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Old 12-17-2003, 11:28 AM   #1
jbrush
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What can I do to speed up Linux?


Greetings.

My computer is an AMD 500MHz, 384 Megs, IDE drives, Matrox Millenium video. I use Windwoes 2000 and OS/2 Warp4 constantly. From a performance standpoint, they both run equally fast, open and close windows pretty much instantly, file searches, and other tasks are done quickly enough that even with a PCB layout pakage, I have no inclination to want to upgrade the system.

About a year ago, I got a copy of RH 7.3 and installed it. Being a newbie, I was not very succesful learning it, and I found it to be very slow, so that coupled with always making mistakes and learning, I finally just gave it up.

I recently got Knoppix 3.3 and thought it a good idea to use it as just the CD,. Once I got a bit better at using it, I installed it to the HD. Everything went well, but it is still too slow for me to use as anything more than a lark. I installed to a 3 gig partition with an 800 meg swap.

I have tried the KDE, ICEWM, and other desktops and the results are the same. Unusable. Now, I know that all of you are using it , and loving it, so I assume there is something I can do to speed this up and make it a pleasure to use, instead of a headache and total frustration. :)

I loaded Debian 2.1 and RH 7.2 from the library to see if they were equally slow, and yes, they are very unresponsive and pretty much unusable as well as this Koppix/Debian install.

Slow means when I click the start button, it takes a full second to open the menus. Slow means that when I open a file manager, it takes 10 seconds. I timed it over and over again. Slow is changing directories and waiting two or three seconds for the display to refresh. Slow is a file search that takes nearly four minutes, searching only the Linux drive. Slow is watching windows redraw, and actions taking just way to long, relative to what I am used to on this machine using OS/2 and other systems.

I was asked elsewhere to run hdparm and the results are:

root@linux:~# sudo hdparm /dev/hdb5

/dev/hdb5:
multcount = 16 (on)
IO_support = 1 (32-bit)
unmaskirq = 1 (on)
using_dma = 1 (on)
keepsettings = 0 (off)
readonly = 0 (off)
readahead = 8 (on)
geometry = 2491/255/63, sectors = 6249159, start = 126
root@linux:~# hdparm -tT /dev/hdb5

/dev/hdb5:
Timing buffer-cache reads: 204 MB in 2.00 seconds = 102.00 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 52 MB in 3.06 seconds = 16.99 MB/sec

Anyone well versed in fine tuning and getting the most speed out of Linux? Other systems have tweaks that help, so I assume there are some things that can be done to speed this puppy up. but I sure don't know what they are

Anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do to tune this thing up and get it to where it is useful?

Thanks for any advice or pointers.

John
 
Old 12-17-2003, 12:29 PM   #2
saint
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Hello!
Congratulations on taking the first steps on your journey to Linux nirvana. Here are a few suggestions that you may find useful
Though personally I think you are facing this problem because you are experimenting with an older distribution. Hope that helps
 
Old 12-17-2003, 03:09 PM   #3
jpbarto
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just off the top of my head, begin by going through the start up scripts. using the 'ps' utility find out what is running on your system and using the web determine what you don't need. Then edit the startup scripts so that those processes aren't started (will help free up cpu / memory).

Also use of a lightweight desktop will help (like fluxbox / blackbox, enlightenment, or xfce).

let us know how things go...
 
Old 12-17-2003, 03:57 PM   #4
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Since the HDD throughput seems fast enough
and you complained about the windows opening
slowly I'd suggest to have a look at
/var/log/XFree86.0.log
and see which module/graphics driver it uses.

[edit]
Also, as jpbarto suggested, use top to find
CPU and/or memory hogs. (Shft+M, Shft+P
to toggle between sorting by RAM/CPU).

Check how much swap-space is actually
being used.

Shutdown services/daemons you don't need.
[/edit]


Nice to see an OS/2 user here, btw, I've only
given up on it very recently ;) because my new
notebook wouldn't support it :}


Cheers,
Tink (former member of TeamOS/2, still missing the WPS)


Last edited by Tinkster; 12-17-2003 at 04:01 PM.
 
Old 12-17-2003, 04:16 PM   #5
jbrush
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Thank you both. I am looking for ways to peek under the hood, as it were, and top and ps are two tools I can use to do that.

I am pasting the output of ps -A at the end of this post, and would only ask if its normal for the same application to be listed multiple times?

As I did the ps- A, I have this browser open, and two shell windows, under KDE. I tried invoking fluxbox as the desktop, and frankly didn't see much improvement.

I do not see anything that is eating huge amounts of CPU, and when I open an close apps, the CPU usage does not peg at 100%, which is remarkable to me. It appears that I am running everything out of RAM and no swapping to the hard drive is occuring, which I should think ought to make things pretty fast.

All I can share is that when I started using OS/2 a hundred years ago, I felt much the same as I do now, in that I didn't know how to tweak it, and I thought it was a pig. I am quite frustrated to think that being a version or two behind would make my system so slow. I would not infer that it isn't true, but how much faster would the latest Debian be vs what I have now, and what happened to the talk about how linux is lean and screams on older hardware? :-) My stuff isn't that old, and I have more RAM than most older machines.

Anyway, may I ask if anyone knows a place to search out the processes and learn what is what? I can deal with buying a newer version, but first I need some assurance that it would do any good, and I will have to go around and around over which one to get. When I mention RH in some groups, I get lots of grief as to the company, and the distro. Slackware gets nice comments, and some others seem well regarded.

I don't have a broadband connection to just go and get distro's, so I have to figure which one is gonna work. Truth be told, I would think Linux would run just as fast as OS/2 or Windows on the same machine, but like I pointed out, on this machine, that is not even close to a fact.

Is there a way to pause the output during bootup, so I can start learning what is going on? The keyboard PAUSE doesn't work. Is it written to a log file anywhere?

I am grateful for the help, and would appreciate it if you could just put up with what may appear to be whining on my part for just a little longer :-) I am gonna fix this, as I hate to lose, but the frustration level sometimes rises and gets the best of me.

Thanks very much.

++++++++++++++++++
root@linux:~# ps -A
PID TTY TIME CMD
1 ? 00:00:06 init
2 ? 00:00:00 keventd
0 ? 00:00:00 ksoftirqd_CPU0
0 ? 00:00:00 kswapd
0 ? 00:00:00 bdflush
0 ? 00:00:00 kupdated
47 ? 00:00:00 kapmd
49 ? 00:00:00 khubd
74 ? 00:00:00 pagebufd
75 ? 00:00:00 xfslogd/0
76 ? 00:00:00 xfsdatad/0
144 ? 00:00:00 portmap
210 ? 00:00:00 syslogd
213 ? 00:00:00 klogd
220 ? 00:00:00 inetd
228 ? 00:00:00 cupsd
258 ? 00:00:00 atd
261 ? 00:00:00 cron
266 ? 00:00:00 kdm
269 tty1 00:00:00 getty
270 tty2 00:00:00 getty
271 tty3 00:00:00 getty
272 tty4 00:00:00 getty
273 tty5 00:00:00 getty
274 tty6 00:00:00 getty
275 ? 00:01:38 X
461 ? 00:00:00 kdm
499 ? 00:00:00 kde3
526 ? 00:00:00 ssh-agent
542 ? 00:00:00 kdeinit
545 ? 00:00:00 kdeinit
548 ? 00:00:00 kdeinit
550 ? 00:00:17 kdeinit
564 ? 00:00:01 kdeinit
565 ? 00:00:00 kwrapper
567 ? 00:00:01 kdeinit
568 ? 00:00:03 kdeinit
569 ? 00:00:00 wmxmms
571 ? 00:00:04 kdeinit
573 ? 00:00:11 kdeinit
574 ? 00:00:00 kdeinit
577 ? 00:00:01 kdeinit
578 ? 00:00:09 kdeinit
579 pts/0 00:00:00 bash
589 pts/0 00:00:05 top
598 ? 00:00:02 kppp
599 ? 00:00:00 kppp
602 ? 00:01:16 mozilla-bin
611 ? 00:00:00 mozilla-bin
612 ? 00:00:00 mozilla-bin
613 ? 00:00:00 mozilla-bin
615 ? 00:00:00 gconfd-2
616 ? 00:00:00 mozilla-bin
617 ? 00:00:00 mozilla-bin
618 ttyS0 00:00:00 pppd
657 ? 00:00:02 kdeinit
658 pts/1 00:00:00 bash
670 pts/1 00:00:00 ps
 
Old 12-17-2003, 04:32 PM   #6
Tinkster
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Quote:
Originally posted by jbrush
I do not see anything that is eating huge amounts of CPU, and when I open an close apps, the CPU usage does not peg at 100%, which is remarkable to me. It appears that I am running everything out of RAM and no swapping to the hard drive is occuring, which I should think ought to make things pretty fast.
It should indeed...

Quote:
I would not infer that it isn't true, but how much faster would the latest Debian be vs what I have now, and what happened to the talk about how linux is lean and screams on older hardware? :-)
When I mention RH in some groups, I get lots of grief as to the company, and the distro. Slackware gets nice comments, and some others seem well regarded.
I'd personally go with Slack ... ;)
I don't think that newer versions perform better
necessarily. If I were you I'd grab Slack 8.1,
and install XFree 3.3.X from source rather than
using the 4 branch that comes with Slack.

Quote:
Is there a way to pause the output during bootup, so I can start learning what is going on? The keyboard PAUSE doesn't work. Is it written to a log file anywhere?
No pausing, but you can run dmesg once the box
is up, and it will show you what's been done.

Quote:
75 ? 00:00:00 xfslogd/0
76 ? 00:00:00 xfsdatad/0
258 ? 00:00:00 atd
Have you actually used xfs during install?
If you don't make use of the at command
you won't need that daemon.

And please, as I said in the previous post,
check which driver X is using.



Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 12-17-2003, 11:19 PM   #7
jbrush
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Ooooo! Thanks folks for the utilities you are mentioning for checking out my system. I know everything is in there somewhere, but the idiot books at the libraries don't speak about them very much and I can sure use them.

I checked the xserver video and it was set to generic, so I fixed that up along with the right monitor settings. Can't say it did much, but I expect that what I am doing is going to be cumulative. Turned off the animations and fancy icon graphics (can't recall exactly what menu) and things got a bit snappier as to be expected. I just hate to lose the nice look.

I was playing with it tonight and made more of a mess than I did towards cleaning up :-) I have to admit I am not convinced that buying a newer version will speed things up much. In the other world of M$ and OS/2, if you have older hardware, you run older OS's, no Win2K on a P166, right. I can see with "top" that my system runs completely from RAM, so I know it can be made to run to my liking. Perhaps I just have to work through the mindset, but I came into Linux having read about how fast it was, even on older hardware, so I am hoping to prove that correct before investing in another distro. Thank you all for your patience <g>

I have a couple questions to give me something to think about, if I may.

It was asked "Have you actually used xfs during install?
If you don't make use of the at command
you won't need that daemon."

I see it in the processes, but I have no idea what it is. Little help?

When I shut down and forget to stop the PPP connection, a restart brings up the window to reconnect. Is there a way to make it start and forget what it was doing before I shut down? (OS/2 set restartobjects=startupoldersonly) and is there a startup folder feature?

In OS/2, I can save my desktop settings, then experiment, screw around and make a mess of things, and then just restore the desktop as it was before. I would always do this before installing new software so in case it went bad, I could just put it back to where it was prior to the damage being done. Is there such a thing in Linux? There is so much configuring that can be done, and I am in the "check it all out mode" but I have changed some things and made a mess, wanting to get it back, but cannot figure out how.

For instance, in the login manager, I succeeded in losing the startup choices for alternate desktops other than KDE. I found a few in the directory structure, but I know there were more before I trampled it :-) I am sure a savvy user could tweak and untweak without a problem, but I am not there yet. Anyway, just wondering if there is a "save my butt" backup process that works.

Again, much obliged for the suggestions and pointers. Much to do and try tomorrow.

John
 
Old 12-18-2003, 12:59 AM   #8
Tinkster
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Quote:
Originally posted by jbrush
I checked the xserver video and it was set to generic, so I fixed that up along with the right monitor settings. Can't say it did much, but I expect that what I am doing is going to be cumulative. Turned off the animations and fancy icon graphics (can't recall exactly what menu) and things got a bit snappier as to be expected. I just hate to lose the nice look.
Well, eye candy always was/is expensive ... Ever
used Object Desktop in OS/2? :} Try Fluxbox, it's
vastly faster than KDE or gnome... KDE's inititalisation
on my machine takes about 10-15 seconds, Flux is
there in a split second :)


Quote:
I was playing with it tonight and made more of a mess than I did towards cleaning up :-) I have to admit I am not convinced that buying a newer version will speed things up much. In the other world of M$ and OS/2, if you have older hardware, you run older OS's, no Win2K on a P166, right. I can see with "top" that my system runs completely from RAM, so I know it can be made to run to my liking. Perhaps I just have to work through the mindset, but I came into Linux having read about how fast it was, even on older hardware, so I am hoping to prove that correct before investing in another distro. Thank you all for your patience <g>
Another thing that you have to bear in mind
in this comparison is that OS/2 and Windows
aren't multi-user environments, and that their
graphical representation isn't network trans-
parent as XFree is... I don't think that Linux
is/was faster than OS/2, and I know that on
the identical hardware (my old, recently
deceased Thinkpad 770ED) OS/2 did the
better job of multi-tasking.

Quote:
It was asked "Have you actually used xfs during install?
If you don't make use of the at command
you won't need that daemon."

I see it in the processes, but I have no idea what it is. Little help?
XFS is a journaling filesystem, unless
you chose it for your partitions you don't
need the daemons. at allows you to run
jobs at given times (similar to cron, just
not scheduled on a regular basis).

Quote:
When I shut down and forget to stop the PPP connection, a restart brings up the window to reconnect. Is there a way to make it start and forget what it was doing before I shut down? (OS/2 set restartobjects=startupoldersonly) and is there a startup folder feature?
Enable KDE's logout-screen and tell it not to
save the session.

Quote:
In OS/2, I can save my desktop settings, then experiment, screw around and make a mess of things, and then just restore the desktop as it was before. I would always do this before installing new software so in case it went bad, I could just put it back to where it was prior to the damage being done. Is there such a thing in Linux? There is so much configuring that can be done, and I am in the "check it all out mode" but I have changed some things and made a mess, wanting to get it back, but cannot figure out how.
Sure can, just need to know what to save ;)
In Linux all configuration is done with ASCII
files... in case of KDE (and user settings)
tar cvzf kde-settings.tar.gz ~/.kde ~/.kde2

Quote:
For instance, in the login manager, I succeeded in losing the startup choices for alternate desktops other than KDE. I found a few in the directory structure, but I know there were more before I trampled it :-) I am sure a savvy user could tweak and untweak without a problem, but I am not there yet. Anyway, just wondering if there is a "save my butt" backup process that works.
kdm's settings live in /opt/kde/share/config/kdm

Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 12-18-2003, 11:15 AM   #9
jpbarto
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'free' is another utility you can use to see what memory and swap space is being used. Also with your processes:

cups = printer control
crond = is for batch job control (if you want commands to be executed at certain times of the day, week month, etc)

I'll include a ps and free listing of my machine when I get home on friday. I've stripped just about every process and kernel module from my machine so as to make it as fast as possible.

jpbarto
 
Old 12-18-2003, 02:04 PM   #10
jbrush
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Quote:
Originally posted by jpbarto
'free' is another utility you can use to see what memory and swap space is being used. Also with your processes:

cups = printer control
crond = is for batch job control (if you want commands to be executed at certain times of the day, week month, etc)

I'll include a ps and free listing of my machine when I get home on friday. I've stripped just about every process and kernel module from my machine so as to make it as fast as possible.

jpbarto
Thank you for your time. I appreciate being able to learn the ins and outs of all this. I am getting their slowly, but I think I am going to have to get a newer version of Linux, probably RH 9.0 as I think I know where I can get a copy next week. Always bored around the holidays, so that will be something to look forward to :-)

Much obliged,

John
 
Old 12-18-2003, 02:50 PM   #11
jbrush
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Tinkster
[B]Well, eye candy always was/is expensive ... Ever
used Object Desktop in OS/2? :} Try Fluxbox, it's
vastly faster than KDE or gnome... KDE's inititalisation
on my machine takes about 10-15 seconds, Flux is
there in a split second

I understand that <g> I know time and effort will make this run better, , but I am still not thrilled with performance out of the box, which I assumed would be better.

My OS/2 desktop looks pretty nice, and I use OD for Windows to make it bearable, and it looks and behaves very well. OTOH, I am not gonna take up your time making like I am touting another system. Its just a matter of perspective, I suppose.

Plus, if you will indulge me for a moment, I don't mind learning new stuff, but I don't have the time or inclination to learn five new desktops, and four distros of linux before I can be productive. I am much more content now than a few nights ago tho, as there is a lot of good info on this site that will get me throught a lot of the curve.

Folks here have been more courteous and helpful than many other places I have gone for help. Usually, the answer to a question is to throw away what you have, and get "my favorite distro" which can be very frustrating to hear.

Another thing that you have to bear in mind
in this comparison is that OS/2 and Windows
aren't multi-user environments, and that their
graphical representation isn't network trans-
parent as XFree is... I don't think that Linux
is/was faster than OS/2, and I know that on
the identical hardware (my old, recently
deceased Thinkpad 770ED) OS/2 did the
better job of multi-tasking.

I don't figure that Linux could behave like OS/2, or OS/2 like Windows, or a Mac or anything. Much of what makes me want to check out Linux is to find out what it can do better than OS/2. Multitasking ain't one of them, as nothing does that like OS/2.

One more time here? :-) I choose to drop out to the shell to check processes, kill something, or just peek around at what is going on, but how do I get back into the KDE session? I felt pretty smart going to the shell to kill a process, then realized I hadn't checked out the "how to get back in" part in the manual.

Thanks again.

John
 
Old 12-18-2003, 05:21 PM   #12
Tinkster
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Quote:
Originally posted by jbrush
I understand that <g> I know time and effort will make this run better, , but I am still not thrilled with performance out of the box, which I assumed would be better.
Point taken.

Quote:
Plus, if you will indulge me for a moment, I don't mind learning new stuff, but I don't have the time or inclination to learn five new desktops, and four distros of linux before I can be productive. I am much more content now than a few nights ago tho, as there is a lot of good info on this site that will get me throught a lot of the curve.
Basically there's no need to test different distro's.
One can strip down RH to Slack- or Gentoo-speed,
and one can bloat Slack to MDK levels :}
The thing is finding the way to tweak things.
Personally, I prefer the slack approach. Everything
is quite simplistic, and finding your way around in
the init-scripts is a piece of cake.

Quote:
<<Another thing that you have to bear in mind
in this comparison is that OS/2 and Windows
aren't multi-user environments, and that their
graphical representation isn't network trans-
parent as XFree is...>>
I don't figure that Linux could behave like OS/2, or OS/2 like Windows, or a Mac or anything. Much of what makes me want to check out Linux is to find out what it can do better than OS/2. Multitasking ain't one of them, as nothing does that like OS/2.
Where I was heading here is that Linux' graphical
environment will always be heftier and more memory
and CPU intense than OS/2 or Windows since it
handles a completely different set of requirements/
capabilities. If you, on the other hand, tried to install
MS Terminal Server on a machine that happily handles
5 remote KDE sessions you'd find that you require
a LOT more grunt from the hardware :}

Quote:
One more time here? :-) I choose to drop out to the shell to check processes, kill something, or just peek around at what is going on, but how do I get back into the KDE session? I felt pretty smart going to the shell to kill a process, then realized I hadn't checked out the "how to get back in" part in the manual.
Usually lives on Alt-F7, but that varies :} (If dropping
out means pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1 ... try the other consoles
(F2 - F8) ...


Btw, I'm just friendly and patient with you because
you're coming from OS/2 ;} ... were you a Mac or
Windohs aficionado I'd probably kick your butt
and shred you in mid-air >;)


Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 12-19-2003, 01:04 PM   #13
jbrush
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-------------------------------------------

Btw, I'm just friendly and patient with you because
you're coming from OS/2 ;} ... were you a Mac or
Windohs aficionado I'd probably kick your butt
and shred you in mid-air >
--------------------------------------------

Having been forced to spend my time in that "hell" that comes from the Northwest, I can assure you that if I thought myself to be a lover of windows, I would take my own life I have lost one job, and it has cost me others because I simply cannot cope with that mind set for more than a few minutes a day. Object Desktop makes it almost bearable, but I have tried crossover office by codeweavers, very briefly, and it may well mean that the only windows I will ever have to deal with anymore, are the ones I look out of, to view the snow on the mountains <g>

Meanwhile, I am still trying to find a way back into the desktop after shelling out to fix a problem. Never a dull moment being new at something........

Thanks for all the help.

John
 
Old 12-19-2003, 01:18 PM   #14
Tinkster
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You still haven't told me how you "shelled out" :)

And how you start up X in the first place.

If shelling out is switching to a full-screen by
pressing Ctrl-Alt-FX, try other X's ... if you
actually end the x session, try typing startx :}




Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 12-19-2003, 02:13 PM   #15
jbrush
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You still haven't told me how you "shelled out"
-----------------------------------------------

Sorry, I was not aware that there was more than one way...... <g>

I guess you might think I meant using a console window, but I was doing the full screen thing.

I have come to terms with using Ctl Alt F1 and then using AltF7 to return

--------------------------------------------
And how you start up X in the first place.

Still being out of the loop as to how all this comes together, it starts automagically when I boot Linux.

-----------------------------------------------
If shelling out is switching to a full-screen by
pressing Ctrl-Alt-FX, try other X's ... if you
actually end the x session, try typing startx :}
-----------------------------------------------

I have fuzzy recollection of doing this after wrestling XFREE86 in OS/2 to the ground.......

Thank you.

John
 
  


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