Significant lag when composing emails

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Significant lag when composing emails

André Müller
Hello everybody,

my OS is Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS (kernel 5.3.0-62-generic) and I am using the flatpak version of Evolution, which is version 3.36.4 (by Flathub.org). I am using evolution (together with evolution-ews) in order to access my emails, calendar and contacts from an Office 365 account in the Internet. It all just works and I am quite happy, BUT I experience very significant lag when I am composing emails with long histories. The lag is so significant that it makes the program unusable for me, the characters sometimes take a few seconds to appear on the screen. When I say "emails with long histories" I am talking about emails where I went back and forth with a customer and the list of quoted emails at the bottom of my message is several pages long. I hope it is clear what I mean by that.

Is there anything I can do to prevent this lag? is this a known issue? Do you need any further information in order to provide help?

Best regards,
André​ Müller

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
Hi,

in my long time experiences with Evolution the composer sometimes
suffers from a few negligible hickups, when installing it from official
Arch Linux repos, but nothing that serious as you experience. In my
experiences Evolution from official Ubuntu repositories sometimes worked
and sometimes it was completely unusable, depending on the Ubuntu
release.

I can't comment on the flatpak, however, sandboxed MUAs are known to
cause issues. At least I read about Evolution and Claws not working
properly when installed as a Flatpack or Snap on several Linux mailing
lists.

You could try an external editor, https://help.gnome.org/users/evolution/stable/mail-composer-external-editor.html.en .
I don't know if it works when Evolution is sandboxed by a flatpak or
snap. Even if it should work, an external editor IMO is less
comfortable, but in your case it might not suffer from the issue you
described, IOW it might be worth testing it.

You probably won't use  https://packages.ubuntu.com/bionic-updates/evolution
since 3.28.5 is that old, but maybe it works without issues.

Ubuntu already provides the next LTS, with the quite new version
3.36.3, https://packages.ubuntu.com/focal-updates/evolution .
Maybe it's worth to enforce a release upgrade,
https://ubuntu.com/blog/how-to-upgrade-from-ubuntu-18-04-lts-to-20-04-lts-today .

The problem of Evolution running on Ubuntu from official Ubuntu
repositories seems to be, that it is from universe,
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Repositories#Universe , it anyway
might be a better choice than using a flatpak.

Did you try a flatpak of the "unstable development version",
https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Evolution/Flatpak ? Maybe it's more stable
than the one you are using?

Regards,
Ralf

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Patrick O'Callaghan
In reply to this post by André Müller
On Wed, 2020-07-22 at 12:45 +0000, André Müller wrote:
> Hello everybody,
>
> my OS is Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS (kernel 5.3.0-62-generic) and I am using the flatpak version of Evolution, which is version 3.36.4 (by Flathub.org). I am using evolution (together with evolution-ews) in order to access my emails, calendar and contacts from an Office 365 account in the Internet. It all just works and I am quite happy, BUT I experience very significant lag when I am composing emails with long histories. The lag is so significant that it makes the program unusable for me, the characters sometimes take a few seconds to appear on the screen. When I say "emails with long histories" I am talking about emails where I went back and forth with a customer and the list of quoted emails at the bottom of my message is several pages long. I hope it is clear what I mean by that.
>
> Is there anything I can do to prevent this lag? is this a known issue? Do you need any further information in order to provide help?

An obvious solution is "don't quote every previous email in a reply".
It's a ridiculous practice instigated by Microsoft which adds nothing
of value. However that's not always possible to avoid because of
corporate standards.

Are you composing in HTML? That's probably at the root of the problem.
I think Milan has mentioned an improved composer coming soon, so that
may correct the issue. In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext
if possible.

poc

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Wed, 2020-07-22 at 14:58 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> I think Milan has mentioned an improved composer coming soon, so that
> may correct the issue. In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext
> if possible.

        Hi,
that's correct, the 3.38.0 will have a fresh new composer. It would be
interesting to know whether it'll help here as well.

I'd ask to give it a try beforehand, but it's in the development
version only, which means there are bugs in the code. I cannot
recommend it for production (even I use it myself). In case you'd like
to give it a try, you can build your own Flatpak version from the
current sources as described here:
https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Evolution/Flatpak

The only difference in the commands is that wherever you see "-stable"
in the command text you replace it with "-master", like for example
here:

  $ flatpak-builder --force-clean org.gnome.Evolution-stable org.gnome.Evolution-stable.json

you'll use (it's replaced twice there):

  $ flatpak-builder --force-clean org.gnome.Evolution-master org.gnome.Evolution-master.json

More info can be found on that wiki page. Again, please note this is a
development version, with its own bugs. Thus use it with caution. Also,
you cannot have installed the Flathub version and the manually built
version at the same time, because they both use the org.gnome.Evolution
name (thus they share local data).
        Bye,
        Milan

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

André Müller
Hi all,

thanks for the helpful responses so far.

However that's not always possible to avoid because of corporate standards.
That is it, unfortunately. However, it seems I have to change these standards, as they lead to issues.

In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext if possible.
I tried that and it did not help as intended. However, surprisingly it did reveal that the opposite is true. When I am writing in plaintext mode, I have this excessive lag: each character being delayed by some milliseconds and sometime more. Sometimes it freezes while typing and then in a burst all characters come at once. When I am writing in HTML mode, everything is fine. No noticeable amount of lag. Again, this only happens when having a long "history of quoted emails".
That is really surprising to me, but that is how it is. I have tried with the version coming from the Ubuntu 18.04 repositories as well as the flatpak developer version. It is basically the same for both. 

that's correct, the 3.38.0 will have a fresh new composer. It would be interesting to know whether it'll help here as well.
I tried it, but unfortunately (as described above) there is not really a difference. I got the huge lag in plain text mode and it is working fine in HTML mode. 

Best regards,
André

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Patrick O'Callaghan
On Tue, 2020-07-28 at 08:17 +0000, André Müller wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> thanks for the helpful responses so far.
>
> However that's not always possible to avoid because of corporate standards.
> That is it, unfortunately. However, it seems I have to change these standards, as they lead to issues.
>
> In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext if possible.
> I tried that and it did not help as intended. However, surprisingly it did reveal that the opposite is true. When I am writing in plaintext mode, I have this excessive lag: each character being delayed by some milliseconds and sometime more. Sometimes it freezes while typing and then in a burst all characters come at once. When I am writing in HTML mode, everything is fine. No noticeable amount of lag. Again, this only happens when having a long "history of quoted emails".
> That is really surprising to me, but that is how it is. I have tried with the version coming from the Ubuntu 18.04 repositories as well as the flatpak developer version. It is basically the same for both.
>
> that's correct, the 3.38.0 will have a fresh new composer. It would be interesting to know whether it'll help here as well.
> I tried it, but unfortunately (as described above) there is not really a difference. I got the huge lag in plain text mode and it is working fine in HTML mode.

Please use proper quoting style with attribution (such as in this
reply). It's important to follow one of the conventional quoting
styles, preferably the Evolution default setting, in order to make your
posts legible for everyone on the list, including the majority who do
not read the HTML version (and even in the HTML version you don't give
attribution.)

poc

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Pete Biggs
In reply to this post by André Müller

> > In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext if possible.
>
> I tried that and it did not help as intended. However, surprisingly
> it did reveal that the opposite is true. When I am writing in
> plaintext mode, I have this excessive lag: each character being
> delayed by some milliseconds and sometime more. Sometimes it freezes
> while typing and then in a burst all characters come at once. When I
> am writing in HTML mode, everything is fine. No noticeable amount of
> lag. Again, this only happens when having a long "history of quoted
> emails".
> That is really surprising to me, but that is how it is. I have tried
> with the version coming from the Ubuntu 18.04 repositories as well as
> the flatpak developer version. It is basically the same for both.

It's certainly not something I have seen reported before - I admit I
don't compose emails with massive amounts of text, but I have never
noticed any laggy-ness with the composer - I've just tried a reply to a
550k mail and there was no issues.  How big are the emails? (Easiest
way to see is to add a 'Size' column to the message list window.)

If you reply using a different style - as a test - such as using an
attachment or inline style - is it still a problem. (Use Ctrl-Atl-R to
get a menu that allows the selection.)

Can you see how the system is responding in general - why is evolution
having problems? Is there something else on the system taking CPU time?
Memory?  Is evolution using a lot of memory? Is the system swapping
lots? What are the specs of the system? What GUI system are you using?

P.


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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
In reply to this post by André Müller
On Tue, 2020-07-28 at 10:17 +0200, André Müller wrote:
> When I am writing in plaintext mode, I have this excessive lag: each
> character being delayed by some milliseconds and sometime more.
> Sometimes it freezes while typing and then in a burst all characters
> come at once. When I am writing in HTML mode, everything is fine.

        Hi,
that reminded me of some old issue, which I do not have a link to
handy, where had been reported similar lags and, if I recall it
correctly (my memory proves to be rusty and wrong in time), the problem
was related to assistive technologies, I think it was enough to have it
enabled and it could do some such weird things. I think one bug was
even about preventing to write certain letters into the composer
message body. And there was something about libharfbuzz too, though it
might be for the message preview only.

I do not say it's only it, there can be multiple problems. If the lag
is long enough to switch to a terminal and invoke a command there
(especially when the Evolution itself is also frozen), then you can
prepare a command like this:

   $ gdb --batch --ex "t a a bt" -pid=`pidof evolution` &>bt.txt

to see what Evolution does (or waits for) in time of it being frozen.
Please check the bt.txt for any private information, like passwords,
email address, server addresses,... I usually search for "pass" at
least (quotes for clarity only), before sharing it anywhere, because it
can contain such information. Also, to have usable backtrace, make sure
you have installed also debuginfo (dbg) packages for evolution-data-
server and evolution (your Ubuntu splits these into several packages,
one for each subpart of the evolution/-data-server; I do not know how
to effectively search for the related packages in your system, I'm
sorry).

In case the Evolution process is not frozen, then the lag is caused by
one of the WebKitWebProcess processes, the one associated to the
message composer. It might be the latest, as the first composer window
creates one (and the last composer window closes it when it's closed).
It might be waiting for something, probably.

You can also try to turn off spell checking, uncheck everything in the
Edit->Current Languages in the composer window.

I do not know whether anything from the above will be helpful for you,
to debug possible cause of the problem.
        Bye,
        Milan

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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Tue, 28 Jul 2020 11:08:34 +0200, Milan Crha via evolution-list wrote:
>Also, to have usable backtrace, make sure you have installed also
>debuginfo (dbg) packages for evolution-data- server and evolution
>(your Ubuntu splits these into several packages, one for each subpart
>of the evolution/-data-server; I do not know how to effectively search
>for the related packages in your system, I'm sorry).

The list of all Evolution packages:

https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/evolution

How to get the packages:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Debug%20Symbol%20Packages

( More info on Ubuntu related debugging:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingProgramCrash )
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Re: Significant lag when composing emails

Ángel González
In reply to this post by André Müller
On 2020-07-28 at 08:17 +0000, André Müller wrote:

> > In the meantime, consider writing in plaintext if possible.
> I tried that and it did not help as intended. However, surprisingly it
> did reveal that the opposite is true. When I am writing in plaintext
> mode, I have this excessive lag: each character being delayed by some
> milliseconds and sometime more. Sometimes it freezes while typing and
> then in a burst all characters come at once. When I am writing in HTML
> mode, everything is fine. No noticeable amount of lag. Again, this
> only happens when having a long "history of quoted emails".
> That is really surprising to me, but that is how it is. I have tried
> with the version coming from the Ubuntu 18.04 repositories as well as
> the flatpak developer version. It is basically the same for both.


It doesn't seem to fit well with plaintext editing also being affected,
but may be worth a look anyway.

I would suggest to have a close look at the involved signatures, as
those are the parts that will be included continuously (and may be some
of the worst pieces of html in the thread, as well).

My first hypothesis was that perhaps in that long thread there are some
embedded images that the composer might be continuously trying to load
(even if it is failing). It may be valuable to test with evolution in
offline mode, or directly, the network disabled.

Merely in the html field, are there unbalanced tags there? That could
cause some heavy processing (although it's surprising that would be so
noticeable).


Best




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