This refers to the reference Bitcoin client (bitcoin-qt), version 0.7.2. While it was catching up with the blockchain, it did cause such a high I/O waitstate load that working on the same computer alongside was very frustrating to impossible.

Setting bitcoin-qt to low CPU and IO priority helped a bit, but not too much:

ionice -c 3 -p $(pidof -s $(which bitcoin-qt))

renice -n 20 -p $(pidof -s $(which bitcoin-qt))

Additionally setting the main application(s) you work with to higher prioritoes helps more, but it won't be great still:

sudo ionice -c 2 -n 0 -p $(pidof -s firefox)

sudo renice -n -10 -p $(pidof -s firefox)

The underlying problem is the inefficient disk I/O activity of the BerkeleyDB used in the reference client bitcoin-qt. It will be solved in one of the next (after 0.7.2) releases by switching to a different DB engine [source]. Until then (or even at all) you may switch to the Blockinfo My Wallet online wallet. It does store the private keys in encrypted form, and does decryption only locally with JavaScript in the browser – so if they did an honest implementation of that, their service is not prone to theft as have been other Bitcoin online wallets before. (But: Use at your own risk anyway, do not blame me, do not put in your lifetime savings etc. …)

There are also alternative solutions for some situations like downloading the blockchain directly.

One thought on “How to work on the computer while bitcoin-qt is downloading blockchain parts?

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