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Re: virtualbox just became slow

On 11/11/11 13:07, Steve Kleene wrote:
> On Fri, 11 Nov 2011 07:37:49 +1100, Scott Ferguson wrote:
>> On 11/11/11 00:41, Steve Kleene wrote:
>>> On Tue, 8 Nov 2011 12:54:11 +0000 (UTC), I wrote:
>>>>> I've been happily running a virtualbox Windows XP machine
>>>>> (VM) on a Wheezy host for eight months.  However, the VM just
>>>>> became pathologically slow.  For example, if I boot the VM,
>>>>> call Photoshop 6, and open a small JPG, it all works but
>>>>> takes several minutes.  During much of this time the XP Task
>>>>> Manager pins at 100% CPU usage,
>>> On Thu, 10 Nov 2011 10:22:14 +1100, Scott Ferguson replied:
>>>> Debian/VirtualBox - check dmesg[*1]
> dmesg shows these: [   10.093878] vboxdrv: Found 2 processor cores. [
> 10.094047] vboxdrv: fAsync=0 offMin=0x80e offMax=0x1b19 [
> 10.094144] vboxdrv: TSC mode is 'synchronous', kernel timer mode is
> 'normal'. [   10.094149] vboxdrv: Successfully loaded version
> 4.1.2_Debian\ (interface 0x00190000). [   10.419123] vboxpci: IOMMU
> not found (not registered)

Don't know if it's relevant - but if you want to use PCI passthrough
(IOMMU) you need a CPU that supports it (and you need to enable it in
the BIOS). It also requires the extensions installed.  See further down
where you mention the IDT errors.

I'm running the most recent stable VirtualBox releases (on Squeeze
boxes), currently Version 4.1.6 r74713 (non-free)[*1].
Wheezy has the 4.1.4 OSE version available in the Debian repositories -
perhaps upgrading might be the first thing to try.

>>>> and VirtualBox log for relevant messages. ... You don't say
>>>> what sort of VirtualBox disk system you use.
> It's normal format (VDI), dynamically allocated.

Dynamic allocation (expand, no shrink) is faster to create, and,
initially uses less space. In practise it will run slower than a
"pre-allocated" drive (static size). Like defragging - it shouldn't be
causing problems of the magnitude you seem to be experiencing.

> VBox.log shows these errors:
> 00:00:01.983 ERROR [COM]: aRC=VBOX_E_IPRT_ERROR (0x80bb0005)\ 
> aIID={09eed313-cd56-4d06-bd56-fac0f716b5dd} aComponent={Display}\ 
> aText={Could not take a screenshot (VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED)},
> preserve=false 00:00:02.016 ERROR [COM]: aRC=VBOX_E_IPRT_ERROR
> (0x80bb0005)\ aIID={09eed313-cd56-4d06-bd56-fac0f716b5dd}
> aComponent={Display}\ aText={Could not take a screenshot
> (VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED)}, preserve=false 00:00:12.936 PATM: Stop
> monitoring IDT handler pages at 812a9bec - invalid\ write
> 812a9880-812a9884 (this is not a fatal error) 00:00:12.940 PATM: Stop
> monitoring IDT handler pages at 812a94a4 - invalid\ write
> 812a9770-812a9771 (this is not a fatal error)
>>> Sorry, I meant to mention that there's 8 GB of free disk space on
>>> c:. I have never defragged it.
>> Oh? So every read involves a game of hide and seek in the Pacific
>> Ocean? :-)
> I did defrag tonight and it didn't help the problem.

With 8GB of free space it shouldn't have been a major slowing factor -
but it will incrementally speed things up.

>>>> ... I'd also suggest you temporarily disable the virtual NIC to
>>>> rule out Windoof network activity as the problem.
> This had a definite effect.  With the virtual NIC (attached to NAT),
> it took Photoshop 50-55 sec to load.  Without the NIC, it took 12
> sec.

My "guess" would be that "something" "might" have wanted network access,
that something was chewing up resources now freed..... of course it may
be something as innocent as Windoof (or an application) trying to check
for updates, or simply wanting to scan the network for
workgroups/printers (or a dhcp server).

> This was reproducible.  In either case trying to print a 95KB JPG
> from Photoshop gave this:
> Cannot print.  Initialization error.  The error code is 10.

With the (virtual) NIC removed? Network printer?
If so, try changing to "print to file"....

NOTE: I haven't looked up that error code.

> The IDT error handler errors did not show up when the NIC was
> disabled. This all used to work with NAT.  Any ideas how to get it
> back?

IDT errors "may" be related to that IOMMU message - (IO pass through
from host device)

Getting the NIC back - is the reverse of disabling it - surely that's
not what you mean??

>> (or move to a proper OS like Debian)
> That is my host OS.  It may not be obvious, but I've be using various
> *IX since 1982 and learned those long before I learned DOS.  My hosts
> are all Debian.  I still need some access to Windows because of
> co-workers who use it.
Then you understand the problem :-)
I said it only because *some* people keep using some programs like
Photoshop as that's what they know... I don't bother trying to convert
co-workers/staff either (I have to put up with MS Access fans -
converting Windoof fans just means downtime.)

I'd try:-
; Exporting the problematic machine to the host that is running guests
quickly - see if that makes a difference (rule out the host).
; Update to the latest VirtualBox (and guest extensions)(rule out
VirtualBox code)
; Re-enabling and sniffing that NIC (rule out malware - I'd like to ban
Photoshop hosts from my networks without seeing all the licenses)
; Boot a Live CD with an updated version of ClamAV on it in the guest
machine and scan it (see above comment)

If you can rule out malware on the guest, and misconfiguration on the
host - then it's may be something network related. Hard for me to say
without knowing more about the guest than is relevant to the list.
Static IP address, bridged NIC, and some Windoof Network protocol
disabling might be instructive.

Sorry I can't be more definite.


[*1] sources.list entry should be fine for Wheezy - but check at
# wget -q
http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian/oracle_vbox.asc -O- |
apt-key add -
deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian squeeze contrib

Iceweasel/Firefox extensions for finding answers to Debian questions:-

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