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Re: Life at 4 bogomips

On Sun, 9 May 1999, George Bonser wrote:

> Well I got the old 386 put back together, figured I would use it for a
> firewall. 386SX33 with 10MB of RAM. Man, what an example to show what OS
> bloat has done!  I used to install Win31 on it, even installed OS/2 Warp
> on it. Now it is running Debian and MAN is it S-L-O-W.

 Well, technically it's *installing* Debian...

> In dselect the Scanning available packages .......... part puts out about
> one dot every three seconds.

 I'd agree, even on a 486-100 w/64MB of RAM, installing Debian is not
fast. I usually start it up, go away, and then come back and answer
questions every once in a while.

 It took *quite* a while on my 386SX-16 w/6Mb of RAM. About a weekend, I
think. Long enough that I dread ever having to do it again. A good chunk
of that was due to simple swapping, though - there's no good substitute
for enough RAM.

 Once installed, though, things are zippy emough. Irving (my 386) is not a
speed demon, but I actually ran X on it once, just to see if I could, and
it worked reasonably well.

> Running modconf ... where it looks to see which modules are available
> (like, almost any time you hit a key) ... go get a cup of coffee. Why
> can't it remember which modules it saw the last time it looked?
> Man, I think maybe the maintainers should be forced to install their stuff
> on a 386 just to get some perspective. CPU horsepower sure can cover up
> inefficient code. Or to put it another way, an system without any CPU
> horsepower sure exposes the inefficiencies.

 There does seem to be some less-than-optimal coding in some parts of the
install. Part of it's due to large chunks of it being written in Perl.
Well-written C will always be faster than well-written Perl. But even so,
a I think some better algorithms could be chosen.

> I guess I won't be compiling any kernels on that box ... well, maybe ONE
> just to see how long it takes.

 Okay, now *that's* going to take quite a while on a modern kernel. Hope
you've got a week or two to spare. :-> A 386 is a nice machine in some
ways, but it's never been the fastest compiler in the world.

 On the other hand, let me tell you about coding under Minix on an 8088
w/512K of RAM... :->


 Ray Ingles          (248) 377-7735         ray.ingles@fanucrobotics.com

 "[B]eing able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than
      being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer."
                      - Eric Scott Raymond

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