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Old 09-07-2004, 08:41 PM   #1
Registered: Sep 2004
Location: The Imagination
Distribution: Suse 9.3 Professional
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What's the best distribution for high processing on a laptop?

Hey guys,

As many of you can tell from my post count, I'm a around here and basically I'm new to Linux. I've been trying out a number of different distributions to see how they all work. To start off, I have been having problems with my USB mouse and wanted to get it working. So in the process of trying to fix this problem, I started to use many different distributions just to see what would happen. I finally got the mouse working with Fedora Core 2 which I'm so stoked about. I assume its because of the patches/fixes that have been added to this distribution and the kernel its running. Now that I got one problem nailed down, I have a new one I need help with.

I use my laptop for a lot of things. Initially I was only going to use it for surfing the net and word processing but as time went on, I started to do tremendous amounts of high resolution image editing which demands a lot from my ram. So now I'm wondering, what can I do to help maximize the performance of my laptop? I'm currently using Gnome as my windows manager and I read in a few places that Gnome takes up a lot of ram. I also read that the more popular distributions of Linux are usually configured with generic everything which could be a factor in minimizing performance. I hear that Slackware is possibly one of the best distributions for performance but the problem with that is that its too "technical" for me. The whole thing with punching in command lines and stuff is difficult for me to grasp. Is there a distribution out there that maximizes performance while still remaining pretty much user friendly?
Old 09-07-2004, 09:08 PM   #2
bruno buys
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Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Rio
Distribution: Debian
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In fedora, you can use a lighter desktop, such as fluxbox or blackbox. I guess it is worth trying, cause you won't need to change distro, as you are already with fedora.
Google for fluxbox and/or black box, or even windowmaker, which is very good. Fast and friendly and "ram-free".
Old 09-08-2004, 10:09 AM   #3
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Italia + UK
Distribution: RHEL 4 + Fedora FC5
Posts: 118

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A Linux niche is high perfromance ~ but not blood out of a stone ~ NO OS can do that

you need to disable service your system will not use \ not essential in order to free up memory & processor time, e.g. ACPI, APM, etc
sit down & have a think about it
Old 09-12-2004, 12:46 AM   #4
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Detroit.
Distribution: Slack 12.1 - Vector (exp)
Posts: 51

Rep: Reputation: 15
Try Vector Linux...

It's based on Slack... Sort of a Graphical, Simplified version of it. It does most of the things I used to do when I loaded Slack... Like kill the unwanted servers that normally run on first startup. It also uses the lightweight Window managers, Fluxbox, Icewm.

A little gem.. Kind of like Mini-Pretty-Slackware all on one disk. I did read their forums, and some people have had probs installing.. Worked great for me on an older box (AMD 550, M598 board). Looks like most people are satisfied on their forums tho.

GL to ya.
Old 09-14-2004, 06:38 PM   #5
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Distribution: FreeBSD, Debian/AMD64, Ubuntu/i386
Posts: 59

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I highly doubt you will see a difference, though, depending on what your current base RAM is.
Old 09-15-2004, 10:37 AM   #6
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Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Recife/PE, Brasil
Distribution: Kubuntu Breezy
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Smile fine tuning

As stated by previous posters, it's all about fine-tuning your distribution installation. I'm surprised no Gentoo zealot has cried "Use Gentoo!" yet in this thread, but the fact is, if you fine tune your distro after all the installation and post-installation issues, then you should have no performance problems at all with Linux. That said, using a distribution that leaves you further ahead surely will help, and with this is mind I would suggest taking a good look at both Gentoo (you state you are a newbie, and many guys here will say that Gentoo is too hard -- these are the same guys who said Debian when Gentoo was not around -- but Gentoo's documentation is really terrific, and if you are minimally computer-literate, setting it up will present no challenge) and YOPER. Gentoo will definitely take much longer to setup if you choose to go all the way from a stage1 install (read the docs for more information), but is generally much easier to keep up-to-date after the initial hassle. YOPER is a RPM-based distribution, so no time is wasted waiting for things to compile. Both distributions offer nice documentation on pre-linking, which is the current performance-cruncher pet technology, so they should provide plenty of room to breathe even while using somewhat heavier desktop environments (which can make you more productive than a minimalist window manager if you use your computer for more than 2 or 3 things at a time).

Anyway, just my $0.02.
Old 09-15-2004, 10:49 AM   #7
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Honestly - I don't think so.Getting the base system installed is no big deal but getting all those laptop things to work after it is a completely different ballgame.I'd go for debian in your case.The new (experimental)installer is easy enough and I didn't see much difference speedwise between debian and gentoo.
Still went back though.
Old 09-30-2004, 09:37 PM   #8
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Registered: Feb 2004
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Fedora Core 2
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Thumbs up

At the risk of sounding trite, if editing images is dragging you down...Buy RAM! I guess it boils down to the following question: "Do you want to work on the tools or the task?" Chips for older machines are cheap. You might find it a whole lot easier than trying to get a good image editor to run on a weak GDM.

Last edited by BigT; 09-30-2004 at 09:38 PM.
Old 10-01-2004, 12:47 AM   #9
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Distribution: Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, openSuSE
Posts: 357

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The window manager is definitely a memory hog. Try out fluxbox. It'll take some getting used to (no desktop icons, but the menu is easy to configure...all you have to do is edit ~/.fluxbox/menu). But once you figure it out, get your menu set up, and start using the tabs, you can't beat it. If you're at all comfortable with the command line, flux will be no problem. I went back to KDE for about 15 minutes today and realized how sluggish it really is. That and the lack of tabs had me back to flux in no time. I can do without the beauty of the K environment in trade for responsiveness (even if it means some time on the command line running progs). It's like driving a Ford Expedition with every available option VS. driving a souped-up old Mustang. The SUV may be comfortable, but sure as hell I'll get there quicker in the sports car.
Old 10-03-2004, 11:24 AM   #10
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I agree wholeheartedly with the Debian suggestion. Its easy to install if you download the debian-installer, and pretty easy if you just get Woody (the difference being that it asks you a whole lot of questions, which makes people think its hard to install). if you run it with a lighter window manager like Fluxbox, XFCE4, or IceWM, you'll have a neato beast. I'd suggest installing synaptic for a nice browsable front-end for apt-get(then you have 10000 packages at your disposal) and perhaps webmin for GUI-like system administration. Then, you're good to go.
Old 10-04-2004, 03:21 PM   #11
Registered: Sep 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 276

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xfce is awesome. I use it all the time. (fluxbox and icewm are very nice too)
Old 10-07-2004, 07:06 AM   #12
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: Bel Air, MD
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 35

Rep: Reputation: 16
Which distro

I'm a big Slackware fan and would encourage you to try that. I know the installation looks daunting because it's text (actually, I guess, ncurses) based, but it really isn't hard at all. The only thing you have to actually do is partition your hard drive if you don't already have a Linux partition set up. If you're running Fedora and are going to install over it, then you don't even have to do that. After your drive is set up, it's really just a matter of making choices. The trick is to know your hardware and what you want (which you should know from your Fedora setup).

Check out this installation guide -- -- it shows you, screen by screen, how to install and set up Slackware. It actually goes into a few areas you probably won't need, but it is nothing if not thorough.

As part of your setup you pick your window manager. I'm going to agree with the Fluxbox recommendations. I've got an AMD 2800 machine with a Gig of RAM, so resources aren't that big an issue with me. But I still prefer Fluxbox. It gets out of your way while giving you enough control to do your work. Blackbox is missing a few bits in my opinion, and I've found I don't really have a need for the icons on the desktop or panels the more fully featured WMs give you. As someone said earlier, edit the Fluxbox menu and you can launch anything you have with a right click on the desktop. I don't even use tabs. I keep my apps on different desktops and switch between them that way. I can do it just by scrolling the mouse wheel over the desktop, or using the normal Fluxbox arrow.

If you want a Gentoo-like ability to build things from source, try Crux. It installs the basic system on your machine (including X and WindowMaker), then you build each app after that. And building the apps is nothing more than navigating to the right directory and typing in one command (it uses the same basic concepts as FreeBSD or Gentoo). I found it to be a bit faster and less resource-intensive than Slackware, even, but it takes more work to set up. Slackware and Fluxbox both hit the sweet spot for me: just enough hand-holding and not a bit more.

You might give YOPER a shot, too. I must say, though, that it wasn't any faster on my machine than Slackware. Didn't notice if it used any less RAM, but it is a very nice distro.

Have fun,

joe f.


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