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Significant Interactivity Boost in Linux Kernel

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the speed-bump-removal dept.

X 673

An anonymous reader writes "The Linux kernel team is at it again. Linux creator Linus Torvalds recently proposed a patch to offer interactive processes a boost, greatly benefiting the X desktop, as well as music and movie players. O(1) scheduler author Ingo Molnar merged Linus' patch into his own interactivity efforts, the end result nothing short of amazing... The upcoming 2.6 kernel is looking to be a desktop user's dream come true."

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FINALLY! Thank you! (-1, Insightful)

Omikr0n (656115) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467387)


I cannot tell you how long I've been waiting for something like this. As an avid Microsoft fan, one of my biggest beefs was the inferior performance of the Linux GUI and its components. Although I will learn the console eventually, I will still probably use the GUI as my cheif method of computing since I find it very fast and efficient. Maybee this will finally blur the line between OS's enough to get more people to switch over.

Creepy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467413)

You've gotten first or second post in every article you've posted in so far. What are you doing?

Re:Creepy... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467422)

He bought a Slashdot subscription, and sees new articles before they're posted and constantly reloads him.

Re:Creepy... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467472)

He posts content-free drivel and gets modded up. Where's the problem?
This is slashdot, this is normal here.

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467439)

Here Here!

I completely agree. This has been one of the biggest issues holding Linux back from the mainstream. I'd like to see how this whole thing pans out.

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467454)

I call -1, Troll.

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (2, Insightful)

Khomar (529552) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467475)

"As an avid Microsoft fan..."

And you admit this on Slashdot?! You are brave.

no sir, thank you... (1)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467514)

... had i the possibility, i'd surely give you a (+10: Funny Troll)

you just made my day a bit happier :-)

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467517)

In what particular elements of the linux GUI do you find performance issues? Linux has no GUI, those are third party apps, as is the server which provides the framework for GUIs (XFree.) It's a huge jump to blame GUI issues on the kernel, I'm curious about the reasoning behind it.

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467536)

he just can't load those pages fast in linux like he can in windows

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467543)

I cannot tell you how long I've been waiting for something like this. As an avid Microsoft fan, one of my biggest beefs was the inferior performance of the Linux GUI and its components. Although I will learn the console eventually, I will still probably use the GUI as my cheif method of computing since I find it very fast and efficient. Maybee this will finally blur the line between OS's enough to get more people to switch over./i.

One should remember that X was engineered for flexibility and extensibility rather than speed. So the kernel may make some things better, but it is probably not a major bottleneck in many applications.

Most home-users do not use the advanced features of X (such as XDM, and serving out the display over a network), so I think that one of the things that is necessary is the development of a GNOME suite over framebuffer, which would provide even better performance at the cost of stability. Since GNOME could also work on top of X, we could have a truly extensible environment that could suit home users and corporate users (who may use X).

Re:FINALLY! Thank you! (3, Interesting)

yamla (136560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467580)

I am curious... which GUI do you use in Linux? What speed processor and how much RAM do you have? Which distribution (or kernel) of Linux do you use?

I ask because it has been my experience that Linux is already considerably more responsive (in terms of GUI performance) than Windows. I use KDE 3.1 with Linux 2.4.20 and I have 512 megs of RAM and a 1.46 Ghz processor.

Now, least people accuse me of trolling (or of pandering to the Linux crowd), I should point out that I am not sure why Windows is so unresponsive. It seems to have something to do with hard drive access. It seems to me that Windows XP is acting like I'd expect it to if I didn't have DMA enabled for my hard drives. Basically, whenever I access the hard drive, the GUI becomes almost completely unresponsive, sometimes taking almost a minute to fire up even a browser. I have checked, though, and I do have DMA enabled.

So I truly do not know what is going on with Windows, but in Linux I just don't have these problems. Under heavy disk access, it may take a few seconds to fire up a browser in Linux, but that's it. MP3s keep playing, my apps are still responsive, etc. etc.

Err (4, Insightful)

bogie (31020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467592)

" As an avid Microsoft fan, one of my biggest beefs was the inferior performance of the Linux GUI and its components."

That would depend on exactly what you talking about. Those linux users running something like Blackbox would laugh at you for saying so. I'd also suggest as a user of both, KDE and XP have about the same interactive performance as well.

There's no doubt Windows still has more polish than Linux as a whole when it comes to the desktop. And while anything that improves any of LInux's many "gui's" is a welcome event, Linux's gui's are hardly inferior performance-wise across the board like your implying.

"Maybee this will finally blur the line between OS's enough to get more people to switch over."

Performance doesn't rate very high on why windows users aren't switching over. Lack of familiar apps and games, lack of widespread OEM bundling, and lack of millions in marketing are what's keeping people from switching over.

Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467396)

What will be next!? mm

Amazing! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467402)

Absolute astounding. I am in complete and utter shock over this. Truly, truly the most amazing thing I've ever seen or heard.

Now what the hell is this article about?

Re:Amazing! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467558)

Now what the hell is this article about?

It's about how GNU/Linux is violating SCO patents to make a more responsive desktop experience for the user when playing videos, etc. At least, that's what'll be on record when SCO sues IBM for helping them with this 2.6 kernel by stealing their intellectual property. Afterall, everyone knows SCO UNIX was the most responsive multimedia system of it's time. *rolls eyes*.

a desktop user's dream come true? (-1, Flamebait)

sstory (538486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467407)

You mean here in the year 2003 Linux is going to get a decent desktop, like Macintosh got in 1984 or Windows in 1995? I'll believe it when I see it. Any operating system which half the time can't cut and paste between apps is still adolescent.

Re:a desktop user's dream come true? (2, Interesting)

andyp (27347) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467423)

Erm, when was the last time you used Linux then? Running GNOME on RedHat 8 here, no problems with cut-and-paste between KDE/GNOME/Motif apps :-)

Re:a desktop user's dream come true? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467444)

Heck, I use RH 7.3/KDE, and I frequently run 'doze in a VMware window. I can even copy/paste between Windows and Linux apps seamlessly!

Re:a desktop user's dream come true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467437)

Um, you can cut and paste in X by highlighting text and then middle clicking on its destination, no matter what app you're using. But I guess you knew that.

Doesn't work for me (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467552)

Except that doesn't work if the X app is being displayed locally but run remotely. Or at least it doesn't seem to.

Well, okay. Look. I just opened up my X server here on my mac os X box, sshed with X tunneling to my university's Solaris box, opened up xchat, selected some text, and attempted to paste it into a nearby xterm. Oh, hey, guess what, didn't work. I tried what you said. I selected some text, i clicked on the xterm, i tried middle-clicking and right-clicking. Nothing there. Care to tell me what i'm doing wrong?

Anyway, the whole select-to-copy thing is HORRIBLE GUI design. What if you want to select something in order to edit it without *blowing away* the clipboard? What if your hand slips and you select a couple letters of text by accident before you can paste something important into its destination? I, personally, have intense problems with the copy-paste thing because at some point i picked up the stupid habit of often scrolling by selecting text and dragging off the edge of the window, which will obliterate the textboard. And, worst of all, there's that nagging little question: let's say i'm editing a file, and i want to select some text in the part of the document i'm editing, "cut" it, scoll up to the top of the document, delete part of a paragraph, write a couple lines, and then paste what i just cut. What X's copy/paste means is that i must select the text i want to move to copy (making sure not to delete it yet, becuase it would be too easy to accidentally select text and copy over what i've written, losing it forever), scroll up, click where i want it to go, paste, and then delete and rewrite the text around it, scroll back down, and then delete the text i copied. Yeah, way to go on making the interface fit the needs of the user. Dammit.

And then there's the fact that, still, mostly due to the broken silliness of X copy&paste, most applications don't quite work the same, becuase they've all fucking implemented the clipboard in nonstandard ways because those unstandard ways are "better". Which they are, unless for some silly reason you want to copy and paste between applications. We've got the "clipboard" and the "cut buffer" and i don't know what either means, and lately some GNOME apps and such have taken to signing up with a sane (i.e., "copy" and "paste" are commands, and as such require a menu use or a key combination). And then vim has like its ten little internal clipboards, and emacs has some clipboard system i don't even pretend to know the first thing about, and i mostly use vim as my text editor in unix. And none of these apps i've ever seen give the option of choosing which copy/paste behavior you want: i mean, none of them will give you a nice little preference that says "select to copy" vs "select 'copy' from menu to copy" vs "have ten little internal cycling cut buffers with some arcane method of manipulation". And i still don't know how copy/paste within vim is supposed to interact with other X apps. I'd test it right now, but for some reason still unknown to me, i can't get gvim to run over my ssh-tunneling setup. When i try, it says:

X11 connection rejected because of wrong authentication.
XIO: fatal IO error 32 (Broken pipe) on X server "localhost:13.0"
after 0 requests (0 known processed) with 0 events remaining.
The connection was probably broken by a server shutdown or KillClient.

Maybe it doesn't like my MIT magic cookies, or something? But I digress. Face it. Copy and paste is still the most broken thing about X, and that's saying a lot. And maybe i'm just dense, but i still can't figure out how to change my X keyboard mapping on these silly Solaris boxes.

-- super ugly ultraman

Re:Doesn't work for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467601)

I thought someone made a clipboard program to integrate with X that you could highlight/right click/save to clipboard and then it saved objects in cells so you could paste with (for instance) ctrl+1+v (that would paste the first copied/cut cell in any program). Worked over the network IIRC. There's probably an abandoned sourceforge page somewhere.

How about copy - replace (1)

Booyakka Joe (216483) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467565)

In X or CLI with mouse, how do you do a highlight - copy - highlight - replace?
This has been a aggravation to me since I got my first linux box running, and would have been usefull in this post when I pasted in aggravation from Kdict next to aggrivation then had to ctrl-arrowkey backspace.

A link to a page with these type of operations would be most handy.

Re:a desktop user's dream come true? (1)

yomegaman (516565) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467568)

Wow, you can cut and paste text? I assume that preserves all font/style/size information, right? What if there's a graphic embedded in the text, does that come along for the ride?


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467469)

it is very on topic

As opposed to windows... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467522)

... which doesn't have cut and paste at all outside the "Edit" menu.

Re:As opposed to windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467560)


Music programs: get your ported asses over here!! (-1, Offtopic)

cies (318343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467408)

Music programs: get your ported asses over here!

(I'd love to see CuBaseSX on linux)

left, no right! (0, Troll)

buddha42 (539539) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467411)

Massivly scalable SMP kernel, or instantly responsive desktop kernel... make up your mind leenux, you're confusing me!

Re:left, no right! (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467436)

There's no reason not to implement both high-throughput scheduling for big servers and low-latency scheduling for desktops in the same kernel... just mark each process table entry with a bit saying whether this process is 'interactive' (favour fairness and low response times) or 'batch' (favour total throughput and bigger timeslices at the expense of fairness).

Re:left, no right! (3, Insightful)

binkley (25431) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467465)

For that matter, why are you trying to do two completely different work loads and environments with the same kernel? You compile the kernel tuned to batch workloads for the server, and recompile the kernel tuned to interactive workloads for the desktop. You have the source.

Re:left, no right! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467471)

Many people are not gonna compile their own kernel, especially those running something like Redhat in a corporate environment. It makes more sense to code it to work either way.

Re:left, no right! (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467561)

Many people are not gonna compile their own kernel, especially those running something like Redhat in a corporate environment. It makes more sense to code it to work either way.

How about this radical idea--

Let Red Hat, SuSE, etc. compile different kernels with different options and install them as needed ;-) That means a desktop edition could install a low-latency version and a server edition could install a high-throughput version.

Re:left, no right! (3, Insightful)

shokk (187512) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467598)

Or using that snazzy bootloader technology, both kernels can be compiled and the kernel that gets loaded is determined by a variable in lilo.conf, making it easier to set desktop or server room performance in a corporate environment.

Re:left, no right! (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467482)

or alternativly...

make xconfig and enable/disable options for a perfect kernel.

Windows NT server and workstation have different scheduling priorities controled by a setting in the regersetery.

xfree86+kde 3.1.9 = FAST. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467417)

Compile it and your'e zooming.

Simply More Evidence (0, Offtopic)

Montgomery Burns III (642155) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467419)

That Open source is more progressive than miker$oft

Re:Simply More Evidence (1)

dthable (163749) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467431)

Uh...check out Windows 2000 scheduling algos. If anything, Linux is becoming the next MS

Re:Simply More Evidence (1)

Montgomery Burns III (642155) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467449)

Ouch, those are fighting words.....

Re:Simply More Evidence (-1, Flamebait)

Montgomery Burns III (642155) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467484)

Do you truly believe that Miker$oft has demonstrated innovation in the last 3 years? no, no, step away from the ray gun Nooooooooooooooooooooo [In Darth's Voice you shall be assimilated]

Re:Simply More Evidence (1)

dthable (163749) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467583)

Never said they innovated anything, but the whole idea of Windows was to be a user responsive operating system. Thus they came up with the whole idea of floating priorities and boosts to foreground applications. In this case, they did come up with the concept before the OS community got there.

I don't like the idea of my foreground app getting a boost. It leads to more complex code that, in turn, can lead to support problems and bugs.

Re:Simply More Evidence (4, Funny)

BanSiesta (41108) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467491)

> Uh...check out Windows 2000 scheduling algos

Sure thing. What was the address of their anoncvs servers again? Oh wait, I forgot the "turn into a powerful government and sign a couple hundred non-disclosure agreements"-requirement.

Re:Simply More Evidence (1)

dthable (163749) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467610)

What's your point? If I give the code away, it's instantly a better program or system?

Second, please make sure you keep things straight. Open source doesn't mean free code distribution. I could sell the program and also include the code for that one sale. The linux kernel is licensed on a free source basis. Everyone can get the code without paying. I'd suggest picking up documents by RMS so you can clarify the different.

Linux wins again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467420)

Kudos to Linus and Ingo. When you're hot, you're hot. Keep that kernel sizzlin' !

well .. (0, Offtopic)

Thyrhaug (536821) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467427)

another revolution! [...] again :-)

Re:well .. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467572)

I like the idea of low-latency scheduling for desktops.

another revolution! [...] again :-)

'Round and 'round as in revolutions per minute? ;-)

hmmm... Desktop Linux... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467429)

Does this mean software will be easier to install also?

Re:hmmm... Desktop Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467455)

Nahm I don't see how it would make "apt-get install foo" any easier.

Dial-up (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467506)

Nahm I don't see how it would make "apt-get install foo" any easier.

Especially because even though apt-get automatically fetches and installs dependencies, it takes an hour to do so over dial-up. And no, home-priced broadband isn't available everywhere in the United States, let alone everywhere in the world.

Re:Dial-up (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467537)

Don't do it over dial-up then. Do it off the CD. Look, you've got to pay for getting the distro one way or another. Either get a decent connection, or buy the CDs.

huh? (5, Funny)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467432)

The Linux kernel team is at it again.

At it again? At what again? That sorta makes it sound like a girls gone wild video or something. Kernel Dev's Gone Wild volume 3, where Ingo and Linus bare their breasts for beads at a Linux user conference in Tampa Bay - no, that's just too strange...

Oh, one more thing:

Hello, my name is Ingo Molnar. You killed my father: prepare to die.

No no no! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467529)


My name is Ingo Molnar. You kill -9'd my parent process. Prepare to die()

No thanks. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467433)

I'll stick with my Microsoft products, thank you. All that Linux is used for is DVD piracy, hacking, DoSing, and hosting illegal "warez" sites. I don't associate with criminals like that.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467451)

Sometimes I actually wonder if posts like these are the trolls they obviously seem to be, or if by some twist of fate they actually believe this senselss crap?

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467524)

Anyone with the intelligence to type out h t t p colon slash slash s l a s h d o t dot o r g successfully is probably a troll, I'm afraid!

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467496)

You sound like Inger Marie Sunde. Maby there be a job for you working as a DA..., you seam to come with the same arguments. (just remeber to check if the Policedeparten is using Linux, befor you call all Linuxuser for crimenal)

How looks your geekroom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467518)

Does it have many boxen?

Actually... (3, Informative)

DataPath (1111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467441)

Actually, Linus's patch doesn't improve things any better than the scheduler patch it is Linus's patch combined with the scheduler patch that make it such a huge improvement. Again... its the COMBO patch that's arousing so much excitement.

Re:Actually... (3, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467474)

I'm not so sure, 2.5.54 is far slicker on the desktop than 2.4.x (about as responsive as windows, even without dri).
If this patch is causing great excitement, then I can only assume linux is now more responsive on the desktop than windows.

Now, if only supermount was in the 2.5 kernel tree........

Re:Actually... (1)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467485)

If you think that a scheduler patch is arousing and exciting, you need to get out more, meet some girls...

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467608)

I found that Linus's 5 liner did more for interactivity than Ingo's sched-* patches have. Ofcourse the combo patch made it yet a little better :)

Speaking on behalf of... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467446)

Speaking on behalf of the greater LINUX community, I just want to express my concern that we are in dager of losing our exclusivity and insular "alternate lifestyle" afforded by our outrageously homosexual operating system.

Hrm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467448)

Didn't Alan Cocks talk about this awhile ago?

What will come first? (-1, Offtopic)

StarTux (230379) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467450)

NeverWinter Nights Linux client?

Kernel 2.6?


Re:What will come first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467535)

or duke nukem forever?

Re:What will come first? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467582)

Don't be ridiculous. We are having a serious conversation here.

Re:What will come first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467586)

Of the three I predict StarTux will come first, seeing as how he's whacking it to tentacle-rape hentai at this very moment.

The Tao of Linux (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467456)

Something forms itself from the silent void of the empty mailing lists and the noisy chaos of the crowded mailing lists. It shapes and protects us, it entertains and challenges us, it aids us in our journey through the ether world of software. It is mysterious; it is at once source code and yet object code. I do not know the name, thus I will call it the Tao of Linux.

If the Tao is great, then the box is stable. If the box is stable, then the server is secure. If the server is secure, then the data is safe. If the data is safe, then the users are happy.

In the beginning there was chaos in Unix.

Tanenbaum gave birth to MINIX. MINIX did not have the Tao.
MINIX gave birth to Linux 0.1 and it had promise.
Linux gave birth to v1.3 and it was good.
v1.3 gave birth to v2.0 and it was better.

Linux has evolved greatly from its distant cousins of the old. Linux is embodied by the Tao.

The wise user is told about the Tao and contributes to it. The average user is told about the Tao and compiles it. The foolish user is told about the Tao and laughs and asks who needs it.
If it were not for laughter, there would be no Tao.
Wisdom leads to good code, but experience leads to good use of that code.

The master Cox once dreamed that he was a Kernel. When he awoke he exclaimed: "I don't know whether I am Cox dreaming that I am a Kernel, or a Kernel dreaming that I am Cox!"
The master Linus then said: "The Tao envelopes you. You shall create great code for Linux."
"On the contrary," said Cox, "The Tao has already created the code, I will only have to find it and write it down."

A master was explaining the nature of the Tao to one of his students:
"Is the Tao in the VM subsystem?" he asked. "Yes," replied the master.
"Is the Tao in the scheduler?" he queried again. "The Tao is in the scheduler."
"Is the Tao even in the modules?". "It is even in the modules," said the master.
"Is the Tao in the Low-Latency Patch?"
The master frowned and was silent for much time.
"You fail to understand the Tao. Go away."

The Tao is the yin and the yang. It is the good and the evil, it is everything and yet it is nothing, it is the beginning and the end.

The Tao was there at the kernel compile, and it will be there when the kernel panics.

A novice user once asked a master: "Why compile in C when C++ is more popular?"
"Why a monolythic kernel when Mach is more popular?"
"And why use ReiserFS when ext2 is more popular?"

The master sighed and replied: "Why run Unix when NT is more popular?"
The user was enlightened.

A frustrated user once asked a master: "My kernel has panicked, should I post to lkml?"
"No," replied the master, "You will only bother the Tao."
"Should I rm -rf?"
"No, you will have wasted the Tao's time."
"Well should I search the web?"
"You will search for all eternity," said the master.
"Perhaps I should try FreeBSD?"
"Then you will have disgraced the Tao."
"I suppose I could try gdb," said the user.
The master smiled and replied: "Then you will have made the Tao stronger."

A stubborn user once told a master: "I run version 2.2. I always have, and I always will."
The master replied: "You are foolish and do not understand the Tao. The Tao is dynamic and ever changing. Linux strives for the perfection that is the Tao. It flows from version to version with peace."

"So my Linux does not have the Tao, so what?" said the foolish user. "Oh your Linux is of the Tao," said the master. "However, the Tao of Linux follows the Tao of the C library. One day the C library will change, and your Linux will be left behind." The user was silent.

An angry user once yelled at a master:

"My Linux has panicked! What lousy software it is, I hate it so!"
"You are insulting the Tao," said the master. "The Tao is everywhere bringing order to hundreds of networks, aiding thousands of users, and fighting that of which we call the 'lame.' Do not disrespect the Tao; however, the Tao will forgive you."

"I apologize," said the user, "And I will be more forgiving the next time the Tao fails me."

"The Tao has not failed you, it is you that has failed the Tao," said the master. "The Tao is perfect."
The Tao decides if a kernel shall compile, or if it shall abort.
The Tao decides if a kernel shall boot, or if it shall freeze.
The Tao decides if a kernel shall run, or if it shall panic.
But, the Tao does not decide if a box will have no hardware failures. That is a mystery to everyone.

A young master once approached an old master: "I have a LUG for Linux help. But, I fail to answer my students' problems; they are above me."
The master replied: "Have you taught them of the Tao?" he asked. "How it brings together man and software, yet how it distances them apart; how if flows throughout Linux and transcends its essence?"
"No," exclaimed the apprentice, "These people cannot even get the source untarred."
"Oh, said the master, "In that case, tell them to RTFM."

A master watched as an ambitious user reconstructed his Linux.

"I shall make every bit encrypted," the user said. "I shall use 2048 bit keys, three different algorithms, and make multiple passes."
The master replied: "I think it is unwise."
"Why?" asked the user. "Will my encryption harm the mighty Tao, which gives Linux life and creates the balance between kernel and processes? The mighty Tao, which is the thread that binds the modules and links them with the core? The mighty Tao, which safely guides the TCP/IP packets to and from the network card?"
"No," said the master, "It will hog too much cpu."

The core is like the part of the mind that is static. It is programmed at a child's creation and cannot be changed unless a new child is made; unless a new kernel is compiled.
The modules are like the part of the mind that is dynamic. It is reprogrammed every time one learns new knowledge; every time one learns better code.
One is yin, the other yang. Each is nothing without the other.

A novice came to lkml and inquired to all the masters there: "I wish to become a master. Must I memorize the Linux header files?"
"No," replied a master.
"Must I submit code to Bitkeeper?"
"No," replied the master.
"Must I meditate daily and dedicate my life to Linux?"
"No," replied the master again.
"Must I go on a quest to ponder the meaning of the Tao?"
"No. A master is nothing more than a student who knows something of which he can teach to other students."
The novice understood.
And thus said the master:
"It is the way of the Tao."

A user came to a master who had great status in lkml. The user asked the master: "Which is easier: implementing new features to the kernel or documenting them?"
"Implementing new features," replied the master.
The confused user then exclaimed:
"Surely it is easier to write a few sentences in the man page than it is to write pages of code without error?"
"Not so," said the master. "When coding, the Tao of Linux opens my eyes wide and allows me to see beyond the code, to let the source flow from my fingers, to implement without flaw. When documenting, however, all I have to work with is a C in high school English."

He who compiles from the stable tree is stubborn
and unwilling to change, but is guaranteed reliability.
He who compiles from the current tree is wise but perhaps too conformist, but is guaranteed steadiness.
He who compiles from the unstable tree is adventurous and is guaranteed new innovations: some good, some bad.
He who compiles straight from Bitkeeper is brave but guaranteed turbulence.
They are all of the Tao. One shall respect the old, and debug the new; none shall argue over which is greatest.

There once was a user who scripted in Perl: "Look at what I have to work with here," he said to a master of core, "My code is interpreted dynamically, the syntax is unique and simple, I have sockets, strings, arrays, and everything I could ever need. Why don't you stop meddling in C and come join me?"
The C programmer described his reasoning to the scripter: "Scripting is to C as ebonics is to Latin. If the scripter does not grow beyond that of which he scripts, he will surely {die}. Besides, without C, how can there be script?"
The scripter was enlightened, and the two became close friends.

X11 Beh. (3, Interesting)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467466)

Im sorry, its not the kernel that makes a desktop OS what it is, its the userinterface on top. Linux isnt going to be truely Desktop friendly untill X11 gets replaced with something that doesnt completely suck. You shouldnt need a high end video card to make X11 nice and smooth or have to use a stripped down UI. If Linux wants to set it self apart from all the other OS's its going to need its own desktop engine. I do agree that the 2.6 kernel is going in the right direction, I just belive the rest of the OS is being left really far in the past.

My 2 1/2 cents Canadian

Re:X11 Beh. (0, Troll)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467544)

You shouldnt need a high end video card to make X11 nice and smooth or have to use a stripped down UI.

Why not? You need a very high end graphics card, a very, very high end CPU and 512M of RAM to make Windows 2000 moderately useable, why should Linux be any different?

Re:X11 Beh. (1)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467571)

I run W2k/XP on a PII400 256mb ram with a really crumby video card and its far more responsive then Linux with X11 on the same box. Which is why XP is on that box and linux is on my Athlon XP.

Re:X11 Beh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467584)

because all the linux people have to do is claim it's possible and instantly it is, right?

I mean, they must be 10 times smarter than the windows kernel team.

Re:X11 Beh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467590)

hmmm, maybe you have a virus laden pirated version, because it runs fine on a p3-450 with a generic (tseng??) vid card.

oh wait, the truth isnt important to you. nevermind.

There was a time when... (0, Interesting)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467468)

Linux was the fastest platform on the block (back in the days of Windows 3.1 and flawed pentiums). More recently, working with Linux, I was disappointed with the speed. Maybe this will be the killer-non-ap that makes Linux scream and encourages us all to delete their FAT32 partitions for good?


Re:There was a time when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467569)

what in the heck are you using for hardware? (266?)

also what sort of desktop GUI are you using? (something bloated like KDE or Gnome?)

your opinion is quite vague, Linux runs lightning fast on my computer, and many others...

There was a time .... (5, Informative)

codepunk (167897) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467570)

There was a time when idiots did not walk the earth.

Linux still screams, I have a single server with two gig's of ram in it that runs 100 desktops (KDE) simultaneously. Yes it indeed takes alot of ram to run all of the new software. But for a machine that runs 2200 processes that is a impressive feat. It is a dual processor box and I have yet to see it reach over 30% processor utilization, a testament to the efficency of the kernel.

Software today requires a ton of ram, this has nothing to do with efficency of the linux kernel.

Along with this goes the idiots that think there is something wrong with X. I run this stuff in a corporate environment and X windows is linux's biggest strength. Remove X Windows and I would have to eliminate our corporate use of Linux.

Re:There was a time when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467606)

P2 366 notebook with 192 meg of ram, capable of playing 1024 x 768 full screen movies locally or from NFS shares with OpenOffice running. Gentoo linux. I doubt the same can be said with XP and Office XP on the same platform. Maybe your configuration is suspect.

Say What? (2, Interesting)

Ra-Rue (248664) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467483)

How does what Linus and Ingo are doing this time differ from previous approaches such as the low latency patch and real time enhancements?

This sounds really good. (0, Flamebait)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467490)

The one thing Linux is missing is multimedia support which is the main reason Windows users are too afraid to try it out. Since Linux already is great for server use I think this boost will put the number of GNU/Linux users in front of the number of Windows users.

How does this compare to preempt and others? (1)

Rushuru (135939) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467492)

How does this compare to preempt and other desktop friendly kernel patches, such as the low latency patch?

Is there a slight loss in the case of a large app taking all cpu power? I tried preempt after it was overhyped on slashdot, and found it nice for general desktop usage, but it made quake3 and other cpu hungry games jerky when I tried to play them; I hope it's not the case with that new wonderpatch.

Desktop user's dream? (3, Interesting)

j3110 (193209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467499)

What? I thought the desktop user's dream was Mac OS X.

Most desktop users don't know what kernel they have. Even users that have Linux say "I have Linux 8.0".

While I think they'll notice some of this, I think users will see more benefit, and notice very much more, when the kernel is more real-time (pre-empting kernel code).

Kould kde 3.2 kut it? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467502)

With Xfree86 4.3 support for xcursor and xrandr, and this new kernel patch, I could see KGX kicking some ass. The current cvs version is really kool with support for lots of goodies that previously were NEVER avalible in linux or windows land.

Of course by then it will have Longhorn and Mac OS 11 to compete with.

And gnomes a joke, so don't even mention it.

The challenge of scheduling for interactivity (4, Insightful)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467512)

If the scheduler could "see" what the user is doing, then it could make the desktop appear fabulously responsive, by detecting which program the user is currently looking at. But it can't. So it has to use heuristics based on the behavior of programs wrt. how often they compute/get events etc. Windows tries to blindly give priority to the application that's in the "foreground", and ends up screwing everything else. However, it is really possible to achieve close very good interactivity through clever kernel architecture: Beos did it years ago. Lets see if Linux will do better.

Note that responsiveness is not something that will scale with increasing processor speed. So these patches could really have an effect in setting the Linux desktop experience apart. Will this help to capture desktop market share? Whoda thunk it :)

Re:The challenge of scheduling for interactivity (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467585)

jeez guy. Read the article.

Windows NON-reponsiveness (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467603)

There is, however, an odd characteristic of Windows NT. I don't know what part of the system is to blame, but the effect from a user's point of view is that "anything I want to do on the local network is more important than anything you want to do on the screen."

If Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer, but Windows Explorer, the shell program that displays files and directories on the screen) needs something from the network, and the network is slow in responding, it puts up an hourglass. Even though what it needs is only relevant to the topmost window, it may refuse to let you bring up any other window, either in Explorer _or in any other application_. The condition may persist for large fractions of a minute.

The same thing sometimes occurs accessing files on slow media (diskette or CD-ROM).

A faster Linux desktop! WOW! (-1, Troll)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467516)

OMFG! Now I can run my Linux desktop even faster! I can switch between windows in X just as quickly and easily as I have done for the LAST TWO YEARS because recent computers have enough horsepower to handle X with about a zillion things going on and don't need any help!


Predicting the future.... (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467525)

Written in march 2000... The only UNIX is Linux []

And I Quote "All the others are A) going to go away or B) be merged into Linux. Linux is simply a more competitive paradigm. When IBM, HP, SUN, DEC (Compaq) and every other PC, Computer embeded device run Linux - the market pressures to toss out the others will be enormous. They already are, sumoe people like Sun though just don't (want to) get it yet."

Written in march 2003 ... Dell CIO Says "UNIX is dead" []

My next prediction is that Microsoft is going to get kicked off the desktop, Thank you.

explanation needed, please (3, Interesting)

dj_paulgibbs (619622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467526)

Now, I am a long-time user of Windows, but am (and have been always) increasingly tempted by switching to a Linux-based distribution, probably Redhat, on my main desktop machine.

With that lack-of-linux-knowledge, could someone explain why precisly this is a "Significant Interactivity Boost in (the) Linux Kernel"? Thank you.

Re:explanation needed, please (3, Interesting)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467604)

I think the logic goes like this:
  • Linux was a "better" desktop than "Windoze"
  • But the scheduling system on top of which the X server runs kinda sucked, so in reality Linux wasn't such a great desktop
  • "Windoze" has the graphics subsystem "in the kernel" (not true, but still) and that's "bad". Linux uses a different approach (X is a client/server graphics system) that is considered "good" and not "unstable" and not as "sneaky" as "Windoze"
  • Now someone has come up with a way to make the Linux GUI more responsive.
  • So now Linux will be a better desktop than "Windoze".
  • Slashdot readers are predicting Linux will take over the desktop Any Moment Now.
Apply to some other technical area where Linux is "better" than "Windoze" - lather, rinse, repeat in a few months.

Re:explanation needed, please (5, Informative)

jtdubs (61885) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467607)

IANAKH (Kernel Hacker), but here's my understanding of it.

The kernel development team are experimenting with heuristics to determine what processes are "interactive" and to determine "how interactive" those processes are.

An interactive process is a process which spends a portion of it's time sleeping, waiting for some kind of event, and then needs cpu time quickly after the event happens.

In this case the events are user input and screen redraw requests.

So, the trick is that interactive processes don't need any more CPU time than other processes, they just need it very quickly in response to requests. Low latency.

The question is, how do you determine what processare are interactive, and how interactive they are.

They have developed a system whereby there are effectively "interactivity points" that can be given to and taken away from a process.

The act of being woken up from sleeping by an event awards you interactivity points. The act of completely using up lots of timeslices (acting like a CPU-bound process) takes away interactivity points.

With Linus's new patch, once you've reached a certain threshold of interactivity points, some of your points start going to the process that woke you up. So, if an "interactive" process is always waking up in response to an event from a certain other process, than that other process is also awarded interactivity points.

In the end, your interactivity points are taken into account when choosing which processes get the CPU.

So, with this new code, processes which are "interactive" like your X11 apps get more of the cycles they need when they need them, decreasing their latency, and making them appear to work "better."

Justin Dubs

Re:explanation needed, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467611)

If you have a CPU-heavy app going on, it will take some time for it to respond to your typing on the terminal, since it has a long pause (for a computer) between each keypress.

This patch will mean that thesystem will swap to an interactive process when it needs to, irrespective of whether another CPU-heavy process "deserves" the CPU time.

You "waste" several hundred cycles with frequent swapping, but that is all you waste. With a CPU-fairness algorithm, you won't waste so many cycles, but it may be several thousand cycles before your app gets a look-in.

CPUs are fast enough that missing a few nubdred cycles every few milliseconds is not a problem.

Jumpy (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467527)

I find some things jump a little (e.g. dragging windows around) at the moment (RH8, Athlon MP 1600, GeForce 2) in X.

On a 475MHz laptop with ATi Rage Pro video, it runs just as smooth as XP does (they both jump a bit when dragging windows around).

I know this shouldn't happen on the fast PC though. I must have something set up wrongly. Maybe the latest kernel will make it less noticeable though :-)

2D accell (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467589)

Smoothness when dragging stuff around probably has more to do with the 2D hardware on your graphics adaptor and the drivers for it. Even though this new kernel apparantly will make things feel snappier I still wouldn't be surprised if GUI jumpiness still happens. 3D acceleration seems to be the hot priority right now. Hence Quartz Extreme in OS X, since the video card is being optimized for 3D make everything look like it's 3D.

You Thieves! (4, Funny)

borg (95568) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467549)

Stop stealing that intellectual property from SCO already. Have you no shame? The gig is up: there's no way you could keep putting this stuff out without ripping off the hard working SCO programmers.

for all you... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467555)

bashing linux/x/kde/whatever speed, I'm willing to bet you've never doen a full build (ala Gentoo) and actually optimized it for your system...have you? KDE 3.1 is as fast or faster than windows XP on my 1ghz took a while to build, but it's well worth it.

The patch (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467562)

Is here []

On Fri, 28 Feb 2003, Andrew Morton wrote:
> >
> > Andrew, if you drop this patch, your X desktop usability drops?
> hm, you're right. It's still really bad. I forgot that I was using distcc.
> And I also forgot that tbench starves everything else only on CONFIG_SMP=n.
> That problem remains with us as well.

Andrew, I always thought that the scheduler interactivity was bogus, since
it didn't give any bonus to processes that _help_ interactive users
(notably the X server, but it could be other things).

To fix that, some people nice up their X servers, which has its own set of

How about something more like this (yeah, untested, but you get the idea):
the person who wakes up an interactive task gets the interactivity bonus
if the interactive task is already maxed out. I dunno how well this plays
with the X server, but assuming most clients use UNIX domain sockets, the
wake-ups _should_ be synchronous, so it should work well to say "waker
gets bonus".

This should result in:

- if X ends up using all of its time to handle clients, obviously X will
not count as interactive on its own. HOWEVER, if an xterm or something
gets an X event, the fact that the xterm has been idle means that _it_
gets a interactivity boost at wakeup.

- after a few such boosts (or assuming lots of idleness of xterm), the
process that caused the wakeup (ie the X server) will get the
"extraneous interactivity".

This all depends on whether the unix domain socket code runs in bottom
half or process context. If it runs in bottom half context we're screwed,
I haven't checked.

Does this make any difference for you? I don't know what your load test
is, and considering that my regular desktop has 4 fast CPU's I doubt I can
see the effect very clearly anyway ("Awww, poor Linus!")

NOTE! This doesn't help a "chain" of interactive helpers. It could be
extended to that, by just allowing the waker to "steal" interactivity
points from a sleeping process, but then we'd need to start being careful
about fairness and in particular we'd have to disallow this for signal


===== kernel/sched.c 1.161 vs edited =====
--- 1.161/kernel/sched.c Thu Feb 20 20:33:52 2003
+++ edited/kernel/sched.c Wed Mar 5 19:09:45 2003
@@ -337,8 +337,15 @@
* boost gets as well.
p->sleep_avg += sleep_time;
- if (p->sleep_avg > MAX_SLEEP_AVG)
+ if (p->sleep_avg > MAX_SLEEP_AVG) {
+ int ticks = p->sleep_avg - MAX_SLEEP_AVG + current->sleep_avg;
p->sleep_avg = MAX_SLEEP_AVG;
+ if (ticks > MAX_SLEEP_AVG)
+ ticks = MAX_SLEEP_AVG;
+ if (!in_interrupt())
+ current->sleep_avg = ticks;
+ }
p->prio = effective_prio(p);
enqueue_task(p, array);

Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5467574)

But windows xp already does this.

please work on making linux a better server os please. the customer is not asking for better desktop where windows is already untouchable.

Wow! (1)

Chymaera (607989) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467591)

I can't wait to watch the 3D animation of the kernel source with this...the best part will be seeing the patch! :-)

Improves interactive responsitivity, but... (2, Funny)

giminy (94188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467595)

Looks like someone is using the server locally on, as it's down...Hopefully they're getting something done at least :).

Using 2.5.x? (1)

chabotc (22496) | more than 11 years ago | (#5467605)

Now that we are on this topic, it might be a good time to ask this question: How can i get my box to boot a 2.5.x kernel?! I am no newbie to kernel configs, it looks like i did everything right, however i am greated by a "Booting linux kernel..." then my HD making noices for about a minute (but no output to console) and then ... nothing .. keyboard unresponsive, no output on console, nothing..

Is there some magic ingrediant i missed? I know modutils changed, but i don't even seem to get to a point where that could make the slightest difference

(had this with 2.5.61, .64 and .64-bk3)
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