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Friday, November 11, 2011

What you can do if your Linux is slow, or not responding well...

I am under no illusions that Linux is a perfect Operating system. I personally believe that no matter what operating system you choose, you will have problems. I believe that the more information that a user has, the smoother the experience that user will have.

What I am going to try to explain today is what I do if my Linux based Operating system freezes. What I mean by freezes is stop responding to user input, and stop giving feed-back to the user.

My favorite Linux distro's are debian/Ubuntu based. For example ubuntu, mint, pinguy, or backtrack for example. Although the reason for this problem whether using Linux or windows is the same. Basically the reason is that you don't have enough memory in your PC for what you are trying to do.

In windows this is the cause for the infamous "Not Responding" error. On my Ubuntu computers the screen will darken/lighten to show that a PC is busy doing something. This happens quite often when I am using my net-book, because unfortunately I only have a single gigabyte of memory.

Obviously a pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So if you know that your a bit scatter-brained like me, then you should try to think of how much tabs you have open that you don't need. Also you might need to do some research to find out if your computer is capable of a memory upgrade. Or you could get a SSD(Solid State Drive).

With all that said if your computer is starting to lock up on a regular basis, you need to be prepared. There are several programs that can get you back in control of your PC. The most common on a Linux system are the shutdown & xkill programs.

I usually use these from the command line, because even if the GUI(graphical user interface) isn't responding; you can always to a tty terminal session.

in Linux  the easiest way to move to a tty is to use the shortcut:

 ctrl. + alt. + F2.
(Although you could substitute F3-F5)

You can always get back into the graphical console b entering:
ctrl. + Alt. + F7.

Once you enter a tty session your first step before you can do anything, will be to login with your user name/password. Once this is accomplished you will see some text followed by a $ sign. The $ sign means that you are logged in as a standard user. That simply means that you will have to enter "sudo" before any command that requires administrator access, and type your password. Both xkill and shutdown require root(administrator) level access.

Now if you want to shutdown, &/or restart your system you will need to use one of these commands:

$ sudo shutdown -h now
(shuts down the PC right away)

helpful if your packing up your laptop that won't shut down.

orlinux cli system information

$ sudo shutdown -r 5
(reboots the system in 5 minutes time)

now the xkill program is for aborting programs, that are causing your system to slow down or crash. This program can be used from the run menu, or a tty session. If possible it is preferred, and easier to use the run menu to use xkill.

step one>

alt. + F2 = enter run prompt
 This is what my run dialog looks like in Ubuntu 11.10.

step two>

sudo xkill.
(although you won't need the sudo, unless you are trying to stop a program that has root(administrator) access. An example of a program that would have root access would be a software manager, or update manager.

This command will pop up a small x that you can move w/ your mouse. When you get the "x" over the program you want to kill, just Left click it. Nine times out of ten this will kill the process.

On rare occasions you won't be able to get the run dialog. In this case the easiest way to kill an offending program is to use the "top" program. Top is a system monitor, that is similar to MS Windows task manager, but from the terminal.

This is what my top program looks like running in a graphical terminal session. 

After entering the top command into a terminal, you will notice a blinking cursor towards the top of the process listing. If you want to kill a program like firefox. If say firefox's PID(process IDentifier) were 1234, you would type:



then either enter for the default 15 kill, or 9 for a more abrupt stop.

There is a ton more that you can do w/ the top command, but for now I will settle for teaching you how to kill an unresponsive program that is dragging your box down.

There you have it. A way to make sure that you are the one in control of your PC while using Linux. I know that the best thing to do might be to go for a coffee break, and patiently wait for your computer to finish what it is doing. Especially if it is installing/un-installing software, or updating your Operating system. I hope this Blog post has made you feel a little more in control, and more empowered in your adventures in Linux.

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