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On my desktop at home, a 2008 Vaio w/4GB RAM and dual core processor running 12.04 LTS, I've been experiencing of late a perceived performance degradation. It's most apparent at startup but it's also noticeable when working with/on (JS, mainly) the browser (especially, Chrome but also Firefox). My system is up to date but it includes (for sure) thousands of programs which are not used very often.

I've read a thread about this issue but it looked pretty old and it didn't address the LTS vs normal distro stuff.

So, my questions are:

  1. Does an installation (and I mean a LTS one, of course) gradually degrades its performance over time even when it's regularly updated? If so, why?
  2. Is there any actual difference between a clean install and an upgrade in the case of a LTS distro? If so, how would installing (lots of) new software after the system is working could affect its preformance?
  3. How to recognise the signs showing that it might well be the time to invest on a new computer?

Thanks in advance,


P.S. In case of carrying out a clean installation, is there any way of ending up with basically the same software base you had before?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by karel, Alvar, psusi, waltinator, Eric Carvalho Jun 15 '14 at 16:55

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

One good test is to create a new user and test with a clean home, that way you can determine if its the OS or your local data that is causing problems. – NGRhodes Jun 13 '14 at 11:54
I'm sorry to disagree with you on the terms of your own reason to put my question on hold: your reason is based on opinion (the fact that the answers will tend to be so is something that cannot be foretold unless it is your opinion, call it experience, who is talking). So, your reason for carrying out your action is no better than the evil you are trying to avoid. For instance, there could've been a discussion on how to measure SO performance and what are the parameters to be taken into account. Furthermore, @NGRhodes gave a couple of very useful answers, and I accepted one of them! – nmizar Jun 16 '14 at 10:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. An installation should not gradually degrade, if your software is reliable (no bugs). Slow downs in my experience are generally down to issues with specific pieces of software and usually fixable without the need to reinstall.
  2. If you do a full wipe you would get a clean new home. Pending bugs in the upgrade process you should not have any difference with installed software. You don't need to do a full wipe to clean your home out.
  3. There are no Ubuntu specific signs. When tasks that you normally do take too long that would be acceptably faster on a newer machine.

You can backup the list of installed software on your machine - Best way to backup all settings, list of installed packages, tweaks, etc? has all the steps required.

share|improve this answer
Thanks a lot for your explanation, Mr. Rhodes. BTW, and as a kind of follow-up, a (big) part of my perception is caused by Chrome gobbling up most of my CPU time and spawning threads to the likes of schools of fish at the least. To the best of your knowledge, is there any way to improve the browser's performance (such as increasing its available memory or something)? Thanks again. – nmizar Jun 13 '14 at 13:29
Sorry I do not use Chrome much, you are best asking a separate question (after searching to see if an answer does not already exist). – NGRhodes Jun 13 '14 at 13:34

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