Ubuntu: Why is my system becoming gradually slower and how should I fix it?


I've noticed that the more time passes since I installed the system the more unresponsive it gets. Booting up takes for ever, login screen loads slow, logging in takes about 3-4 seconds, when first launching dash it takes about 4-5 seconds until it shows up and I don't even want to mention starting up apps.. another thing I have noticed is that the responsiveness of the system degrades as it's running.

In its current state, booting from an USB stick will actually take less time than booting from the HDD and the live environment is much more responsive. It used to be the opposite.

Any thoughts?


I run Ubuntu on a Dell Inspiron N7010. This is its configuration:

CPU: Intel i5 460M CPU @ 2530MHz  DDR: 3GB DDR3 @ 1333MHz  HDD: 500GB HDD @ 5400RPM  Video card: AMD Radeon Mobility 5470 @ 1024MB  

Partition scheme:

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes  255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors  Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes  Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes  I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes  Disk identifier: 0x000a0077    Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System  /dev/sda1   *        2048    99999743    49998848   83  Linux  /dev/sda2       100001790   976771071   438384641    5  Extended  /dev/sda5       100001792   102000639      999424   82  Linux swap / Solaris  /dev/sda6       102002688   976771071   437384192   83  Linux  

I've also attached the image generated by bootchart: http://i.stack.imgur.com/6ABGq.png

UPDATE(Aug 29):

I have found a bottle neck and a fix to the sluggish and degrading performance issue. Over time, some memory was being put in the swap file and whenever a program needed to use some of that information everything would basically go to hell due to the low HDD speed. To fix this I had set the vm.swappiness value in /etc/sysctl.conf to 5 in order to make it swap only when absolutely necessary.

I am still looking for ways to improve the bootup speed tough.


Have you thought the possibility of malware running on your pc, or a stray service or daemon being a cpu cycle resource hog? Have you tried using top for the above reason?

Apart from that how much memory does your system have, and what is your cpu? Maybe your hardware may not be fully capable of supporting the os as it is. Consider using free -m and include the output in your question.

Also, even if you perform a clean install of the OS, it tends to get somehow bloated for the average user. Consider removing packages you don't think you will use. To view what packages are installed in your computer, use dpkg -l, and remove unnecessary packages with sudo apt-get remove <package_name>


Have you installed the binary driver for your Ati graphics card? If not this may speed up the desktop quite a bit rather than using the open-source one included in Ubuntu...

Also, try using Unity 2D and see how that fairs with opening of programs and such just incase it IS a graphics issue... (Additional Drivers will let you install above binary driver for your device)...

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
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