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Thread: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

  1. #1
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    For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    My laptop is sluggish.

    Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
    AMD dual-core C-50
    AMD Radeon HD6250
    3Gb DDR3 memory
    5Mbps internet connection

    I believe it all started when I upgraded to v12.
    Everything ran slower.... software centre typically 'clouds over' and hangs for a few seconds before continuing to load.
    Open a few tabs in chrome and scrolling becomes a nightmare.

    I installed system-monitor, and noticed that my memory and swap graph barely budged from 55% and 7% respectively whatever I did..... meaning that there were no wild swings - open another tab ....... a bit more memory is used.

    However, the CPU shoots straight to 100%

    Simply scrolling through the youtube.com standard page of thumbnails pushes cpu usage to 100%, and the page doesn't even scroll smoothly.

    Should I be running a different distro, or is it the desktop, or does it look like my system has some issues?
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  2. #2
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    One thing right off the top is cutting down on the swap usage: Edit /etc/sysctl.conf and add these lines to the bottom of the file
    vm.swappiness=10
    vm.vfs_cache_pressure=50

    You could also try switching to xubuntu. It is less resource intensive and you don't have to reinstall from scratch. Run - sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop After that you can select which interface you want from the login screen so you can fall back to Unity if you don't like XFCE.
    Last edited by baphomet2; April 16th, 2014 at 09:43 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Okay.... have downloaded xubuntu desktop and am now running with it.

    1. It is faster.... youtube can now run at 480 without stuttering.
    It still struggles with 720, but is better than when running ubuntu.

    2. I note that gnome-system-monitor shows itself to be taking up to 98% of CPU resources, or as little (?) as 25%.

    (I have no idea how a system monitor can function as a monitor if it consumes such resources - when running, youtube stutters at 480!).

    3. However, system monitor did highlight lots of unneeded progs running eg. ubuntu 1, and bluetooth.
    It seems that xubuntu has better setup options - as in ubuntu, these items were set to off (in settings) yet I'm sure they were running.
    Xubuntu has a startup config that I never discovered in ubuntu (even though I looked for it).

    None of the progs are consuming cpu resources, only memory, and that doesn't seem to be my problem (but I'll switch them off).

    4. I failed to edit sysctl.conf - could you remind me how to disable its 'read-only' status?
    It was currently set to swappines = 20
    no '
    vm.vfs_cache_pressure' existed.

    Overall, I think your advice has proved positive

    I still think something is amiss - perhaps swappiness and cache pressure will again improve the situation.

    On another note.... I noted for the first time
    that there are a number of desktop options available.

    Ubuntu 2D
    XMBC
    XFCE session
    Xubuntu session

    Leaving aside XMBC.... which do you think should be the fastest?


    I'm also wondering whether my display system is set up for optimum performance.
    Failing to run BBC Documentaries at 720 is surely a fail for an HD enabled pc?

    However, I am pleased with the progress so far..... perhaps there's more to come


    ____________________________________
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    Solve Chrome display issues ¬¬¬ GParted sees NO DATA! "Solved"

  4. #4
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Look for alternative apps that use less memory and less CPU. Many are more demanding than any interface or the underlying OS.

  5. #5
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Very cool. I'm glad that I finally helped someone.

    So to edit the systcl.conf here are the steps:
    1. sudo vi /etc/sysctl.conf
    2. when you are done editing hit ESC then :wq! (the bang (!) is what overrides the read-only state)

    Not sure if you are fluent in vi. If not let me know and I can type up the shortcut keys you need.

    As far as sessions are concerned my favorite is the XFCE session. Here is a very good website to go through to make some more tweaks/get better performance out of xubuntu - https://sites.google.com/site/easyli.../first-xubuntu

    You don't have to do everything on that site, but there are some good steps like the swappiness, speed up wireless, speed up Firefox, etc.

    For help with your display you can run "lspci | grep -i vga" from the command line so we can be sure what video card you have and then check to see if you have the appropriate driver/module installed.
    Last edited by baphomet2; April 17th, 2014 at 01:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    I think that it is misleading to expect things to get faster if we install an alternative desktop. Install the full flavour - Xubuntu or Lubuntu. Alternative desktops add more code and increase the possibility of conflicts between the scripts that each desktop uses.

    Oh, by the way, we may be pleasantly surprised by how better Ubuntu 14.04 is with the use of memory and CPU resources when compared with 12.04. It frees up memory much quicker. With my Intel Core 2 Duo 2.40 GHz CPU it uses both cores instead of just alternating between cores. I have only 1 GB of RAM and I have no complaints with how Ubuntu 14.04 is running on this machine. I think the amount of video memory has an important effect on our user experience. I would say that 1GB of discrete video memory is necessary for a good visual user experience.

    Regards.
    Last edited by grahammechanical; April 17th, 2014 at 04:48 PM.
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  7. #7
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    I do agree with what grahammechanical says. My original advice was so you could try out xubuntu with the ability to back out if you didn't like it. Now that you know you like it I would do a clean install of Xubuntu 14.04 LTS and go from there.

  8. #8
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Thanks for the interest, everybody

    Points to note:-


    1. It is extremely difficult to make specific comparisons, without a standard test that can be actioned in each distro/desktop (with log output).
    2. Grahammechanical raises the issue of 'adding desktops (code)' - I do note that baphomet2 accepts this....... I would say that in fact baps' original advice did pay dividends, in terms of introducing me to a whole new layer of ubuntu usage. However, there are clearly issues that arise from this testing of desktops on top of prime installed ubuntu.

      Therefore; in this rare instance.... both positions taken, appear to be correct.


    Back to the core thread:

    Regarding speed - circumstances take over:


    I also tried xfce and stupidly tried the option 'save session'.
    I am guessing that this is what is preventing me from loading xubuntu.


    I can load ubuntu 2d (am now working in 2d), but choosing xubuntu simply loads the 'saved session' dialogue box and XFCE is loaded.
    IE. I can no longer test xubuntu!


    Could this be a 'fun rivalry' thing, with XFCE getting one over Xubuntu?
    I'd like to think so


    Either way.... the joke is over, and I'd like to spend some time with Xubuntu if that is at all possible
    However I must say... XFCE was pretty amazing, vis a vis enabling the user to setup an efficient work environment.
    Speed arises, not only from raw computing power, but clearly also from desktop dynamics.


    Having the 4 workspaces accessible from the menu bar, has opened up a whole new world of dynamic productivity.... if only the '2 monitor display' worked as it does in ubuntu and 2d.


    Bizarrely, on XFCE both monitors (laptop and monitor) display the same image.
    Here on Ubuntu, I have 'reference data' on one screen, while entering 'this' text on the other.
    How is it possible that XFCE failed to offer 2 monitor desktop space, after it had offered so many useful customisation options????

    The Raw Computing speed:

    I managed to edit the sysctl.conf file.
    As stated above.... hard to know for sure, but it 'seems' better, though being locked in to XFCE, maybe 'this' was the fix?
    I was able to run chrome with 50 tabs open, without problem - note I was not running any video apps.

    This leads me to believe that the problem is with the graphic display drivers for my 'Radeon HD 6250' graphics card.
    Having browsed around the forum, I get the feeling that my Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip, may not be fully supported by my current drivers.
    It works..... but without accessing the chip's full potential.

    I loaded : https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver

    However to even try another driver, appears to be a highly complex and risky manouver, with https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Troublesho...o_purge_-fglrx listing 11 separate potential pitfalls, simply by purging ones existing drivers.

    So I jumped that, and ran:
    Code:
    man radeon
    This displays an enormous number of adjustable options for Radeon HD 6250 (around 60 config options).
    Wow, I wish I truly knew what each option did (a good explanation accompanies each option, however this requires that you understand the explanation - many of which I didn't).

    I figured that this was the moment to sit back and reflect on what had been achieved.
    I was much further ahead than when I started.
    Hopefully there is a way to stop XFCE from shafting Xubuntu.

    However, this is definitely a case of 'the performance potential is there'... "I want you"..... but I can't have you.
    I can live with that.
    480 on youtube is fine for the laptop.

    Time for a glass of wine, and a video youtube test, with Elvis Costello "i want you" live at the Tim Festival.

    His interpretation of our (my) angst is perfect, when related to PC problems.

    .............. actually........... PC problems have gotta be far worse.
    ____________________________________
    Re-install Ubuntu keeping your data & settings "re-install rather than fix"
    Solve Chrome display issues ¬¬¬ GParted sees NO DATA! "Solved"

  9. #9
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Glad to hear that you are having some great success and fun with the different desktops.

    For your display. I've tried both the repository fglrx drivers and the one direct from the AMD support website. Both functioned just fine for me and I really didn't see a difference. I would wipe out the driver you put in and go with the fglrx drivers. Of course it is risky, but is well worth it if it works. After that you can install the Catalyst Control Center. (sudo apt-get install fglrx-amdcccle) With the Catalyst Control Center you can configure the monitors for Spanning/Mirroring/etc. All the stuff you get with any other OS/desktop. I was able to setup XFCE with 2 monitors spanned at 1920x1200 resolution and didn't see any performance issues. It does suck that XFCE/xubuntu does not do that natively, but at least there is a way.

    There's more information on installing fglrx drivers here - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BinaryDriverHowto/AMD

    I haven't run into the issue of not being able to get back to xubuntu so I won't be a lot of help there.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoyed your wine.

  10. #10
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    Re: For Speed: install another desktop, or another distro?

    Yes, thanks...... the wine was very nice.
    It should be written into the manual, that there are moments when you need to stop further work; reflect on what you've achieved; and then take a break.

    The dual monitor fix came good.... was able to watch F1 China with the race on one, and the timing data on the the other.
    I have yet to try modifying my drivers, primarily because my other PC has gone down with a presumed motherboard fault.
    I tested the psu outputs with 'on signal' bridged, and all voltages reported correct (but without load).
    Nothing at all displayed on the monitor, so It's likely to be the motherboard.
    It should arrive anytime.

    Xubuntu still doesn't load.

    There is some relationship between xubuntu and xfce, but I don't fully understand it.
    Talk seems to be that you load xubuntu and get xfce as an option.

    Also, what is not clear, is this question of 'clean install'.

    Okay.... so I have a variant of linux... it's ubuntu.

    I think that ubuntu is a general GUI that sends commands to the O/S, plus a number of specific tool GUI's, and perhaps a repository bank for approved optional software, with a download centre.

    I think that.... but I may be entirely, or partially incorrect.

    XFCE still offers 'software centre', but the GUI interface is entirely different, as are some of the specific tools.

    But is this not just a case of having a less cpu intensive method of launching programs OR is there something definitively different between separately installed ubuntu and xfce o/s's?
    ____________________________________
    Re-install Ubuntu keeping your data & settings "re-install rather than fix"
    Solve Chrome display issues ¬¬¬ GParted sees NO DATA! "Solved"

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