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I just upgraded to 11.10 and while there are a few problems that seem like they might have gone away (about 50% of the time I couldn't boot properly - haven't seen that happen yet), occasionally my computer slows to such a crawl as to be unusable.

This seems to be at least somewhat related to chromium as killing tabs does make it get a bit better, but I have 8 gig RAM! Sure I dedicate 4gb to a virtualbox vm, but the remaining 4 should be plenty. So keeping an eye on my system resources I see it pretty consistently looking like this: All my memory is used!

And this is with only 3 chrome tabs alive, chat, and nothing else really running. Is this normal? What steps do I take to trace down issues? I'm primarily a windows/web developer with at best a tenuous understanding of Unix.

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2 Answers 2

There is (Most times) a problem called memory leak in programs. Browsers like Chrome, Opera, IE, Firefox and others are known for this (Firefox was the king of it until recent versions). Leaving Chrome/Chromium, even without doing anything on them after checking several pages will slowly start to increase the memory usage for "no apparent recent". The memory leak increases or has a bigger chance to increase (And increase faster) if the application you use uses more memory. In your case you have also Virtualbox and even if I set virtualbox to a guest of 1GB, about 30 minutes later you will see that the 1GB just went to 1.2GB, then 1.4GB and so on. This is just common bugs that need fixing. The same goes for Nautilus and any other app that has a lot of activity.

Would be nice to know how long you had them opened. If it is less than an hour then there might be something really wrong there but if it is more then am sorry but it is something I have adapted to. Normally I close virtualbox every so often. Same for browsers.

This might not explain an almost 100% drain but if given enough time it will be the first reason.

Would also be nice to see top output, if you are using PAE on a 32 Bit Ubuntu with 8GB Ram or a 64 Bit and any other tools loading in the background.

INFO - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_leak (Did not know the actual term Memory Leak existed. I thought I have made the name up.)

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Not if the developers run the applications through tools like valgrind. –  Nathan Osman Oct 18 '11 at 1:50
    
I'm more of a managed-memory guy: .Net, Ruby, Php, but I've gone to Mordor (c++) often enough to be aware of memory leaks. I rarely keep stuff open for more than 2 days - mostly because due to crashes. But jeez, if that's what's going on then I guess the solution would be not to use vbox on ubuntu. Still, this is something that has become far more pronounced since upgrading to 11.10 yesterday so I am suspicious that there is some interplay going on there that my unix-fu is nowhere near enough to diagnose. What is top? What is PAE? I am on a 64 bit system –  George Mauer Oct 18 '11 at 2:01
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Top is a terminal command. type top to see it. In general it tells you about running processes and resource usage. PAE is a small technology to overcome a 32Bit limit of 4GB of ram. Basically to have a 32 Bit architecture use more than 4GB. For the correct answer you need to test each program and see who is the guilty one. –  Luis Oct 18 '11 at 2:17

Use the task manager (Wrench tool > View background pages, or press [Shift-Esc]) to view the memory usage of individual tabs and extensions. Close any tabs and disable any extensions that are using excessive memory, or, for which the memory usage is growing (memory leak).

Also note that recent versions of the Chrome will use memory in the background even after closing all windows. In order to close Chrome completely, select Exit from the wrench menu.

Reference: http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1184722

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