Ubuntu optimisation

OK, first week really working with the X200s ThinkPad and Ubuntu (12.04, but really the development branch as the installer was broken in 12.04LTS). Two days of event note taking – this is great! 6 hours battery life, eye-kind matt screen, wonderful IBM keyboard. Really snappy.

Import some of my data, slurp down and index my GMail. And…it’s a dog. As in slower than OpenSUSE/KDE4 on the five-year old Sammy Q45. Specifically, the hard disk is pegged all the time, churning away, cutting the battery life by 50% and keeping it nonresponsive all the damn time. Kswapd is the biggest churner, but Firefox is at it, too, and it doesn’t stop when Thunderbird isn’t running. It’s as if having data in the home directory was a problem in itself.

Also, although there is a lot of swapping going on, half the available swap space never seems to be touched. I theorise that this is because the home partition is encrypted; the crypt swap is fully utilised and the noncrypt swap empty. Anyway, it looks like I’ll have to do a substantial repartitioning exercise, which might as well be a re-install as you can’t alter the partition you’re running from.

(Slightly annoying: Ubuntu’s installer defaults to putting / and /home/ in the same partition, OpenSUSE’s gives you separate system and data partitions by default.)

3 Comments on "Ubuntu optimisation"

  1. You didn’t mention how much memory you had. Also, if you’ve just thrown a bunch of files at your home directory, then it could be the indexer running in the back ground, trying to catch up.

    Have just done something similar: Fedora 17 (gnome3, 64bit, encrypted home and swap) on a £50 X61. Scrounged 4GB or memory from spare machines, popped in a 120GB SSD (£65 from Dabs), now running sweet as you like. Firefox doesn’t leak, everything snappy, boots in 15 seconds. Very pleasant machine.


    1. 2GB. Also, what “indexer” are we talking about? I got used to doing without desktop search after KDE broke Kerry Beagle in favour of Akonadi “it’s coming…real soon now”.

      Anyway, I reorganised the HDD to provide 2x 3GB swaps, moved the main ext4 partition. It’s a bit better but it’s still sucking power and the disk is still continuously hammered. jbd2 is usually going like mad. Turning up the VM writeback seems to improve things, but powertop always wants doing again. And once things fuck up, the GUI just doesn’t come back.

      Also, you speak of £50 X61s. This is a £750 X200s.


      1. It’s horrifying to the kind of person who has been involved with Linux any length of time, but now it’s very much a modern operating system along the lines of OS X. As such 2GB probably is the root of the problem. 4GB would make a big difference…


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