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I have a laptop that I've been using for work:

Model: ASUS X501A
CPU: Intel Celeron, 2.4 dual core.
RAM: 4GB

And I recently started to get freezes when I open a bit too many programs or tabs in Chromium. I previously used Deepin (had same issues) and I switched to Debian 9 thinking it would help, but it didn't.

Now, you are probably thinking, well that laptop is weak and probably old, no wonder it freezes. Well first of all, it wasn't like that before, while it's not powerful, I could without any freezes have all my necessary programs open (Chrome, VS code, spotify, running a nodejs server, mongodb or sql server, redis, postman). Secondly, I don't get this freezes with Windows, it might open some programs longer, but it would not freeze for up to a minute like it does on Debian.

Now, Debian already chugs when I have 4 Chromium tabs open (usually just stackOverflow or api docs tabs, not cpu intensive sites), running a NodeSJ server in a terminal and having VS code with Postman open (no database servers). I ran top while under this conditions and the results were:

top - 12:43:51 up  4:02,  1 user,  load average: 2.70, 1.07, 1.19
Tasks: 191 total,   1 running, 190 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
%Cpu(s): 14.4 us,  2.0 sy,  0.0 ni, 19.9 id, 63.5 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.2 si,  0
KiB Mem :  3934392 total,   129524 free,  3133232 used,   671636 buff/cach
KiB Swap:        0 total,        0 free,        0 used.   104836 avail Mem

It seems that the CPU is not loaded at all, and there is still enough free memory left (well at least its not at 95% memory use). So i'm not sure what causes those freezes.

  • I would get more RAM. – Rui F Ribeiro Apr 20 '18 at 10:29
  • add some swap add more ram and eventually install atsar to be able to diagnose what is happening. Also us iotop to find out if a program is requesting a lot of IO – Kiwy Apr 28 '18 at 19:00
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This could be a kernel problem, a graphics driver problem (do you have an Nvidia graphics card by any chance?) or something else entirely.

Kernel

In order to check if it's the kernel, try installing newer or older kernels to see if the problem goes away.

Graphics Driver

To see if it's the graphics driver, try installing the proprietary one if you're using the open-source one or vice versa (so Nvidia if you're using nouveau and vice versa, for example). I know I had a problem with the nouveau driver where it would start hanging every so often once I resumed from suspend (still no idea why that happens).

Something else

If neither if these fixes the issue, you should examine dmesg, journalctl, /var/log/messages, etc to see what's going on. Whenever I've had the issue, it's been a specific process blocking everything else (including the watchdog), which registers in the journal. In my case, this ended up being nouveau, but the only way to tell is trial and error.

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