[solved] open 2 web browsers system unresponsive or locks

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Smiff2
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[solved] open 2 web browsers system unresponsive or locks

Post by Smiff2 »

ok, some background:

previously used Mint7 and 9 on netbooks with slow SSDs, so wasn't particularly surprised by performance issues running multiple apps.
at the weekend installed Mint11 64bit Gnome on my main desktop (Athlon dual core 2.5Ghz, 2GB RAM, Samsung SSD, swap file on 7200rpm HDD)
basically stock install except for Nvidia prop. driver 270 and some SSD tweaks (deadline, noatime)
If further details are relevant please ask!

first impressions of performance were very good - system starts quick and is very responsive after boot, more so than WinXP.

however! in Winxp on same system i routinely have 2 browsers open (Firefox and Chrome normally), so i can be logged into different accounts at once. This is necessary for my work. WinXP coped ok with this other than printing stopped working as firefox mem use would grow so regular restarts (of the browser, not whole system!) would be required. this is one of the issues i hoped to be resolved by moving to linux.

tried to do a similar thing on Mint11 last night, opening a 2nd browser, and the system starting thrashing the disks hard and slowed down so bad even the mouse pointer is barely movable. Uh oh! impossible to reach console or system monitor to kill tasks. This time the system eventually returned to normal enough that i could kill Chrome. performance immediately restored. pressing CTRL_ALT_BACKSPACE to restart X may be easier though you lose running apps.

10 minutes ago, again after opening Chrome. i had to press the hard reset button because hard drive light had stopped with no sign anything would come back. There is little to no warning of this unless you're watching memory usage in the monitor. i.e. the system goes from running perfectly to unusable in seconds with no time in between.

now this is a disaster because it stops me getting work done.
had a quick google and i don't seem to be alone. e.g. first google results is this unhelpful rant https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/668050
Now, this is such a major issue and so easily reproduced (i expect it's an upstream issue, not blaming mint!) that i'm sure lots of users here will have some opinion on it.

Before i start fiddling with things like vm.swappiness i'd really appreciate some advice or whether this is a known problem and i'm better off with another distro (shame as i'd chosen Mint11 as being otherwise ideal for me!) or if this should be fixable or can be alleviated to a degree that i can cope with. yes i could add another 2GB of RAM but would rather not spend the money, that will probably only delay the problem, and anyway should i need to for 2 web browsers when crappy old XP could manage ok with it?
Last edited by Smiff2 on Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Smiff2
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

another little factoid:

in WinXP, firefox memory use typically grew to around 1.7GB before i'd have severe out of memory related problems and need to restart firefox. the mouse pointer was never unresponsive though.
in Mint11, firefox mem use is currently around 1GB (in system monitor) with a similar number of tabs open and at this point I know opening another major app will cause severe performance problems.
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by xenopeek »

If you really are only running two browser so you can be logged in on two accounts for the same website, you may consider using Firefox profiles. You can create an additional profile (next to the default you are now using), and start a separate Firefox instance for that. This allows you to log in on two accounts for the same website (the profiles have separate bookmarks, settings, remembered accounts & passwords, etc.).

This may be more memory efficient, as only one binary image needs to be loaded into memory (just Firefox, instead of both Firefox and Chrome). Follow the guide here: http://turbulentsky.com/how-to-run-mult ... files.html

Edit Main Menu (in Control Center) and change the current Firefox to load the "default" profile. And add a launcher for Firefox on your extra profile. Or use the profile chooser, as described in the link.

BTW this assumes memory is the issue. Which is very likely, but still :)
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Smiff2
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

thanks, i actually didn't know you could run two firefox profiles at once, so will try that.

but i don't want to commit further to using Mint without some hope of resolving this, as there are other things i need to do which involve running multiple apps. going back to running one app a time seems like a step backwards, not forwards. and forgetting to close something and easily losing work/time because of it makes this unacceptable on a work machine imho! sure you'll understand..

in order of importance:
1) keeping keyboard/mouse response good at all times (even when system low on RAM/paging heavily) so that tasks can be killed or perhaps automating this (i realise there is an automatic process killer, saw it when running off live usb stick, but this doest seem to happen during this?)
2) making memory management / paging more suitable for my usage so performance degradation happens more gradually
lmintnewb

Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by lmintnewb »

Hmmmm, whole thing sounds bizarre to me. Might check and see if FF has a plugin to do whatcha want. I mean FF has plugins for just about anything else. So couldn't hurt checking. I mean what are you trying to be logged into at the same time ? Several yahoo, gmail etc accounts ? If so and no plugin, might look at an email client ? aka: thunderbird, don't see why it couldn't keep tabs on multiples of that kind of thing.

As for memory, that also strikes me as insane. FF using 1.7gbs of ram ? Errrrr ... why ? Maybe with 75 tabs open or summin. A PC with 2gbs of RAM shouldn't be having those issues imo. This old dinosaur has all of 512 ddr2 and I could open 20-30 tabs at once and not be using anything like 1.7gbs of anything. A big swap on a 7200 rpm drive too ? Dunno, not even really sure what to suggest. Strange situation as far as I can tell.

Afterthought: Might also want to try Mint 11's 32 bit version. Though don't have a 64bit system from what's been said in the forums gather 64bit does use more RAM and etc. Plus not sure about the support for different software when it comes to 64bit. I mean they have 64bit flash out I believe. But unless ya have some really good reason for needing it. Can't see how using 32bit Mint and other apps would set you back, shrugs.
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

yes, i have a lot of tabs open because i need to. got used to working that way. i'd rather use a different computer or OS than have fewer tabs :)

firefox memory usage is insane but not a lot i can do about that.. chrome is actually worse with large numbers of tabs.
just turned on "virtual memory" in system monitor and firefox is showing 1.8GB now. it's running perfectly well actually (on its own).
i am not sure how to interpret the different memory types or how they compare to windows'. i think the 1.7GB figure was virtual memory size in process explorer in windows actually, making mem use about the same across both platforms.
agree with 2GB i shouldn't have this trouble..

anyway we're getting sidetracked because this isn't a firefox bug, its the OS job to stay responsive and handle resources!


32bit.. well, i was under impression that 64bit was the way to go now and most problems are ironed out.. i realise i don't need 64bit until 4gb RAM but thought 2GB would be ok.. also any evidence that 32bit would help in this situation? would much rather fix and continue with mint11 64bit, perhaps adding more RAM later..

so this is not a common problem then? because its pretty devastating when it hits, and shouldn't be hard tor replicate. install mint, open lots of tabs in 2 or 3 of the most popular browsers.

maybe this should be moved from beginner because it needs the attention of someone with deep understanding of linux memory management? no offense to those who have posted i appreciate your thoughts :)
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by xenopeek »

This is not a common problem, though Linux Mint 11 does use some more memory than its predecessor. I think the issue here is your browser; with a lot of tabs open I could get my old system with only 2GB into a unresponsive state also. Upgrading to some more memory will likely alleviate this--it did for me.

In the Terminal run the command "free" to get a clear picture of system memory usage. On the memory line, used column shows amount of memory in use. But you should deduct the cached column from that actually. The cached memory is just free memory that the kernel is using to optimize system performance while no application needs it.
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lmintnewb

Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by lmintnewb »

W/o knowing how you use your comp it's hard to say really. Nothing wrong with opening several tabs. As mentioned this 512mb beast could handle it, shrugs. With 14 tabs open, it probably uses all of 250mbs/ram. It's FF 3.6.16 or summin. Could spend a bunch of time trying to instruct you in ways to tweak Mint 11 down and trim the resources it's using. Took me a lot of trial and error, but got Mint 10 down drastically with mucho experimentation and tweakage + more than a tad of borkage and reinstallage, lol. Think default Mint 10 w gnome comes out of the box at 270mbs/ram idling. Eventually got it down to 125. But that's mucho typing and headache, lol. Don't even have Mint 10 installed anymore n don't feel like either all that typing or trying to dredge up all the steps I took in the process from memory.

You could install and use a lighter DE ( desktop environment ). That'd cut things down quite a bit by itself w/o applying a bunch of tweaking. If you learn to use fluxbox it's a neato lil WM's anyway. Add some shortcut keys and it goes from plain to really handy and quick to use. ie: Hit F1, terminal opens, F2, /home, F3 run cmd prompt, F4 web browser 1, F5 web brower 2 ... etc. Still dunno, mentioned FF plugins, check if ya want and email clients to monitor a bunch of accounts for ya ... check that to if ya like. As for trying 32 vs 64bit. Dual/tri/quad booting with XP isn't tough. That I know at least, as I've done it. Have XP and 3 nix installs quad booted now. So if you'd like to see if there's a real difference. Would say set up a test partition and install Mint 11/32bit on your box to compare the results.

To be on the safe side, would o course run dskchk( disk check ) on XP before adding Mint 11/32 though. I personally always make sure any windows OS is tidied up before slapping another OS on here. As a common sense precaution, shrugs.

:D

Pointless afterthought: Just an opinion, but when it comes to having 104 tabs open. Don't see how people consider that adding productivity. The worlds most talented multitasker wouldn't be able to keep track and really deal with all that mess at any given time. From personal experience, know how easy it is to have tabs stacking up. But also know how pointless and counter productive it gets. As a person only has 2 hands, 2 eyeballs and one brain to try n process all that stuff. I mean it's your computer though to use as ya will. Given the most helpful suggestions I could come up with at this pt. Gd luck ...
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by SimonTS »

Is there any particular reason why you particularly want to run Min11? Given the upstream issues with Ubuntu 11.04, the kernel issues etc I would avoid it like the plague and either run Mint 10 or even drop back to Mint 9 LTS.
Given how hard you use your system you should immediately change your vmswappiness down to 10 - this is a normal recommendation anyway, and I cannot see why you would have any issues against doing so.
There is no point in changing to a different distro if you need the bells and whistles of Mint 11 Gnome. If you don't need those then you would be much better off trying a lighter version, such as XFCE (Debian-based) or LXDE (Ubntu-based). Or you could even try LMDE if you fancy getting your hands dirty.
This stuff may not be what you want to hear, but if you cannot change the way you do your work then you will have to make a compromise somewhere - or buy more RAM.

As for your comment;-
anyway we're getting sidetracked because this isn't a firefox bug, its the OS job to stay responsive and handle resources!
I'm not entirely sure where you are going with that statement. If Firefox is haemorrhaging memory then there is only so much that any OS can do about it before it begins to lock-up or starts automatically shutting down the offending application. Would you prefer that to happen?
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

woah.. right :)

ok i want to run Mint11 because i have used Mint before, and because its based on Ubuntu 11.04 and supports all my hardware. are those upstream issues relevant here? other distros may also work with my hardware but i don't want to spend a lot of time trying them all, and probably finding other issues or the same issue.
having seen a similar problem with Mint9 on my netbook i don't believe an older version of Mint/ubuntu would help?

I prefer to use Gnome because i'm familiar with it, like the look and it 'supports' the apps i like.
Also is changing to another DE just about saving some RAM? because then i'm still going to hit the problem, just a bit later.

Upgrading RAM is a possibility but again are we solving the problem are just making it happy less/harder to reach?

lmintnewb, i appreciate your thoughts, and yes you have a point about the browser usage, however i am comparing directly against XP and am finding Mint considerably worse in this regard, so this isn't just about getting work done (although that's the reason for my OP), it's also about having the usable computer regardless of what i'm doing.

SimonTS , i realise that was a provocative statement. no i don't mind the OS killing an offending app. but i do mind the OS itself needing a hard reset. is it unreasonable to expect. in 2011 an OS to not need hardware reset due to app misbehaviour? surely not...

free currently shows only 180MB, but really i already knew running out of RAM is the start of the problem; its what the OS does next that concerns me (become unusable and unrecoverable!)

looks like i'm going to have to start fiddling with kernel stuff.
this seems relevant
http://askubuntu.com/questions/41778/co ... he-problem

vm.swappiness - does lowering this really help in my situation? need to do more reading.
vm.min_free_kbytes - currently at 5750! i'm thinking increase this a LOT maybe over 100MB to give the system time to page out before hitting "the wall"?
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

ah at link above
"oom_kill is only called if you run out of memory (both swap and RAM)"
so that's why it isnt auto killing my apps, just paging heavily..

some sanity is needed here i.e. if paging takes longer than x seconds, kill the app. any setting like that?
i might also reduce my swap partition size from 3GB to something like 512MB?

just going to find benchmark tool for my hdds.. Disk Utility in Mint doesnt allow write test on used hdd!
lmintnewb

Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by lmintnewb »

How are you even determining RAM usage ?

System monitor ? Terminal ?

And yes, vm.swappiness effects when your comp will start using the swap file. Lower is better within reason. vm.swappiness=10 is the recommended setting for PC's. Simple explanation is ... Your default is set to vm.swappiness=60. Which means when 41% of available RAM is in use, even though 59% is still free. Your OS starts using the swap partition. That slows a comp down as needless to say writing and retrieving things from swap is not as quick as the use of RAM.

Using another DE/WM can seriously cut down on system overhead. Plus some of the other DE's and WM's are cool and good stuff. In this case you'd be talking about the lighter ones. As installing a heavier DE or one that uses roughly the same resources would obviously go against the whole goal in cutting down. Using a lighter Mint release. Well it's lighter, doesn't use as many resources as Mint 11 w gnome running. Think Simon pretty much covered it though. You're going to have to make some compromises and learn to use the software if you want to use it. Suggestions have been made and if none of them fit whatcha want or are taken into consideration don't know what else to suggest. Use xp ?
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by SimonTS »

OK, assume you want Gnome - fair enough. What hardware have you got that wouldn't be supported by Mint 10? Have you considered using LMDE - it is full Gnome, but built on Debian so it is a rolling distro and may suit you better. However, if this is all down to RAM then you are going to have the problem at some point, no matter what you do.

In your first post you go on about how
***** old XP could manage ok
I bet that XP didn't support all your hardware out of the box and you had to download and install various drivers for it. Also, it is 10 years old. Try to run Windows 7 on your hardware and see how that copes with the resources beofre you try to have a go about a very modern Linux distro. You also
could add another 2GB of RAM but would rather not spend the money
How much does 2Gig of RAM cost? And this is for a machine that you use for your 'work'? That would seem to be a very mixed-up set of priorities.

Just doing some testing - Firefox v5, 15 tabs open, 424MB used. How many tabs are you opening to get to 1.7GB, or are they all running Flash videos and suchlike?
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

i'm using system monitor and terminal, but looking at the hard drive led also tells me what's happening :)

yeah i think reducing swappiness made things worse.. the problem is the system apparently does nothing until all of a sudden its out of RAM and dies. so paging earlier might be a good idea. it'll take a while of trial and error to figure this out.

i was hoping for some suggestions for kernel/memory usage tweaks.

i was not expecting, on the Mint forum, to be told to use another distro or XP!


it's not just about my work.. yes i can add more RAM, but how does that help other users and other computers?

be back in a bit, going to try some settings and probably have to restart a bit. lucky restarting is so quick.

please, don't focus on firefox. should have used a different title :/
lmintnewb

Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by lmintnewb »

lol ... well, seems like you're missing some pts though and aren't willing to take the advice given. You do not need to start trying to custom compile kernels. Sounds like ya need to stop expecting and using a 2gb/ram system like a 4gb/ram one and expecting things to run smoothly. XP is lighter/older M$ software. Comes from a time when systems with 2gbs RAM were more of a luxury model. Try installing a more recent M$ OS on there and see how smoothly it'll run for ya. Vista recommends 1gig ram just for the OS. Sure win7 is a lot more resource intensive than XP too. Though from the sounds of it you're maxing out XP with the way you decide to use your comp.

I have XP, 512mbs/ram and could and have had 40tabs open at one time without it being too much for it to handle. So guessing you have a unique style of computing going on.

In simple terms XP = lighter linux. But you don't want to do that. Not like someone or any software someone can throw a switch and make it run great for a person who's ignoring the fundamental hardware + software realities, shrugs. Such an OS doesn't exist on this planet. It's not probs with the software. In terminal look at the second line when you run free -m ... +/- cache n buffers that's your actual RAM in use and ram that's free. Not the top/first line.

(edit) Guess what I'm saying is use the right software for your system or don't expect it to run great. Kinda getting back to what Simon said, takes some give, take and compromises. Not just this is how it should be, cause it's what I want and if it doesn't work it must be the softwares fault !!! Betting ya have the Mint 11 install set to all default with all the eyecandy and effects maxed out on top of all the rest of what's going on ... sighs.
Last edited by lmintnewb on Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Smiff2
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

well its nice to be unique, though i'd expect lots of people to make heavy use of web browsers.

ok
vm.min_free_kbytes=128000 actually seems to be helping

anyone know some particularly heavy web sites?
slashdot is one, bbc maybe..
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by SimonTS »

i was not expecting, on the Mint forum, to be told to use another distro or XP!
I didn't notice anyone telling you to use XP. However you will see that most Linux forum members are of the opinion that you should always use the tool that best suits you - whether that is a different flavour of Linux, a different desktop environment, or even a different operating system itself.
it's not just about my work.. yes i can add more RAM, but how does that help other users and other computers?
Unfortunately it IS just about your work in this instance. You are the one who wants to use 500 open tabs and not upgrade your RAM.

Have you tried going back post-crash and looking through the log files to see if there is something else that might be causing the problem?
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

thanks but i'm really not here for a discussion of my work habits or OS choice. i was using Xp until it died, and Mint is the most recommended "newbie" free OS.

i'm using Mint, have a problem with Mint, now I have Mint installed, this is a relatively straightforward problem, and I want to continue using Mint. is that ok? :)

perhaps i'll figure this out myself using some trial and error and Ubuntu tips!

so if you have any suggestions that might make Mint run better with my usage, please post.

seem to be getting some improvement already with min_free_kbytes :)
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by SimonTS »

No - you seem to be here wanting everything for nothing. You have been asked relevant questions about the way you choose to overwork your system. You then keep refusing to change your habits or upgrade your system a little. You are far from a "newbie" as you have been using Mint since v7. You know what is causing the problem, and the only way you are likely to resolve it is to work it out yourself as you are the one who has access to your system. I have asked you questions, but you have not answered them.

If you want to use your system like you are a 'power user' then you need a power-user-type system - 8Gig of RAM would be a good start. If you have this issue on Mint then you will almost certainly have it on any distro you might choose if you want to keep with a high-end distro.

I asked you if you had looked at the log files as there might be an underlying fault here. Or you might be encountering the bugs in the current kernels which can cause overheating - this might be causing your problems.

Anyway, good luck with solving your problem.
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Re: open 2 web browsers - system unresponsive or locks hard

Post by Smiff2 »

ok i see you're not really trying to help so i'll leave this for now..

to be clear: all i want is for the memory management to work better so my system doesn't need a reset.
I have some background in computer science. the OS should never become this unresponsive unless there's hardware problem.
and with 2 web browsers and 2GB of RAM, not really unreasonable is it.

which log files do you mean sorry?
heat is worth checking, i will install some monitoring app later. but its never been a problem on this desktop system before.
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