How to make Tiger more responsive.

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Mitthrawnuruodo, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #1
    I have a 12" iBook G4@800 with 640 MB RAM running 10.4.2, with a 60 GB 4200 PRM HD and an iTunes Library occupying 36.2 GB. If you have a Mac with more than enough RAM and large, fast HDs, the following post may not do very much for you. ;)

    In Panther whenever someone started to report slowdowns the standard recommendation was to clean up their HD and free up some space. About 4-5 GB free space was a bare minimum to let the Mac run well. This usually did the trick.

    After upgrading to Tiger (A&I) I cleaned up a bit and was amazed with Tigers initial responsiveness, which was a step up from Panther, but right from the start I started getting more than the occasional beach-ball which brings about those "painful" slowdowns. This even if I had more than 5 GB free HD. But one thing I noticed was that Tiger seems to "eat" HD space while running, so that after a few hours I was down in between 4 and 5 GB free HD space, i.e. into Panther's danger zone.

    It was time to check out what's really going on. My Activity monitor reports that the VM (virtual memory) typically needs well over 5 GB (!) in typical use: iTunes/AirTunes, Safari with a couple of tabs, Mail, XRG, Meteorologist, Quicksilver, MainMenu and - the one of the real bad boys - Dashboard. AM reports ~3.5 GB VM before running Dashboard for the first time after a reboot, and ~5 after all my Widgets had been fired up :eek:. No wonder the poor iBook's struggling, when VM wants to use 5 GB and the HD just has about 4.5 GB free space.

    Quite embarrassed that I didn't connect the Panther advise with initial reports of Tiger needing more RAM (and thus also virtual memory) earlier I started cleaning up my Mac manually, i.e. threw out all non-essential docs and apps (after burning them to a DVD, of course) and deleted some obvious duplicates from iTunes. Then I used MainMenu to clear out caches and logs. After this cleanup I had ~8 GB free space.

    To decrease RAM usage I ditched (more than) a couple of Widgets. Widgets also not only takes up quite a bit of real memory, and reducing the number of active Widgets helps quite well in reducing the number of pageouts, which leads to beach-balling, a pain on a 4200 RPM disk.

    I also went into iTunes preferences and set the streaming buffer size to small, which actually decreases the amount of HD space Tiger "eats" when in use (I think I'm on to something here ;)).

    Now using the iBook is a fantastic, in typical use, with RAM hogs like iTunes with AirTunes and Safari running along side Mail, TextWrangler and the above mentioned enhancers, with only active 6 Dashboard widgets, Activity Monitor reports a VM size of "only" ~4.5 GB, well below my just under 8 GB free HD space (after a bit of runtime). It's like getting a new machine, applications open in a fraction of the time it used to. Even when fireing up something like Photoshop it's maintaining the responsiveness. :)

    The number of pageout has also decreased, and now mostly occurs whenever iTunes changes tracks (I'm using crossfade playback which actually is very resource intensive, no wonder they haven't implemented this on the iPods, it would be a real strain on the batteries) or whenever I have more than 10 apps running. A funny side effect is that the CPU is actually running hotter now, presumably because doesn't have to wait for pageouts all the time... :D

    To summarize: Tiger can run very well on a 800 MHz G4 with "only" 640 MB RAM (just over the 512 that many claim is the "bare minimum") on a measly 4200 RPM HD. You just have to keep enough free HD space available and get rid of as many Dashboard widgets as possible to reduce both real and virtual RAM usage.
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #2
    Some good ideas in there - even for those of us with more RAM. I have lots of widgets installed but not too many live at any one time.

    I may try reducing the Airtunes buffer size - I assume it hasn't affected the quality or that you're getting any drops in the stream after doing it?

    Something else I found a while ago was to turn off the Auto-fill of 'other' (ie non username/password) boxes in Safari - or at least clear it out on a monthly basis. Made a huge difference when online.
     
  3. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #3
    Not any noticeable quality loss, and (still) not any drops. :)
     
  4. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #4
    the single most annoying thing about GUI performance for me is how computers scroll. they don't scroll smoothly. they rather jump from line to line or row to row (e.g. in excel).
    this puts a lot of strain to the eye because you constantly have to refocus.
    this makes the system appear slow and unresponsive. if they would fix this the whole gui experience would be much better.

    is there any way to make tiger scroll really smoothly? the smooth scrolling in system prefs. doesn't help. it can be done because you can scroll through images without the "jump line to line" effect.

    i'm not on my Mac right now but i think pdf files also scroll smoothly.

    since i'm at scrolling: what really drives me nuts is that jump over a page break in text files. you know when reach the lower end of the page it jumps to the beginning of the next page. you can't really have the lower third of page one and the upper third of page two with the page break between them on your screen. it either shows only page one or page two. why is that?

    andi
     
  5. iindigo macrumors 6502a

    iindigo

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #5
    Long story made short: These days you're hurting yourself if you have less than a gig of RAM. IMO 1GB should come standard with the "Pro" Macs at at the very least, and maybe the high-end consumer machines.

    I'm currently running Tiger on my 20" 2Ghz iMac with the standard 512MB RAM, and I've gotta say this measly amount of RAM is quite limiting. Next payday I'm definitely maxing this thing out (2GB baby!)
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    Mitthrawnuruodo, thanks for the tips! :) I've been having the same concerns recently, and I think I definitely need to work through some of your suggestions. I have a smaller HD than you, but slightly more free space than you originally did, but I definitely noticed that going from 9-10GB of free space reported on boot-up (what I had when I first got Tiger) to about 7-8GB free now, I have noticed substantial performance deterioration. I don't know how I'm going to get those two gigs back.... :D but.... I should work on it.
     
  7. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #8
    I have exactly the same machine, so thank you very much for the all-too-relevent post Mitthrawnuruodo.

    Just to clear something up, if I have a widget that's not active, is it using up any resources apart from the few hundred KB that is its physical size? Surely not, right?
     
  8. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #9
    If you look at the Activity monitor, you'll find that only those widgets that are open when you activate Dashboard will use RAM, the rest, both those in the tray and those you've disabled with the Widget widget :))) are just "dead" files taking nothing more than a the couple of hundred kB of hard drive space. Nothing to worry about until you're really pressed for space... ;)
     
  9. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #10
    Beach-balls for the summer :cool:

    Hello all,

    Thanks for the comments, it's good to find ways to improve our machines...

    I run on an iMac G5 1.8 GHz (20") with 1.25 Gb ram and 10.4.2, a good 70 Gb free on my (250GBb) HD and I must say I'm often REALLY annoyed by the way the system hangs :mad:

    I'll say an awful thing now: sometimes it reminds me of my (one-year) experience with Windows XP... :eek:
    (Now I'll expect some angry reply-posts).

    Anyway, I always have lots of apps running, and I've had some very annoying 10-20 seconds hangs (when you really wonder should-I-force-restart-or-what :confused: )

    My guesses at the 2 biggest responsibles:
    - widgets, as it seems to get worse as soon as I open them for the first time (and after all, I don't use any of them that often, especially the cute but hungry Java-based "sunlit earth"),
    - peer-to-peer software (which I of course use only for accessing copyright-free material).

    I repair the permissions often, but it doesn't help.
    I think I should also defragment my disk soon... (but I'm always afraid of a major crash when I do that, despite my backups !!!)

    Things which do help:
    - in "Energy Saver", turning the chip setting to "highest" instead of "automatic" (but also more noise),
    (NB: this does not work with all Macs)
    - rebooting once in a while (like every 2-3 days).

    Btw, about the "noise factor", I built up a small isolation stand for the iMac, and set some rules for my room to limit the (vibrational) damage. I should open a thread about that one day... :rolleyes:


    Arnaud.
     
  10. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #11

    Thanks for that. I checked before I posted and noticed that only the active widgets took up "My processes", but I was just wondering if installed widgets took resources from the root account, or whatever. I really have no idea when it comes to this sort of stuff. :eek:

    Nevermind, you cleared it up anyway. Thanks.
     
  11. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #12
    Defragmentation is not really an issue on Macs. But there are other maintenance tasks that should run every now and again. Checkout MainMenu, a nice and free little tool to access most of those essential procedures... :)
     
  12. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #13
    Mmm, thanks for the links, but I haven't been convinced by the article on the defragmentation... It sounds too much like "let's find reasons we shouldn't bother with defrag' on the mac". :confused:

    "Hard disk capacity is generally much greater now than a few years ago. With more free space available, the file system doesn't need to fill up every "nook and cranny." Mac OS Extended formatting (HFS Plus) avoids reusing space from deleted files as much as possible, to avoid prematurely filling small areas of recently-freed space."

    Well, my HD is like my house, the bigger it is, the more I store ! Apple advertizes the iMac as the "digital hub": 2 years ago, only limited graphical work on my machines, now it's 5000+ high-res (8MPixels) photos, aiming to store all my CD collection, recording TV and hours of DV video ! I mean, I guess I'm not the only one reaching too often the limits of my hard drives... (Currently: 350Gb on my 2x250Gb total capacity, certainly a lot could be cleaned!).

    "Fragmentation was often caused by continually appending data to existing files, especially with resource forks. With faster hard drives and better caching, as well as the new application packaging format, many applications simply rewrite the entire file each time. Mac OS X 10.3 Panther can also automatically defragment such slow-growing files. This process is sometimes known as "Hot-File-Adaptive-Clustering."

    I don't think the VM pages of 1-5Gb are rewritten all the time ???

    "Another option is to back up your important files, erase the hard disk, then reinstall Mac OS X and your backed up files."

    Er, I'd rather use an optimization software...

    Anyway, I'll take this article as an indication that the system is certainly designed as well as possible to avoid fragmentation.

    I'll give a proper look to Main Menu when I'm home tonight.

    Another great advantage of modern technology: how to backup 400 Gb... :eek: Kinda frustrating to buy a HD just for that ! Not mentioning backup on DVD... (I actually use an external 80Gb only for my photo library and most important documents).

    A. :D
     
  13. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #14
    On the theme of space on the HD...

    Some months ago, I happened to have full chunks of the HD disappearing without reason, i.e. 70Gb free would slowly turn down to close to 0Gb (and a system alarm) without no reason.

    It took me some time to finally find the fault: a corrupted system log could go from 5Kb to tens of Gb :eek: ! I still don't know why, though, I guess a problem of mapping of the HD and the files ? Erasing the log was enough to solve the problem. (Needless to say editing the log was impossible to me).

    I haven't had that again with 10.4, but I don't know if the bug was specifically adressed or if I've been only lucky so far ?

    Well, I thought that'd be a good comment for weird space behaviour of some other Macrumors members...

    A.

    (NB: I guess a log-cleaning from Main Menu might solve he problem too).
     
  14. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #15
    Ok, installed MainMenu and ran a couple of options, I'll see what it feels like on the long run... I still had slow things after startup, I guess it was some reconfiguring of system caches etc....

    On the other hand, I unchecked the crossfade and soundenhancer options in iTunes, and I've got the feeling my machine is MUUUUUUCH speedier just afterwards, especially when switching from one app to another !

    Mysterious Ways... :eek:

    A!
     
  15. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #16
    This is why it's always a good idea to keep an eye on how processor intensive your applications are. A program which is constantly taking 50% of your processor power will definately hold you up.
     
  16. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #17
    That's why I always have XRG visible on my desktop. :)
     
  17. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #18
    I often check the activity monitor, but it's never that bad. Or maybe it is, but my brain did not accept "iTunes : 50% of CPU", which would mean an MP3 player uses half the capacity of a G5 1.8GHz :( .

    (I mean, MP3 players were already running on my PowerPC 601 240 MHz years ago !!!)

    Additionally, my brain didn't want to hear about "don't use iTunes on your iMac when you're working on it" either.

    Oh well, I'll try this XRG link then... :rolleyes:
     
  18. stridey macrumors 65816

    stridey

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Location:
    Massachusetts, Connecticut
    #19
    iTunes can be made to hog MUCh less CPU by

    a) not making smart playlists and
    b) closing the iTunes window (rather than just minimizing it or hiding iTunes)
     
  19. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #20
    I'm not happy, I got stuck with Beach-balls again for a full 5mn, trying to figure out what was happening. Then I see iTunes runs 86% of CPU and does not respond anymore. And so does iPhoto. I'm getting increasingly unhappy :mad:

    It's the evening, I plan to do some couple of things on the computer and still enjoy my free time, instead of what I have to wait for unknown events to sort themselves out on the computer.

    iTunes eats too much CPU, iPhoto is not so stable (and definitely not speedy), they both can't work fine together without blocking my machine. What's wrong with Apple, which should ensure that these very softwares are flawless ???

    There might be things to be done to improve the lot, but OS X is supposed to be user-friendly, not hermetic ! I don't have time for maintaining my machine, and that's really what I thought I'd avoid by getting my last Mac.

    All in all, I have the feeling that 10.4.2 is worse than 10.3.

    Argh. I shouldn't become the slave of my computer :mad:

    I'll switch everything off for the night.
     
  20. Arnaud macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    The Moon
    #21
    Update: reformatted the HD, reinstalled the system, set the iTunes library on an external HD (so it doesn't interfere with the system), and I'll see how it evolves... So far, it's much better, maybe my machine needed a thorough, early spring cleaning ? I guess maintenance tools will help me in the future...
     
  21. runninmac macrumors 65816

    runninmac

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Location:
    Rockford MI
    #22
    Very nice post even though im not on a Mac I still like reading it
     
  22. mcmillan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #23
    I just did a quick clean up of my HD, and was able to bump my space from 4Gb to almost 8Gb, so I hope my Mac Mini goes faster now. Thanks for the advice, it makes sense.
     
  23. NEENAHBOY macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    #24
  24. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #25
    I haven't tried OnyX, but it looks okay. Everybody should use the tool they like best/feel the most comfortable with. :) ...and both are free... ;)

    But, it's just that I'm happy with ClearDock and TinkerTool for looks and hidden preferences, and used Terminal for that and maintenance, so I never felt I needed OnyX.

    Lately I've had to perform some maintenance on some of my less than computer literate friends Macs, partly over the phone an has therefore been looking at a very easy to use program for repairing permissions and periodicals. Disk Utility is too hard to use for some of them, not to mention Terminal. ;) I then found MainMenu, and have been testing that to see if it might be a solution to my "support" problems, and so far it looks very good.

    OnyX would have been overkill for most of these people, the extra options would just be confusing. :)
     

Share This Page