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  1. #11
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Clinton Township, MI

    Some suggestions instead of distro hopping

    Based on what I think I am reading about what you want to do, essentially you have a lot going at the same time, and you want to have some organization to it. I think that is a good idea. However, as at least one other person suggested, running as several users may not be helping your cause. Perhaps another approach would be to create more workspaces in your desktop environment. Some distributions come with two by default, which causes me to question the use of a desktop environment in those cases. A desktop ought to have at least four workspaces. In your case, perhaps you want eight or ten of them. I typically name my workspaces by function; I use four, and name them Web, Mail, Term, and Edit. You may want to do something similar and organize them and name them by what you do.

    By having many users, each one needs their own virtual memory space. Same with each browser and each application that you are using. When you run as a single user in multiple workspaces, a lot more can be shared.

    Though Linux is a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system, it is definitely tuned and optimized, most of the time, for one of two or three scenarios: 1. A server workload. A good Red Hat kernel is undoubtedly tuned this way. 2. A desktop workload. The average desktop system is tuned not to be particularly optimal for any one specific thing, but generally works with a reasonable workload.

    A couple of years ago i was running on a desktop system built around 2000-2001, with 256 MB of RAM and approximately a 1 GHz processor. I was very pleased at the time with the Linux kernel performance and did a few studies. Without a doubt, running KDE or GNOME with anything more than a very light workload would cause mild swapping, but I found the system to be very intelligent about it. The system would only swap when something else was demanding resources, and then it would trim itself back, in an attempt to have 10-20 MB of RAM free at any given time if possible, but it would not go crazy trying to do so. That was with a Linux kernel circa 2009. But if you have to heavily swap, that might cause more pronounced issues, especially if the swap file is also not big enough to handle the memory size of every process.

    Therefore, my recommendations are:

    1. Use a single user if possible.
    2. If you can use a somewhat lighter desktop, such as Xfce or LXDE, that may buy you enough headroom, coupled with the savings of running one user account.
    3. If you really are not using a lot of the stuff every day, start up what you do use fairly often. Even a slight change of habit may result in significantly greater performance.

    If you can afford it, try to get a system with 4, 6, 8, even 10 GB or more of memory. You sound like someone who could benefit from a system with that kind of power. I'd also look at not only a lot of memory, but also the possibility of using Solid State Disk (SSD) technology to have multiple tiers of storage. The fastest is the memory, the next fastest is the SSD, then the disk is slower, and then the backup storage (CD, DVD, USB Flash) is the slowest, along with the rarely seen tape). If you do invest in hardware, the memory is going to give you the biggest bang and the SSD will give you the next biggest bang - or improvement. Use the SSD to store, not your constantly changing data, but the operating system image and key applications, no more. That's what will run really fast on solid state media.
    Brian Masinick
    masinick AT yahoo DOT com

  2. #12
    Linux User
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    I would like to second Masinick. Using one user is better. Especially because sharing files among users is a bit more tricky when handling permissions. You need to change each user's primary group ID to be the same, so they can all share files and directories without giving access to everyone else.

    Secondly, as Masanick said, each user requires their own virtual memory space. Your computer isn't freezing up or "destabilizing" -- it is probably "swapping": every time you switch users, it needs to dump all of the memory from one user to disk, then load the new user's memory from disk. All that disk activity may take minutes for the OS to complete on an ordinary desktop or laptop, and the OS will not let you do anything until it is finished. So it looks like it crashed, when really it is just working its butt off to keep up with your memory usage. One solution is to add a lot more memory to your computer.

    I would recommend customizing your user interface to have more desktops, instead of trying a different distribution. Gnome and KDE allow you to setup 20 desktops arranged in a grid. Ubuntu with (Gnome and Compiz) let you visualize this nicely, the same way they do it in Mac OS X. Each of your "users" can take up one row of desktops, for example, "Art" goes in the top row, "Social Networking" goes in the second row, "Taxes" in the third, etc. Then, set your keyboard shortcuts to navigate the grid, for example, Control + Windows-Key + up-arrow moves up one row of desktops, and Control + Windows-Key + left-arrow moves to the next desktop in that row. Then, just do everything as a single user, jumping around to different grid locations using the keyboard or mouse. (Pro-tip, the things you do most often go in the center of the grid).

  3. #13
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    San Jose, CA

    Most stable Linux distro

    I have seen reviews that rank distros by stability. MEPIS was ranked first. However, your main issue has already been addressed - more RAM and sorting things out all under one user.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #14
    Linux Engineer
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    Quote Originally Posted by HalfMadDad View Post
    Hi Everyone

    Like you , I am a heavy user of my computer. I might have 50 tabs open to programming related sites, another 50 for online auctions, another 50 for etc, etc.

    I run out of workspaces quickly and I divided my computer in to users per topic, userArt, userTaxes etc. It's so much easier to keep things organized but with Ubuntu it often freezes up after a day or so. If I only log in as one user it can stay up for many, many days. I am assuming that having multiple users logged in destabilizes it.

    Could anyone recommend a Distro that might be more stable for this?

    Thanks for reading-Patrick
    Any Linux that has been installed are there to allow multiple user accounts. Most have a GUI application to add user accounts and from the command line the command is "useradd".

  6. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by HalfMadDad View Post
    Hi Everyone

    It's so much easier to keep things organized but with Ubuntu it often freezes up after a day or so. If I only log in as one user it can stay up for many, many days.
    Could anyone recommend a Distro that might be more stable for this?
    As masinick said, you should change your habbits instead of distro.
    Any distro would balk at conditions like that. So, few suggestions, in addition to upgrading RAM/disk etc:

    - read about memory management, swapiness, OOM killer and things like that that influence stability and tune up your system. you would have to do it for any distro you use like that if you want a stable box.

    - instead of multiple users, how about user profiles? You mention 50 tabs, so I assume you're talking about browsers. So if you just create an "artist" profile in the browser and open 50 tabs, you're not likely to also read another 50 tabs for work. Then when you want to switch, save that session, and change the browser profile to "work".

    - use "read later" extensions. there are some for most popular browsers. open an article and hit "read this later" and it goes in your list for reading for when you have the time.

    - use bookmarks. if you have 50 tabs, you could be using some as simply references. Why not keep those at hand in the bookmark bar? Some less frequently used, you can organize into bookmark "folders".

    There are many more suggestions, these are just off top of my head.

  7. #16
    Sorry for the delay in answering, I've been sick....

    Thanks again Ozar. and thank you elija, Mint is nice I set it up on my Wife's computer. Thanks Irithori, I have 8GBs of RAM so I don't think it's an issue and I am using 10 workspaces.

    Thanks again to all-patrick

  8. #17
    Thanks Masnick that was very detailed and helpful. I've never heard of anyone using multiple users just for their own workflow so I suspect the idea is flawed. I do have one solid state drive now and I am very happy with it but it's not where I load the OS so if I rearrange things so that it is it should help.

    Thanks ramin.honary I think your right too, a better desktop set up like compiz is the way to go.

    Thanks bobpegram, alf55 and zladuric too-Patrick

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