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Re: Debian optimized for Pentium-class CPUs?

On Fri, Mar 29, 2002 at 02:13:39PM -0600, Paul F. Pearson wrote:
> Not that Woody is slow on my new 900MHz Celeron, 512MB PC, but I was
> wondering to what CPU target the precompiled distro was configured?  

Plain old 386. It's generally believed that optimizing for each
successive Intel architecture is a small enough gain for most packages
that it isn't worth multiplying the several gigabytes of data that make
up the current set of i386 binary packages.

> Would I see a significant difference if I tried to recompile the whole
> thing optimized for the Celeron (if that's possible)? Would that be
> feasible? Should I only worry about the kernel and/or X to get the most 
> speed?

Personally I think that the kernel and perhaps libc6 and X will get you
much of the benefit with a much smaller amount of work. If you're keen
you can try using pbuilder plus pentium-builder to rebuild the
distribution with optimizations, although 'make world' isn't supported
for Debian yet. Beware that you may not be able to compile every package
from source due to bugs.

> My previous machine is a Cyrix 150 (120MHz) - it has a stock Potato (pre 
> 2.2r5, probably r4) distro installed. Linux did seem kinda slow in it 
> (only 40 MB RAM and ~600MB avail. HD space). COuld I get more speed out of 
> it by recompiling (on my new machine) Woody optimized for that processor?

Use top and vmstat first to find out if you're under memory pressure,
and bonnie++ to find out if you have problems with I/O bandwidth. If
either of those are maxed out, then you're unlikely to see a great deal
of benefit from speeding up something that isn't the bottleneck.

I strongly suspect memory pressure. dpkg is a bit slothful even with the
64Mb of RAM I have in this laptop.


Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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