Less responsive, shorter battery life than XP?

Discussion in 'Linux' started by JimmiG, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. JimmiG

    JimmiG

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    I recently switched to Ubuntu after having used TinyXP almost since I got the AAO (I hated the default Linpus OS and only used it for a few days).

    So far there's a lot to like about it. It feels more modern than the ancient XP, the netbook launcher is very stylish and the application picker and maximus are perfect for the 8.9" screen. Getting almost any program installed with a few clicks instead of searching all over Google for some shareware, then praying it doesn't install spyware etc. is also refreshing.

    I have done most of the basic tweaks, like those available here and here, and I've also switched to the sickboy kernel. WLan, sound etc. are working perfectly.

    I have two "problems", which I think are related. I also don't think they're problems as such, as there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the system. Everything seems to be working correctly.

    Firefox feels more sluggish than it did under XP. Bringing up a complex page with lots of flash etc. seems to take slightly longer, and scrolling through such a page is really sluggish. If you open several tabs with such pages, the browser becomes virtually unusable. Under XP, Firefox was still usable under those conditions, though performance obviously wasn't great (it's just an Atom CPU after all).
    It's not a SSD issue since there's no drive activity once a page has loaded. It's also not a RAM issue, there's no paging to disk. Also, I'm actually experiencing the same thing with Firefox on my desktop system - it's faster and more responsive in Vista than in Ubuntu, especially when scrolling through complex pages. However since the desktop system is much faster than the AAO, the difference isn't nearly as noticeable. Either Firefox is simply slower when running under Linux, or I've missed some setting or tweak that might improve performance. Maybe it's only the flash plugin that's slower since pages with lots of Flash animations in them seem to be the least responsive. On the other hand, Flash has always been more demanding than just regular text and images.

    The second "problem", which i think is related to the first, is battery life. If I do a lot of browsing, battery life seems to be at least 20-25 minutes shorter than under XP. I'm thinking that this might be because of the higher CPU load due to Firefox being so slow and unresponsive. It might also be because some power saving features aren't enabled. For example, in XP, sound is completely turned off if not used for a few seconds (you can hear an audible click when this happens). I'm not sure whether Ubuntu does this. Also I haven't found any options for WLan power saving, a feature which can add 15 minutes of battery life to XP.

    I would really like to keep using Ubuntu (or another Linux distro), but battery life is also important to me and the difference is quite significant. Any ideas how it can be improved and how Firefox can be made as responsive as it was under XP?
     
    JimmiG, Feb 27, 2009
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  2. JimmiG

    diggmc

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    Hi JimmiG,

    I added the following lines to my /etc/rc.local file

    ---[cut here]---
    echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
    echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
    echo 70 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ondemand/up_threshold
    echo 70 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/ondemand/up_threshold
    echo 500000 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ondemand/sampling_rate
    echo 500000 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/ondemand/sampling_rate
    ---[cut here]---

    This lowers the threshold for the cpu to switch to high-speed, I find that by doing this, scrolling in Firefox is a lot smoother. The the trade off is that because the cpu switches to high-speed more often, the battery life will be lowered. Personally I use my AAO at work so plugging it in is no problem and I prefer a smoother ride with Firefox.

    Gord

    PS: issue the command "sudo chmod 755 /etc/rc.local" (no quotes) to make the rc.local executable.
     
    diggmc, Feb 27, 2009
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  3. JimmiG

    JimmiG

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    I think I've found the problem. After I connected my 22" monitor to the AAO, it created a virtual desktop with the size of both displays added together, ie. 2704x1650. When I disconnected the monitor, this virtual desktop somehow remained, even after many shutdowns and reboots, even though I could only use and see 1024x600 pixels of it. However it seems simply having the "virtual ..." line in xorg.conf was putting a burden on the CPU and/or GPU. Moving around a simple terminal window left traces behind for a second etc.

    I had it generate a new xorg.conf file and the system was suddenly much more responsive. Moving around a terminal window is completely smooth and even displaying complex pages works quite well. Haven't checked whether this also increases battery life but it should since the videocard and CPU do less work now.
     
    JimmiG, Mar 1, 2009
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  4. JimmiG

    rubberglove

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    I use my AAO with my 22 inch external monitor all the time, and I can't say I've noticed the unresponsiveness you describe.
    However, I set my 'virtual display' size to 1680x1650 (i.e. 1680 wide by (1050+800) tall), with one screen located above the other. It's a little less intuitive having them laid out that way (since the screens are physically side by side), but it keeps the display size below 2048 in each dimension.

    If I understand correctly, the display size on the integrated graphics chip is really limited to 2048x2048 -- beyond that, funny things may happen.
     
    rubberglove, Mar 1, 2009
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  5. JimmiG

    JimmiG

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    I'm not sure what happened.. Like I said, I was unable to actually use the virtual desktop, it was just "there". So there was something funny going on indeed.
    Anyway it's good to know that if you're experiencing somewhat sluggish video performance, re-generating the xorg.conf file might help.
     
    JimmiG, Mar 1, 2009
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  6. JimmiG

    Andysan

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    I find that Ubuntu can generally be quite sluggish too with stock 8GB/512MB (although still more than usable). I've installed XFCE and now things are a lot faster, but thats not a solution as far as i'm concerned.
     
    Andysan, Mar 1, 2009
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  7. JimmiG

    JimmiG

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    Yeah, it's still not the fastest machine in the world, but now that the graphics performance problems have been solved I find performance to be quite acceptable for my needs :) Not really worse than XP, although battery life is still somewhat worse. I think it's due to no WLan power saving so I'll try to get that working next.
     
    JimmiG, Mar 3, 2009
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