I’ve talked system optimization a lot over the past week. I think I’m done for now, so I’ll talk about why you would want to do these things, and how I got interested in it.My first computer was a Commodore 64. With Commodores, all optimization was software. The hardware was all finely tuned and the timing was precise, so you couldn’t just ramp up the clock speed of the CPU to make the system go faster. But there were lots of things you could do in software to do things like improve the speed of the disk drive.
I moved to an Amiga in the early 1990s and I became interested in a project called ARP, short for AmigaDOS Replacement Project. The Amiga had a command line, and its command line tools were mostly ports of old tools from an obsolete operating system called Tripos, written in BCPL, a predecessor of C. ARP tools were written in either C or 68K assembler and gave the functionality of the originals, but they were smaller, so they loaded and ran faster. I always looked for ways to make my Amiga run faster and use less memory.
In 1994 I took a job selling PCs. My boss talked about how his 16 MHz 386sx felt more responsive than the 33 MHz 486s we sold so many of. So I started learning about PC optimization too. There was a lot you could do just in software.
So I’ve remained interested in this idea for probably 20 years.
Just this week I put an old Windows ME box through the regimen, and it’s definitely a lot peppier now.
Do these things, and in most cases you can squeeze at least an extra year out of the life of a system. I squeeze more like five.