Ask stupid questions and you'll get a stupid answers, was: Technological advantages over Linux

Aryeh Friedman aryeh.friedman at
Sun Jul 26 09:47:10 UTC 2020

On Sun, Jul 26, 2020 at 2:47 AM Steve O'Hara-Smith <steve at> wrote:

> On Sat, 25 Jul 2020 22:46:23 -0400
> Aryeh Friedman <aryeh.friedman at> wrote:
> >  The only thing I can think of is there is a HTML 5 game that I
> > often leave open all the time
>         That is probably causing Firefox to eat huge amounts of memory
> starving everything else and making the system prone to swapping. Try
> closing that window, restarting Firefox and then seeing how well your
> machine works.

I have already done this experiment and can tell you while it is
*PARTIALLY* firefox it is also a fundamental problem with X (and not just
the desktop).  Experimental lab report:

Hypothesis: One or more applications has a resource leak that causes X
windows, the app(s) (and all other apps running on the system) to have
drastic performance decreases (as measured by response time on non-CPU
intensive I/O events)
Step 1) Reboot machine and start X
Step 2) Measure performance
Step 3) Start one or more of the offending apps let it run long enough to
cause a noticeable performance impact
Step 4) Measure performance
Step 5) Terminate the offending app(s) via their normal/recommended
shutdown method.
Step 6) Measure performance
Step 7) Repeat steps 3 thru 7 until noticeable loss of performance is noted
in step 6

Expected results if there is no system wide performance loss due to the
offending apps running: Step 7 should be repeated an undecidable (see CS
definition of "undecidable") number of times.   If step 7 can only be done
0 time and/or a very small number times (less than 3 times) then we
consider this "proof" that the problem is at least partially external to
the offending apps.

Actual results: While there is a measurable gain in performance in step 6
it does not return to its performance level measured in step 2.   Step 7
can only be repeated once before performance becomes unacceptable.

Alternative possible explanation: Offending apps and X are not the most
current versions from the ports collection.
Counter proof to alternative explanation: I update my ports collection at
least every 24 hours with the following sequence of commands:
cd /usr/ports
svn update
(read UPDATING if modified)
portmaster -ad
With the most recent results being:
Updated to revision 543457.
root at neomarx:/usr/ports # portmaster -ad
===>>> Gathering distinfo list for installed ports

===>>> Starting check of installed ports for available updates

===>>> All ports are up to date
and problem has slowly been getting worse

Conclusion: While the offending apps (firefox, libreoffice and any
multimedia player) do decrease performance stopping and restarting them
does not completely solve the problem nor does the problem completely
disappear when said apps are not running.   This experiment succeeds for
all non-X apps and thus we are forced to conclude that at least some of the
problem is in X itself in that it never completely deallocates the
resources allocated to a given program even after the program terminates.
Since the offending apps and GUI config are known to work on Linux without
serious performance decay we can only conclude that there is something that
causes bad interaction between X and FreeBSD.   Repeated attempts at the
above experiment over time so the number of times step 7 can be performed
are drastically decreasing from essentially undecidable 2 years ago to less
then 2 currently and the main difference during this time is the push to
make FreeBSD more friendly for X and wayland.

> > So the only possible conclusion I can draw
> > is it is X being extremely screwy on FreeBSD due to all the linux hacks
> in
> > it (this despite X's claim it will work on any POSIX machine with the
> > right video support).   As we move more and more towards wayland as being
> > the pixel driver it gets worse.
>         However that conclusion isn't supported by the experience of
> others, it seems far more likely you have a memory hog, find it and
> eliminate it (top is your friend, sorting my resident memory use) and
> system performance will improve no end, and yes it may be your desktop
> environment, but I'd bet on Firefox which leaks like a seive).

See above.  Top clearly shows that X itself is using increasing resources
throughout the entire experiment (not just the apps).

Aryeh M. Friedman, Lead Developer,

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