Tweaking Debian for all it’s worth

I fell way behind on my Sorcerer Linux box. The thing compiled code for a day trying to keep up, and finally I started questioning the point of it all. Yeah, the kernel and glibc all benefit from having fresh, up-to-date and aggressively-optimized code, but my highly-optimized KDE 2.2 was slow as a dog, and why am I bothering compiling a superfast version of more? So I installed Debian.

But I wanted ReiserFS. So I went and downloaded the special Debian boot floppies that support Reiser. I just let it do an install over the network. The end result was a copy of Debian Testing on my system. Of course I wanted to upgrade to unstable, so I edited /etc/apt/sources.list and changed the occurrences of “testing” to “unstable.”

Next, I wanted the hottest kernel on the block, which happens to be 2.4.17-mjc2. There is no Debian package for that. So I made one. For myself. I’m pretty sure the one I made won’t work on your computer. Here’s what I did, so you can make one that won’t work on my computer.

apt-get install kernel-source-2.4.17

Download the mjc patch to /usr/src

cd /usr/src

ln -s kernel-source-2.4.17 linux

bzcat 2.4.17-2.4.18-pre1-mjc2.patch.bz2 | patch -p0 (substitute the name of the mjc patch you downloaded)

make xconfig

Pick some of the cool new options like the pre-emptible kernel and realtime scheduler

make-kpkg kernel_image

dpkg -i kernel-image-2.4.18pre1-mjc2_i386.deb

echo "kernel-image-2.4.18pre1-mjc2 hold" | dpkg --set-selections

rm /usr/src/linux

I also went into /etc/fstab, found my ReiserFS partitions, and under the (options) heading, I added the notail and noatime options to increase filesystem speed.

How’s it run? I’m about to find out. But even without this stuff, running GNOME apps under IceWM, Debian is awfully fast. I like KDE, but in my experience it’s so much slower than GNOME, at least when GNOME is running in conjunction with IceWM. GNOME apps like Gnumeric and AbiWord load in under 2 seconds, even on a slow hard drive.

3 thoughts on “Tweaking Debian for all it’s worth

  • January 27, 2002 at 2:19 pm
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    The verdict: It smokes. One of the patches included in the -mjc tree is supposed to speed up disk access under certain conditions up to 30 times.

    So the -mjc tree doesn’t make everything faster, but some tasks finish much faster than they used to. The last part of the apt-get update sequence, where it makes sense of all the data files it just downloaded, finishes in probably 1/4 the time it used to take.

  • January 27, 2002 at 9:07 pm
    Permalink

    Cool!

    …your head ever hurt, bro?

  • January 14, 2003 at 10:37 am
    Permalink

    The mjc patch url is broken. It points back to your box. There are several links like this on your site. Thought you would like to know.

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