Groovy is horrible

ubuntu, groovy, distro, zfs

Oh my, I wasted half a day today! Thought I’d use Ubuntu 20.10 on two systems, so I did. I set them up with the new encrypted ZFS root, because hey, it’s 2021 and these things are possible now, right?

First thing that was strange is that it took half a day as opposed to an hour so sync in some files. Turns out that KDE installed with the kde-standard package, enables the baloo file indexer. Now, I thought baloo’s horrible performance was a thing of the distant past, but apparently not. This is on an SSD, mind you. Well, turned that off. Still tons of IO activity whilst doing absolutely nothing. snapd is eating half a CPU. OK, I guess I forgot that regular Ubuntu has that enabled by default, and Kubuntu not. The other thing eating 10-20% CPU is z_wr_iss, apparently responsible for ZFS compression. Why under near 0 user load there would be tons of activity, I don’t know. Then, every other boot there is an unclear problem necessitating a hard reset. Reminds me too much of Windows, so I’m going back to good old Kubuntu (on btrfs), which has none of these problems.

I tried Opensuse Leap for a week by the way. Four things were a bit of a turn off: you need to enter your full disk encryption passphrase twice, and that is by design (I’d accept a unencrypted boot). Boot is long even apart from this Secondly, installation took ages. Reminded me of installing Windows from floppy, it took nearly two hours! Third, the VLC package is stripped of modern codecs like H246 and AAC. For that, there’s a second package, but that caused some conflicts. I think due to the secondary repo overriding versions but in such a way I had to give the OK for every sub-package. Then, even though it was the latest version of the distro, it came with kernel 5.3. Even Ubuntu 20.04 comes with 5.4. Other packages seemed more current though, although I only checked a handful of packages. It was snappy and OK! I might try Tumbleweed on my dev machine in a few months, but as it stands, Kubuntu is not worse for systems that I want to have running a slightly more conservative distro than Fedora/current Ubuntu.

[Update] I discovered what made baloo so slow under kde-standard: it has file content indexing on by default, unlike in Kubuntu, Neon, Opensuse, Fedora.

Second update is that installing Kubuntu on btrfs-on-luks is more difficult than I thought. I lay out the drive in partitionmanager before I start the install, and while I can set all partitions up, Kubuntu boots me into a busybox prompt without any info. I tried various configuration permutations, but all resulted in the same. I did notice that at no point my luks passphrase was being requested. Turns out /etc/crypttab is not being written by the installer!

The solution, puzzled together, was the following:

Now, the system boots as you’d expect.