Gnome has been Ubuntu’s default desktop environment for a while. Recently, some Ubuntu 17.10 users have started to observe a memory leak issue when running the Linux distro with Gnome Shell 3.26.2.
The bug which was also present in Ubuntu 17.04 running Gnome Shell 3.23 doesn’t seem to be linked to a specific application. It can be reproduced simply by using the system normally. Things as normal as opening the overview, minimizing to dock, switching windows, etc. are enough to trigger the memory leak. It grows over time only to interfere with the users’ day to day activities.
Users have reported that the memory consumption could go up to 2GB. However, the issue isn’t specific to Ubuntu; it mostly occurs after a Gnome shell animation. For instance, users might see increased memory consumption when pressing and holding Alt+Tab combination with more than 3 apps open.
Gnome developers are working to find the exact cause of the issue which is also present on Gnome Shell 3.28. They released a patch, but the same didn’t bring any wonders for the users.
A user Brislav Anchev has uploaded a YouTube video demonstrating the Gnome memory leak issue on his system running Fedora.
As per various user comments, the issue is also present on Ubuntu 18.04 daily builds. It’s unclear whether the memory leak problem will get fixed before the final release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS in April. The fix for the memory leak could arrive with the next point release for Gnome 3.28. If not, it would be a part of Gnome 3.30 which is expected to release in October.
While users with ample amount of RAM might not be to notice it, the ones with 4GB would be the most annoyed. Their memory might get consumed within two hours.
For now, the users who couldn’t benefit from the patch can restart Gnome Shell after a couple of hours to free up memory. To do this, press Alt + F2. Then type r and press Enter.