In The Armchair

Ubuntu and Whizzytex

Posted in Computers by Armchair Guy on February 9, 2009

I have an earlier post in which I pointed out that whizzytex was causing emacs to freeze intermittently.  After a lot of searching and a bit of system tool use (specifically, iotop) I think I’ve pinpointed the problem (but not solved it yet).

It looks like the problem is not with Whizzytex at all, but related to known a known bug in Firefox and/or Tracker and/or Google Desktop.  Or maybe something about the way fsync() and kjournald interact.  These programs access disk a lot, which is what was causing the delays.  Apparently this is compounded because Firefox 3 issues a large number of calls to fsync(), which in turn causes kjournald and pdflush to activate on a regular basis.  This is what sometimes ties up the disk for a second or two.

A potential solution is to tell firefox to do asynchronous updation of history and bookmarks, and use a ramdisk for the Firefox cache.  I tried this and also disabled tracker and gdl_indexer indexing, but I’m not sure it’s helping yet.

Update (Feb 25, 2009):

Fixed!  I am fairly sure that google desktop was one of the factors behind the annoying slowdowns.  I am not sure which (if any) of the other issues (firefox and tracker) was responsible.  But if I disable all three, I don’t see the delays any more.  I’ve been freeze-free for about 3 weeks now!  I like google desktop, so I simply disable indexing before starting whizzytex and re-enable it after.

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