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  • Running Ubuntu 9.10 With Older PC Hardware

    Phoronix: Running Ubuntu 9.10 With Older PC Hardware

    Last week we looked at the Ubuntu 9.10 netbook performance with two Atom-powered netbooks comparing the Karmic Koala numbers against that of Ubuntu 9.04. For the most part, Ubuntu 9.10 offered better performance over its predecessor, but there were a few performance drops in different areas. With our netbook results out of the way, next up we looked at how Ubuntu 9.10 is running with older PC hardware. For the testing in this article we pulled out an aging laptop and ran a set of tests across Ubuntu 8.04.3 LTS, Ubuntu 8.10, Ubuntu 9.04, and the latest Ubuntu 9.10 snapshot.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=14307

  • #2
    Originally posted by phoronix View Post
    For the testing in this article we pulled out an aging laptop
    An Lenovo ThinkPad R52 is not considered "older hardware" in my opinion especially with that much RAM, ATi X300 and hard drive space. I would happily use that. In fact I would LOVE to have that because those specs are great and I really love ThinkPads.
    I have used that model (had to crack the Windows password using Ophcrack for a client) and that thing flies and I believe it only had 1GB RAM.

    I currently run Fedora 11 on an old ASUS laptop (1.6GHz single core, 512 DDR, ATi 9700m, 40GB HDD) and it performs satisfactorily especially when compared with Windows, which would run OK for a few days until it becomes unbearably slow.

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    • #3
      How about other OpenGL games?
      I've been using Kubuntu 9.04 and now I've upgraded to Kubuntu 9.10 with two ATI graphic cards both R300 series (Radeon 9600 on AGP and x300 on PCI-E) and I've tested 3D acceleration on Radeon 9600 (but the system (P4 32bit, 2GB RAM, motherboard with VIA PT880 chipset) is multiseat with both cards used) and I've seen that Nexuiz works better on 9.10 than on 9.04 and glxgears has 3 times better FPS than on 9.04 (both with KDE 4.3.2 desktop effects enabled or disabled).
      If I've get some time to test x300 card I'll check the performance there.

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      • #4
        I am particularly intrigued by the last test: MAFFT Multiple alignment program. What could this be due to? Is there anything in gcc or libc that could be making this slight but consistent improvement over time?

        Originally posted by phoronix View Post
        Phoronix: Running Ubuntu 9.10 With Older PC Hardware

        Last week we looked at the Ubuntu 9.10 netbook performance with two Atom-powered netbooks comparing the Karmic Koala numbers against that of Ubuntu 9.04. For the most part, Ubuntu 9.10 offered better performance over its predecessor, but there were a few performance drops in different areas. With our netbook results out of the way, next up we looked at how Ubuntu 9.10 is running with older PC hardware. For the testing in this article we pulled out an aging laptop and ran a set of tests across Ubuntu 8.04.3 LTS, Ubuntu 8.10, Ubuntu 9.04, and the latest Ubuntu 9.10 snapshot.

        http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=14307

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        • #5
          My R350 (Radeon 9800 Pro) card has indeed extremely bad perfomance with any 3d game in 9.10.
          And the fact that I've got 512 MB of RAM makes it even worse.
          Pentium 4, 2,39 GHz CPU is OK in Karmic.

          Also, there's kind of too much HDD writing/reading going on.

          I hate the fact that Windows XP runs better than Ubuntu atm.

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          • #6
            WTF! That's an almost generalized huge performance drop!
            What about the old refrain stating that Linux is so suited for older rig?

            Last year I tried a Xubuntu 7.10 on a P3 500MHz laptop... ok quite old, but it was almost unusable (but I wrote my PhD thesis on it with win2000!!!!)

            I think that unless you get Linux From Scratch or distros that openly aim at small/weak/old hardware... Linux has in time evolved aiming at bleeding edge rig. I'm not angry about it at all... but at least defy the old beliefs about Linux being able to resuscitate old HW.

            IMHO, I think that two areas are mainly responsible for that performance drop: modern graphic drivers (blobs) are getting more and more complicated and designed over newest hardware.. and the kernel itself (I have modern schedulers in mind).
            So.. is Linux getting more and more feature rich at the cost of getting heavier and heavier?
            I couldn't explain otherwise the performance increase with modern HW and a slow-down with the older.

            Anyone has different opinions or more clues to explain the results of the test?
            Netrunner Linux - Rolling Release ; Nexus 5 ROM Chroma 5.1 ; NAS 6TB on FreeNAS

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            • #7
              I would blame the need of Linux to publicize to mainstream.
              It's good and it's needed. However, this means with every new version of components that combine a distribution will add more and more features without enough time to iron out older bugs.

              There's a good saying in XP, that every time you summit your code, the code should become cleaner not vice versa. I guess it's not applied in Linux parts. Maybe I'm wrong though, just being theoretical.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kersurk View Post
                I would blame the need of Linux to publicize to mainstream.
                It's good and it's needed. However, this means with every new version of components that combine a distribution will add more and more features without enough time to iron out older bugs.

                There's a good saying in XP, that every time you summit your code, the code should become cleaner not vice versa. I guess it's not applied in Linux parts. Maybe I'm wrong though, just being theoretical.
                Maybe, but if it were bugs... modern hardware should get slower too! (sometimes it happens, with regressions). Here the matter is that newer HW generally becomes faster with newer Linux releases.. while older HW struggles.

                My question is (I have gaming and 3D in mind): do the newest drivers rewrite also the older graphic card section? Are they completely different from those found in 2008 for instance? I mean, are they architecturally different, made with new technologies instead of just debugging the legacy ones?
                If so, does it happen with proprietary drivers or even with OSS ones?

                Maybe all the tests in the articles are just suffering one single unlucky situation with R52 or Ubuntu... but I suspect it's a more generalized issue in Linux world
                Netrunner Linux - Rolling Release ; Nexus 5 ROM Chroma 5.1 ; NAS 6TB on FreeNAS

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                • #9
                  It's a pretty powerful laptop in the test, crappy software makes it slow, especially in foss world where regressions and and optimizations are not really prioritized since the features and usability can't even reach acceptable level.

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                  • #10
                    I have karmic in my office and at home, and I find it snappier than 9.04.
                    My eee pc 900 is usable again, and I could even use it for software development.
                    In the office I have a 4 year old intel box which seems to be faster.
                    My desktop at home is also faster especially that the Catalyst 9,10 driver made about 100% performance increase on my radeon hd 3200

                    I feel happy with karmic.

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                    • #11
                      Hardware back in the day: Same shit, more speed
                      Software back in the day: Same shit, less latency

                      Hardware today: reducing power consumption, more latency, more thorougput
                      Software today: more latency (causing performance drops on older hardware) and more thoroughput resulting in more speed on current hardware

                      People complaining back in the day: computers are still the same like they were 20 years ago. When are we going to see some advancements. Where is the future?
                      People complaining today: why are computers not like they were 10 years ago? I don't care about futuristic features! Scrap them! Why is my Windows7/Ubuntu 9.10 computer not faster than my Windows 3.1 pc was back in the day?
                      Conclusion: STFU
                      Last edited by V!NCENT; 10-28-2009, 01:27 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TeoLinuX View Post
                        WTF! That's an almost generalized huge performance drop!
                        What about the old refrain stating that Linux is so suited for older rig?

                        Last year I tried a Xubuntu 7.10 on a P3 500MHz laptop... ok quite old, but it was almost unusable (but I wrote my PhD thesis on it with win2000!!!!)
                        You've got to be kidding me. Kubuntu 8.04 ran great here on Duron 850 and 256MB Ram (much better then xp) and nvidia card which had wonderful QT3 acceleration! For old hardware use distros which are made for old hardware. However, you could suffer from increadibly slow 2D in some cases. It's still quite slow...

                        IMHO, I think that two areas are mainly responsible for that performance drop: modern graphic drivers (blobs) are getting more and more complicated and designed over newest hardware.. and the kernel itself (I have modern schedulers in mind).
                        You consider scheduler will raise system requirements to level you will notice this? This is bull. There are just scripts and daemons in Ubuntu which make it feel slower on older hardware. About those features it depends if you have them enabled or not. Karmic has many debbuging options and features enabled (like oops reporting, Perfcounters, AppArmor) which can make it much slower than it would be with such options disabled.

                        So.. is Linux getting more and more feature rich at the cost of getting heavier and heavier?
                        No, it depends what you have enabled.

                        Not directly related, but interesting:

                        2.6.30.6-Linux: 1.40MB 32 or 64bit I don't remember.

                        2.6.30.6-Linux-ARCH: 1.80MB - Arch Linux generic kernel 64bit

                        Win2000: 1.61MB 32bit
                        WinXP: 2.03MB 32bit
                        WinVista: 3.30MB 32bit

                        Anyone has different opinions or more clues to explain the results of the test?
                        I'm not sure, but it's probably enough to change file system options to have much different results. Some older Ubuntu could use writeback mode which is faster and some newer one ordered mode which is slower, but safer for data.
                        Last edited by kraftman; 10-28-2009, 02:53 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by V!NCENT View Post
                          People complaining today: why are computers not like they were 10 years ago? I don't care about futuristic features! Scrap them! Why is my Windows7/Ubuntu 9.10 computer not faster than my Windows 3.1 pc was back in the day?
                          Conclusion: STFU
                          This is the point, but you can setup the newest Linux kernel to run great on old hardware.

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                          • #14
                            I suppose debugging is on in this Karmic release, since is not the stable one, even if it's just one day before the actual release, right?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Apopas View Post
                              I suppose debugging is on in this Karmic release, since is not the stable one, even if it's just one day before the actual release, right?
                              Yes, debugging is turned on in Karmic and they probably won't turn it off in the stable release.

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