Update on Fedora 20 GNOME Shell memory consumption

An update to my prior post‘s numbers on memory consumption: it seems a large chunk of the apparent increase in GNOME Shell’s memory usage in Fedora 20 is, somehow, related to the fact that I tested in a VM. Testing on metal does not reproduce the same numbers: I see 173MB for Shell in top, only slightly higher than F19’s 160MB in a VM. I haven’t yet tried F19 on metal, but I will.

So far the theory is this is due to llvmpipe-based software rendering of the Shell being used in the VM. F19 was already using llvmpipe, so this would mean there must have been some kind of change in its memory use or memory use accounting between F19 and F20, but the situation does seem to be more complicated than just ‘Shell uses a ton more memory in F20 than F19’.

Many thanks to Jasper St. Pierre and Matthias Clasen for guiding me through a closer investigation of this, and our work has already borne some fruit: I also did some valgrind profiling, and that led to Jasper finding some issues with desktop background loading that should save 12MB or so in my test configuration.

I’ll keep on poking at this if I can find time, but right now work on F20 is taking priority. Unfortunately, it’s looking a bit like we may have to slip the Final release by a week, but we’ll make the final decision on Thursday…

11 Responses

  1. chalaka
    chalaka December 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm | | Reply


  2. Andrew
    Andrew December 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm | | Reply

    Nice follow-up indeed; I don’t have too much trouble with initial memory, but gnome-shell still leaks quite a bit for me in 3.10. After a week or so of running, I need a alt+f2 -> r to bring back sanity.

  3. Leslie Satenstein
    Leslie Satenstein December 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm | | Reply

    With every new Fedora release, we discover that new features are welcome, but come with a cost. I have Fedora 20 installed on 3 differently sized computers, from 1 gig, 3.5 gigs, and 8 gigs of memory. The Nov 5th beta on the 1 gig Netbook runs well. I can multi-task with that F20 version beta and this older netbook. I do compiling, web browsing and even concurrent yum updating and response is pretty good.

    What is the cost? It is the reduction in the small residual amount of free memory on my Netbook to avoid Linux using swap file space. Fortunately, this is not an issue for other two systems, my 3.5 gig and 8 gig systems.

    And by the way, compile times on my Atom netbook with F20 is eye blinking fast. GCC 4.8.2 is fast and it allows me to do full system recompiles in a little more than the blink of an eye.

    I do expect the final F20 release to have an even smaller footprint, as the extra debugging code introduced during beta testing will not be included. I have been waiting for final F20 for my Christmas gift.

  4. Leslie Satenstein
    Leslie Satenstein December 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm | | Reply

    How to do CaptChaas

    Write your comments and zhen zoom and zoom until the Captcha text is as large as needed in order to see each letter clearly.

    If still not clear when zoomed, choose another, until you can make out each letter. Remember — zoom

  5. andrew
    andrew December 7, 2013 at 6:24 am | | Reply

    Out of curiosity, I see that some memory leak fixes went in to the 3.11 branch of g-shell – are there any plans to backport them for 3.10 / F20 ?

  6. rbarbosafl
    rbarbosafl December 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm | | Reply

    Hey, i am currently experiencing that issue on a fresh Fedora 20 installation using GNOME shell. I have hybrid graphics but It`s not using llvmpipe, only the integrated card is activated (the Intel one). The discrete card (radeon) is disabled.

    At this time the gnome-shell process is using something about 700 MB of memory and i`m only using firefox with 1 active tab.

  7. rbarbosafl
    rbarbosafl December 20, 2013 at 4:52 am | | Reply

    Hello, i don’t have any plugins installed. I am still using the system as it’s installed (i don’t changed nothing, the wallpaper is still the same for example :p). At startup it’s using something about 300 MB of RAM but after a few usage minutes, it’s reaching 800~1 GB. It’s really annoying.

  8. rbarbosafl
    rbarbosafl December 20, 2013 at 10:34 am | | Reply

    Hello again, i am not sure if it can help but i’ve mapped out the gnome-shell process and apparently here in my system it’s something about the /usr/lib/locale/locale-archive file.

  9. rbarbosafl
    rbarbosafl December 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | | Reply

    Sorry for the double post. You can check the pmap output here: http://pastebin.com/x9EBsv0n

  10. Ruturaj K. Vartak
    Ruturaj K. Vartak January 18, 2014 at 4:26 am | | Reply

    F20 with Gnome shell is horrible, even with NO extensions on a laptop (non VM), it hogged close to 12% and more of my 4GB RAM with integrated Intel Chipset.

    I switched to Cinnamon, and now I’m happy, it stays close to 4.3%

    I really like Gnome, but if this is what will be coming through… I’ll stop using it one day !

    I’ve tried to search about gnome 3.10 memory leak but haven’t been as successful, found this post and commented my problems.

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