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For the past few days my computer has been revving its fans while not doing very much. I'm talking an instance of Firefox, gedit, few terminator windows and that's about it. I have conky running on my desktop and it tells me the following:

enter image description here

Worse than the noisy fans the power draw (about 50W if you'll believe our energy monitor) are the X lockups. The applications keep freezing and I'm trying to get work done. All this makes Oli a dull boy.

I was really confused that neither conky or htop were showing me a process but I've just run ps aux | sort -k 3 and I'm seeing a number of processes that look like they might be contributing to my pain:

root         6  0.0  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27   0:00 [migration/0]
root         7  0.0  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27   0:00 [migration/1]
root        11  0.0  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27   0:00 [migration/2]
root        14 2589903  0.0   0     0 ?        S    Nov27 21114581:29 [migration/3]
root        17 97.2  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27 11543:55 [migration/4]
root        26 97.7  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27 11601:34 [migration/7]
root        23 99.6  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27 11834:39 [migration/6]
root        20 99.7  0.0      0     0 ?        S    Nov27 11837:29 [migration/5]

What on earth are these migration things? More importantly, how can I kill them without nuking my system?

Edit: Other details. I run on nvidia graphics hardware using the closed-binary driver (from onereic-updates). I have and have recently used VirtualBox. It's an Intel motherboard chipset and processor. I have a dmraid-based SSD and a mdraid-based storage "cluster" (where most of my profile lives). If you need more, just poke me.

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Did you actually try to kill them? :P –  jrg Dec 5 '11 at 23:08
    
@jrg I've been tempted. –  Oli Dec 5 '11 at 23:17
    
Found a bug with this same description with vino server, care to kill it and check if CPU usage goes down? (is it even active in your system?) –  Bruno Pereira Dec 5 '11 at 23:23
    
@BrunoPereira Not running Vino. That would have been a nice simple fix :) –  Oli Dec 5 '11 at 23:24

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

You can't, the threads you are seeing are kernel threads responsible for moving threads between CPUs.

They are part of the Kernel scheduler and are not responsible for the pain you are having.

(I know that this not answer why you are having pain in the first place, more to that later.)

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While they might not be the deepest cause, them using as much CPU as they are is part of the issue. I've run ps aux | sort -k 3 | grep migration on my servers and migration threads are running but don't peak above 0.0% of CPU. I need to know why the kernel is bouncing processes around so I can stop it. –  Oli Dec 5 '11 at 23:22
    
Working on it ;) –  Bruno Pereira Dec 5 '11 at 23:23

I found the cause of the migration chaos.

A little while ago I was getting frustrated with gnome-do not staying alive. So I wrote this in my start up entries:

bash -c "while true; do gnome-do; done"

Turns out rather than running once that just keeps trying to spawn over and over and over again. I guess gnome-do forks out rather than blocks.

I found this by just going through every user process I have and nuking it. It wasn't using any CPU itself but it looked fishy.

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