Damn Small Linux Extreme edition(DSL-E)
Forum: Hardware Talk
Topic: Damn Small Linux Extreme edition(DSL-E)
started by: meltdown_override
Posted by meltdown_override on Feb. 02 2007,06:10I think the forums would greatly benefit from this sort of thread. Lets see how far we can take DSL and an old pc. I'm looking for extreme performance enhancing scripts and tricks. Lately DSL is starting to act more like a winxp box. Things are slowing down,apps suddenly stop working, and the CPU freaks out just from scrolling,general web
browsing.This 366mhz 203mb of ram gateway is slower than my 266mhz/32mb ram thinkpad.I have recently discovered that the way to make DSL work on as many platforms/configs as possible would be to default everything to a safe environment. Like hdparm is set with most everything shut off. What other configs can I modify? Also how would one over clock a cpu in Linux?Yes I'm still a newbie,but the longer I stick with it and the more I experiment the more I learn. I'm thinking of putting up a website for DSL-E any suggestions? thanks for reading this, and hope this can lead into a exciting project. The point of this post is to solicit suggestion on the many hardcore performance tricks,so I can compile them into a website. So please send me as many ideas as you can. thanks.
Posted by meltdown_override on Feb. 02 2007,06:16Im not sure as to where this thread should go,so If it is in the wrong place could a moderator move it to where it needs to be? Thanks.
Posted by ron on Feb. 03 2007,01:21Can you hack the Linux kernel??? I think this is the most logical way to get "hardcore" performance enhancements out of Linux. There's a lot of stuff you can simply leave out, and other stuff maybe you can speed-optimize by rewriting the C-code or even rewriting some bits in x86-assembler. I'm just theorizing (because hacking Linux is just a pipe dream which many people pretend is a possibility but very few can actually do), but it seems the right way to proceed for performance enhancements.
< http://www.kernelhacking.org/ >
Posted by mikshaw on Feb. 03 2007,06:34As far as DSL goes, there are several things you can do to improve performance without overclocking your ancient cpu or recompiling the kernel.
One thing you could do is install as a debian-style harddrive system. This makes for a more difficult system to keep upgraded with DSL development, but is easier on your ram.
You can disable applications that run automatically when you start x. Look into /home/dsl/.xinitrc.
You can change your window manager. JWM is a little lighter than fluxbox. Other window managers, such as dwm or twm, are even lighter.
Choose lighter alternatives to apps that you generally use. Try vi instead of beaver, mc instead of emelfm, dillo instead of firefox.
Do you really need a graphical environment all the time? Many tasks can be completed just as easily, and usually more quickly, by logging into text mode.
I have a frugal DSL system on a 333mhz machine, and it works quite well...definitely better than the windows2000 system that was installed on it before.
Posted by lucky13 on Feb. 03 2007,18:41
I ran across < this article > yesterday.
I decided to test out my own system using several different combinations of applications I normally run in X. I wasn't too surprised by my results -- Mozilla products are pigs that eat up RAM; XMMS uses way more memory than cplay or straight-up mpg123 (or mpg321 which comes with DSL); rox filer is fun for managing mp3 players, but mc, fdclone, clex, etc., are far easier on resources and can do the same job; WindowMaker isn't a "light" window manager compared to ratpoison, pekwm, ion2, jwm, etc.; and so on.
I use DSL with a standard hard drive install on a 400 mhz Celeron "machine" (I use that term VERY loosely) with 128 MB RAM and a 282 MB swap partition.
I'm comfortable using console apps, and I've run screen for weeks on end using startx only as needed (mainly for browsing, using non-pop web e-mail accounts, etc.). The main drawback to using console apps exclusively in 2007 is that much of the content I want and need is graphical, and many sites aren't suitable for viewing in w3m, elinks, links, lynx, netrik, or other nifty little browsers.
I've also run my console apps in screen while using ratpoison so I don't have to startx and then go back to the console, which works pretty well until I switch window managers and all my apps open to full screen (heh).
As to meltdown's questions...
The article linked above has some good advice on how to get more out of your older machine. Open a terminal and type "free." That will show you your current memory use. Start closing applications you have opened. Each time, go to your "free" terminal and type "free" and see how much difference it makes. You can open other applications and check to see if they eat up too much RAM or if you can live with them.
If you're using fluxbox, switch to one of the more basic-looking themes. Use wallpaper.lua (found in the setup-desktop submenu) to set your background to a solid color rather than using an image with the theme. Restart fluxbox (exit submenu-restart). Go to the terminal and type "free" again. See how much that changes things -- all of that loads into RAM, so you use more RAM the fancier you let things get. Also turn off the icons. I don't know how much memory xtdesktop uses, but I occasionally use rox pinboard and it's a bloated pig (even if it's a very nice, pretty pig that lets me drag and drop).
Overclocking is hardware-oriented, so the O/S is irrelevant. It can be done safely, it can be done stupidly. There are plenty of guides online. Make darn sure you know what you're doing. I don't know if you're considering overclocking your desktop or laptop or both. I personally wouldn't overclock a laptop because of cooling issues (overclocking causes more heat, laptops tend to run on the hot side anyway).
Your computer shouldn't crash from browsing or using the internet. Try using another browser that fits with your needs. Dillo lacks a lot of function, but it's very fast and uses considerably less RAM than Firefox or Mozilla/Seamonkey. Opera uses considerably less RAM because it uses the same window to manage email and browsing (the extra windows from running Mozilla/Seamonkey or Firefox plus Thunderbird cost you quite a bit more RAM). Use Sylpheed for email if you want a GUI MUA. If you're primarily reading text on the web, consider running one of the text browsers. From the DSL repository, I use snownews for RSS feeds. I have it set up with elinks (compiled from source) and my secondary browser, in case I need to see images, from elinks is Dillo (I like elinks because I download a lot of podcasts and it lets me do that in the background). Use wget in a terminal to download files, etc.
And if you can live without X, mikshaw is right. Consider downloading screen.dsl and running console apps. Screen is a multiplexer that lets you run virtual terminals for console apps and manage them (though it's not really a window manager for console). Using screen lets you continue to run those apps in the same terminal when you startx, so you don't have to stop what you're doing in the console. You just resume your screen session in aterm, xterm, etc., while in X and everything's still running when you go back to the console. It works very well with the console apps that come with DSL, like naim and mc. There are also console apps like elmo (for email) and epic4 (irc client) in the repository; there are more you can find through apt-get or compile (if you install gcc from the repository). Screen works better with window managers that don't have a lot of default (or user-added) keybindings because console apps lose their usefulness when a window manager uses the same keystrokes (window manager takes priority on keybindings); the best in this regard, imo, is ratpoison because it uses similar bindings to screen (ctrl-t-_ versus ctrl-a-_), but it may not be to your liking since it only manages windows in full screen mode -- so everything in gimp opens in its own window, including progress bars -- without a menu (though you can add one like ratmenu) and is geared for keyboard-only/mouseless use.
DSL should work admirably as it comes on the equipment meltdown listed. It's all the stuff we pile on top of it that bogs it down. There are crazy people who want to put big fancy distros with 2.6 kernels on older hardware -- they may as well try to run XP or Vista with all the eyecandy they expect from those distros -- and aren't necessarily going to get better performance than they had using Win95, especially if they try to run KDE/Gnome with apps like Firefox and Thunderbird and Open Office. Match your apps to your equipment and you'll do fine.
Posted by meltdown_override on Feb. 06 2007,20:22Thanks Ron for the link Kernel hacking is a current pipe dream of mine,as I still have lots to learn about the kernel. Lucky13 your post is on the mark,however I do notice that my memory usage stays low the cpu usage is incredibly high(even in dillo) What are the known bottle necks for old laptops? One neat trick I discovered for my gateway solo was to take the battery and dvd/floppy out. This gives my system a little more speed.(in firefox there was a slight lag when rendering pages. With out the dvd installed the webpages appear almost instantly,while before the pages would slowly be redrawn downward)I changed grub to start dsl with idebus=66 as well as dma-1. Since I have a dead battery I was thinking of designing a forced air intake system using the battery casings and access to the power system.any thoughts on this?This battery should come apart with about six or eight individual cells. Does anyone have any tech info on old gateway laptops? again thinks guys for the info.
Posted by WDef on Feb. 10 2007,14:20Very interesting post lucky13 and not "non-dsl" at all.
Would you consider putting this in the wiki under "Reducing memory useage" or something?
One thing I would add is that if people insist on using firefox (unavoidable sometimes) then it pays to choke off its memory hogging as per my post < http://damnsmalllinux.org/cgi-bin....85;st=0 >
As I said I'm getting freezes with that ff on 512MB ram!!!
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,03:36Thanks WDef thats a cool trick.(would that also applie to debian type hd installs?) My main concern with the solo 9100 366mb is the apperant cpu bottleneck. The memory is not really and issue. I traded an old IBM thinkpad(266mhz)and an old Toshiba(166mhz) for this "faster" Gateway Solo(366mhz). Big mistake I know. I did switch the hard drives from the old ibm with the newer gateway(those drives were the same size)I never had a cpu issue with the gateway firefox was much faster and compiling code with gcc was a breeze.Now when I compile something as small as libpcap this thing whines more than Bush when someone wants him to pulll out of iraq. Im thinking of disecting the 2.4 kernel and 2.6 kernel and seeing what I could mesh together to make things a little more punchier. Im still gonna keep jwm and use dillo. Does anyone have other suggestion I could try?
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,03:41Since this is the DSL-Extreme, void your warranty thread... what kind of mods have you done(or would you do if you had the balls)My current project is extreme laptop cooling. Can anyone suggest a good source for really small fans?
Posted by lucky13 on Mar. 08 2007,14:02
What do you mean by dissecting and what do you intend to do with two kernels? "Mesh together" -- how do you intend to do that? And why? Many improvements from 2.6 are already backported in 2.4, and 2.4 retains a lot of legacy support dropped in 2.6. For the hardware you've described, there's really no justification for using a 2.6 kernel.
Posted by WDef on Mar. 08 2007,14:11What might make a difference is to rebuild the existing kernel optimized for your processor architecture. Some people swear by this on damn big systems; others say it's not worth the bother.
Recompiling user space apps optimized for your architecture is almost always not worth the bother - an exception would be highly cpu intensive apps such as crackers where a small speed gain is very helpful over a long period of time, and video encoders etc.
As was said there are also a range of kernel configuration optimizations eg leaving out unneeded modules - google.
Mikshaw and lucky13 probably said the more important thing - minimize your ram useage (and/or get more ram) and choose fast apps.
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,14:45thanks guys for your input. So there is nothing in the 2.6 kernel that the 2.4 allready uses? On the hardware side, how could one increase the bogomips count.(without overclocking)what is the average bogomips for an PII 366mhz.On this machine Im averaging 730 to 770
bogomips. Now for my last two questions at the moment. 1. Where could I get technitians manuals for the gateway solo 9100 and at what temp does plastic melt? Again thanks for all the imput. Without asking stupid quesions how could one learn.
Posted by lucky13 on Mar. 08 2007,15:03
I'm sorry, I guess I just didn't pay attention to this thread so I didn't see your reply. Done.
< http://damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/index.php/ReducingMemoryUsage >
I left a section for you to edit your firefox cache tips. No sense in letting me have all the fun since it was your idea.
BTW, that's why I generally don't run firefox very often.
Posted by lucky13 on Mar. 08 2007,15:10
Even then, it's probably not a good idea unless you've reached some kind of stasis in your hardware configuration. For someone who's still adding and removing hardware, it's not worth the hassle of stripping out modules that might only have to be added back later.
Posted by lucky13 on Mar. 08 2007,15:18
Sure, there's all kinds of stuff in 2.6 that hasn't reached 2.4 yet. Most of it just doesn't pertain to older systems.
Gateway's website has manuals for their computers.
Bogomips is an arbitrary measure. I still don't think you should mess with the hardware side of things.
Plastics melt at various temperatures. It depends on its formulation. If you're worried about leaving puddles under your laptop and you also have metal shop skills, you can try re-building a case for your laptop out of aluminum or sheet metal. That may not be such a good idea unless you wear asbestos gloves when you type.
Stupid questions, hopefully, prevent stupid behaviors. Don't set your laptop on fire, okay?
Posted by curaga on Mar. 08 2007,15:33Well, recompile the kernel, but add the < con kolivas patchset > for your kernel (2.4.26 if your using the latest DSL, but use fresh sources from kernel.org and add the knoppix patch from kernelsources.dsl after make menuconfig) it improves the ways the kernel uses RAM, swap and many other things. Enable preemptible and low-latency, and optimize for PII. This should give some speed improvement ;)
Also mess with the boot scripts. I did, and now my DSL box boots about 29s faster than right after hd-install. And it boots up 20s faster compared to a XP box with roughly 25 times more horsepower (124mhz vs 3 Ghz)
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,15:41
I'll try and not set my laptop on fire thanks for the info on te lastics. The reason I asked is im thinking of doing a little "mod" and Im trying to design a better heat exhaust system that would be a external attachment over the stock exhaust port. Im thinking of getting one of those little kerboard vacumes and going from there. Is it possible to solder plastic like one would do when welding metal?
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,16:02Curaga thanks for the link.
Posted by meltdown_override on Mar. 08 2007,16:43I just did a google search and found an interesting wiki on welding plastic heres the link < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_welding >
Posted by lucky13 on Mar. 08 2007,22:29
"Plastics" refers to a very broad group of polymerized materials, so it depends on the particular engineering of the material(s) you want to join. In a nutshell, no to the soldering idea. And probably no to welding, too, although certain plastics can be welded to each other.
My best idea for joining similar or dissimilar plastics would be to use an epoxy. You may want to find a "craptop" to experiment with if you decide to go that route because there's really no undoing a bad epoxy job. Epoxies are also exothermic, meaning they create heat during cure. You want to make sure that the heat the epoxy you use won't melt the plastics you want to join -- I suppose the laptop case should be fine, but I have no idea about any kind of vacuum like that.
Posted by curaga on Mar. 09 2007,11:17Oh also build in (not modules) everything in your comp that you probably don't switch (like ide chipset, onboard audio/video...)