Updated: I received a notification from Launchpad that the bug has been fixed in an upstream version of w3m.
Every once in a while, for what seemed to be no explicable reason, my work machine (a quad-core 27″ iMac running Ubuntu 10.04) has been slowing down to an absolute crawl, falling over and dying. It’s been infuriating, and I haven’t had any luck trying to work out what might be causing it. Until now.
As it started slowing down and thrashing, I was able to run ps, only to find this process sitting there chewing up almost all the memory and half the swap on my 4 gigabyte machine:
tom 14334 1.7 53.3 3096296 2159932 ? DN \ 16:49 0:06 w3m -o indent_incr=0 -o multicol=false \ -o no_cache=true -o use_cookie=false -o display_charset=utf8 \ -o system_charset=utf8 -o follow_locale=false -o \ use_language_tag=true -o ucs_conv=true -T text/html -dump /home/tom/firefox-src-jssh/firefox-3.6.6+nobinonly/\ build-tree/mozilla/layout/html/tests/table/bugs/bug141818.html
For some reason, a text-based web browser (w3m) is sitting there going quietly insane while trying to make a dump of an HTML file in my home directory. That HTML is a regression test that’s sitting in the firefox build tree. That means it’s a bad file. It’s supposed to make web browsers crash.
The parent process for w3m is “evolution-data-server-2.28″.
I have questions. For brevity, I shall abbreviate “What the FUCK” as WTF and “Why the HELL” as WTH.
- WTF is evolution-data-server anyway? Why do I have it? Why do I need to run it? I don’t use evolution.
- WTH are you scanning my home directory? What are you looking for?
- WTH is w3m trying to parse random HTML files buried in firefox source trees in my directory?
- If there is some valid reason for it, then WTH isn’t evolution-data-server putting some kind of resource limit on w3m, to prevent it from crashing the whole damn computer?
- WTF, man? Just, WTF?
At this point, I’m actually hoping that it’s all much simpler: that somehow my work machine has been compromised, and w3m is actually running a rootkit of some kind. At least that way it’s just me who’s been monumentally stupid.
Otherwise, the moral of the story is simple: If you’re running Ubuntu, and you unpack the firefox source code for some reason, your computer will die.