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I would like to ask if there is some way to make a particular application run faster (at the expense of other running slower, of course). I am running kile (it is my work now) and I also run some other heavy (resource eating) programs that are not so important to me. Is it possible to make kile run faster, just as if no other heavy applications are on? I tried with setting it to niceness -20, but kile does not seem to run faster; when I type letters they appear a second or two after being typed. Is there a remedy to this? Or is the only remedy turning off the applications that are not that important to me?
I think you should rather increase the niceness level of the other un-important apps, than setting your app to -20. This because if you set it to -20, your app will be considered more critical than other critical processes that belong to the kernel and which are usually set to 0 or ~-5, like pdflush and kthreadd.
nice -19 task makes the task least important relative to the others
nice --20 task makes the task most important relative to the others
(the first one is a positive value even though it looks like a negative, the second is not a double negative(making it positive) as you'd expect, its just a negative. This is why I prefer the 'nice -n value' syntax to the shorter 'nice -value').
Also, remember its all relative. if everything else is already running at nice -n 10 and you start a new process, it won't run any faster at nice -n -20 than it would at nice -n 9.
Nice values are one of those stupidly non-intuitive things about unix that you can only put down to the fact that unix was first written in the late 60s/early 70s and everyone was probably high at the time. It would be far more understandable if you just set a value between 0 and 39, which is what actually happens under the covers.
Pearlseattle is correct, make your heavy hitters nice, don't try and make your important task 'nasty'. You can actually end up making things much worse than they were to start with by using negative nice values if you're not very careful.
Firstly, is there any sign of swapping occuring? If so, try to reduce the amount resident in memory so swapping doesn't occur. Or add memory. There may also be some mileage in reducing swappiness.
You may also be able to get something out of playing with schedulers, but it would be an interesting journey.
It would be worthwhile to say something about the system that you've got (processor, amount of ram, what you are trying to run, which distro, probably vmstat output) and then it would be easier to form a judgement.