Comment 138 for bug 500069

Description of problem:
I was trying to copy a very large file (3.3 Gb iso of Fedora x86_64) to a flash drive, and after copying a few hundred megabytes (e.g. 300MB) the copying speed slowed down to around 500KB/s and it was going even lower gradually. It was really unacceptable (the remaining time was climbing up to over 1 hour and 30 minutes using nautilus to copy the file). I've tried different flash drives and different USB ports of my laptop, and there was no significant difference. I encountered this slow copying in past, but usually I've ignored it as the files was not that big. But this time it was really disappointing and I've decided to see why it is so slow.

iotop showed slow disk writes (it was often 0, jumping to some low values (usually less than 500KB/s) and lowering to 0 again) and lots of IO waiting time for pdflush. After searching a little in the Internet, I found that playing with dirty_ratio and dirty_background_ratio kernel parameters in /proc/sys/vm/ might help.

First, I lowered the dirty_background_ratio to 1 (default value is 10), and the disk write speed jumped to around 2.5 MB/s for awhile (around 1 or a few minutes) and then the speed dropped again to around 0.

Finally, I lowered the dirty_ratio parameter to 10 (default value is 20), and it resulted in a constant 2.5MB/s to 3MB/s disk read (from hard disk) and write (to usb disk) speed to the end of the copy operation (which took a few minutes rather than more than an hour!).

The problem is so weird and unacceptable.

As it might help, I have 1.5GBs of RAM and at the time of copy around 44% of it was used by running programs.

Version-Release number of selected component (if applicable):
kernel-2.6.31.12-174.2.3.fc12.x86_64
but the problem was observed in previous F12 kernels too.

How reproducible:
100% in my few tests.

Steps to Reproduce:
1. Start copying a large file (e.g. over 2GB) to a regular USB flash drive. Use a single big file rather than many small files.
2. Observe the copying speed

Actual results:
Very slow copying operation (around 450KB/s in my case)

Expected results:
Regular copy speed (2.5MB/s seems to be possible with my hardware and the mentioned settings)

Additional info:
I don't know if it helps but: the source file was on an NTFS mounted partition, and both of the partitions were mounted by Gnome.
The problem might be related to the mount options used by gnome, but doesn't seem to be related to nautilus. Since I get slow speeds even using dd to copy the file.