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I normally choose Ubuntu over Windows because speed and stability is something that's important to me.

However, recently Ubuntu has been slower than Windows for me. I use two systems -- one netbook (for writing), and one Desktop (for production) -- that I've been using since Karmic Koala, and never formatted ever since; for ever release, I simply upgraded the OS and now I'm on Precise Pangolin. A lot of reviews say that Precise boosts performance of the system, but for me it's gotten slower than ever -- both the interface performance AND The startup.

I also did a bit of cleanup, removing unwanted software and clearing the start-up menu, but that doesn't seem to help at all. On the netbook, I chose Unity2D, but even that has been buggy and slow for me. Along with slowness, I have also been experiencing other problems, though that is probably wise to keep for another question (the problems include repository errors, wacom pressure breakage, etc.)

Any way I could speed the system up without the need to format it?

Desktop: AMD Athlon x2, 3GB RAM DDR2, 9600gt GeForce Netbook: HP Mini, Intel Atom, 1GB RAM.


chu@chu-laptop:~$ top -Sbn1 | head -n20
top - 11:57:06 up 51 min,  1 user,  load average: 3.03, 2.00, 2.71
Tasks: 173 total,   1 running, 172 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s): 44.4%us, 13.5%sy,  5.7%ni, 26.4%id,  9.8%wa,  0.0%hi,  0.2%si,  0.0%st
Mem:    988880k total,   914836k used,    74044k free,    37056k buffers
Swap:  1951860k total,   160424k used,  1791436k free,   340268k cached

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND            
   28 root      20   0     0    0    0 S    3  0.0   0:15.08 kswapd0            
20577 chu       20   0  2832 1148  864 R    3  0.1   0:00.06 top                
 4273 chu       20   0  862m 138m  23m S    2 14.3  18:13.77 firefox            
 5903 chu       20   0  214m  26m  11m S    2  2.7   6:41.92 plugin-containe    
20321 chu       20   0  227m  16m  11m S    2  1.7   0:02.53 gnome-terminal    
    1 root      20   0  3644 1280  612 S    0  0.1   6:15.79 init              
    2 root      20   0     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 kthreadd          
    3 root      20   0     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:10.98 ksoftirqd/0        
    6 root      RT   0     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 migration/0        
    8 root      RT   0     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 migration/1        
   10 root      20   0     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:13.35 ksoftirqd/1        
   13 root       0 -20     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 cpuset            
   14 root       0 -20     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 khelper  

chu@chu-laptop:~$ dstat 60 5
You did not select any stats, using -cdngy by default.
----total-cpu-usage---- -dsk/total- -net/total- ---paging-- ---system--
usr sys idl wai hiq siq| read  writ| recv  send|  in   out | int   csw
 47  13  29  10   0   0|1072k  238k|   0     0 |  18k   44k|1175  2299
 16   6  64  14   0   0|1224k   89k| 440B  471B|6622B 2048B| 890  1801
 37  10  50   3   0   0| 199k   65k|  15k 2660B|  10k    0 |1175  2134
 35   9  47   9   0   0|1207k   97k| 592B  302B|  28k   95k|1255  2105
 26  10  14  49   0   0|1985k  645k|1049B  575B|  54k  635k|1295  2133  missed 8
 49  11  36   4   0   0| 367k   37k|  24k 1910B|  58k    0 |1129  1969
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top -Sbn1 | head -n20 Please add the output to your question. sudo apt-get install dstat to install a small monitoring utility. dstat 60 5 wait five minutes for the command to complete and also add the output to your question. –  jippie May 1 '12 at 19:59
it's always better to make a clean install, performance and stability may improve. I haven't made a clean install since 11.04 was released. Now it takes 2 minutes to start the computer. –  Alvar May 6 '12 at 22:08
12.04 is just really slow. Im going back to 10.04 Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Here google dox with speed comparisment bit.ly/KxCEg5 –  Kangarooo May 7 '12 at 5:22
Jippie mine TOP and gstat pastebin.com/jpFh8uru –  Kangarooo May 8 '12 at 7:09
@jippie: When using Firefox (often with just two tabs, with no plugins), with the only other application on being Nautilus, I often get 95% CPU usage on System Monitor. I'm actually considering switching to Lubuntu or something... Here's the output: pastebin.com/f5AXk1LV –  Tushant M May 24 '12 at 6:51
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5 Answers

You could add some options to the fstab, such as noatime, which improve hard drive performance. The effect of this, however, is quite small. What does make quite a difference, as I see your desktop computer has a relatively generous amount of RAM, is to install preload. Just type:

sudo apt-get install preload

in the Terminal. This wil load often-used data in RAM, so load times improve. I did happen to notice 12.04 is a little slower on my computer as well, but I'm not sure if that's due to the system itself or the fact I switched to btrfs as filesystem.

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I guess Preload might help improve the performance on Desktop (Note: I do plenty of video editing and other media that require a lot of RAM), but what would you suggest on Intel Atom (1GB RAM) with Unity2D? –  Tushant M May 24 '12 at 6:25
Nice! That's strange though, I thought preload was introduced in 7.something and I assumed it was part of every release after? Why does it have to be installed now? –  NoBugs Jun 26 '12 at 3:45
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I just upgraded my 11.10, and experienced a big performance drop, especially in games.

I searched a bit and it struck my mind that I had experienced the same performance drop after upgrading to 11.10 from 11.04, and I solved it by turning off the fancy visual effects. It worked this time too!

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I actually use the default effects and don't change much. Even on Netbook, I'm running Unity2D which doesn't have any settings to disable "fancy visual effects". –  Tushant M May 24 '12 at 6:23
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Doing the CUBE is a huge drain on my system, I say leave ubuntu as is and dont add the visual effects to your system. Go back and change that back to the default and that should speed things up real fast.

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I see a lot waitio, both in top (9.8%wa) and in dstat (up to 49%). I also see you have swap in use, possibly being the reason for the high iowait numbers. Your machine is slow because it is waiting for the swapping memory to and from disk.

You have only 1GB installed RAM, that is a bit low for a full blown Ubuntu install. Adding memory to your system will help, or consider using a lighter distribution (Lubuntu/Xubuntu/... I don't know them all).

Using lighter applications (eg. instead of Firefox) will also help.

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My eee PC works well with 11.10 but it as 2Gb RAM. I advise you to upgrade RAM to use latest versions of Ubuntu on a Netbook.

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3gigs ram is more than enough for Ubuntu. –  Mahesh Jun 17 '12 at 14:28
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protected by Community Aug 26 '12 at 14:38

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