a bit slow, without a problem.

Check out hdparm. You may need to enable some dma settings.
This can drastically improve performance.

Old 06-15-2004, 04:54 PM   #10
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Well, I tried doing chmod -x <module name> on things like sendmail. But somehow this turned off the networking side of things. It's a bit wierd as, I didn't modify the inet1, inet2 etc files and these seem to be the ones to do with networking. Should I be going into them and modifying the text (using # as you mention)??

I don't want sendmail. etc, running, as they slow the machine down. Anyway, after compiling all the new kernel and getting kde 3.2.3, I have wiped it off and put it on the first disk of the computer, which is much faster. I think in my learning process I have steadily screwed it up. But at least I know what the pitfalls are now. I am going to run this PC on dropling gnome I think and the one I am writing on now (the 2.4ghz) on KDE, with all the bells. I might have slack again on both machines as a test bed. I might also try Gentoo.

Thanks for the tips with hdparm etc. I will investigate. So basically am I right doing chmod -x? or should I be looking to blank out certain things? For anyone who is interested, Slackware on a 2.4ghz is seriously fast :-)

I quess I still have plenty to learn. I like slack, but it is making me work. Now I have to build new kernel download and configure gnome/kde and twice over............ Then alsa, samba, maybe NFS....



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