Things running slowly, something wrong with laptop memory?

Hello everyone,
This is my first post, thank you for hosting this forum and providing the world with Lubuntu. I run Lubuntu 18.04. A beautiful OS.

First of all, I am a beginner with all things Linux, and am in general not a “techy”.
Lubuntu runs quite often a bit slow on my laptop.
Its a rather old HP notebook, duo processor at 2 GHz.
Memory 997 MB, with 741 MB being used while only running Firefox, System Profiler, and a prompt of Software Updater if I would like to download and install updates yes or no.
As stated above, I am not a techy, but it seems to me that 741 MB/997 MB of memory being used for these three mere applications seems rather much.
Is this normal, if not, is the memory hardware not functioning well?
PuppyLinux I could not run at all, it would constantly crash.

I cannot play video files or DVDs, mostly no error message is given, only once in which it was stated that there is not enough memory. All the codecs are installed. It seems to me this is not normal

On a side note, when I run System Profiler and look at Summary it presents the memory as follows: 997MB. When I click Memory, it displays it as: 997160 KiB. In case it matters.

Thank you for your help and patience,

Immortality

For the modern web, 1GB of RAM is severely limited. If you’re not using Firefox, you could probably survive ok, but otherwise, you will probably want more than that. I’d install more RAM if I were you.

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Dear wxl,

Thank you. I already thought this was the problem.
May ask if RAM chips are the same for desktops as they are for laptops, or do laptops have their own adapted pieces of hardware?

Thank you,

Immortality

Laptops generally use shorter chips (SODIMMs), but just like desktop RAM pretty much works on every desktop, so it follows for laptops. You’ll need to make sure to get a few things right, though.

If you run sudo dmidecode -t memory | less, the system will query your BIOS for some information related to memory. You’ll get back a bunch of information, so we’re piping it through less, a paginator. You can use B for backward and F for forward to go through the list and when you’re done, Q for quit.

Generally you will see 2 types of things:

  1. A “Physical Memory Array” category which lists properties about the whole memory system ultimately based on your motherboard
  2. A variety of “Memory Device” listings which are the individual memory banks, along with information about any memory chips that are there.

In the first category, look for “Maximum Capacity” and “Number of Devices” (the latter of which should equal the number of “Memory Device” listings you have). This will tell you how many chips you can have and what their total capacity can equal. On my laptop, I’m limited to two chips, but they can be up to 32GB, so I could have two 16 GB chips, for example.

Next, look at one of the filled slots. This will tell you detail about the chips used. This is very useful information as it will help you track down the right chips. You’ll see important stuff like:

  1. Form Factor
  2. Type
  3. Speed

Those are generally the things you need to know. You’ll also notice that a manufacturer and part number is given, so you could always look those up with the manufacturer and get something similar but with a larger size.

If worse comes to worst, you can go to e.g. kingston.com and put in your system information. sudo dmidecode -t system | head -n 15 should give you plenty of information there.

Good luck.

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Wxl,

Thank you.

Immortality

I still use some x86 devices that have only 1GB of ram. I limit what I do when using them though.

I very much consider the RAM, and ensure I choose apps that share libraries/toolkits with the desktop, and each other (if they’re running at the same time). This means using different apps to what I do on my main box which has 8GB of ram.

When I use a browser, I usually limit myself to a single web site, or restrict myself to web sites that don’t require much ram (some web sites can use heaps as they download and do most of the processing of the page to the browser saving their server costs). On web sites where I want the text (to read) without the hassle, I even use lynx or other (w3m) very basic browsers that gives me what I want without the flashy-stuff (that will be executed on my device using my resources).

I’d ensure you have swap enabled; Lubuntu 18.04 LTS defaults to using it, but if you used manual setup, I’d ensure you provided it (I needed to test a box so stole some RAM from a box where I didn’t think it would be missed… performance however was very visibly slowed, until I noticed I didn’t have swap enabled, once swap was setup it was fast again)

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To add to the browser thing, dillo is a nice solution that does graphics well but without all the extra JavaScript, etc. B.S.

The memory management under Linux is quite complex. There are resident memory, virtual memory, caches, shared memory. In other words, it is very difficult to say, how much RAM a given application is really using.

In general, RAM is there to be used. If you are running exactly the same applications, kernel and libraries on a system with 1 GiB of RAM and one with 64 GiB of RAM, then it would not be surprising, if the latter system would “use” more RAM.

Lubuntu is using LXQt, a Qt-based desktop. All the desktop applications are using and sharing the same libraries. A “normal” Lubuntu is using 500-700 MiB of memory after booting and login (as a rule of thumb).

Firefox is based on GTK, a different graphical widget toolkit.
If you start Firefox, it will therefore load also GTK libraries into memory.
And Firefox is not only feature-rich, but also one of the more secure browsers. Every tab is running in a different process and not sharing the memory.

Conclusion: Don’t try to measure the used memory. Instead you should create a Swap (2-4 GiB, file or partition, it does not matter). If your system is slow and the Swap is filled, then you should add more RAM (the only way to fix missing RAM) or an application has a memory leak (not very likely).
And you should deactivate all the services and features, which you don’t need (e.g. snap, qlipper, printer services).

The modern websites are also very resource-hungry. With Firefox, you can open a new tab and check with about:performance which tab is using how much RAM. And ad-blocker plugins may help to reduce memory consumption.

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