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Thread: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

  1. #1
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    VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    I upgraded my host machine from Xubuntu 18.04 to 20.04. Since then, VirtualBox VMs have become epically slow. It seems to be a similar issue to this thread. Except in my case it affects much more than just kernel updates.

    VirtualBox version before and after the OS upgrade remains at 6.0.22 (I can't use 6.1.x). No changes were made to the guest VMs. The only change is the host OS.

    I'm uneasy about trying the solution from the other thread, because I do some heavy work loads in my VMs (e.g. compiling software) and I need to be able to use the host OS while that's going. And I never needed to use host I/O cache before.

    How to get VirtualBox VM performance to at least as good as what it was under 18.04 host?
    Is it unreasonable for me to be concerned about using host I/O cache?

  2. #2
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    If you follow the process at https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads for "Debian-based" systems, you should be able to install 6.1. I'm on 6.1.10, but I haven't updated lately.

    Use "eoan" when you create the sources.list entry for this version, because there isn't a binary for "Focal Fossa" yet.

    Code:
    deb [arch=amd64] https://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian eoan contrib
    I create the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list and put that deb statement in there. Don't forget to run "sudo apt update" when you've made these changes but before you install virtualbox-6.1.
    If you ask for help, do not abandon your request. Please have the courtesy to check for responses and thank the people who helped you.

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  3. #3
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    "can't use 6.1.x" because 6.1 removed features without full replacement for the lost functionality. It's not clear if/when the lost functionality is coming back. I need to continue using 6.0.x for the foreseeable future.

  4. #4
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    I am using VBox 6.1.10 on Xubuntu 20.04 with guests of Lubuntu and Ubuntu 20.04.

    At the linux-image and headers install yesterday and again today on two separate machines there has been a huge delay (perhaps 15 - 20 minutes) when unpacking the packages.
    All other packages when installing act normally and without the delay, and I do not see any other performance hits that I'm aware of, and prior to using 20.04 as host I never saw any problems of this sort.

    Incidentally, if you use the debian based distro method of installing direct from the virtualbox repos directly, as mentioned by SeijiSensei above, you can now use "focal" instead of "eoan" in the line of text added to sources.list file, ie,
    Code:
    deb [arch=amd64] https://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian focal contrib
    EDIT:

    PS:
    I also have a problem enabling touchpad scrolling in these VMs as mentioned in the thread I started at https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2444679
    No replies to that so far, but it is very annoying having to add a mouse which scrolls fine with the wheel.
    Last edited by ajgreeny; 3 Weeks Ago at 09:54 PM. Reason: Added info
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 20.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo --- Wireless-Info --- SolvedThreads

  5. #5
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    Ok, I tried enabling use host I/O cache as a test, being careful to pick a VM with not-too-large HDD file and trying not to do anything too heavy, and watching resource usage. I tested updating the system (which happened to include kernel updates) and installing some packages. Not only did using host I/O cache seem to eliminate the performance problem, I think it might be faster than what I had before under 18.04

    So this might be an answer to my first question, but I still wonder how uneasy I should be about this setting for my general use of these VMs, especially the heavier loads?

  6. #6
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    Interesting!

    I have "Host I/O cache" enabled on my *ubuntu guests and have had since they were installed, and I will now try disabling it to see if it makes any difference.

    From what you say it appears it may make kernel installation even slower than it is at present if that's possible.
    We shall see; watch this space and I'll report back as soon as I can.
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 20.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo --- Wireless-Info --- SolvedThreads

  7. #7
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    I have created a thread at the VBox forums regarding this problem and one of the VBox volunteers is trying to help with this problem.
    https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewto...478107#p478107
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 20.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo --- Wireless-Info --- SolvedThreads

  8. #8
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    Oh dear!

    Having said that I already have the Host I/O cache enabled on my VMs, a more careful investigation shows that it was, unfortunately, only the IDE CDrom disk that was in that state, the SATA Virtual hard disk was still not running with Host I/O Cache enabled.

    I have now done so, and tested by removing, then reinstalling a kernel and like you, the problem has now disappeared.
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 20.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo --- Wireless-Info --- SolvedThreads

  9. #9
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    Is it unreasonable for me to be concerned about using host I/O cache?
    I still wonder how uneasy I should be about this setting for my general use of these VMs, especially the heavier loads?
    I ended up needing to reinstall my 20.04 VM and I have used it for what I think are some "moderate" loads (including customising a live CD). This stuff cause the host to use a few MB of swap. And there were some noticeable performance glitches during these loads.

    So I still hesitate to just try the heavy loads and see how it goes, even if I do backup my system first.

    I did find this, but it is almost 10 years old and I don't know how that info would apply to the multiple-virtual-disk setup I use for the heavy software compiling loads?

    Advice would be appreciated.

  10. #10
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    Re: VirtualBox huge performance regression after update host to 20.04

    Judging by what is said in the blog at https://www.electricmonk.nl/log/2016...k-performance/ which is linked to in one of the threads mentioned above, I suspect you should not have too many problems, though this may depend on how you run your VMs.
    2. Disk image files tend to be very large. Caching them can therefore
    quickly use up the entire host OS cache. Depending on the efficiency
    of the host OS caching, this may slow down the host immensely,
    especially if several VMs run at the same time. For example, on Linux
    hosts, host caching may result in Linux delaying all writes until the
    host cache is nearly full and then writing out all these changes at
    once, possibly stalling VM execution for minutes. This can result in
    I/O errors in the guest as I/O requests time out there.
    Personally I never run more than one VM at a time so I believe from that behaviour that my system should be OK; my own experience also points to this being so.
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 20.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo --- Wireless-Info --- SolvedThreads

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