I can reproduce this by doing a mkimage on a large destination file
image. it looks like it causes all the desktop processes to get paged
out whilst it's doing so, and then the whole UI freezes until it
catches up.

I'll poke alc and others to see if I can figure out how to trace
what's going on. eg, are we running out of free pages and instead of
waiting, deciding we're okay just paging out binaries/libraries so we
can issue more dirty write io..

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