Hardware specs for install

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Hardware specs for install

Postby jhob on Wed May 13, 2009 4:18 pm

Hi all,

I have just installed mint, my second try at linux after a 10 year hiatus, my it's come on some in that time!

I currently have it running on my fairly low powered laptop and am finding it to be rather laggy, particularly with firefox. I'm wondering if someone could advise me on whether my laptop's spec is sufficient and if a RAM upgrade is likely to improve matters. It's not unusable, just quite irritating.

The spec is:
Celeron 2.8Ghz
739MB RAM
40Gig HD

cheers!
John
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby Aging Technogeek on Wed May 13, 2009 7:28 pm

First of all, what version of Mint are you using? Also, can you be a little more specific in describing your problem? Is Firefox slow loading or running or both? And are other apps slow as well?

Your processor and hard drive look adequate and 739 MB of ram would seem to be enough for most applications.
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby jhob on Thu May 14, 2009 2:31 am

Thanks for the reply. I am using mint 6 with gnome - basically the most recent standard install with no customisation and without any additional software installs. The problems are noticed system-wide but it is most apparent with firefox. Gmail and facebook seem to run particularly slowly - scrolling is really jumpy on those pages. If there is flash on the page it gets even slower. Other windows are slow to come up and audio can be jumpy when played.

In system monitor it is showing the CPU running at 50% most of the time and spiking up to 90+%, this is with just firefox and system monitor open and not actually doing anything in either.

If I quit firefox usage drops to around 15%. Interesting I have just noticed that firefox with the mint homepage open usage is still 15%. If I then open another tab at news.bbc.co.uk I get usage spikes up to 100% in sync with the news ticker - 5 seconds at 100%, 5 seconds at 15% - very regular and predictable. So the main performance issues do seem related to firefox. I will do some more testing when time allows.

Cheers for the help
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby jhob on Thu May 14, 2009 3:15 am

With just gmail open cpu idles at about 18%, if I scroll up or down the page it is very jumpy and cpu spikes to 90+%

The java based freemind works well - idle at 15% and spikes to 50% when adding new nodes.
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby Aging Technogeek on Thu May 14, 2009 7:13 am

A couple more questions to more completely define your system.

1. Do you have a graphics card installed and if so, does it share system ram or have dedicated ram?

2. You seem to be using system monitor to get CPU usage data. Can you look at memory usage ,specifically swap, and see if you have a high rate of swap usage? This would indicate a memory shortage and, since swap requires a read/write to hard drive it slows your system down.

A few things you can try right away.

1.Disable visual effects- go to Preferences=>Appearance=>Visual Effects and check "None".

2. Go to Preferences=>Sessions and remove checks on all items you don't need running in the background (bluetooth, mintUpdate, accessability options, etc.). Then go to Administration->Services and do the same( be careful in services that you do not disable anything necessary for proper operation. If in doubt, don't disable it.)

This will not reduce ram and CPU usage by much but any reduction could help.
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby bennachie on Thu May 14, 2009 6:17 pm

It sounds as if the delays might indeed be associated with memory swapping because you have several applications open. While your machine specifications are modest, they should be sufficient for decent performance. Extra memory is pretty cheap, usually very easy to install, and almost invariably improves matters. Your Celeron can probably handle up to 2GB in two slots.

BTW, what size of swap partition do you have? The common wisdom seems to be that around 1.5 times the installed RAM is appropriate.
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby jhob on Fri May 15, 2009 4:23 am

I've not had a chance to test everything and implement all the suggestions here yet (at work now), but I don't think it's a swap file problem.

The swap file is 1.5GB in size and is being utilised at less than 1%. RAM used is hovering around the 360MB mark so there should be plenty of headroom there too.

I am going to try out opera just so I can see if the issue is firefox related or not.

As for the graphics card, it's a laptop so it will be on-board. From memory I think it's set to 64MB and I think it uses system RAM.

cheers everyone for the suggestions
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby Aging Technogeek on Fri May 15, 2009 7:31 am

You said your computer is a laptop. Most newer laptops use some type of CPU clock frequency scaling to limit power usage. In other words, your 2.8 Ghz Celeron may normally run at 800 Mhz or even 600 Mhz and only speed up when heavily loaded.

You can easily check this, and even reset the clock frequency, by right clicking on the bottom panel and selecting "Add to Panel". Scroll down the list of applets until you come to "CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor" Click on it to highlight it and click "Add". This will let you monitor CPU clock frequency and, by clicking on the icon, you will get a menu with several operating modes and a list of all available clock frequencies.

Try it and see if it helps.
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby jhob on Mon May 18, 2009 6:05 pm

Hi All,

I've had a chance to do all the suggestions now and unfortunately nothing has worked or even made a discernible difference. I turned off visual effects and stopped bluetooth and accessibility related progs. The clock frequency can't be altered on the processor so it is running at 100% the whole time.

I have also tried opera and epiphany but with the same results - at news.bbc.co.uk the news ticker maxes out the cpu for 5 seconds and then it goes back down to < 20% for 5 seconds then back up to > 90% etc.

So it seems that site with constantly running javascript cause it problems, not sure there's any way around this?
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Re: Hardware specs for install

Postby Aging Technogeek on Mon May 18, 2009 6:40 pm

If you suspect Java script on websites is the cause of your problem, try adding "NoScript" to your Firefox add-ons. It blocks Java script from sites you don't list as allowed to run it.
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