Optiplex GX270 Very Slow - SOLVED

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DarkReader
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Optiplex GX270 Very Slow - SOLVED

Postby DarkReader » Wed May 17, 2017 7:37 pm

I don't know if this is a hardware or software question in the end. What we have isn't working and I'm not sure what options are available to us.

My husband has been using a Dell Optiplex GX270 (2gb RAM, on-board Intel graphics 82865g) for the last few years since we switched to Linux from XP. Xfce seemed to work best with this limited-resource unit so I started with 17. He uses Firefox and Thunderbird and has a very lean installation with a bare minimum of disk space used.

When 17.1 became available, I upgraded to that, partly because I was reading recommendations to do so and, for some reason, thought the long-term support for 17 was going away. That last part wasn't true, but the upgrade was easy and didn't seem to have any ill effects.

Over the last several months, however, the PC has become progressively slower, particularly with web pages loading in FF; in order to just scroll or start typing, you have to wait a long time for the page to load completely. By this point, a stable 18.1 was available and the resource demand for Xfce didn't seem any more onerous, so I backed up everything and started from scratch, thinking a brand new install would improve things.

If possible, FF is even slower. Boot up seems slower. I have followed the steps recommended elsewhere in these forums for boosting speed: changing the swap file, removing extensions and effects, all the things as a relative newbie I could understand to do. We looked at getting another graphics board, but that didn't seem to make a lot of sense for an older unit, and no two sources agreed on what would be best.

Have we maxed-out what this particular Dell is capable of? Should I roll back to 17.3, which seems to be a frequent recommendation? Is Google Chrome faster than FF, or do I have to go with Chromium? It seems a waste, since the PC works, to get a newer old computer, but if that's our only choice, we'll take it.

All recommendations are welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.
Last edited by DarkReader on Fri May 26, 2017 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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richyrich
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby richyrich » Wed May 17, 2017 9:17 pm

The following will determine if it is your Firefox profile which is causing the problems. (If not, at least we will know it isn't the problem.) :-)

Copied from a reply by forum member .Cosmo (thx)

Possibly a problem with your FF-profile.
To find this out do the following:
Close FF.
Open your file-manager and make hidden files visible (press ctrl-h).
Rename the folder .mozilla to .mozilla.bck
Start FF, this will create automatically a new FF-profile.
Check.

To get back to your old profile:
Close FF.
Delete the new folder .mozilla
Rename the folder .mozila.bck back to .mozilla
Start FF. Done.

DarkReader
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Wed May 17, 2017 11:45 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. The consensus is that there's no appreciable difference between his existing FF profile and a clean one in terms of page loading. I also did a FF refresh with the same result.

Personally, I think Chrome, which I use on my Cinnamon laptop, is faster. When I looked in Software Manager to add Chrome to the Optiplex, the only available choice was Chromium. Is there any reason not to download Chrome to Xfce?

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby richyrich » Thu May 18, 2017 12:05 am

You will need to download Chrome directly from Google's link below. Choose the DEB file (only 64bit is now available),and when downloaded, right-click on it and choose "Open with Gdebi Package Installer". It will automatically install the proper repository in your Software Sources, and all updates/upgrades will come via Mint's Update Manager. :-)

https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby gold_finger » Thu May 18, 2017 5:00 am

I could be wrong but I think your old Dell may have a 32-bit processor, so Chrome (which only comes in 64-bit) won't be an option. Like you, I've noticed over recent years that Firefox has gotten progressively more bloated and slow on older systems (which all of my computers are), so about a year ago I tested many different browsers in search of something that worked better. Chrome didn't seem any better than Firefox to me at that time. A couple of less "full-featured" browsers to consider are Midori and QupZilla. (Midori seemed to crash a lot when I tested a year ago, but that might be fixed by now.) Both of them are in the repos, so you can install through Software Center, Synaptic or with terminal commands.

Best full-featured browser that I came across (and have now switched to in all of my computers) is Vivaldi. You might want to take that for a test drive. That is not in the repos, so you'll need to download the appropriate DEB file (32 bit most likely) and install with GDebi Package Installer.
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Pjotr » Thu May 18, 2017 5:04 am

Please generate an overview of your system like this:

- Launch a terminal window (this is how to launch a terminal window);

- make the terminal window full screen, to avoid chopped lines;

- copy/paste this command into the terminal:

Code: Select all

inxi -Fxz

(if you type: the letter F is a capital letter)

- Press Enter.

- Copy/paste the output in your next message.
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Arch_Enemy
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Arch_Enemy » Thu May 18, 2017 5:31 am

These boxes are getting long in the tooth. They were good machines, but had problems. The biggest being the capacitor fiasco.
Was the motherboard ever replaced for blown capacitors? If you have the flat desktop model you can open it by pinching the dark-coloured "half moons" near the rear and clamshell it open. It might be tough to open. Have a look at the MB and see if there are any blown capacitors

Image

If you have a model similar to this, see those cooling fingers? They are hard to see unless you're looking, and the computer may still function with that whole row blown wide open! Also, look near the memory sticks. There are a couple capacitors at one end of the sticks that buffer the memory and when these blow it can cause speed issues by making data transfer to the RAM flaky. In terms of blown caps, you can replace them, possibly find a replacement MB with the caps already replaced or just move along to something newer.

If everything looks good, get the model number from the back and go to support.dell.com and look up "upgrades" for your model. You can also do this by the Service Tag (punch the Service Tag in on the first support page. BTW, if you think the internet is slow now, wait until you're waiting for the page to change! Go to "upgrades" and see what's available.

Also, has your husband done any upgrades? Dells are interesting boxes: you can't change anything in the BIOS as far as speed, but there is usually a range of processors that can be used in them, and CPUs for this machine are probably available for just a few dollars on eBay. If this gets confusing PM me with the Service Tag/Model number and I can look up what you can plug into this board. Once you have the new CPU in place, you reboot, it flashes a message on the screen about a system change and reboots, and you are now operating at the new CPU speed. Same for memory....you can upgrade to faster RAM, it flashes a message about RAM and reboots and you are now operating at the faster RAM speed.

You can try a new video card, but if you have the clamshell unit you have to get a half-height video card (I think...last time I saw one of these other than my garage was ~7 years ago.) If the slots are sideways on a riser card you may be able to use a full size card, but it will most likely be a PCI video card.

Any more questions about hardware on this, send me a PM and I'll be happy to help you. Gee, that 12 years of Dell Factory Service still comes in handy! ;)

Good luck.
$0.02+a grain of salt...

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Arch_Enemy » Thu May 18, 2017 5:47 am

PS: As far as backing up, here's a tip: when you set up your machine, create a partition on the hard drive of ~30GB. This is actually overkill, but even Linux gets bigger (although at a slower rate than Bloatware Windows...). Then create a partition of ~4G for swap if you're limited on RAM (remind me of this later...) and another partition using the rest of the drive. Set the first partition as / , the second partition as SWAP and the last partition as /home. If you ever upgrade or have an OS blowout you can reinstall, use the same user names and voila, all your stuff is still there. Of course, back up and work or personal critical files on a thumb or USB hard drive, but barring a catastrophic disk error your stuff will always be there, including desktop settings and preferences.

Oh, and as well, go into System Monitor and go to the Resources tab. Have a look at what is available for RAM. Memory and Swap History should show what is available and what is in use. If memory is not what it should be (xxx.x MB of 2.0GB..if the last number is drastically less than what is installed you have a RAM issue) Bear in mind: This model Dell has a setting for RAM usage for the video so deduct that from the total! If the total is too far off you have a memry issue. Also, what is swap usage? Swap usage may be slowing your system down as well. Increasing RAM (You are probably limited to 2G on this box) will reduce swap usage and make the system faster. You can try to increase the Swap partition but this may cause loss of data, and it would be better to Clonezilla everything to a new hard drive with a larger swap partition.

This should all keep you busy for a few hours anyway! ;)
$0.02+a grain of salt...

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Mute Ant » Thu May 18, 2017 5:57 am

"Over the last several months, however, the PC has become progressively slower" An ailing hard drive will suffer silently. Difficult-to-read data requires the whole disk to go round again to get a second, third, fourth attempt at reading and the kernel is left in the dark, the machine 'just slows down'.
o Try Firefox from a Live Session to remove the hard drive and OS files from the problem.
o Try a Live Session Memtest86+ to give the silicon components some exercise.
o Use the disks accessory to look at the hard drive SMART report. Post it here if you need help, it can be a bit cryptic.
Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Arch_Enemy » Thu May 18, 2017 2:41 pm

If you're still interested, I did a little digging.

I believe you can use one of these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Pentium-4 ... 2050168272
I know I put one in an older Dell and it works great.

You should also be able to install 2-2G DDR 400 RAM sticks for a total of 4G. The chipset has a front side bus of 800MHz so 400 RAM should run at full speed.
The CPUs are cheap, memory is getting a little pricey as it is becoming scarce.

Also, check fans, cooling vents, etc as heat makes it slow down.

'It has an AGP video slot so you could get a fairly fast 512M AGP card for it.
$0.02+a grain of salt...

DarkReader
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Thu May 18, 2017 7:03 pm

gold_finger wrote:I could be wrong but I think your old Dell may have a 32-bit processor ...

Yes, it is 32-bit. I'll take a look at the other browsers you mentioned. Thanks.
Last edited by DarkReader on Thu May 18, 2017 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Thu May 18, 2017 7:12 pm

Arch_Enemy wrote:These boxes are getting long in the tooth. They were good machines, but had problems. The biggest being the capacitor fiasco.
Was the motherboard ever replaced for blown capacitors? If you have the flat desktop model you can open it by pinching the dark-coloured "half moons" near the rear and clamshell it open. It might be tough to open. Have a look at the MB and see if there are any blown capacitors.

The capacitors appear to be fine and I don't think the MB was replaced. We bought the box without an OS a few years ago from someone who refurbishes them, so I can't say for sure.

I'll look for an upgrade via the model number. We haven't done anything more than add RAM to the unit and have already discovered that the correct half-height video cards are not so easy to find and are frequently almost as much as we paid for the box. I'll read through everything you've provided here and see what makes sense. I really appreciate all the suggestions.

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Thu May 18, 2017 9:40 pm

Pjotr wrote:Please generate an overview of your system like this:

Code: Select all

inxi -Fxz

- Copy/paste the output in your next message.

paul@paul-OptiPlex-GX270 ~ $ inxi -Fxz
System: Host: paul-OptiPlex-GX270 Kernel: 4.4.0-78-generic i686 (32 bit gcc: 5.4.0)
Desktop: Xfce 4.12.3 (Gtk 2.24.28) Distro: Linux Mint 18.1 Serena
Machine: System: Dell product: OptiPlex GX270
Mobo: Dell model: 0U1324 Bios: Dell v: A03 date: 10/20/2003
CPU: Single core Intel Pentium 4 (-UP-) cache: 512 KB
flags: (pae sse sse2) bmips: 5586 speed: 2793 MHz (max)
Graphics: Card: Intel 82865G Integrated Graphics Controller bus-ID: 00:02.0
Display Server: X.Org 1.18.4 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa)
Resolution: 1366x768@59.86hz
GLX Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel 865G x86/MMX/SSE2
GLX Version: 1.3 Mesa 11.2.0 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio: Card Intel 82801EB/ER (ICH5/ICH5R) AC'97 Audio Controller
driver: snd_intel8x0 ports: ee00 edc0 bus-ID: 00:1f.5
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k4.4.0-78-generic
Network: Card: Intel 82540EM Gigabit Ethernet Controller
driver: e1000 v: 7.3.21-k8-NAPI port: df40 bus-ID: 01:0c.0
IF: enp1s12 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter>
Drives: HDD Total Size: 80.0GB (19.2% used)
ID-1: /dev/sda model: ST380011A size: 80.0GB
Partition: ID-1: / size: 72G used: 13G (19%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda1
ID-2: swap-1 size: 2.14GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda5
RAID: No RAID devices: /proc/mdstat, md_mod kernel module present
Sensors: None detected - is lm-sensors installed and configured?
Info: Processes: 167 Uptime: 13:18 Memory: 906.3/2012.2MB
Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 5.4.0
Client: Shell (bash 4.3.461) inxi: 2.2.35
paul@paul-OptiPlex-GX270 ~ $

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Pjotr » Fri May 19, 2017 4:54 am

That's a venerable piece of antique.... :mrgreen:

You can probably speed it up somewhat, by applying these safe speed tweaks:
https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/3
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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Arch_Enemy » Fri May 19, 2017 9:23 am

DarkReader wrote:
Pjotr wrote:Please generate an overview of your system like this:

Code: Select all

inxi -Fxz

- Copy/paste the output in your next message.


Machine: System: Dell product: OptiPlex GX270
Mobo: Dell model: 0U1324 Bios: Dell v: A03 date: 10/20/2003
CPU: Single core Intel Pentium 4 (-UP-) cache: 512 KB
flags: (pae sse sse2) bmips: 5586 speed: 2793 MHz (max)
Graphics: Card: Intel 82865G Integrated Graphics Controller bus-ID: 00:02.0
Display Server: X.Org 1.18.4 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa)
Resolution: 1366x768@59.86hz
GLX Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel 865G x86/MMX/SSE2
GLX Version: 1.3 Mesa 11.2.0 Direct Rendering: Yes



Hmmm....nothing about memory...

Adding the full amount of RAM would give the biggest boost, and I believe 4G is the max on this system; if you have 2 memory slots, 2 2G sticks will work, DDR400.
Also, the CPU I mentioned will help, but add the RAM first. If it already has 4G, get the CPU. I saw another one for $9 on eBay. Video card will help as well, that way you can decrease the amount of RAM set aside for video use.

Oh...upgrade the BIOS. Last level for this box was A07
$0.02+a grain of salt...

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby Arch_Enemy » Fri May 19, 2017 9:35 am

This is the 'best' CPU you can install
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Pentium-4 ... SwCQZZC2Db
$0.02+a grain of salt...

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby JoeFootball » Fri May 19, 2017 10:19 am

Arch_Enemy wrote:Hmmm....nothing about memory...
DarkReader wrote:Memory: 906.3/2012.2MB

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Fri May 19, 2017 11:05 am

Pjotr wrote:That's a venerable piece of antique.... :mrgreen:

You can probably speed it up somewhat, by applying these safe speed tweaks:
https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/3

I know. We're so proud. :lol: I've followed these recommendations already, the ones I understood anyway, without seeing much improvement. I'm going to take a look at Arch_Enemy's hardware recommendations vs. price of a new box. Thank you for helping out. I'm grateful for all the responses.

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Fri May 19, 2017 11:08 am

Mute Ant wrote:o Try Firefox from a Live Session to remove the hard drive and OS files from the problem.
o Try a Live Session Memtest86+ to give the silicon components some exercise.
o Use the disks accessory to look at the hard drive SMART report. Post it here if you need help, it can be a bit cryptic.

I will try all of these. Thanks.

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Re: Optiplex GX270 Very Slow

Postby DarkReader » Fri May 19, 2017 11:12 am

Arch_Enemy wrote:This is the 'best' CPU you can install
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Pentium-4 ... SwCQZZC2Db

We'll definitely take a look at this and the RAM upgrade, as well as your other recommendations for the BIOS, etc. If it all comes to less than a new box, we can have some fun replacing hardware. I really appreciate the extra steps you've taken to sort this out for me. Thanks.


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