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Old 05-25-2009, 01:31 PM   #1
mannotpresent
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Cool Helping friend out with ubuntu 8.04, BUT...I need help now. Anyone?


I recently installed hardy 8.4 on a system owned by a friends son. The son does not have much experience beyond the "left-click" in windows, but he was all for it.(the install) Now with every little bump i get a call. The problem this time is as follows: He has a low budget beginners system with 512Mb of ram using a pentium 3 processor. He tells me that whenever he is playing "online poker" and listening to music at the same time, his system freezes. I know it is most probably more than that, but i would like to know if anyone has had this problem using hardy heron, or any similar problems with simple two or three low level multi-tasking activities. If so what if anything were you able to do to "fix" the problem. (short of a mem-processor upgrade that is) Any help is very much appreciated, thank you all. Oh and yes i am also fairly new to linux. Only about 6 or 7 months with ubuntu and redhat. Am also about to install sabayon on a fifth machine. Anyone use this distro? tips?
 
Old 05-25-2009, 01:38 PM   #2
jamescondron
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The problem with lo-spec systems is that yes, they used to be good when they were new (And no where near as 'slow' as today) but nowadays, since programmes assume higher spec, they're built to use higher spec.

You could also fight the symptoms with a lighter-weight system, maybe something like Fluxbox with sod all eye candy and perhaps anything else recommended (Green computing, actually, is a good model to follow for low load systems), but to fight the disease, as it were, an upgrade may be best. I had this problem with flash on an older box with double the RAM and a newer processor, and in the end I had to give it up as a bad job and buy a new one.
 
Old 05-25-2009, 01:45 PM   #3
mannotpresent
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Talking helpng friend with 8.4 hardy...

I think i will have to get him to let me do the system upgrades that he needs, but i hope he will still want to stay with linux. I really believe that linux is one of the last "things" out there that can still help "anyone willing", to learn beyond what they already know and to open their minds to the huge possibilities that computers give us.(still give us)Oh well maybe he will let me build him a whole new system! YaHooEE!

Last edited by mannotpresent; 05-25-2009 at 01:47 PM. Reason: missed explanation etc..
 
Old 05-25-2009, 01:47 PM   #4
NeddySeagoon
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mannotpresent,

What does 'freezes' mean ?

Needs a reboot or there is a pause in the music or something in between?
If its the latter, open the music player application and make the buffer bigger so it can go longer without needng to read the disk. How you do that is application specific. A P3 with 512Mb RAM is plenty as long as you avoid KDE/GNOME/OpenOffice, or you are prepared for them to be slow.

Sabayon is a binary derivative of Gentoo and I like Gentoo, still I'm biased in that respect.
The few times I tried to put Sabayon onto a vmware virtual machine, it failed because it couldn't find a video card it liked.

Good luck with Sabayon.
 
Old 05-25-2009, 01:58 PM   #5
mannotpresent
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NeddySeagoon, Thanks and i will try that again, "freezes" means everything you thought and more. He tells me sometimes a reboot is necessary, and sometimes just a reload. Other times he has to stop playing music, or stop playing poker. I should also say that i have never had his system freeze or crash while i was using it. And i tried to push it over the limit if you know what i mean. The system is not kde or gnome based. It is the simplest form of install i could manage as he has never used anything other than windows 2000 sp4 and xp. What would be cool is if anyone knows of a more windows like fix (if that makes sense?)so he might feel more comfortable using the distro until he actually does know more and is truly comfortable using it. Lots to ask i know so thanks any and all who take the time. It's cool knowing i can ask and get honest help when ever i need it! Later.. and thanks again. Oh if i have to i would not be opposed to a new install with some new borders to follow , thanks again.

Last edited by mannotpresent; 05-25-2009 at 02:00 PM. Reason: New thought should have added...
 
Old 05-25-2009, 02:04 PM   #6
mannotpresent
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I would not be opposed to a new install with some new parameters to follow if anyone knows any/
 
Old 05-25-2009, 02:08 PM   #7
NeddySeagoon
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mannotpresent,

It sounds like the kernel Out of Memory Manager has not kicked in. You would notice. The kernel kills user applications when it cannot allocate RAM for itself.
Run sshd on his computer and set yourself up a user account. Disable ssh root logins as they are a huge security risk.
Next time it freezes, ssh in (on your account) and have a look round, if you can. You can do this over the internet.

top will show what the CPU is doing, the RAM and swap in use.

I suppose you do have DMA active on the hard drive ?
What does hdparm /dev/hda show ?

If the drive is /dev/sdX, then DMA is on and cannot be disabled.

You really don't want to recommend Windows style fixes, that would be reinstall.
 
Old 05-25-2009, 02:22 PM   #8
jamescondron
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Its not memory thats the issue (though it certainly doesn't help) it'll be load. Firefox and Flash; they may be bigger than the second coming, but they're load heavy.

Neddy: ubuntu doesn't allow root logins, ssh or not, by default anyway
 
Old 05-25-2009, 06:55 PM   #9
shane25119
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I second the various posts calling it a memory issue, and also echo the idea to move to something like XFCE of Fluxbox. In Ubuntu you can check the memory load by doing System>Administration>System Monitor.

Outside that, increase the swap space to 2x the amount of RAM you have. Additionally, RAM is dirt cheap these days, I bought a 1GB stick for my mom's new desktop for 12 bucks.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 03:24 AM   #10
rylan76
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This almost sounds exactly like a problem I had with an older system of mine that ran RH9.

It was also a relatively low spec system, and it exhibited pretty much the same behaviour.

The problem turned out to be twofold, and reasonably simple to solve.

1. DMA

Check if the kernel you have running on that machine has DMA enabled. It sometimes happens that a stock distro kernel does not have full motherboard chipset support. This can cause the kernel to run without DMA on certain motherboards, drastically slowing performance, and almost coming to a stop as the disk swap is thrashed in low memory conditions.

To check, open a terminal, become root and try

Code:
/sbin/hdparm -d1 -c1 /dev/hda
Substitute /dev/hda for whatever device name is assigned to the harddisk on that system. (To find the name, try "df -mh" - without the quotes - in a terminal)

If you get a HDIO_..... errors, this most likely means that your motherboard chipset drivers are not present in the running kernel.

To fix this, you'll need to recompile the kernel with support for your motherboard chipset. In the instance I mention about myself above, I downloaded a newer kernel which did have ATI IXP-300 support (if I remember right), configured that kernel to have those modules active, compiled and installed it, and BANG the slowdowns and stops were mostly gone...

2. Pre-emption

There is an option when compiling a kernel where you can "tune" it to be "pre-emptible". A "pre-emptible" kernel is also called a "desktop" kernel, and compiles the kernel so that it will be predisposed to giving a good "desktop" experience - quick reaction to clicks and user input and such. This is the opposite of "non pre-emptible" or so called "server" kernels, which (as I understand it) give more "attention" to network throughput and background services, at the cost of reduced desktop responsiveness / behaviour.

I. e. along with the DMA kernel recompile I mention above, you can try (since you ARE recompiling / compiling the kernel anyway) to set the kernel config to a pre-emtible kernel, and see if this helps. Most distro kernels are already pre-emptible these days, but you never know.

If none of the above work, you can also try downloading the latest kernel from kernel.org and compile that and see if it helps. I don't know Ubuntu at all, but the kernel that might be on there might be an older or out of date one.

Last edited by rylan76; 05-27-2009 at 03:26 AM.
 
  


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