Another Dell hard drive "thrashing" Resolved.

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Rusty Relic
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Another Dell hard drive "thrashing" Resolved.

Post by Rusty Relic »

Dell Optiplex 380, 1tb hard drive, Linux 19.3 Mate
This is the second Dell computer with the hard drive “thrashing” problem. The other one is here: viewtopic.php?f=60&t=318464 . Do any of you know if Linux Mint Mate and Dell computers in general have a compatibility issue? Is there a design issue that makes Dell’s more prone to hard drive thrashing? For the first few weeks after I loaded 19,3 Mate on the Optiplex 380 it ran great; now about once a day I have to wait to open files, close files, slow mouse responses, and wait sometimes up to a minute for the menu to open to be able to shut it down. On the previous machine, Dell Vostro 200, I tried going back to 4. ? ? ? kernel with no performance improvement.
The questions I have are, if anyone knows:
Does anyone know the purpose that code might have been written this way to do a certain function in day to day operation of Mint? Virus or malware control, etc?

Is there some other flavour of Linux that is less prone to hard drive thrashing? Or a lighter version of Mint that is less resource heavy or whatever the problem is? Mint 17.3 Cinnamon seemed to work okay on the Vostro 200 until it wasn’t supported for a while and I decided to “upgrade”.

Curious to know if any of you kind people have a favourite distro that will “just run” on a 9 year old Dell or do I experiment on my own? It seems to take several weeks before the problem develops so I will be a while if I need to experiment on my own. I just want it to work when I turn it on; I am not in the mood any more to have to play with this or that to make something run.
Thanks.
Last edited by Rusty Relic on Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Kadaitcha Man »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:45 am
Do any of you know if Linux Mint Mate and Dell computers in general have a compatibility issue? Is there a design issue that makes Dell’s more prone to hard drive thrashing?
Generally, no. I think your machines are probably showing their advanced age. That it happens on two machines is probably just synchronicity.
It's pronounced kad-eye-cha, not kada-itcha.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by JoeFootball »

Rusty Relic wrote: Do any of you know if Linux Mint Mate and Dell computers in general have a compatibility issue? Is there a design issue that makes Dell’s more prone to hard drive thrashing?
I doubt it. I've had several Dell installs that have not demonstrated that behavior.

EDIT:
Rusty Relic wrote:Curious to know if any of you kind people have a favourite distro that will “just run” on a 9 year old Dell ...
You can try LM 18.3 Xfce (supported until April 2021), as it's the "lightest" of the versions currently available (in my opinion). https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=3480
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by BG405 »

How much RAM do you have? It could be swapping. Or indexing, but I'd expect that to start straight away and ease off over time.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by GS3 »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:45 am
Dell Optiplex 380, 1tb hard drive, Linux 19.3 Mate
This is the second Dell computer with the hard drive “thrashing” problem.
You might want to post your machine's configuration as is generally asked.

The thrashing problem has been discussed a lot and I had it for a while. I do not think it has anything to do with the brand or age of the machine.

After trying several solutions the problem has gone away for me (I think, fingers crossed).

I think the problem was generally a problem of writing to disk and there were several things that caused it:

(1) swapfile.
In this machine I increased RAM from 4 to 8 GB and swap file hardly ever gets used. That has made a huge difference.

(2) Timeshift
That was really annoying. I programmed it to run much less often and now it does not interfere

(3) copying large files
you have very direct control over this so you should notice if this is causing the thrashing.

Basically any large writing to disk would cause thrashing.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Rusty Relic »

Thanks for the reply GS3. I have 2 GB of ram as recommended by the system requirements page. The processor is Intel core 2 Duo at 2.93 Ghz. What else would you like to know?
I attempted to get into Timeshift while the Hard drive was chattering away and a message came up to try again later as there was a snapshot in progress or something like that. I shut the machine off and restarted and got into Timeshift and it claimed there was 2 recorded today even though it was scheduled for 1. So I changed the schedule to once a week instead of once a day then started a new snapshot. It claimed it would take less than 7 minutes but took about 20 minutes.
While I am typing this the hard drive is chattering so I tried to get into Timeshift and it won't let me in claiming it was doing a scheduled snapshot. Mostly all I am doing is browsing a couple of news websites and a couple of forums and sometimes doing a search for something. I am running FireFox for a web browser. Now that the Timeshift schedule is changed I will watch it for a day or two and see if there is a difference.
Thanks.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by asinoro »

Unfortunately with 2 GB of ram you will suffer a lot, upgrade to 4!
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Pjotr »

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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by GS3 »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:17 pm
Thanks for the reply GS3. I have 2 GB of ram as recommended by the system requirements page. The processor is Intel core 2 Duo at 2.93 Ghz. What else would you like to know?
Please post the inxi report enclosed in [ code ] tags viewtopic.php?f=90&t=318644

While using the system you can be running and observing the System Monitor gnome-system-monitor and it will show if it is using swap space. I find the performance of my system degrades a lot when it needs to use swap space. With 4 GB of RAM I could only open very few Firefox tabs before it used swap. Now with 8 GB I am much better off and it hardly ever needs to. I would consider 2 GB insufficient. I mean, yes, the OS will run but you will experience slow performance. I am running Cinnamon and you are right in asking what is the lightest Linux version but I cannot really advise you there and I will leave that to others more knowledgeable.

Timeshift was giving me much headache because it was running too often. You can set it to run weekly or monthly.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Rusty Relic »

I think this is what you want. I need to make a logbook of the various bits that have been requested and how get them. The Swap in System Monitor is showing 0% just at the moment but there is no excess hard drive activity either.
Thanks

Code: Select all

[code]
System:    Host: Dell Kernel: 5.4.0-42-generic x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 7.5.0 
           Desktop: MATE 1.22.2 wm: marco dm: LightDM Distro: Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia 
           base: Ubuntu 18.04 bionic 
Machine:   Type: Desktop System: Dell product: OptiPlex 380 v: N/A serial: <filter> Chassis: 
           type: 15 serial: <filter> 
           Mobo: Dell model: 01TKCC v: A01 serial: <filter> BIOS: Dell v: A06 date: 09/01/2011 
CPU:       Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core2 Duo E7500 bits: 64 type: MCP arch: Penryn rev: A 
           L2 cache: 3072 KiB 
           flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 11702 
           Speed: 2926 MHz min/max: 1600/2933 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 2926 2: 2926 
Graphics:  Device-1: Intel 4 Series Integrated Graphics vendor: Dell driver: i915 v: kernel 
           bus ID: 00:02.0 chip ID: 8086:2e32 
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.6 driver: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa 
           compositor: marco resolution: 1920x1200~60Hz 
           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel G41 (ELK) v: 2.1 Mesa 20.0.8 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Device-1: Intel NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio vendor: Dell 
           driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 00:1b.0 chip ID: 8086:27d8 
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.4.0-42-generic 
Network:   Device-1: Broadcom and subsidiaries NetLink BCM57780 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe vendor: Dell 
           driver: tg3 v: 3.137 port: ece0 bus ID: 02:00.0 chip ID: 14e4:1692 
           IF: enp2s0 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter> 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 931.51 GiB used: 55.19 GiB (5.9%) 
           ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Seagate model: ST1000DM003-1ER162 size: 931.51 GiB 
           speed: <unknown> serial: <filter> 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 915.89 GiB used: 55.19 GiB (6.0%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda1 
USB:       Hub: 1-0:1 info: Full speed (or root) Hub ports: 8 rev: 2.0 chip ID: 1d6b:0002 
           Device-1: 1-2:3 info: SanDisk type: Mass Storage driver: usb-storage rev: 2.0 
           chip ID: 0781:b6b7 
           Hub: 2-0:1 info: Full speed (or root) Hub ports: 2 rev: 1.1 chip ID: 1d6b:0001 
           Device-2: 2-1:2 info: Dell Keyboard type: Keyboard driver: hid-generic,usbhid rev: 1.1 
           chip ID: 413c:2003 
           Hub: 3-0:1 info: Full speed (or root) Hub ports: 2 rev: 1.1 chip ID: 1d6b:0001 
           Device-3: 3-2:2 info: Logitech Unifying Receiver type: Keyboard,Mouse 
           driver: logitech-djreceiver,usbhid rev: 2.0 chip ID: 046d:c534 
           Hub: 4-0:1 info: Full speed (or root) Hub ports: 2 rev: 1.1 chip ID: 1d6b:0001 
           Hub: 5-0:1 info: Full speed (or root) Hub ports: 2 rev: 1.1 chip ID: 1d6b:0001 
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 38.0 C mobo: N/A 
           Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Repos:     No active apt repos in: /etc/apt/sources.list 
           Active apt repos in: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list 
           1: deb http: //packages.linuxmint.com tricia main upstream import backport #id:linuxmint_main
           2: deb http: //archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic main restricted universe multiverse
           3: deb http: //archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-updates main restricted universe multiverse
           4: deb http: //archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-backports main restricted universe multiverse
           5: deb http: //security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-security main restricted universe multiverse
           6: deb http: //archive.canonical.com/ubuntu/ bionic partner
           Active apt repos in: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/opera-stable.list 
           1: deb https: //deb.opera.com/opera-stable/ stable non-free #Opera Browser (final releases)
Info:      Processes: 160 Uptime: 40m Memory: 3.75 GiB used: 1.12 GiB (30.0%) Init: systemd v: 237 
           runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 7.5.0 alt: 7 Client: Unknown python3.6 client inxi: 3.0.32 
[/code]
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by BG405 »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:17 pm
I have 2 GB of ram as recommended by the system requirements page.
2GB is the minimum recommended. But, from your inxi report, you appear to have 4GB:
Rusty Relic wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:59 pm

Code: Select all

Info:      Processes: 160 Uptime: 40m Memory: 3.75 GiB used: 1.12 GiB (30.0%) Init: systemd v: 237 
           runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 7.5.0 alt: 7 Client: Unknown python3.6 client inxi: 3.0.32 
As memory readings tend to rely on dmidecode, sudo inxi -m might reveal more.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by GS3 »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:59 pm
The Swap in System Monitor is showing 0% just at the moment but there is no excess hard drive activity either.

That is what you want to observe. The relationship between swap usage and the machine slowing down.

The machine I am using right now is very similar to yours with Intel Core2 Duo E8400 processor. When I had 4GB RAM it would work well as long as Timeshift and swap were not being used. I could open a few pages and it would be well until swapping would be needed. So I learned to open very few pages and try to keep RAM use below topping out. Then I upgraded to 8 GB and life is much nicer.

You can try to limit your usage so that swap space is not needed but if you can I would recommend upgrading to 8GB RAM. You can get RAM easily from Crucial.com or other local vendors or you can do like I did and buy from China where you will pay less and wait more.

When I upgraded I could not just add modules because all the slots were already taken so I had to install higher capacity modules and remove the old ones which became useless. It seems you are in the same case:

Code: Select all

Dell OptiPlex 380
2 DIMM slots; Non-ECC dual-channel 1066MHz  DDR3 SDRAM, up to 8GB Max system memory
This should work for your Dell Optiplex 380 desktop: Crucial 8GB Kit (2 x 4GB) DDR3L-1600 UDIMM - CT2K51264BD160B
https://www.crucial.com/memory/ddr3/ct2 ... /ct7338783
or you can go the silk road way and save some dough, probably about 40%.

Be careful when buying memory because there is a difference between high density and low density modules. You can't use High density RAM which is used on servers. I learned this the hard way when I bought modules that had all the right specs but still didn't work. High density is much cheaper but won't work on regular PCs.

it is a pity all these mobos come with only two RAM slots and you cannot add RAM and have to discard the RAM you already have in order to install larger capacity modules.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Rusty Relic »

Thanks for your suggestions and your help. I will watch this for a few days and see what happens and then come back and finalize this thread.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Rusty Relic »

It appears that the hard drive thrashing has decreased significantly by changing the Timeshift schedule to weekly instead of daily so I have marked the title as resolved.
Thank you to all who helped.
Last edited by Rusty Relic on Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by GS3 »

Rusty Relic wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:41 pm
It appears that the hard drive thrashing has deceased significantly by changing the Timeshift schedule to weekly instead of daily so I have marked the title as resolved.
Deceased? I'm so sorry. ;)

I am not at my Linux machine right now but I seem to remember I tried to see if I could set Timeshift to do its thing at, say, 2 AM, when I am not using the machine, but I could not find it and Timeshift always chose to do its thing when it was most annoying and disruptive. You would think this would be a very basic setting to provide for this sort of housekeeping job.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by Pjotr »

I recommend to re-think your Timeshift strategy even further. Practically nobody needs to have a higher frequency than monthly (with a retention of two):
https://easylinuxtipsproject.blogspot.c ... t.html#ID7
(item 7)

After all: what is Timeshift for? Recovery of a broken system. For that, a snapshot of one month old will do just as fine as one of one week old.

Getting your system up to date after the restoration, by means of Update Manager, is a cinch that takes very little time.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by GS3 »

I am not at my machine right now but I might have it monthly or more probably turned off completely. I seem to remember doing a manual "run it now" before doing some major program installation.

The most important thing is to have good backups of your data. In the worst case the OS can always be reinstalled.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing"

Post by antikythera »

I don't schedule Timeshift either. I run it before applying updates or adding a new program. That is to external media too, there's no point relying on the internal storage for snapshots. When the drive does die, you cannot restore from it.
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Re: Another Dell hard drive "thrashing" Resolved.

Post by Rusty Relic »

Hmm, deceased? that's what happened to the 15 year old Vostro 200 that also had the thrashing problem.
That's the downfall of spellcheck, 'deceased' is a legitimate word.
Thanks Everyone.
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