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Measuring The Benefits Of The Gentoo Approach

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-necessarily-what-you'd-think dept.

Software 467

An anonymous reader writes "We're constantly hearing how the source based nature of the Gentoo distro makes better use of your hardware, but no-one seems to have really tested it. What kind of gains are involved over distros which use binary packaging? The article is here."

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467 comments

Misses the point (5, Interesting)

keesh (202812) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596725)

The source-based thing isn't even why most people use gentoo. According to a recent poll on the gentoo-user mailing list, most people like it because of Portage (the package management system), with Customisation / Control coming in second (performance was third). Portage rocks. Even with the compiling, it takes less time to install some stuff (eg nmap) than it would take to locate the relevant .rpm. Of course, kde's a different matter, but with distcc compiling doesn't take too long.

Having said that, it looks like the guys doing the testing got their CFLAGS wrong. Gentoo's performance should never be worse than Mandrake -- I reckon they forgot omit-frame-pointer. Also, the kernel compile is unfair, because gentoo-sources includes a whole load of patches that Mandrake and Debian don't.

Finally, what's with measuring compile times? How is that a fair way of measuring performance? Hey, look, my distcc + ccache + lots of CPUs system with gcc3.2 can compile stuff faster than your single CPU gcc2 system... It's like comparing chalk and oranges.

Re:Misses the point (5, Insightful)

ecchi_0 (647240) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596759)

Finally, what's with measuring compile times? How is that a fair way of measuring performance? Hey, look, my distcc + ccache + lots of CPUs system with gcc3.2 can compile stuff faster than your single CPU gcc2 system... It's like comparing chalk and oranges

Except in this case they all had the same hardware on each machine...

Re:Misses the point (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596764)

ccache and distcc are software, and they can make a huge (as in several orders of magnitude for things like mozilla) difference

Re:Misses the point (4, Interesting)

arkanes (521690) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596769)

The key points to recognize from the article are: a) GNUmeric's performance sucks (8 minutes to open a file? I won't even think about the other version...) and b) that the CPU is not a signifigant bottleneck in modern systems. We all knew that. It's one reason why so many people are happy with binary packages, because the speed increase from saving some cycles generally isn't worth the extra time you lose compiling (as seen, in many cases it makes 0 difference).

I would have liked to see some tests with things that are more CPU than IO bound, but, realistically, how often do you do those things in the normal case?

If the main reason is to use portage for the convenience (same reason many people use debian), maybe they need to expand portage to support binary packages.

Re:Misses the point (5, Informative)

countvlad (666933) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596818)

Portage can be used to install binary (precompiled tbz2 packages of ebuilds).

From emerge --help:

--usepkg (-k short option)
Tell emerge to use binary packages (from $PKGDIR) if they are available, thus possibly avoiding some time-consuming compiles.This option is useful for CD installs; you can export PKGDIR=/mnt/cdrom/packages and then use this option to have emerge "pull" binary packages from the CD in order to satisfy dependencies.

--usepkgonly (-K short option)
Like --usepkg above, except this only allows the use of binary packages, and it will abort the emerge if the package is not available at the time of dependency calculation.

You can also, of course, emerge rpm and install any RPM packages. I'm not sure about debian .deb packages or slackware .tgz packages.

Gentoo is also accept pre-orders for it's upcoming 1.4 release. Information can be found here, at the Gentoo Store. [gentoo.org]
They even have precompiled packages optimizaed for Athlon-XP's - drool! [gentoo.org]

Re:Misses the point (0, Redundant)

FeeDBaCK (42286) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596864)

Portage has supported binary packages for a while now and the current beta version of portage even has support for automatically downloading binary packages.

Re:Misses the point (2, Interesting)

tweek (18111) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596772)

Well in all fairness, ccache only does any good after the first compile. The distcc option however does make a difference.

I will agree that the biggest thing for me with gentoo is actually being able to strip stuff out of an install with a simple USE flag. I actually prefere to build things myself but having a package management system that takes care of dependencies for that is a godsend.

Re:Misses the point (2, Insightful)

aboyce (444334) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596791)

first, I'd love to see a distro be faster than "up2date package_name" or even "aptget package_name".

Next, they said right in the article that they used an identical copy of the kernel source on each machine, so patches shouldn't make a difference.

Finally, its not that I dont agree with you, their tests did have flaws, it just seems that some of your facts are wrong in attacking them. There are some points that need to be examined, even if some of their conclusions are premature.

Re:Misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596816)

emerge is faster than up2date. one character less to type.

Re:Misses the point (2, Funny)

mickwd (196449) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596857)

"emerge is faster than up2date. one character less to type."

Hehehe....and Mandrake's "urpmi" is one character shorter than that.....

Re:Misses the point (4, Interesting)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596933)

first, I'd love to see a distro be faster than "up2date package_name" or even "aptget package_name".

FreeBSD Update [daemonology.net]. Ok, it only upgrades the base FreeBSD install, starting at binary releases, along the security branches; but it uses binary patches [daemonology.net] to dramatically cut down on the bandwidth usage (and therefore the time used). A typical install of FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE (released in October 2002) has 97 files totalling 36MB bytes which need to be updated for security reasons; FreeBSD Update does this while using under 1.6MB of bandwidth.

Re:Misses the point (5, Insightful)

scotch (102596) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596805)

Why the hell would you introduce a distributed computing tool in a discussion about evaluating the performance of a single machine/OS? Pure obfuscation. Typical gentoo-missing-the-point behavior. Either compiling the kernel is a fair measure of the speed of the system or it isn't. distcc doesn't play into it. Here's a fun analogy. You want to see which is faster a porche 911 or a chevy corvette. So some thoughtful guys put together a series of tests, one of which is a 1000 mile race. Then along comes user keesh (202812) who says "Bad test, I wouldn't drive 1000 miles, I would take the train."

A hearty helping of wtf is in order. Some of your other points are ok, though ;).

Re:Misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596861)

Not a good troll. Good trolls are subtly misleading and well written. Yours isn't. By far.

Re:Misses the point (1)

FeeDBaCK (42286) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596880)

Either compiling the kernel is a fair measure of the speed of the system or it isn't.

It definitely is not unless they were using unpatched sources in all three systems. The Gentoo sources applies bunches of patches to the stock kernel which would affect compile time.

Also, am I the only one that noticed they complain about how all the speed improvement patches made no difference, but they mention that they used the same options for every kernel compile. The performance increases are found by TURNING THEM ON.

To go with the car analagy, it would be like having a 6th gear in the Porsche but only using 5th gear because the other one didn't have it.

I udnerstand using the same options for TIMING a kernel compile, but not for running one. After all, the ability to customize your system is what makes Gentoo so nice.

Re:Misses the point (0)

dmon (133360) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596866)

> Even with the compiling, it takes less time to install some stuff (eg nmap) than it would take to locate the relevant .rpm

Gentoo is really cool, but:

http://apt.freshrpms.net/

# apt-get install nmap

that's it.

Re:Misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596902)

Uhm... with emerge, it's just 'emerge nmap'. That handles dependencies as well if necessary.

Re:Misses the point (4, Interesting)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596879)

What's missing in the article is the second half of Gentoo's compile options, the /etc/make.conf USE variables. CFLAGS determines CPU architecture, USE adds or removes the options for extra software support. In stock form Gentoo compiles binaries with a huge number off add-ons, including support for KDE, Gnome, framebuffer, etc. From make.conf: " USE options are inherited from /etc/make.profile/make.defaults." The list from a current Gentoo 1.2 looks like:

USE="x86 oss 3dnow apm arts avi berkdb crypt cups encode gdbm gif gpm gtk imlib java jpeg kde libg++ libwww mikmod mmx motif mpeg ncurses nls oggvorbis opengl pam pdflib png python qt quicktime readline sdl slang spell ssl svga tcpd truetype X xml2 xmms xv"

Without knowing what support Debian or Mandrake used to compile binaries, this is still an apple/oranges comparison. My notebook isn't configured to compile with KDE or Gnome extensions because the hardare is too old and I use Fluxbox. Mandrake and Debian may still turn out faster (the Gentoo Mozilla e-build was legendary for being slow), but that's not quiet yet proven.

Re:Misses the point (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596912)

Of course if the do a build, kill it half way through then build it again with out make clean it will go even quicker. Not saying they did but stats can always be taken two ways

Rus

No. Gentoo is not a performance leader. (5, Interesting)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596922)

Having said that, it looks like the guys doing the testing got their CFLAGS wrong. Gentoo's performance should never be worse than Mandrake -- I reckon they forgot omit-frame-pointer.

Omit-frame-pointer is not a regular optimization. Working without stack traces to hand to a developer if you have a problem isn't really a reasonable optimization unless you're doing something like an embedded system, where you couldn't get at the stack trace anyway.

This is *exactly* what the real tech-heads have been saying for years, what my tests confirm, etc. A minor change in a couple of compile flags above -O2 almost *always* makes very little difference. Compiling your own packages really just plain doesn't matter. Maybe if gcc really was incredibly tuned to each processor, but certainly not with the current compiler set.

Also, the kernel compile is unfair, because gentoo-sources includes a whole load of patches that Mandrake and Debian don't.

And perhaps the inverse is true, too?

Look, the point is, Gentoo is not significantly faster than any other general distro out there. If you use it, it's because you like their tools or packaging scheme. You aren't cleverly squeezing out more performance.

Oh, and last of all, I've seen compiler folks saying that it's not that unusual for -O3 to perform worse than -O2. When I was taking our cache performance analysis bit in university, cache hits and misses really *is* the dominant factor in almost all cases. Loop unrolling and function inlining can be a serious loss.

Finally, compiling for different architectures generally makes very little difference on any platform other than compiling for i586 on a Pentium. The Pentium runs 386 code rather slowly. The PII and above will happily deal with 386 code.

Re:Misses the point (4, Interesting)

buchanmilne (258619) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596942)

Portage rocks.

If you have a fast processor. My Duron 800 can keep itself busy for a weekend compiling OpenOffice.org ...

Even with the compiling, it takes less time to install some stuff (eg nmap) than it would take to locate the relevant .rpm.

This is on my Thinkpad 600X, which is a 500 PIII/192MB, with a pretty slow disk:

[root@bgmilne-thinkpad mnt]# rpm -q nmap
package nmap is not installed
[root@bgmilne-thinkpad mnt]# time urpmi nmap
installing /var/cache/urpmi/rpms/nmap-3.00-2mdk.i586.rpm

Preparing...
#some hashes replaced to fool the lameness filter#
1:nmap
#some hashes replaced to fool the lameness filter#
5.34user 1.36system 0:26.76elapsed 25%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 0maxresident)k
0inputs+0outputs (1712major+8394minor)pagefaults 0swaps


You would need quite a system to beat 26s I think.

Also, the kernel compile is unfair, because gentoo-sources includes a whole load of patches that Mandrake and Debian don't.

From the article:

"The same 2.4.21 source was copied to all machines and compiled using the same options. However, it should be noted that the Debian system used gcc 3.3.1 whilst the Mandrake and Gentoo installations used gcc 3.3.2 ."

I don't see the point of:
-not using the default compiler on the system
-if you don't use the default compiler on each machine, at least use the same compiler across them all

But, otherwise, the comparison looks pretty fair.

Early Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596727)

GNAA is dying ! w00t !

Gentoo Pengiuns are Dying! (-1, Offtopic)

akedia (665196) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596731)

It is official; National Geographic confirms: Gentoo Penguins are dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Gentoo Penguin population when the Australian Antarctic Data Centre confirmed that the Gentoo Penguin habitat has decreased yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of Antartica. Coming on the heels of a recent National Geographic survey which plainly states that Gentoo Penguins have lost more habitat, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Gentoo Penguins are collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Penguin population counts.

You don't need to be an Eskimo to predict Gentoo Penguin's future. The hand writing is on the iceberg: Gentoo Penguins face a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Gentoo Penguins because Gentoo Penguins are dying. Things are looking very bad for Gentoo Penguins. As many of us are already aware, Gentoo Penguins continue to lose habitat. Red blood flows like a river of, well, blood.

The colony on the Antartic Peninsula is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its population. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time Gentoo Penguins Ikky and Wokky only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Gentoo Penguins are dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Gentoo Penguin leader Kowikki states that there are 96610 Gentoo Penguins in South Georgia. How many Gentoo Penguins are there in the Iles Kerguelen? Let's see. The number of South Georgia versus Iles Kerguelen posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 96610/5 = 19322 Gentoo Penguins on the Iles Kerguelen. Falkland Island posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of Iles Kerguelen posts. Therefore there are about 9661 Gentoo Penguins on the Falklands. A recent article put the Antartica Peninsula colonies at about 80 percent of the total Gentoo Penguin population. Therefore there are (96610+19322+9661)*4 = 502372 Gentoo Penguins on the Antartic Peninsula. This is consistent with the number of Antartica Peninsula Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of the Antartic Peninsula, abysmal fishing success, and so on, the Peninsula colonies died out and the bodies were scattered around the region, and have in turn infected all the other colonies.

All major surveys show that Gentoo Penguins have steadily declined in population and habitat. Gentoo Penguins are very sick and their long term survival prospects are very dim. If Gentoo Penguins are to survive at all it will be among hippy nature-loving dilettante dabblers. Their bodies continue to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save them at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Gentoo Penguins are dead.

Fact: Gentoo Penguins are dying

right now (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596733)

Using it. It rocks. Best Linux distribution yet.

Re:right now (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596788)

Using it. It rocks. Best Linux distribution yet.

So are Debian, RedHat, SuSE and Slackware, according to Debian, RedHat, SuSE and Slackware users (respectively). I take it you're a Gentoo fan?

Mod this up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596883)

So that the crybaby "I'm a real Linux user because I don't use Redhat or Mandrake" Linux users will realize that Linux is Linux, no matter what distrubution you use.

I tried Gentoo. It wouldn't compile on my k6-3. Put in on my Athlon 700, expecting substantial increases in speed. Boy was I wrong. KDE still took the same amount of time to load. Mozilla still took 5 seconds to load. Gimp was not any faster.

LFS (0, Offtopic)

gibbdog (551209) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596734)

LFS from scratch is my distro of choice :-)

Re:LFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596941)

obviously you like to spend more time tweaking and installing your system than actually using it to get stuff done.

each to his or her own of course, but you obviously arn't really using your computer to accomplish anything other than learning about an operating system.

Text of article (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596740)

6.2 - Distro Day (Measuring the benefits of the Gentoo approach)
Contributed by Indranath Neogy

A gallery of photos from the day can be found .. here
First of all, a big thankyou to Evolution Xtreme for the loan of the hardware and to Scott Middleton of Linux IT for all his help arranging the test.

Scott gets the credit for thinking of this test. He said "We're constantly hearing how the source based nature of the Gentoo distro makes better use of your hardware, but no-one seems to have really tested it. What kind of gains are involved over distros which use binary packaging?" He arranged with Evolution Xtreme for the loan of 3 identical machines to test with.
Creating the Test
Obviously, the most direct way to test the compile time optimisations of Gentoo is to compile 3 Gentoo systems with different settings and then compare them. However, this really misses some of the story. Each distro has it's own attitude to the kernel and whilst it may be i386 or i586 compiled, it will have had some adjustments made to it. In reality, few people will be choosing to install Gentoo with less than recommended optimisations for their system. They are interested in a tradeoff between optimization and convenience. Thus, we aimed to compare Gentoo with an i386 based distro and an i586 based distro. With the assistance of some PLUG members we decided on Debian as the i386 candidate and Mandrake as the i586, in part as those were the options where people were available to do the install.

# The following tests were outlined: Time to open a large sheet in Gnumeric.
# Time to perform a kernel compile.
# Time to perform "Duplicate Image" in Gimp.
# Time to perform a heavy "Unsharp Mask" in Gimp.
# Time to start OpenOffice "from scratch".
# Time to reload OpenOffice.
# User experience to be assessed by all present on the day, using Galeon, Evolution, OpenOffice.

To make it easier to standardize for these tests we picked Gnome 2 as the Desktop Environment. This necessitated the use of the "Testing" flavour of Debian.
Hardware
The boxes from Evolution Xtreme had the following configuration:

Celeron 2 GHz Processor
256 MB DDR RAM
SAMSUNG - SP4002H 40G HD
MSI 6533E main board
All SIS chipset

lspci output:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS651 Host (rev02)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS 530 Virtual PCI-to-PCI bridge (AGP)
00:02.0 ISA bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] 85C503/5513 (rev25)
00:02.5 IDE interface: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] 5513 [IDE]
00:02.7 Multimedia audio controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
SiS7012 PCI Audio Accelerator (rev a0)
00:03.0 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
00:03.1 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
00:03.3 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7002 USB 2.0
00:0f.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd.
RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)

Installation
The 8139 NIC used the 8139too driver in all installations.

The Debian box was installed by Garry Buckle with aid from Matt Kemner. A standard Debian Testing setup was installed, but X was not persuaded to start with the stock SIS driver. As the stock kernel did not contain framebuffer support a new one (v2.4.21) was compiled to get video working. Upon testing with hdparm, it was apparent that this machine was having troubles setting above udma2. Eventually this problem was traced to the HD cable, a salutary lesson in the variability of identical hardware setups.

The Gentoo setup by Bill Kenworthy was compiled using the "stock" kernel source and the "-march=pentium3 -pipe -O3" compile flags. hdparm was needed to get dma on the ide running, despite it being in the kernel, but "xfree --configure" worked for Bill using the stock SIS driver. (Apparently the first time the command has worked for him!) The Gentoo install suffered a couple of false starts due to a typo using grub and OpenOffice was still being compiled the night before the test. 11 hours later the OpenOffice compile was still going and we thus had to regretfully abandon that portion of the test.

Garry's friend Joris (visiting from Belgium) put in the hard work on the Mandrake install, clicking "Yes" and "Next" like a pro to complete an impressively easy install. It defaulted to vesa framebuffer display, similar to the Debian install.
The Tests
Test 1 : Opening a 32,000 line sheet in Gnumeric.

We began this test with the mindset of testing the default installs provided by each distribution.

Round 1 Results :
Debian Mandrake Gentoo
32m 50s 8m 45s 39m 08s

This was clearly bizarre. Debian and Gentoo both installed version 1.0.13 of Gnumeric, vs. Mandrake's choice of 1.0.12. We redid the test for Debian and Gentoo using Gnumeric 1.0.12.

Round 2 Results :
Debian Mandrake Gentoo
7m 15s 8m 45s 11m 21s

The first lesson of this test is that minor version numbers can apparently make a large difference. If you're using Gnumeric 1.0.13 with large sheets and waiting a while for them to open, it's probably worth investigating version 1.0.12.

Test 2 : The Gimp

Each installation had the same version of the Gimp, 1.2.3. The tile cache size was set to 96Mb on each machine.
Rounds 1 and 2 involved a non-standard filter replicator-gimp12.scm, doing a 2x2 replication in the first round and a 4x4 in the second.
Round 3 was an Unsharp Mask with settings of Radius 25, Amount 5 and Threshold 255.

Results:
Debian Mandrake Gentoo
Round 1 3.8s 3.8s 4.1s
Round 2 1m 15s 1m 14s 1m 37s
Round 3 1m 05s 52s 54s

Test 3 : Kernel Compile

The same 2.4.21 source was copied to all machines and compiled using the same options. However, it should be noted that the Debian system used gcc 3.3.1 whilst the Mandrake and Gentoo installations used gcc 3.3.2 .

Results:
Debian Mandrake Gentoo
7m 28s 7m 49s 9m 40s

Test 4 : User Impressions

Due to the pressures of time, the user impression portion of the test was not fully explored. The consensus of interaction with Gnome Terminal, Gnumeric and the Gimp suggested that there was little difference between the machines. The Gentoo machine seemed to draw a little slower than the others which perhaps indicates that the vesa framebuffer is a better choice than the SIS driver.
Conclusions
A quite unexpected set of results. We fully expected much more significant variance between these Linux distros. We certainly expected Gentoo to lead the tests, which has not been the case.

Suggestions for the disparity between the expected and actual results have included different Gentoo compile options, in particular -O2 rather than -O3 flags, however many people recommend -O3 for this kind of Celeron, so further experimentation may be in order. Likewise, the stock gentoo-sources kernel includes optimisations for interactive desktop usage but in our (limited) user impressions this benefit did not show through. A further test is proposed for future months involving P4 hardware and more time to compile and test which should provide further information.

However, so far none of the distros appears to have a comprehensive performance advantage, in the end it seems Linux is Linux and you should pick the flavour that provides the most convenience for you.

Thanks again to Scott, Matt, Bill, Garry, Joris and Evolution Xtreme.
linmagau.org
http://www.linmagau.org

Interesting, but I have to wonder. (2, Insightful)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596743)

I have to wonder what the reviewers consider to be a "default" install. For example, did the reviewers remember to build in support for their IDE controller (if that's what they use)? If so, is DMA enabled for the Gentoo box, and is it for the others? What kernel did they use? Did they use gentoo-sources or did they use another?

Maybe to the uninitiated this seems informative, but to me it doesn't.

Oopsie! (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596838)

Apparently DMA is enabled on all the machines. Missed that on the first read. Also see my other comment on the article: apparently they ran into differences in the machines, despite the fact that they were supposed to be identical.



Despite missing an obvious point, I still stand by my original sentiment: this article isn't very informative at all.

Re:Interesting, but I have to wonder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596844)

>> Maybe to the uninitiated this seems informative, but to me it doesn't.

That's because you lack experience to read between the lines.

Have patience and in some 10 years you will be able to make much of even a short, beautifully written article like that.

You'll also become less arrogant, which may help you deal with people.

Have a nice day. And try to learn, this time.

Speaking of arrogance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596869)

Have a nice day. And try to learn, this time.

I can help you with your punctuation if you'd like...

Look, Maw, I'm feedin' them trolls! (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596904)

That's because you lack experience to read between the lines.

I did, and seriously doubt this could be a fair test. The only way you could completely miss the point I made and then make it again for me is if you're either trolling or forgetting to take your medication. Which is it?

Have patience and in some 10 years you will be able to make much of even a short, beautifully written article like that.

In 10 years I've seen tech writing go from "let's praise anything Microsoft" to "let's bash anything that's popular." The writing hasn't improved; it's gotten worse. Even more dismal is that testing methods get worse and worse.

Read the article. The reviewers even acknowledge that their identical systems aren't identical!

You'll also become less arrogant, which may help you deal with people.

I'm so glad to see that an Anonymous Coward knows so much about me.

Have a nice day. And try to learn, this time.

Thanks, for your gratuitous, comma.

morons WANdering where all the monIE weNT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596745)

goes along with the engraved invitations we're sending out for the FUDgeLicker's bawl. partIE on.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. vote with yOUR wallet. that's the spirit.

beware the whoreabull greed/fear based deception of the murderous thieving georgewellian fuddites.

they love this stuff in yonkers. gooes along with the nyt 'cleaning up' it's act MiSnomer. FUDge on.

details @ trustworthycomputing.com

GNAA and the beneifits of the anal approach (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596748)

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Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA "first post" on slashdot.org [slashdot.org], a popular "news for trolls" website

Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on EFNet, and apply for membership.
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Curabitur id augue sed nulla accumsan sollicitudin. Nam ornare justo vitae ante. Donec ligula. Donec felis augue, lacinia ut, vestibulum sit amet, ultricies vestibulum, dolor. Nunc nec nisl. Phasellus blandit tempor augue. Donec arcu orci, adipiscing ac, interdum a, tempus nec, enim. Phasellus placerat iaculis orci. Cras sit amet quam. Sed enim quam, porta quis, aliquet quis, hendrerit ut, sem. Etiam felis tellus, suscipit et, consequat quis, pharetra sit amet, nisl. Aenean arcu massa, lacinia in, dictum eu, pulvinar ac, orci. Mauris at diam tempor ante ullamcorper molestie. Ut dapibus eleifend ipsum. Nam dignissim. Donec eContrary to popular belief, Lipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit get libero. Nullam tincidunt mauris et nibh. Phasellus tempus fermentum diam. Morbi at mauris dapibus lacus malesuada molestie. Morbi vehicula, elit quis posuere mattis, arcu tellus ultrices ante, sit amet rhoncus dolor neque eget lacus. Integer in odio. Ut malesuada mi et nibh. Vestibulum wisi justo, vestibulum a, pretium sit amet, euismod a, augue. Aliquam vitae nisl eu metus dignissim eleifend. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. PrDonec eget libero. 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Nulla sed sapien et wisi condimentum feugiat. Curabitur id augue sed nulla accumsan sollicitudin. Nam ornare justo vitae ante. Donec ligula. Donec felis augue, lacinia ut, vestibulum sit amet, ultricies vestibulum, dolor. Nunc nec nisl. Phasellus blandit tempor augue. Donec arcu orci, adipiscing ac, interdum a, tempus nec, enim. Phasellus placerat iaculis orci. Cras sit amet quam. Sed enim quam, porta quis, aliquet quis, hendrerit ut, sem. Etiam felis tellus, suscipit et, consequat quis, pharetra sit amet, nisl. Aenean arcu massa, lacinia in, dictum eu, pulvinar ac, orci. Mauris at diam tempor ante ullamcorper molestie. Ut dapibus eleifend ipsum. Nam dignissim. onec eget libero. Nullam tincidunt mauris et nibh. Phasellus tempus fermentum diam. Morbi at mauris dapibus lacus malesuada molestie. Morbi vehicula, elit quis posuere mattis, arcu tellus ultrices ante, sit amet rhoncus dolor neque eget lacus. Integer in odio. Ut malesuada mi et nibh. 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Slow? (5, Interesting)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596752)

Can this be correct. Debian turns out to he fastest?

Anyway, I like the idea of gentoo, and I saw I a lot of Debian users head over to gentoo because the idea of controlling everything including the build was nice, however, I saw the gentoo idea also pretty much die, since a log of these users are power desktop users and not everyone could wait 3 days for X to build.

What I like about debians packages is that if you do make a mistake you can always pretty much correct the package by fixing your souce list or goingt o packages.debian.org and getting the older working package and installing it manuaall with a simple dpkg -i old_package.deb.

In gentoo, you had to rbuild to the whole thing, whihc with x coud take forever. And so what I saw gentoo suddenly doing was having a lot of pre-complied binaries start being provided by gentoo because they saw the problem with building taking forever, and so it kind of killed the whole idea of building for yerself, in which case, if you are going to stick with built pacakged why not have them maintained by some of the best developers around (ie debian)

The othjer thing I noticed is that a lot of developers of software acutally use debian. I've noticed many a time that some cool software wa being made and the developers wouls provide source and they would provide a debian package and nothting else. Ie Debian appears to be the preferred developer's distro. In this I would like to hear discussion,.

Thansk all

Re:Slow? (1)

dJCL (183345) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596766)

What are you people running on? My compiles take about 3 days for X sure, but I am using a 500mhz system? WTF is up... ah well Debian rocks.

Re:Slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596793)

3 days? I'm using a 667MHZ and it only took a few hours. Works great!!! Even better than my RH8 box.

Re:Slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596778)

You've never built X before have you. Didn't take long at all, mozilla took longer.

Interesting, but I have to wonder. (3, Interesting)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596811)

For me, Gentoo is a great choice partially because I like the control and partly because I use crufty hardware that doesn't fall into any predefined (read: Intel) category.

Try using binaries compiled for an i686 on a Via C3-1G, for example.

Yes, if your entire reason for using Gentoo is to have control over how apps are built, starting from stage3 pretty much defeats the purpose, and yes, if you don't know what you're doing, then rebuilding X can be a real drag. However, I have to say that I appreciate the fact that Gentoo manages to avoid a lot of legal issues by having the user build the packages her/himself. Honestly, I'd love to be Ogg Vorbis-only for music on my computer, but when I own a portable MP3 player, an MP3-capable DVD player, an in-dash MP3 player, and use OS X at work where QuickTime Ogg Vorbis support is dodgy at best, I want lame. And I want lame support built into kdelibs or whatever lame support needs to be built into so that I can drag-and-drop 192kbps ABR MP3s from an audiocd:// ioslave window to my mp3 folder. ;-D

My own experience has been that Gentoo outperforms Debian on my hardware, but only after I've done some tweaking on Gentoo. YMMV.

Re:Interesting, but I have to wonder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596873)

Nice troll, very nice. One of the best trolls I've seen here in weeks. Thank you.

Re:Interesting, but I have to wonder. (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596921)

It'd be a troll if I didn't mean it. :D

I've got RH9 on this machine right now; I happened to be checking my email before moving a chroot'ed Gentoo build over to another drive for installation when I read this article.

Gentoo may take massive amounts of CPU time to build, but it's worth it, oh yes, it's worth it, IMHO.

Re:Slow? (2, Insightful)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596936)

....these users are power desktop users and not everyone could wait 3 days for X to build.

Desktop power users on 386's are a rare breed nowadays. I don't know how long it took X to build on my P2 366 w/ 192 meg RAM because I started it before going to bed and it was done in the morning. Maybe these power users should consider hardware before choosing distros.

And so what I saw gentoo suddenly doing was having a lot of pre-complied binaries ....

Lots? OpenOffice has a precompiled option, Opera does because it isn't open-source, but which other packages do you mean? To the best of my knowledge almost all Gentoo packages are still source-based and more than a few have new options to pull the newest source directly from the CVS tree. Gentoo is expanding into more source-based options, not pre-compiles.

None of this is to say that Debian isn't a better developer's platform, or faster than Gentoo. I wouldn't know, but your post is very misleading.

FreeBSD's ports (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596758)

I don't use Gentoo (When I use Linux, I use Slackware), but I do use FreeBSD and its ports collection.

Purported performance gains are one thing source packages give you (although I don't enable super optimizations because you never know when gcc bugs with -march=pentium4 -O3 or whatever will bite you).

There are two major reasons I like installing from source, though. One is that you can customize the build to your system; lots of software packages have various compile time options, and when I have the source I can choose exactly how it's going to be built.

Another thing is that when you install from source, you can hack the program to your heart's content. On my desktop box there are around 15 programs that I have to modify to get to act like I want (from simple things like getting cdparanoia to bomb immediately when it detects a scratch to halfway complex things like rewriting parts of klipper and XScreenSaver, which now picks a random screen saver on MMB and lets me scroll through all screensavers with the wheel =).

I don't modify stuff on my servers, but I still get to choose exactly how things are built, which I very much enjoy.

Non-questions (-1, Redundant)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596767)

We're constantly hearing how the source based nature of the Gentoo distro makes better use of your hardware

Obvious, unless you use a genuine i386.

What kind of gains are involved over distros which use binary packaging?

Take a wild guess ...

That's a lot of useless preamble to put some meat around the bone of this Slashdot article, which essentially lies at the end, where it says "The article is here."

Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (2, Interesting)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596768)

While the posts are starting, and people are saying Mandrake would never be faster. Lets go back earlier this year...

Remember the KDE optimizations that where not included in the Gentoo source release? Everyone was wondering why KDE was faster on Mandrake. There where talk for over 2 months before people realized it was an option Mandrake was compiling with.

Myself, Gentoo's biggest feature was the kernal compile options, adding patches for pre-emptive mulitasking, and improved responsiveness. I noticed the improvements on all my machines, but the compile times where a draw back. And sometimes the applications wouldnt compile.

Mandrake while my favorite choice, doesnt include the best pre-emptive kernels. Which do make a noticable difference. So after installing mandrake, and putting a newer kernel on the system normally takes care of that.

I'm just waiting till beta2 of mandrake cooker 9.2 with the 2.6 kernels, that should make Gentoo and Mandrake on par for speed.

Re:Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596824)

This (I think) Is because Mandrake runs it's X server with a priority of -10 (high priority). Gentoo, by default, runs X at priority 0 (normal priority).

Re:Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (2, Interesting)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596947)

0 is where it should be. Other distributions run X at a higher priority to make up for "vanilla" 2.4's crappy interactive performance. Once 2.6 is out, this won't be an issue anymore. Also Gentoo's gaming-sources and ck-sources (my personal favorite) have optimizations built in that improve interactive performance greatly, eliminating the reason for running X at a higher priority. Some people report having problems with X running at higher priority; I never have (some people have problems with soundcard starvation, among other things) but then again I don't have to worry.



To be fair, I'm running RH9 until sometime tonight (have a chrooted Gentoo build waiting to be installed) but I'm running a Planet CCRMA kernel, which includes a number of the ck-sources patches.

Re:Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (1)

Sir Joltalot (66097) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596840)

Myself, Gentoo's biggest feature was the kernal compile options, adding patches for pre-emptive mulitasking, and improved responsiveness.

Really? Hmm.. I run Gentoo and I use vanilla kernels because I find they perform better. I'm on an SMP box though, so that might have something to do with it. But I tried a couple Gentoo kernels and I had *seriously* bad performance problems. Whenever I was compiling the mouse cursor would get all jittery, as would the scrolling song title in XMMS - even if I niced the emerge down to 12 or something!

Vanilla kernels tend to run really nicely for me and if I nice the compiles down I barely even notice them (even if I don't, I barely notice them, being on an SMP box :)

Maybe I'm choosing bad options in the Gentoo kernel though; do some of the patches (i.e. low-latency and pre-empt) interact badly or something? What options do you use for your Gentoo kernels? Just curious.

One thing the Gentoo kernels are good for, though, is Starcraft in Wine. Dunno what it is about them, but man Starcraft sure runs really fast with those kernels. Vanilla kernels run it really, really slowly. At least in recent versions of Wine; 20020510 was the sweet spot for Starcraft, IMO, but it's incompatible with glibc 2.3 and thus no longer an option. Sigh.

Re:Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (2, Informative)

mickwd (196449) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596890)

It's not part of the main distro, but there is a kernel-multimedia-2.4.21.0.16mdk-1-1mdk.i586.rpm in Mandrake contribs. Check it out if you want a more responsive kernel.

Re:Remember the KDE mandrake/gentoo fiasco? (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596937)

It's not part of the main distro, but there is a kernel-multimedia-2.4.21.0.16mdk-1-1mdk.i586.rpm in Mandrake contribs. Check it out if you want a more responsive kernel.

Wow, thank you, didnt know about that kernel, looks like it has the patches I was talking about. Did a quick lookup [pbone.net] on pbone and found the info on it.


This kernel includes patches useful for multmedia purposes like: preemption, low-latency and the ability for processes to transfer their capabilities. The preemtion patches allow a task to be preempted anywhere within the kernel, using spinlocks as markers for non-preemptibility regions. The resulting system response is greatly increased, with measured average latencies under 1ms. Andrew Morton's low-latency patches fix the remaining points in the kernel that cause latency. The setpcap patch allows suid root processess to transfer capabilities to non-root processess, and so making it possible for user processes to run with realtime priority.

From a LFS perspective (4, Interesting)

shoppa (464619) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596770)

I don't use Gentoo, but I do use Linux From Scratch [linuxfromscratch.org], and I do see substantial improvements with command-line type activities: A kernel build on a Athlon is about 20 percent faster when I do it with a custom LFS build vs a stock RedHat installation.

Most of the comparisons in the article were for X-related graphics applications, and while they were comparing the versions of the applications, they were not comparing the libraries underneath them (glibc, X11, and probably the window manager too come into play) and they should've compared versions there too. It becomes complicated because for a typical X11-based app there are probably several dozen libraries involved (in addition to all the configure-time options for them...)

Re:From a LFS perspective (1)

jay-be-em (664602) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596862)

Unfortunately not all of us have oodles of time on our hands.. This is where debian comes in.

Re:From a LFS perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596911)

I don' have oodles of time either, but my cron job does :)

Why use it? (2, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596771)

I picked Gentoo because it was Free and free, and because emerge has IME one big advantage over APT - one well updated, consistant, all encompasing, repositry.

OTOH my laptop runs RedHat, because I needed at least one machine running it to stay current with where they dump configs (it's the distro they use at work). Coupled with Apt-RPM it's competent enough, and I have no major problems with the performance.

So yeah, I have to agree with the article - you may like it one way, others may want to do theit own thing. No matter what you chose, you (probably) have binary compatibility, so who gives a sh!t about the holy wars, just as long as you aren't running Windows :D

Gentoo similiar to *BSD? (2, Offtopic)

jtotheh (229796) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596774)

I have never tried Gentoo but I ran FreeBSD for a while. With FreeBSD you have source for the whole system as well as for any "ports" you install. There are procedures for doing a "make world" that recompiles all of it. You can get the source changes to go to the next version and with a bit of chicken and egg stuff about compilers if that has changed, you can compile yourself the upgrade.

I ended up bagging it because there is a fair amount of stuff for Linux that is missing in BSDs (or I wasn't willing to expend the effort to get to run through compatibility mode). Java, Flash, etc. no flames please, I know some people work these things out - I just got tired of the hassles with it when I could rpm/apt-get it with Linux.

I thought the FreeBSD was really high quality though.

Is Gentoo a similiar model? Has someone used both?

Re:Gentoo similiar to *BSD? (1)

Gramb0 (691590) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596867)

I've used both Gentoo and FreeBSD and yes, there are similarities between the ports system used in FreeBSD and the portage system in Gentoo, although the actual way they are run is fairly different. For example in Gentoo you would install gaim by typing 'emerge gaim' compared to 'cd /usr/ports/net/gaim' then 'make install clean' in FreeBSD. Gentoo did have some nice ideas, such as USE flags, where you could define flags that would effect build options on any relevant programs, for example if you had the use flag +mysql defined then any programs that had optional mysql components in them would be compiled with them. Whereas -mysql would ensure that any programs with optional mysql support would definetly not be compiled with mysql support. Another nice feature of ports is package masking where packages that are reported to be unstable on certain architectures wouldnt install on that architecture (although you could override this if you didnt care about the potential instability) It was also fairly simple to upgrade programs in gentoo (could be just as easy in FreeBSD too, but i've not been using it for long so cant be too sure) since all you had to do was run 'emerge sync' to update the portage tree and then 'emerge -u world' to update all the installed programs (or you could specify individual programs instead of world) Anyways, thats enough talk of portage from me :)

Re:Gentoo similiar to *BSD? (1)

Gramb0 (691590) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596878)

oops, being a bit new to slashdot, i forgot to change the format method so my post is a lot harder to read, oh well i wont be making that mistake again :)

The Mindcraft method, against itself (4, Insightful)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596781)

Besides, before doing any comparisons on Debian vs. Gentoo they should have compared Gentoo vs. Gentoo on different optimizations. Like using -O2, -Osize, -mfp-math=sse. Comparing video drivers. Trying different filesystem types. And a whole gaggle of other configurables at compile-time.

You'd be yelling bloody murder if Microsoft sponsored a study without doing this sort of research before pitting Windows vs. Linux.

Makes an excellent point (3, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596789)

There are a lot of issues one can bring up with the test - not identical versions of various software; different X drivers, one distro will have patches missing in the others and so on. Clearly, that greatly influences the results.

And that is a good point to take home. Optimizing compiles is _not_ the panacea for speed and responsiveness that - a minority, I believe - of source-based distros tend to bring up. There are so many other factors intimately involved in it that any benefits are generally lost in the noise.

For some specific components, it can be a good idea - but for those, most distros tend to ship several optimized versions that the installer chooses between at installation time.

Another domain that benefits are specialized, compute-intensive applications; things like simulators or other technical stuff. But then, those apps are generally tweaked and compiled by their users no matter what distro is used anyway.

Re:Makes an excellent point (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596950)

You are quite right about the optimizations.

I would like to mention that the tiny cache size of the Celeron processor can very well make optimizations that increase code size have a negative effect.

/.ed text. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596795)

The text, formating is a bit wack, sry.

Creating the Test

Obviously, the most direct way to test the compile time optimisations of Gentoo is to compile 3 Gentoo systems with different settings and then compare them. However, this really misses some of the story. Each distro has it's own attitude to the kernel and whilst it may be i386 or i586 compiled, it will have had some adjustments made to it. In reality, few people will be choosing to install Gentoo with less than recommended optimisations for their system. They are interested in a tradeoff between optimization and convenience. Thus, we aimed to compare Gentoo with an i386 based distro and an i586 based distro. With the assistance of some PLUG members we decided on Debian as the i386 candidate and Mandrake as the i586, in part as those were the options where people were available to do the install.

The following tests were outlined: Time to open a large sheet in Gnumeric. Time to perform a kernel compile. Time to perform "Duplicate Image" in Gimp. Time to perform a heavy "Unsharp Mask" in Gimp. Time to start OpenOffice "from scratch". Time to reload OpenOffice.

User experience to be assessed by all present on the day, using Galeon, Evolution, OpenOffice.

To make it easier to standardize for these tests we picked Gnome 2 as the Desktop Environment. This necessitated the use of the "Testing" flavour of Debian.

Hardware

The boxes from Evolution Xtreme had the following configuration:
Celeron 2 GHz Processor
256 MB DDR RAM
SAMSUNG - SP4002H 40G HD
MSI 6533E main board
All SIS chipset

lspci output:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems
[SiS] SiS651 Host (rev02)
[ 00:01.0 PCI bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems
[[SiS] SiS 530 Virtual PCI-to-PCI bridge (AGP)
[ 00:02.0 ISA bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] 85C503/5513 (rev25)
[ 00:02.5 IDE interface: Silicon Integrated
[Systems [SiS] 5513 [IDE]
[ 00:02.7 Multimedia audio controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
[ SiS7012 PCI Audio Accelerator (rev a0)
[ 00:03.0 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated
[Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
[ 00:03.1 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated
[Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
[ 00:03.3 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7002 USB 2.0
[ 00:0f.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd.
[ RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)

[ Installation
[ The 8139 NIC used the 8139too driver in all installations.

The Debian box was installed by Garry Buckle with aid from Matt Kemner. A standard Debian Testing setup was installed, but X was not persuaded to start with the stock SIS driver. As the stock kernel did not contain framebuffer support a new one (v2.4.21) was compiled to get video working. Upon testing with hdparm, it was apparent that this machine was having troubles setting above udma2. Eventually this problem was traced to the HD cable, a salutary lesson in the variability of identical hardware setups.

[ The Gentoo setup by Bill Kenworthy was compiled using the "stock" kernel source and the "-march=pentium3 -pipe -O3" compile flags. hdparm was needed to get dma on the ide running, despite it being in the kernel, but "xfree --configure" worked for Bill using the stock SIS driver. (Apparently the first time the command has worked for him!) The Gentoo install suffered a couple of false starts due to a typo using grub and OpenOffice was still being compiled the night before the test. 11 hours later the OpenOffice compile was still going and we thus had to regretfully abandon that portion of the test.

Garry's friend Joris (visiting from Belgium) put in the hard work on the Mandrake install, clicking "Yes" and "Next" like a pro to complete an impressively easy install. It defaulted to vesa framebuffer display, similar to the Debian install.

The Tests
[ Test 1 : Opening a 32,000 line sheet in Gnumeric.
[ We began this test with the mindset of testing the default installs provided by each distribution.

Round 1 Results :
[ Debian Mandrake Gentoo
[ 32m 50s 8m 45s 39m 08s

This was clearly bizarre. Debian and Gentoo both installed version 1.0.13 of Gnumeric, vs. Mandrake's choice of 1.0.12. We redid the test for Debian and Gentoo using Gnumeric 1.0.12.

Round 2 Results : Debian Mandrake Gentoo
[ 7m 15s 8m 45s 11m 21s

The first lesson of this test is that minor version numbers can apparently make a large difference. If you're using Gnumeric 1.0.13 with large sheets and waiting a while for them to open, it's probably worth investigating version 1.0.12.

Test 2 : The Gimp

Each installation had the same version of the Gimp, 1.2.3. The tile cache size was set to 96Mb on each machine.

Rounds 1 and 2 involved a non-standard filter replicator-gimp12.scm, doing a 2x2 replication in the first round and a 4x4 in the second. Round 3 was an Unsharp Mask with settings of Radius 25, Amount 5 and Threshold 255.

Results: Debian Mandrake Gentoo
[ Round 1 3.8s 3.8s 4.1s
[ Round 2 1m 15s 1m 14s 1m 37s
[ Round 3 1m 05s 52s 54s

[ Test 3 : Kernel Compile

The same 2.4.21 source was copied to all machines and compiled using the same options. However, it should be noted that the Debian system used gcc 3.3.1 whilst the Mandrake and Gentoo installations used gcc 3.3.2 .

Results:
[ Debian Mandrake Gentoo
[ 7m 28s 7m 49s 9m 40s

[ Test 4 : User Impressions

Due to the pressures of time, the user impression portion of the test was not fully explored. The consensus of interaction with Gnome Terminal, Gnumeric and the Gimp suggested that there was little difference between the machines. The Gentoo machine seemed to draw a little slower than the others which perhaps indicates that the vesa framebuffer is a better choice than the SIS driver.

Conclusions
A quite unexpected set of results. We fully expected much more significant variance between these Linux distros. We certainly expected Gentoo to lead the tests, which has not been the case.

Suggestions for the disparity between the expected and actual results have included different Gentoo compile options, in particular -O2 rather than -O3 flags, however many people recommend -O3 for this kind of Celeron, so further experimentation may be in order. Likewise, the stock gentoo-sources kernel includes optimisations for interactive desktop usage but in our (limited) user impressions this benefit did not show through. A further test is proposed for future months involving P4 hardware and more time to compile and test which should provide further information.

However, so far none of the distros appears to have a comprehensive performance advantage, in the end it seems Linux is Linux and you should pick the flavour that provides the most convenience for you.

Thanks again to Scott, Matt, Bill, Garry, Joris and Evolution Xtreme.

I use Mandrake..... (1)

MustafaJohnson (548428) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596796)

But been thinking of switching to Gentoo to try it out. I was going to do that cause I thought specific compile might be faster than RPM......now I'm just confused. Anyone wanna put their two cents in on this?

You still have dependency hell (5, Interesting)

grotgrot (451123) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596800)

I tried Gentoo for a while and eventually gave up. The problem is that you still have dependency hell. Most packages look for stuff at compile time, and many have optional components. For example a video player may not include support for QuickTime unless the libraries are already on there at compile time.

So the fun starts when you start installing stuff, they don't include support for other components because they weren't there at compile time, you then discover the missing support, have to install the missing libraries and then recompile every package.

This is an especially big issue with multi-media stuff, and gets many layers deep as some libraries have optional components depending on other optional components.

About the only way to guarantee a fully uptodate system is to keep doing complete recompiles of the entire system until there are no changes.

Re:You still have dependency hell (1)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596860)

yep, the portage system really needs some maturity that's obvious. i've had my machine unbootable after doing an emerge -u world. i think there was something about installing new glibc library and possibly removing the old one. i don't know, but i had to grab a knopix cd and chroot into the gentoo partition and basically re-install from scratch.

the portage also needs some sort of recursive uninstall. uninstall ide AND all the packages that depend on kde (or were built with kde support). uninstalling blackdown java should uninstall anything that required blackdown (and reset all the system variable crap).

that said, it's a great distro and i'll never find myself really using RH/ Mandrake or somesuch just because when i ran RH, i was always building kde from source, x from source and many many other packages to where it wasn't a RH system anymore.

and maybe the kewl gentoo users don't want a pretty gui installer w/ good hardware detection and all, but if one were put together, lots and lots of people would use it. gentoo is something that you install once and then just keep upgrading packages.

Re:You still have dependency hell (4, Informative)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596886)

Looks like someone failed to set their USE flag properly. If you have it set right you will get support for all you want. Or if you do "emerge -vp packagname" before doing an actual emerge you can see what optional flags aren't getting used. People that use Gentoo but don't read the portage/emerge/use documents are asking for this. Gentoo isn't for all, it is only for the willing.

Please go here [gentoo.org] and reas as much as possible for installing Gentoo so you don't do something stupid.

Re:You still have dependency hell (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596895)

That's what the --deep option is for ;)
you're missing quicktime support? np
just add it to your USE var and then rebuild the media player ebuild with -du. Sure, you still have to rebuild, but its automated at least.

A lot of distros ship applications with features missing, so I end up rebuilding half the system after install anyway(happened to me with slackware). With gentoo, I do it once, and that's it.

What portage does need is a USE var checking feature which would be run after a new value was added or removed (like nptl for instance). It would then scan the list of pkgs you have installed, and rebuild any that have nptl as a USE flag. This way, features can be easily 'turned on or off' with one simple change in make.conf.

Re:You still have dependency hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596932)

You totally missed what makes gentoo a great distro: the USE flags.

The USE flags are roughly equivalent to compile time options, like ./configure --enable-foo --disable-foobar

USE flags are set system wide in a configuration file (/etc/make.conf), and / or can be set before installing a single package
ex: USE="alsa -opengl" emerge xmame
will compile the package xmame without the opengl renderer but with support for the alsa sound system.

And portage takes your USE flags into account when it determines the dependencies for a package.
In the previous example, we requested alsa support for our program; if alsa wasn't already installed, then emerge will install it before compiling and installing the program that depends on it.

So what you're saying is totally wrong.
If you wanted multimedia applications that used the most common codecs, all you had to do was to add "quicktime avi mpeg oggvorbis" to your USE flags. The complete list of USE flags and their description can be found at: http://www.gentoo.org/dyn/use-index.xml [gentoo.org]. And there is no dependency hell, nor the need to recompile everything.

By the way, all of this is explained in the installation manual. A pity you skipped that part because it's what makes me like my gentoo distro so much.

Article missed the point (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596801)

The best way to optimize gentoo is too bootstrap it yourself. This yields impressive performance gains. In my case I settled on these flags:
-mcpu=pentium4 -march=pentium4 -mmmx -msse2 -Os -fomit-frame-pointer -pi
pe -fforce-addr -fforce-mem -ffast-math -mpush-args -mfpmath=sse

The other reason I use gentoo, is that it's easy to stay current. Once a week I do an emerge sync, followed by an emerge -u --deep world. The Gentoo package management system rocks.

Matches my real world dual-boot experience (2, Interesting)

Captain Kirk (148843) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596806)

I dual-booted Debian and Gentoo thinking I would migrate completely to Gentoo for desktop use and Debian for servers. Galeon on Debian was way faster. In the end, I got fed up of compiling and re-compiling X and stuff trying various gcc switches. Debian is fast enough to make sitting about wiating for stuff to comlile a waste of time. And apt-get is every bit as good as emerge.

great article! (0, Troll)

randyest (589159) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596807)

But I think I've read it a few times before already . . .

Here's a complete repost of the text in case it gets slashdotted. Hmm, guess I should post as AC, but wtf. Just don't mod this up.

Warning: Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /home/misskim/public_html/linmagau.org/pnadodb/dri vers/adodb-mysql.inc.php on line 170

Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /home/misskim/public_html/linmagau.org/pnadodb/dri vers/adodb-mysql.inc.php on line 170>
mysql://misskim:@localhost/misskim failed to connectLost connection to MySQL server during query

Hmm, guess I should post as AC, but wtf. Just don't mod this up. :)

Bleeding Edge (1)

Ikkyu (84373) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596823)

I got hooked on gentoo because of the bleeding edge factor, I usually have apps built and installed on my machine within a day or two of revs. That is just somehting that I never found with Mandrake.

One more thing (4, Interesting)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596833)

From the article:

Upon testing with hdparm, it was apparent that this machine was having troubles setting above udma2. Eventually this problem was traced to the HD cable, a salutary lesson in the variability of identical hardware setups.

Very telling pair of sentences.

wow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596835)

1) take three crappy boxes, load one with debian and
two with a linux of dubiously useful paradigm ..

2) let morons try to make them work

3) ???

4) annoy me

choke on your own vomit, por favor

Unfair test (5, Insightful)

periscope (20296) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596837)

There seems to be little attention given to the fundamental unfairness of this test presented.

The distributions were running with different software versions initially and although this was corrected there seems to have been little consideration given to the minor tweaks given to each different installation used. Which services were running on each system? Were the kernel settings identical in use? Were the machines experiencing differences in performance due to the X setup causing X to add different loads?

etc.

Fundamentally this test was probably not complete enough to suggest anything in particular. Perhaps it would have been better to boot a single machine three times and perform the sequence of events exactly the same each time as this would have also ruled out some other potential factors.

Jon.

compiler comparison (1)

pimpinmonk (238443) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596842)

i'm glad your super-special system with an entirely different version of gcc can compile faster than my vanilla gcc system, but that's not how this test was conducted.

Hardware-wise it was the same system for each distro, and they listed that mandrake and gentoo are running the same exact version of gcc. So Obviously although gentoo is great, Mandrake's got some optimisation tricks thrown in to speed certain things, be them library or kernel-wise.

The point was also to compare relatively stock installs. Sure, you can argue that you can further optimize gentoo, but you can do the same for Mandrake and Debian. This test compared the out-of-the-box performance of Debian, Mandrake, and Gentoo to see if the optimisations that most Gentoo users are running (which just happen to occur "out-of-the-box") really impact the system speed.

Try it againts Red-Hat, the "Real Man's" OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596848)

(eom)

Reasons I like Gentoo (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596852)

I like:
1. The very large collection of packages. For example, I don't believe you can apt-get install vmware.
2. The very sensible defaults. After emerge wine, I could run Lotus Notes 5 with no changes at all. I tried to set that up on a RH box with wine compiled from source, and it chucked up loads of errors and didn't work.

That said, it does take a long time to set up from stage 1. You're probably looking at about 3-4 days for the base system, X, KDE, Mozilla, and OpenOffice. I'll use it for my personal machines, but I can't be arsed with all that for run of the mill boxes.

dosemu and WP 5.1 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596894)

Does dosemu let you run WP 5.1 so that all the F keys work ? Or is that another configuration you have to track through ancient usenet posts ?

Debian alien (1)

KMSelf (361) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596949)

VMWare on Debian is best accomplished with alien to convert VMWare's RPM to a .deb, and installing this via dpkg.

As for sane defaults -- Debian tends strongly toward this in my experience.

Happy as a wet turtle Gentoo user (3, Informative)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596865)

I have been using Gentoo for months now and will never turn back. Little of this has to do with performance and 99.9% of has to do with Portage. Package management, dependency checking and the lot are SO great. Secondly is where performance comes in. Without proper CFLAGS you might as well ignore this. On my Athlon XP 2800 I have this:

CFLAGS="-march=athlon-xp -O3 -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer -mmmx -msse -m3dnow"

In some simple tests I have done I have seen this as worth while. I have two pages I have created that might be worth a read:

CFLAGS Guide [grebowiec.net]
Is -mmmx and such worth it? [grebowiec.net]

Hope you enjoy these reads.

Re:Happy as a wet turtle Gentoo user (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596934)

I want compilers to compile just int main(int c, char **a) { return 0; } when they encounter benchmark programs such as yours...

Re:Happy as a wet turtle Gentoo user (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596944)

I second that. I'm running Gentoo on all of my datacenter servers. I'm not as concerned about performance as I am the ability to preserve the operating envirnoment of the machines between OS upgrades.

It takes months to get a mail server properly tweaked, or the delicate Apache installation operational. It really sucks to sweat bullets between living with a root-exploit, trying to re-synthesize RedHat's configuration from source, or praying that everything still works after doing an OS upgrade in place.

These machines need to operate for years at a time, and as frontline webservers, email, and DNS hosts you can't afford to be behind on your patches.

Diminishing returns (1)

zsazsa (141679) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596868)

From the article: The Gentoo install suffered a couple of false starts due to a typo using grub and OpenOffice was still being compiled the night before the test. 11 hours later the OpenOffice compile was still going and we thus had to regretfully abandon that portion of the test.

So when does the time taken to compile the app with extra optimizations exceed the time you save on tasks performed in that app? Of course, that's only if an optimized build is faster, which in this tests did not appear to be the case, compared to Debian's oldschool 386 builds and Mandrake's 586 builds (by the way, does Mandrake still give you 586-optimized binaries by default?).

I also wonder why they used -march=pentium3 instead of -march=pentium4. Do they not know that the new Celerons are P4-based? Is -march=pentium4 too buggy? This article leaves a lot unexplained and doesn't seem very scientific.

Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596901)

The article seems a little slow from where I sit. Here [martin-studio.com] is a mirror.

Photo views a little skewed? (2, Funny)

SassyDave (557868) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596905)

Does it seem strange to anyone else that in the linked photo gallery [linmagau.org], the only picture with a female [linmagau.org] has been viewed 3 times more than any of the other pictures?

Sheesh.

I guess there's just not much scenery to show off at distro day.

Default SiS driver sucks (1)

uncleduck (657478) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596909)

I switched to Gentoo because it was the only distro (tried several versions of RedHat, Mandrake and even the latest Slackware, have'nt tried Debian yet) that would give me any kind of performance on my useless motherboard with an onboard Sis 530 Graphics Chip. Even Gentoo was kind of slow until I used the Sis drivers from http://www.winischhofer.net/linuxsisvga.shtml [winischhofer.net]. This guy has a ton of really useful info for people with any of these old junky graphics chips and no budget for real equipment. The difference for me was night and day. I tried the new drivers in RedHat and Mandrake. Although there was an improvement, it was nothing like the improvement for Gentoo! The lesson of all this? I will never buy onboard video again! My next box gets Nvidia or something else that works!

The real advantage of a source based distro (1)

Distinguished Hero (618385) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596919)

might be seen when AMD finally launches the Athlon64. Compiling everything to x86-64, and thereby increasing the numbers of registers substantially, as well as migrating to a slightly cleaner ISA (sorry x86-32 lovers) should render better results than attempting to optimize for a Celeron (ewww!).

On a less serious note, the server seems to be having a little bit for trouble; maybe they attempted to install Gentoo on their server (j/k).

I don't mind compiling times (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596923)

Since I do my compiling while at work and during when I sleep. I also use distcc. I also like how there is no dependency hell, and I know whats in my Gentoo system, with no programs I don't use.

Catch 22 (4, Insightful)

Alethes (533985) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596924)

It seems that the people that would benefit the most from a source-based distro and optimizing binaries specifically for their hardware are the ones with the slow hardware that will take too much time to get everything installed for it to be a worthwhile investment of time.

Gentoo vs. RedHat 9 (1)

SassyDave (557868) | more than 10 years ago | (#6596940)

In my experience, Gentoo "feels" a whole lot faster on my laptop (P3 600Mhz, 160Mb) than RedHat 9 does. Gentoo, however, will clobber your system while doing updates. I much prefer apt-get update over emerge sync, simply because the rsync that powers Portage takes a very long time to update your portage tree on semi-old hardware. People have told me to "just run the updates at night", but doesn't that take all the fun out of it? For having the most up to date packages, all the time, Gentoo is great. It comes at a price, though. One thing is for sure: Your machine will never work as hard with any other distribution but Gentoo.

Gentoo is truly amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6596946)

I can't recommend Gentoo enough. After spending under seventeen weeks compiling the system under several combinations of flags such as "-mathlon-xp", "-mprocessor-serial-number=948FCDE", "-O42", and "-fomit-stack-pointer" I have finally found the perfect combination that gives me a 1.5% performance increase while running my two most commonly used applications: the "joe" text editor and, of course, BitchX. And now thanks to the magic of Portage, I can reproduce these dramatic performance improvements on any system, as long as it is identical in every way to my own and I'm willing to sacrifice four-to-five days to a full compilation from source.

Wait to go, Gentoo. You can't ignores the savings provided by target-platform specific compilation!
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