Compare to other linux distro, fedora runs freaking slow.....
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XP is the actually most "snappy" OS around - it's been optimised for responsiveness, much more so than OS X or Linux.
Fedora may be slightly slower than some other distributions on older hardware due to the demands of security features such SELinux. It shouldn't use 260Mb RAM unless you have multiple applications going, though. The best option for the OP is probably to use System Monitor to find where the memory is going, as command-line utilities like top may not give accurate results with graphical applications.
Originally posted by es7us I am also running a bunch of server software, that has to eat up some CPU. I'm sure the workstation version of FC4 is snappier, but maybe still slower than XP.
The "workstation" and "server" installation options actually just affect which software packages are installed. It's worth running System Monitor or the 'top' utility to get a feel for how Linux runs - you'll notice that your CPU does almost nothing most of the time, but Linux has lots of processes going on to support the graphical desktop all chewing memory, and much more of it than the server processes do. Once you are past the break even-point where Linux has enough memory it will use some of the excess to cache, which makes the system feel more responsive. My workstation is quite old, but with 768MB RAM Fedora whizzes even with VMWare and a bunch of network services. In contrast I have a laptop with 128MB RAM which struggles once you load more than a couple of applications.
I understand when things are not working quite right on your own system, but I think your situation should be researched to see what the issues are causing the problem. My experience is the same as the following review:
"The most noticeable improvement when you boot-up FC4 is how much faster the process is. It took only 55 seconds to get from the GRUB boot menu to the graphical login screen, compared to a minute 40 seconds in Fedora Core 3. GNOME’s startup time was a mere 16 seconds, down from 27 seconds in FC3. I found most applications to be more responsive, startup times for OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird have improved quite a bit."
If you are running a lot of services you don't need you can get a speedup by stopping the services you don't use. FC is usually compiled to a lower level processor than say mandrake or a gentoo. This will affect the speed also as it does not use those later processor instructions that allow the later processor to run code faster.