Red Hat 9 seems to perform well on my computer. My Athlon XP+ runs at 2074 MHz and has 512 Mb of RAM. Most programs run very quickly. However, OpenOffice does take about 12 seconds to load. At least it does run well once it is loaded. I use the Linux version of Textmaker as my word processor instead because it loads in only about a second or so. It is not free, but it is full featured and is lean and fast. I also plan to purchase their new spread sheet when it becomes available. In the meantime, with the help of Crossover Office from Codeweavers, I have been able to run Excel 97 under Red Hat 9 as my spreadsheet. Excel 97 starts up quickly under Red Hat 9. Mozilla also loads up very slowly and I plan to try the Mozilla Firebird browser instead. I have heard that it is a good browser that is leaner and faster. Mozilla Firebird is still in a beta version but many people seem to prefer it. My computer almost seems to strain to load Mozilla and OpenOffice.
At one time I had Red Hat 9 on my older computer and it ran ok on it as well. My older computer is a 266MHz Pentium II with 192 MB of RAM. It did ok but was not quite as quick at the Red Hat 8 so on my older computer I switched back to Red Hat 8.
Does your performace problem go beyond what I have described above? If so does the problem occur when accessing the hard disk, displaying graphics, loading programs or what? I am still somewhat of a newbie and do not have much other advice. With most programs Red Hat 9 seems to perform as quickly as well as Windows does on this computer.