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I really do not know what is causing the problem of my desktop environment (D.E.) gradually slowing down. It seems to happen in Gnome 3.2, LXDE, XFCE, and KDE. I am running Ubuntu 11.10 and this problem started happening from a fresh install.

I have noticed that if I restart Gnome or otherwise re-log-in with any of the D.E.s the speed resets to normal. I don't seem to have and memory leaks that account for it and there are not any processes that are using excessive CPU cycles. Due to the symptoms I am guessing that there is an underlying package that interacts with all D.E.s that is the source of the problem.

Just to clarify, in extreme situations, if I let the slowdown continue without a restart of the D.E. my system will finally get to a point where everything, even my clock, freezes. The time over which Gnome slows down (noticeably after 17 hrs) is much less than LXDE, or XFCE but eventually they freeze as well. I didn't mention Unity since I haven't used it enough to verify the problem, but I don't see why it should be different.

Just in case this is relevant, I Suspend my computer rather than turn it off. I do this because of the greatly reduced load time and the 17 hrs I stated above is actual up-time, not time where the D.E. is actually active. However, the slow down does not seem to be affected by how long the computer has been in suspend mode.

I know that it is possible that this problem is due to an interaction between two or more of the applications that I use and as such it may not be able to be duplicated by others. In the end I am just wondering (a) are other people experiencing this issue and (b) does anyone have some advice on where to start looking for a solution if one is not already known. I am even open to the idea of switching to the beta release of 12.04 if anyone thinks it will solve the problem.

Edit: I took a video of my latest freeze that you can watch at, sorry about the audio.

Edit: Since that video I checked my memory for errors and tried installing the proprietary video drivers. No memory errors were found and the proprietary video drivers made the display unusable so I had to uninstall them. Any thoughts?

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Sounds more like hardware issue than a software issue, what's the health status of your hard drives? – Uri Herrera Mar 15 '12 at 21:09
I checked my hard drives health using Disk Utility and both drive are healthy. I have two drives because I use a raid 1 array. I checked their status using mdadm and on all three raid devices the "Superblock is persistent" and the status is "clean" so I don't think that is the issue. – user29165 Mar 15 '12 at 22:27
Take a look at my video of the problem at Hopefully that will clarify the situation. – user29165 Mar 16 '12 at 14:44
I'm seeing identical symptoms to @user29165. I've noticed that I can go several days sometimes and wonder if those are the times when I didn't launch Firebug at all. It seems to happen more quickly when I did. Even if I close everything and the resources appear to be released. Things don't pickup without logging out completely and back in. If I ignore it and keep working, I'll end up having to use SysRq to recover and sometimes, even that will fail. It's annoying having to close everything each time. There must be a way to diagnose this. Did you ever solve it @user29165? – Peter Snow Aug 11 '13 at 14:08
Peter I don't have anything written down about how I fixed the problem. I believe I wound up doing a reinstall to clean out my OS of conflicting packages. Once I did an upgrade to 12.04 I haven't seen those symptoms since. By the way, when I did the reinstall I made sure I put my home directory into a separate partition in case I had to do this again in the future. – user29165 Aug 12 '13 at 12:45

To diagnose this, I suggest you run top on a terminal. You can run two instances, one sorted by CPU usage (the default) and the other by memory usage. Keep an eye on memory used by applications, load average (if it increases constantly, the system will become very sluggish with values around 5), swap usage and the "wa" value in the CPU line that would indicate the amount of time a CPU is waiting for I/O.

the symptoms you describe suggest either a memory leak (which you say you don't have, could you detail how you determined this?), a CPU hog somewhere (this would lead to your fan spinning very noisily, you should notice this!), or possibly slowdown caused by the CPU overheating and going to a lower speed (if you don't notice your fan spinning up, it may be malfunctioning).

Disk problems like Uri Herrera mentions may also influence this, but if your disks are damaged to the point of causing a slowdown you'd see a lot of messages in /var/log/syslog about a failing sda. You can also look for this.

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When I first noticed the problem I installed conky to monitor memory and cpu consumption. I also installed a load monitor indicator and periodically open the system monitor to check for memory leaks. I did noticed two leaks previously, gnome-shell, and firefox. Gnome has since been patched (never using more than 120 mb) and I now only use chromium (which has stable memory usage) so these leaks are no longer a problem. I checked the syslog files and did not find evidence of disk failure. Hopefully I will spot something using top that I had manage to miss; I will let you know if I do. – user29165 Mar 15 '12 at 22:09
I ran top in two terminals until I had a crash and there was not any problem with memory consumption or excessive CPU usage. I made a video to the resulting crash. – user29165 Mar 17 '12 at 15:22

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