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Disk thrashing issue.

Posted on 2000-04-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-15
Setup:

I have a Pentium 166 computer, running Red Hat 6.0, with a KDE desktop.  The computer is for general family use and sees action on Netscape, kmail, StarOffice and GCC occasionally.  There are four family member accounts in addition to the root.  The computer has 32M RAM and a 1.2G HDD.  The swap file is 135M (which I'm beginning to believe is grossly oversized).

The Problem:

Whenever I log on, the disk goes into a mode of thrashing about for a good five minutes before I even see the desktop.  Everyone else in the family does not have this problem when they log on and their desktop comes to life immediately.  If I try to start up a program, especially StarOffice, I can very well go away and make a sandwich, read the paper and do a crossword puzzle before the actual screen for StarOffice appears.  Meanwhile, anyone else's account has the computer respond immediately.  Even root is fine.  


The Question:

What should I be doing to streamline my profile's operation?  Is my account creating havoc with the swap file?  Is my account eating too much disk space?  What would cause my account to be so slow?
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Question by:DanSail
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5 Comments
 

Accepted Solution

by:
Silus earned 300 total points
ID: 2739732
You may have extra programs running in the background and eating up your physical memory.  When you login try typing ps -ax and seeing if anything extra is running under your user id (You may have to use top instead to see user ids) that isn't running for everyone else. You could also compare login scripts as that would be where the extra programs would be started from if you don't start anything manually beforehand.  It also could have to do with your desktop settings.  See how your settings differ, you may have inadvertantly set programs up to load automatically, etc.

I would definately recommend reducing the swapfile size also.  A good general rule for swap files is to use twice as much physical memory for swap.  In your case that would mean 64 megs.  Otherwise your system will start to get really slow as you fill up more and more of the swap file.
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Expert Comment

by:jlevie
ID: 2739953
Basically you just don't have enogh memory installed. With only 32MB the system is having to swap to disk just to run X windows and what you've got on your desktop can make the situation even worse. You could pare down your desktop to the minimum but netscape will still cause swapping and StarOffice is almost out of the question as it needs something like +60Mb of address space just to come up. You can get a nice view of what the memory and swap usage is with top.

If you can bump the memory to at least 64Mb (128 would be lots better) you'll be amazed at how much more responsive the system is. The size of the swap file won't affect system performance (unless it's too small). The OS will only use as much swap as it needs. As pointed out the general rule of thumb is twice as much swap as physical memory, which is pretty much the minimum. I routinely build systems with a total virtual address space (that's what memory+swap represents) in the 384-500Mb range because we've got applications that need that much. On a 128Mb system that can be as much as four times the physical memory.
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Author Comment

by:DanSail
ID: 2740110
Right on the mark!

Your two suggestions were the reason.  I had reduced my swap file from 135M down to 40M and got rid of a bit of nasty disk action.  I also found a single program that had be started at least 30 times on the KDE Desktop (running on the panel bar at the bottom of the screen).  I ended up 'Remove'-ing those programs and it started working like it should.  Unfortunately, the 'ps -ax' didn't show the file running.  It only showed up on the panel bar on the bottom of the screen.
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Expert Comment

by:Silus
ID: 2740444
Wow, no wonder it was cutting so far into swap on you.
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Expert Comment

by:Zero050300
ID: 2775807
Have You ever considered getting a new computer,That would make a world of a difference if you had a 500mhz,Voodoo5 6000,256RAM
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