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  • Long Mint Boot Times

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      • #2371737
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        I have an old Gateway netbook with an Atom processor, 1 GB Ram, and 250 GB HDD. It’s set up to dual boot Win 7 Starter (32 bit) and Mint 19.2 Cinnamon (64 bit). Not exactly a racehorse system, but until about last March it did a respectable job running both OSs.

        In March, it started taking about 6 to 7 minutes to boot Mint to my usual desktop. Then it would take an additional 15 to 20 minutes before it was actually usable. During all of this time the HDD activity indicator light is on constantly – no flickering at all, just constant light. During the 15 to 20 minute period the touchpad controlled cursor is erratic, variably responsive and basically unusable, hence making the computer unusable.

        Some observations:

        1) I have managed to open the system monitor but it shows only Cinnamon running.

        2) When the computer starts after being off for about 12 hours (plus or minus about 2 hours) the above problem presents, but if the computer starts before about 12 hours of off time the above problem doesn’t present; Mint boots normally in about 2 minutes to a working/usable state.

        3) When the above problem presents, the log (from Logs on the start menu) has a message that says Flatpak system helper failed to start. The time stamp on this message is about 7 to 8 minutes after I turn the computer on. When the above problem doesn’t present, the Flatpak message is absent.

        4) Win 7 always boots fine.

        5) Both OSs work fine after booting up – less than 2 minutes for Win 7 and after either 2 minutes or about 25 minutes, depending on whether the Flatpak system helper either didn’t or did fail to start, for Mint.

        6) I wasn’t paying enough attention to be able to correlate the problem with a patch or update. The first time I noticed the long boot time, I just shrugged, turned the computer off and then on again, and consistent with the above description, it worked fine. I used it for a few days, always starting it before the “magical” 12 hour elapsed time, then set it aside for a couple weeks, and by that time didn’t have much chance of correlating the issue with a specific patch.

        So it seems that Flatpak has something to do with my issue, but I haven’t found any information on the internet, and I’m at a loss as to what to do.

        If anyone is wondering why I’m trying to fix an old laptop, I have a few reasons. I don’t like throwing away or recycling old computers if I can salvage them, and this computer is small, light, well built, and tough, making it a good computer to move around with. My plan is to maybe add another GB of RAM and to definitely replace the HDD with an SSD, since right now the performance bottlenecks seem to be loading programs into memory.

        Thanks for reading. Suggestions are appreciated.

      • #2371740
        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        Have you looked at the logs? I think the answer will be found in there.

         

        Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.4 User Edition)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2371745
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          Yep, in 3) above I mention that the log says Flatpak system helper failed to start. When I click on that it says the log message was sent by systemd and that the flatpak system helper service failed to start.

          The exact wording is “Failed to start flatpak system helper” and “Unit flatpak-system-helper.service has failed”.

          The message is there when there’s a long boot time and it’s not there when the boot time is normal. Presence/absence of the message is the only difference in the “Important” logs for normal boot times and long boot times. I haven’t compared the “All” logs category since there appear to be several hundred entries in them.

      • #2371763
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        My plan is to maybe add another GB of RAM and to definitely replace the HDD with an SSD, since right now the performance bottlenecks seem to be loading programs into memory.

        If your plan is to keep that netbook running, I would add RAM & SSD. Those two items are the best bang for the buck as far as performance goes!

        Plus, you did mention that the HDD light stays on continuously when the symptoms occur. It could be software related, but adding hardware capacity might rule that out. At least money spent on a SSD is not wasted, as you can deploy that elsewhere. Upgraded my laptop to SSD, and it was like getting a whole new computer! Boots in seconds!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2371846
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          I half-heartedly looked for RAM a month ago but didn’t find any. I replaced the HDD with an SSD on an old HP laptop, and as you say, I noticed a stunning difference. I was hoping to solve the current problem before putting a new SSD in, but maybe I should do it the other way around: new SSD, clone the Win 7 over to it, then reinstall Mint and see what happens.

      • #2371878
        Sandro
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hi @DrBonzo,

        Based on sentence:

        2) When the computer starts after being off for about 12 hours (plus or minus about 2 hours) the above problem presents, but if the computer starts before about 12 hours of off time the above problem doesn’t present; Mint boots normally in about 2 minutes to a working/usable state.

        I would like to make a wild guess: perhaps there is an application performing refresh of “its database”. I have had similar problem when I installed a DLNA server on a machine similar to yours running Mint 19.2 xfce (which is lighter than the Cinnamon version). From time to time it refreshed my collection of .mp3 music. The machine became totally erratic, with sky-high boot times. The problem was not on the Operating System though but on an application.

        I kindly suggest you to have a look at the installed applications at Software Manager and check it there is any application that might perform such rescan from time to time.

         

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2371886
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          Good idea. Off the top I can’t think of anything but I’ll check

      • #2371976
        anonymous
        Guest

        ? says:

        maybe look at the boot times?

        systemd-analyze (time)

        systemd-analyze blame

        systemd-analyze critical-chain

        on my 18.04 lts:

        >systemd-analyze
        Startup finished in 3.922s (kernel) + 49.522s (userspace) = 53.444s
        graphical.target reached after 12.657s in userspace

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2372367
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        I haven’t solved my problem but I have learned some possibly useful facts.

        Since I was getting a message in my logs that Flatpak system helper was failing to start, I toggled Flatpak to off in my Startup Applications list. Unfortunately, that didn’t shorten my boot time at all.

        I have 2 other old laptops that also run Mint 19.2 Cinnamon as single boot. I booted these two along with the Gateway in question after all had been off for 24 hours and then again after all had been off for one hour. After all 6 of these boots I ran systemd-analyze in a terminal (as suggested by anonymous above), and found that all 3 computers take significantly longer to boot after they’ve been off for 24 hours as opposed to 1 hour. One of the other 2 laptops take about 3 times longer to boot after being off for 24 hours, and the other takes about 5 times longer. I don’t notice the difference because even the slowest long boot only takes about 90 seconds, and after that time the computer is ready to go. The Gateway in question also takes about 3 times longer to boot after being off for 24 hours, but I notice this because the long boot time is almost 3 minutes and because even after that amount of time the computer typically still has a blank screen and is unusable until about 20 to 30 minutes have passed. I get my usual desktop after about 6 or 7 minutes but apparently the intense HDD activity that continues another roughly 20 minutes.

        So I’m concluding from all this that there is some program or process that runs for a long time. That was also suggested by @Sandro above. The problem is that only with great difficulty can I get to the system monitor during the long start-up time because the touchpad is so jittery. I suppose I could start toggling off start up applications or uninstalling programs to see if I can find the culprit. I’m pretty new at terminal commands, but I’m guessing there are commands that will tell me what’s been running. But I haven’t found the right command yet. And, the logs are pretty cryptic, at least to me.

        Can anyone guide me to a source of commands? I’ve seen some “cheat sheets” of terminal commands, but nothing on them seems appropriate.

      • #2372396
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        @DrBonzo,
        Do you use ntp? it’s a well known linux bootslowdown..

        To list services, open a CLI (terminal) and paste the following:

        sudo service --status-all

        In the CLI list, those tagged with + are enabled, check to see if ntp has a + next to it.
        The service list is quite long and more can be disabled if not used. (minimalism FTW!)
        What other services are running that you don’t use from that list?

        | Quality over Quantity |
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2372552
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          ntp is not on my list of services. It’s not on the Gateway laptop in question, nor on either of the other 2 I’ve mentioned above.

          I have 43 services listed of which 25 are enabled (+), and 18 are not enabled (-). I can provide a list of the 25 that are enabled if that would be of any use. I guess my job is to figure out what the services actually do and then whether or not I’m using them. Can I disable the 25 enabled services one at a time to see if one of them is causing the 20 to 30 minute HDD activity without really messing my computer up? That would take a few weeks if I wait at least 12 hours between every boot. Is there a command that will tell me what services the computer is actually using?

          • #2372728
            anonymous
            Guest

            ? says:

            well, Doc running “sudo service,” i currently have 11 running. i embrace mimimalism. you can run the command > “top”,  from the terminal to observe running processes. it is my task manager if you will. running “top -i” give the actives only. press the q key to exit the running top. there is probably a GUI version of top more like windows task manager somewhere…

            1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2372403
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Why would Network Time Protocol slow down the boot?

        cheers, Paul

        • #2373629
          Ascaris
          AskWoody MVP

          I think the idea is that things grind to a halt waiting for NTP to set the time, and if it does not have internet access yet at that stage in the boot process, it just hangs. I’ve never had the problem with it, booting with or without net access, personally.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.4 User Edition)

      • #2372589
        Sandro
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hi @DrBonzo,

        I would like you to check another thing: perhaps you are overusing virtual memory/pagefile.

        Let’s try the following: open up a terminal and run top (*). Please check the amount of virtual memory in use.

        *: I don’t remember if it needs root privileges, so try also sudo top.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2372852
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        I managed to open a terminal during a long boot of the Gateway. At the suggestion of @Sandro and Anonymous above I ran the “top” command and found that ClamAV (showing in the “User” column and FreshClam showing in the “Command” column on the same line) was running constantly taking between about 40 and 85% of cpu and usually about what I think is 1.1 GB of virtual memory (I probably don’t understand virtual memory but there is only 1GB of physical memory in the computer). This went on for about 25 minutes, and as soon as the HDD activity indicator light went off, ClamAV no longer showed in the terminal window, and the computer became simultaneously easily usable.

        I was surprised to see that ClamAV was using so many resources, because I have it configured to not update anything automatically. I also have ClamAV on my other Mint 19.2 computers and all seems well.

        Anyway, I removed FreshClam from the Gateway, which in the process also deleted ClamTK and ClamAV. This leaves only ClamAV-Base on the computer but with no apparent way to launch it.

        I’m waiting now for 12 hours to see if the FreshClam removal actually solves the long startup time. I’d like to have Clam TK on the computer, but maybe that’s just a mind-set carryover from Windows (having an AV program installed).

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2372858
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        I’m waiting now for 12 hours to see if the FreshClam removal actually solves the long startup time. I’d like to have Clam TK on the computer, but maybe that’s just a mind-set carryover from Windows (having an AV program installed).

        Sounds like you nailed it.

        You may want to re-think using an AV on desktop Linux. Especially on such a resource challenged machine!

        IMHO AV on Linux are not really useful, in the context of a desktop user running without Admin privileges. So there’s that. Then there’s the fact that Windows malware cannot execute on Linux.

        Any exploits on Linux seem to generally be run against web servers. So if you are firewalled properly by a private network and running a desktop version of Linux with no public web access, ain’t nobody gonna be knocking on your front door.

        I have been using Linux on and off for almost 20 years, and I have NEVER run an AV on it. And I have never had a bad malware experience. Just my two cents! 🙂

        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2373059
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          @JohnW – when you say “… with no public web access..” I take it you mean no using the free WiFi at the local McDonald’s, or wherever? I’ve got the Gufw firewall enabled with a home profile of deny incoming and allowing outgoing.

          I was hoping, though, to be able to take the computer out and about and actually use it on public WiFi for surfing the AskWoody site or something similar.

      • #2373060
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        Clam AV does indeed seem to be the source of the extremely long start-up times. I’ve waited 24 hours between boots from a power off state and it boots right up in less than 2 minutes, which isn’t bad, IMHO, for 1GB RAM, an HDD, and an Atom processor.

        I’m still puzzled why Clam AV caused trouble only on this computer and not any of the other three I have it installed on (2 old laptops and one one fairly new Dell Inspiron, all of which have HDDs and 4GB RAM), unless the hardware on the other computers is good enough to handle the attempted updates. For that matter, though, I don’t understand why Clam AV was even attempting any updates since I had the definition updates set to manual and Clam AV gets updates through the Update Manager.

        Thanks to all who responded for your help. I appreciate it.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373074
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Maybe this is the problem.

        1GB RAM, an HDD, and an Atom processor

        cheers, Paul

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2373092
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        @JohnW – when you say “… with no public web access..” I take it you mean no using the free WiFi at the local McDonald’s, or wherever? I’ve got the Gufw firewall enabled with a home profile of deny incoming and allowing outgoing.

        I was hoping, though, to be able to take the computer out and about and actually use it on public WiFi for surfing the AskWoody site or something similar.

        No, I actually meant no running web servers that are open to the public. With open inbound web ports.

        You could do that on a Linux desktop, but then you would really need to know how to secure a web server.

        Using a Wi-Fi hotspot in Starbuck’s shouldn’t be an issue. When you initiate an outbound web session, only that session is allowed to respond. It is the unsolicited inbound traffic to an open web server that is problematic. If those ports are closed, no traffic can get in.

        An encrypted VPN probably wouldn’t hurt for privacy’s sake. Same would apply to Windows.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2373108
        anonymous
        Guest

        ? says:

        dear Doctor,

        the first thing i do on a new linux install is go to the terminal and run sudo ufw enable then sudo ufw status, from ther you can allow\deny to your hearts content:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncomplicated_Firewall

        and

        https://www.networkworld.com/article/3533551/linux-firewall-basics-with-ufw.html

        just google ufw and find a ufw article that you enjoy

        p.s. take a look at your network traffic with “netstat -atunop” if you have nettools installed or “ss -atunop,” if you don’t…

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2373151
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        Good you got the culprit, although I don’t use an AV on linux, never needed to, that’s a windows trait carried over. Taking end-user precautions is my method to using linux with UFW, a firm grip on browser security, linux Mint updates and minimalisation of the apps installed. (needs not wants)

        Given that the atom cpu and 1Gb ram is below the Mint teams ‘comfortable use’ designation, have you considered using the LM 32bit 19.2 version instead?

        Cinnamon is also quite a heavy choice for an older atom cpu compared to LM Mate 19.2 or better still, LM XFCE 19.2. Resources are tailored better for 32bit (given the ~3Gb limit) and with all LM19.2 versions ending support in April 2023, you still have 20 months ahead before that deadline.

        I tried LM20.1 on the netbook, needless to say, I’m back on LM19.3

        As mentioned previously, I’d also substitute the 1Gb with a 2Gb DDR3 stick and upgrade to an SSD for these netbooks, makes a noticable difference.
        Been there, seen it, done it! no complaints and very portable with great battery life on a 32bit system. (also have 64bit system on another beefier device)

        | Quality over Quantity |
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373165
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        Cinnamon is also quite a heavy choice

        I like Cinnamon on a full hardware install with a GPU.

        But I have also found that Mate is very similar, and performs much better on lower spec systems. These days I usually run Linux as a VM, and Mate performs much better in that virtualized environment!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2373172
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        I’m in full agreement that the hardware on the Gateway Atom is far from optimal. Here’s a bit of perspective as to why I’m messing around with it in the first place.

        Back in the Win 7 era, I used the Gateway as a test machine for patches/updates. None of my Win 7 computers got patched/updated until they performed satisfactorily on the Gateway. Toward Win 7 EOL I experimented a bit with Ubuntu and Mint, found I liked Mint 19.2 Cinnamon enough to make it my daily driver, and decided to continue using the Gateway as a test machine since I still had a basic mistrust of patches as a carryover from Win 7 experiences. And so I installed Mint 19.2 Cinnamon 64 bit on the Gateway. As I mentioned above, it’s only been the last few months that start-up times became painfully long. Although it wasn’t very fast, it served well as a test machine.

        Then one day an old HP laptop (from 2009, Athlon AMD processor, 4GB Ram) on which I had also installed Mint 19.2 Cinnamon, began making ominous noises that sounded like a failing HDD. I replaced the HDD with an SSD and reinstalled Mint. I was amazed at how much faster it was. So, I got to thinking I might try the same thing with the Gateway, but not before making a serious attempt at shortening the start-up time. So now that I have that figured out, some time in the next month, I’m planning on replacing the HDD with an SSD, cloning the Win 7 to the new SSD (and maybe Mint if the cloning software will let me clone the whole drive and not just the Win7 part) and then install Mint 19.2, perhaps with a lighter weight desktop. I’d like to add another GB of RAM, but so far haven’t found any.

        For my purposes, a 2 minute boot is acceptable, and if I can shorten that a bit with an SSD, I’ll be happy.

        I also appreciate the comments about AV software. I admit I have a “thing” about needing AV which is mostly carryover from Windows days. The flip side of that is that I get a tad leery when I read statements on the internet to the effect that “AV is absolutely not required for Linux.” That’s a pretty definitive statement, and IMHO few things in life are that cut and dried. In any case, you’ve nearly convinced me I don’t need AV. I am very cautious when surfing the internet and can’t remember the last time I caught a virus.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373173
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        In any case, you’ve nearly convinced me I don’t need AV. I am very cautious when surfing the internet and can’t remember the last time I caught a virus.

        In any case, it never hurts to backup, backup, backup… 🙂

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373177
        Sandro
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hi @DrBonzo,

        I am glad you have finally pinpointed your problem. And I can understand your feeling unsafe without proper malware protection.

        Anyway, in case of you start reinstalling Mint, I kindly suggest you to download the Xfce flavour of Mint 19.2 instead of Mate or Cinnamon. It is supposed to be the lightest one among the 3 flavours. And, of course, it is the flavour I run.

        And, err, if I may, try to spend a few minutes and see if you can buy memory to your Gateway. You probably have 2x 512MB modules. Perhaps you could replace them with 2x 1GB modules. Please do check your Gateway model. Me, I do miss my old Sony Vaio 32 bits with 2GB running Mint 19.2 Xfce…

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2373398
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        Looks like I can get 2GB of Ram for between $8 and $14. Anyone ever hear of Memory Stock, DMS (Data Memory Systems), or IFroney? I’ve heard of Crucial and Kingston, but they don’t have any. Never heard of the other three.

      • #2373635
        Bill C.
        AskWoody Plus

        Looks like I can get 2GB of Ram for between $8 and $14. Anyone ever hear of Memory Stock, DMS (Data Memory Systems), or IFroney? I’ve heard of Crucial and Kingston, but they don’t have any. Never heard of the other three.

        If this is a “Netbook” before you buy RAM, check to make sure it actually takes RAM modules and can be upgraded. Many netbooks had the RAM (and sometimes the HDD) soldered on the mainboard. Back in the netbook era, I remember MS OEM licensing was said to limit the amount of RAM in netbooks. That was why many had Windows 7 Starter to get around the effects of limited RAM.

        I have an ASUS eeePC netbook with an AMD E450 (Dual core, 1.65GHz, 1M L2, 18W, embedded with AMD Radeon HD6320 Graphics). It came with Win7-64 Pro with 4GB of RAM. It was nice for travel, but I took it out of service when the Windows updates for Win7 right after the GWX began taking hours. I was going to upgrade the RAM and move to an SSD, but the RAM was soldered on the MB, so the 4GB was it. I was basically using it to test updates. I did remove the Win7Pro HDD for an SSD, but installed Ubuntu, and later moved to Mint 19.2 Cinnamon and then to Mint 20 Cinnamon (current). Ubuntu and both versions of Mint work acceptably for its intended use.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2373652
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          It is a netbook. I have the service manual for it and it gives explicit instructions for removing/replacing the RAM and the HDD. I’ve opened the “trap door” on the bottom for the HDD and verified that it’s screwed in and I’ve pulled it out of its socket about a third of the way. So that should be fine to replace. The trap door for RAM reveals a a small card plugged into a socket. I didn’t try to depress the retaining clips because I didn’t have a grounding strap, but it’s just like the instructions say, so it should be fine to replace, too.

          Right now I’m trying to verify that Acronis (or other cloning software) is supported by Win 7 Starter and an Atom processor. It says I need a Pentium or higher and I’m not sure how that relates to an Atom. I don’t want to replace the HDD if I can’t get the Win 7 part of it cloned over to the new SSD; it’s got some software I’d like to keep.

          • #2373660
            Paul T
            AskWoody MVP

            The RAM will likely be SODIMM. Probably only one card so you need to replace it.

            Acronis / other will be fine on an Atom.
            Make an image backup to an external USB disk.
            Make a boot USB for the backup software.
            Swap the disks and boot from the USB.
            Connect the USB disk and restore. (Don’t forget to align the SSD)

            cheers, Paul

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2373668
              DrBonzo
              AskWoody Plus

              Yes, its SODIMM and only one card.

              Thanks for the Acronis/Atom info. And also for mentioning the aligning; I didn’t know about that.

      • #2379580
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        @DrBonzo, another speed tweak for your netbook with <= 4Gb RAM is to edit zswap allocation: In the CLI (terminal) copy and paste the following and hit [enter] followed by your password twice:

        xed admin:///etc/default/grub

        Grub setting will appear in xed, then change the line to read:
        GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”zswap.max_pool_percent=40″

        Save and exit xed.
        Back it CLI enter the following to update grub.

        sudo update-grub

        Then Reboot the netbook.

        Worked a treat on my acer netbook on LM19.3 with 2Gb RAM, thanks to Pjotr for that tip!

        | Quality over Quantity |
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2379761
          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks for passing that along. Unfortunately it didn’t do much for my netbook. Perhaps it’s just too memory challenged with only 1GB RAM.

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