May 7th, 2008
Following on from my initial report about Hardy, I have another grumble: Firefox 3.0 beta 5 comes with Hardy, but has significant performance issues due to some problems with some internal databases. I’m not sure, but I expect 3.0 beta 5 is the default version of Firefox that gets installed with Hardy. People that did a clean install can perhaps tell me if it is. These problems appear periodically after using Firefox for some days. The bug that is hitting me is: “Committing to urlclassifier3.sqlite causes excessive CPU usage and disk I/O.”
This bug causes very heavy disk I/O which renders Firefox temporarily but completely unresponsive for a number of seconds or sometimes about a minute or more (or so it seems – I haven’t timed it). It is highly annoying and inconvenient. It also impedes various other applications as they struggle for disk air. A workaround is described in the bug report, but given I have at least 8 accounts on various Ubuntu machines here, I’ll probably just wait for the update. I seems strange that Firefox 3.0 was the default for an LTS release.
It took me quite a while to track down, as it seems that this nasty problem is not widely reported yet. In the process, I discovered atop. Installing and running the atop tool and hitting ‘d’ (presumably for “disk”) soon showed the culprit. Some Googling then found the bug report. Before that I’d tried removing trackerd and various other disk hogs to find out what was making my disk thrash.
On the Wacom tablet front, I still haven’t solved that problem. I’ve tried the procedure here: “HOWTO: Wacom in 8.04 Hardy” but it was unsuccessful. I may try again from scratch.
Finally, I can report that my RT61 wireless card has worked perfectly since I installed linux-backports-modules-hardy as mentioned in my last Ubuntu item. This card has never worked properly under Linux before, so I’m very pleased.