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Old 04-18-2005, 01:56 PM   #1
Nightfrost
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distro optimizations


I was wondering which ones of the popular distros are compiled with i686 optimizations. AFAIK Debian and Ubuntu for example are compiled for i386.

The reason I'm asking is because I've recently tried out Archlinux and I find it extremely fast in comparison to e.g. Ubuntu, so now I'm curious which ones are optimized for i686 and which ones are optimized for i386. Also, I can't help wondering why a distro aimed primarily for desktop users would NOT be optimized for i686. Thanks for your thoughts.
 
Old 04-18-2005, 01:57 PM   #2
XavierP
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www.distrowatch.com would be a very good place to start.
 
Old 04-18-2005, 02:10 PM   #3
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Thanks. I've actually been look around there. But it's not always that clear how packages are compiled. But I guess if it's not explicitly stated that the distro is optimized for i686, then it simply isn't...
 
Old 04-18-2005, 02:10 PM   #4
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slackware is compiled for i486 systems
 
Old 04-18-2005, 02:22 PM   #5
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ArchLinux is i686 optimized.. and it's blazing
 
Old 04-18-2005, 02:43 PM   #6
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One of the things I've noticed is that there's an enormous overall speed boost when moving from -march=i386 to -march=i686. The difference seems to me to be much much greater than going from -march=i686 to, say, -march=pentium4. So first question, cb951303: if you've ever used distros compiled for i386, is there a noticable speed boost compared to slackware?

I totally agree with you, halo14, Archlinux is very impressive. But I'm curious to know if everyone who's compared i386-optimizations to i686-optimizations really feel the difference or not. (I should perhaps mention that I've tried these distros on a p4-3.2GHz and a p3-850Mhz).

Now, if there really is such in increase in speed, then I'd like to know why distros aimed for the end-desktop user are compiled for anything less than i686. Slackware being i486 is sort of understandable. I imagine lots of people use slackware on 486-machines. But a distro like ubuntu? I doubt anyone with a i486 or i586 processor run it.

What do you think?
 
Old 04-18-2005, 02:58 PM   #7
halo14
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i concur with that.. i think it's just because most software is still compiled with i386 compatibility. Some things break occasionally when combining non-i686 with i686 compiled stuff.. I haven't had much problems.. but..

I definitely agree the speed increase between i386 and i686. Actually I feel the that Arch being i686 optimized binaries are significantly faster than Gentoo being p4 optimized on my notebook. HP Pavilion ze5270 (Pentium4 2.4 GHz, 512 MB DDR, 40 GB Hitachi HDD)

I tried multiple optimization flags, lack-there-of, and everything in between, and arch just always seemed to outperform it. Maybe I'm crazy? Maybe it was all in my head? I don't know.. but the ease/speed of installing pre-optimized binaries that run fast, tremendously outweighs the time needed to compile everything from scratch....

However, I also run FreeBSD servers and I have to compile everything from scratch with that too.. but.. I find it's performance excellent as well. And compiling is quite a bit faster on BSD than on Linux...at least it feels that way.

Anyways... I feel that I may have gotten off track so I'll stop there.

Last edited by halo14; 04-18-2005 at 03:00 PM.
 
Old 04-18-2005, 03:09 PM   #8
Nightfrost
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(no problem getting off track - I wasn't really looking for a clear cut answer anyway )
Hmm... I've been thinking alot about trying freebsd but I haven't really found the time yet. I think I read somewhere that hardware support isn't as well on freebsd compared to linux..

By the way, if you're comparing archlinux on a stationary computer with gentoo on laptop, your harddrive might be the bottle neck, since laptop hard drives are normally alot slower than desktops.

I think any distribution aiming to be an all purpose desktop system must be compiled with i686. At least if it wants to stand any chance against other popular (non-linux) operating systems...
 
Old 04-18-2005, 03:23 PM   #9
halo14
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nope.. I was talking about arch/gentoo on the same notebook, dual-boot. Even had Gentoo on the inside

FreeBSd is nice. I first used it when 5.1 was released..though I had only been using Linux for a couple months at that point, and just wasn't ready for it. Now that I felt more comfortable with understanding more of the command line operations, I tried again when 5.3 was released. It definitely went much better. I love FreeBSD, it's just kind of a pain for multimedia stuff because of Java, Flash, etc. But there is a Linux binary compatibility you can install.

With that said, I would(and do) absolutely use FreeBSD on my servers before Linux, and Linux for general/multimedia desktop. I currently have my arch desktop looking a lot like OSX, using Baghira, KSmoothDock, etc.. See it here
 
Old 04-18-2005, 04:53 PM   #10
Nightfrost
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Quote:
nope.. I was talking about arch/gentoo on the same notebook, dual-boot. Even had Gentoo on the inside
yeah, in that case it's pretty amazing. The only thing I don't really like with arch right now (which is bound to change I guess) is the small size of the official repositories. There were some things I'd wanted that weren't there.

By the way, I really like the way your desktop looks. You might want to try Kooldock as well, which is a fork of Ksmoothdock (I don't have the link here but just google for it).
 
Old 04-19-2005, 07:43 AM   #11
halo14
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neat, thanks.

The cool thing with Arch, is that users are free to use ABS to make an Arch pakage from any source code with ABS. Also, the TUR's are great, and that includes a huge number of packages. Also, the AUR (Arch User Repos) so when you use ABS to make a package, you cans tick it up on AUR so anyone can use it. The only distro I know that does that!

True, it's packages are still not as full as something like Debian or Gentoo, but it has what I need.
 
Old 04-19-2005, 12:59 PM   #12
Nightfrost
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Yeah, ABS is one of the things that I really appreciated. That makes (in theory at least) archlinux have that special something of gentoo, but will still be fast to install as it's binary based. I haven't had much time to look at it though - how does it compare to portage?

the TURs and AURs seem really interesting. I don't really know what they are - but from what you mention they might be rendering my only complaint irrelevant
 
Old 04-19-2005, 01:51 PM   #13
halo14
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The TUR's http://tur.archlinux.org is packages that "Trusted Arch Users" have made and put up on the Arch servers. You can simply add it to the pacman.conf and that way you have all these other progs available. AUR, http://aur.archlinux.org is where you can upload your own packages, and download other peoples packages as well. I haven't much used the AUR so I'm not sure if you can add it to the pacman repos. But I do frequently get stuff the TURs.. and the only thing about that is that you have a couple more lists to sync with when you 'pacman -Syu'

It's nice though, and very easy to set up.
 
  


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