Ubuntu: How to remove hdd usage for small tasks?



Question:

This is really a problem for me. It makes me feel that other people use some kind of program to deal with it. Can you share your info? I came from Windows and after 4 months on ubuntu still don't know everything about ecosystem.

Edit 1: This is the output of the command:

            total        used         free        shared     buff/cache  available  Mem:        6110296      3250216      163420       74136     2696660     2447380  Swap:       10239996        3232      10236764  

I still hear hdd usage while switching languages. It uses hard drive too much when I interact with menu, search for a program or just switch input languages

Edit 2: I mean switching keyboard input languages by pressing ctrl+shift. Pressing winkey/super(?) key to open dash menu and so on, similar small tasks like opening context menu.


Solution:1

Yes, Ubuntu, like all Linux distributions, uses hard drive cache. If memory isn't needed for anything else, it is made available for cache. The more other things are dememding memory, the less cache is available.

The behaviour you are describing sounds like a low memory environment. You can see what your memory is doing by opening a terminal window and using the command $ free:

free                total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available  Mem:        2048012      624604      511328       17272      912080     1223204  Swap:       2097148           0     2097148  

The above is Ubuntu 16.04 running on a virtual machine (through VirtualBox) with 2GB RAM and 2GB swap space assigned. You can see that 912MB are being used for cache and buffers. This memory is also included in the "available" category. So as memory usage goes up compared with available memory, the ammount cached will go down and swap usage will start going up. Once you start using a significant amount of swap, then you will notice a lot of hard drive access when you do things. This is what leads me to believe your system is low on memory for what you are doing.


Solution:2

6 GB of RAM is more than enough to run Ubuntu 16.04 comfortably assuming your CPU and GPU are up to snuff as they probably are with that much RAM.

In your case HDD thrashing occurs when switching languages which effects many files. In many cases you have to log out and back in again for all changes to take effect and it's not something people would do frequently through out the day.

A better test of caching is to open the System Settings icon from the Launcher. The first time might take you 15 seconds, but subsequent times would take you 5 seconds.

Installing a whole new language/locale is not a good example of caching IMO.


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