Friday, September 29, 2006

Linux Tweaks


Here are some of the tweaks mentioned below you can try to learn something and to get benefits of the same as per your requirement. This is realy going to help you.

The best you can do to speedup ur box in linux is:

- Use for driver management.. If you dont have a driver installed for a device, it will install the best rated driver automatically, so your less likely to accidently download a crappily designed driver (and you dont need to worry about drivers).

- If your performance is jerky and inconsistant, you are probably having ACPI problems.. You can disable it by configuring ur lilo.conf or grub.conf, and doing acpi=off, like:
kernel (hd0,7)/kernel-2.6.7-rc1-mm1 root=/dev/hda8 vga=792 acpi=off

- if you have a directory with many different files, try to break it up when it gets too large into many directory.. especially if its your home directory... Especially when using GUI tools, that speeds things up dramatically

- Use the newest 2.6 kernel (the 2.6 series is faster then 2.4 in every aspect).

- Use reiser4 (its developmental, but is 2X faster then reiserfs, and 4X faster then NTFS.. seemed pretty stable to me).

- Dont use Xfree 4.2, use Xorg-x11 instead

- Make sure you are using ur vendors opengl

- Use ALSA instead of OSS whenever possible, and check on the alsa site if people have specific tweaks etc (for hardware mixing for instance).

- Use rc-update and disable all the crappy services you aren't using.
- If you have a very large amount of ram, you may want to disable ur swap

- Use a distribution designed for your architecture (many distro's, like windows are still compiled for 586.. If your running a P4 with hyperthreading, enable support for SMP, etc in the kernel).

- If you want pure speed, try using a GCC 3.4 devel distro (probably too unstable still though).. GCC 3.4 compiles programs so they run at least 7% faster in a large testcase.. By using good flags, you can expect higher performance gains

- Try to move off devFS to Udev.. Devfs is obsolete for a good reason, its got lots of locking problems and has many other various bugs.. Everyone should consider moving to Udev if they are on kernel 2.6.

- To speed up reboots, linux now has a few programs which allow it to reboot without physically rebooting the machine.. It will just shut down linux, and when it is about to reboot, instead starts it back up

- If you want good speed, and if you use gnome or KDE, ensure you are running the newest versions.. Unlike Windows, the newer the desktop environment, the faster they get.. If you really want to tweak to the max though, blackbox or fluxbox use less resources..

- Altering the hdparm parameters can also speed things up slightly in some cases.

- Some Windows managers have settings that allow u to speed them up slightly, just look in their options
- You may want to use the -ck patchset for the kernel, Con is a genius at optimisations, and its not uncommon for many of his optimisations to join the mainstream kernel..

- Add noatime and notail to the drives in ur fstab. noatime turns off the access time
recording, and notail changes the way things are stored. An example is: "/dev/hda7 /boot reiserfs noauto,noatime,notail". Be aware notail though wastes a bit of extra space though.

- Avoid using ext2, ext3, or the windows filesystems (FAT32/NTFS) on any partitions on your computer.. They suck (due to the lack of competition on windows, m*c*s*t isn't encouraged to improve it to speed it up).. If you dont want to use Reiser4.. then at least use reiserfs or XFS is a bit better provided your harddisk is well designed, however, on badly designed harddisks, the journelling on XFS may not be perfect...

- If you want to make ur system more usable, check out project utopia (gnome volume manager, HAL, and DBUS).. They are going to be added to the next generation of gnome, and will make linux a lot more usable. Eikkes volume manager is a good alternative to gnome volume manager (easier to install), found at

- If you want to play windows games, first check if there a native linux port, and use that if there is. Otherwise your best option is winex ( That wraps windows calls into linux ones, which slows it down, but for many games, and on good computers you generally dont notice it. Setting the exe file association in your desktop environment will let just click exe's allowing them to run.

- If you distro have automount.. sometimes its good to disable it.. Yes it can make life easier, but it can be a pain too sometimes.. If you find theres always a dramatic slowdown when opening nautilus or konquerer, dont use automount.. If you have a good cdrom drive though and are using the newest, you may not have these problems.

- ESD and ARTS sound servers are not new technologies.. I've seen nothing but pain from them.. Try to use ALSA instead of the sound servers wherever possible, and if your feeling really ready, you might want to just try disabling OSS completely in your kernel (not even have OSS emulation). OSS is old, and can only play one steam at a time (cannot do mixing), so when a OSS application plays a sound, it can often screw up every ALSA application which can automatically mix..

- Use prelink to speed up running applications.. In some cases, prelink has been shown to cut application loading times dramatically. (thanks equilibrium for suggesting this one). has a benchmark showing the impact.. It is considered safe to use these days, and generally works on speeding up everything except wine.

- Many windows managers support taskbar applets (like a weather applet, network applet, wireless signal strength applet, notification area applet).. Try them out extensively, you'll be surprised how helpful they can be.. In my case in fact, I deleted the window list off my taskbar completely (I use ALT+TAB always anyway), and just left a windows list applet which I can click to see all the windows, deleted my second taskbar, and set the first one to not expand and to have autohide enabled, saving up alot of my desktop.

- I dont recommend saving files to your desktop at all.. In linux you have a central storage for each user, so use it for all your files.. it keeps your system alot cleaner, your desktop clear, and you can keep things more organised..

- In linux, everything from the complete bootup sequence (, the bootmenu, to nearly every program in linux can be easily skinned (even individual directories can be given a theme in nautilus).. I suggest you take advantage of the skinning, as they can have a massive impact (in fact, its a trivial job to even do stuff like make your linux look identical to windows (by theming or using, or any OS you want, so I suggest you do so.. Unlike windows linux also supports vector based icons, so if you want a Mac OS X like appearance, try to use a svg based themeset).

- If you want to do theming up to the point of even theming your web browser, use Mozilla firefox ( as your webbrowser instead of mozilla or opera, it has awesome support for plugins and themes (which can be found at In fact, I suggest using firefox in Windows too..

Why aren't there many centralised tweak pages for Linux like windows?? Because the windows ones are useless, and are VERY often wrong..

An example of a misconception in windows of tweaking is editing the swap file size yourself instead of letting windows handle it, but the truth of that is that the people who recommended it never bothered to benchmark, and finally when it was, people actually discovered it was slower..And the rest of the tweaks slow down many cases.. MS does do alot of benchmarking to test the tweaks, and the ones they provide are in fact very good (except ones like enabling UDMA). And the tweaks people do come up with at best increase the worst case of the algorithms only minimally (1-2%). The tweaks combined which I gave you, especially if you are only using kernel 2.4 and a non optimised distro (like a i386 one), Give you the potential to increase the speed of ur computer by 200 - 300 % (At the very least changing to reiser4 will double ur harddisk speeds and using the -aa patchset will give 10% speedup potentially). Believe me, the windows tweaks are useless.. thats why there aren't any equivilent linux ones.. The kernel developers etc try to optimise things as much as possible (with help from distro's)..

Use the tweaks I gave you and I guarentee, you'll speed it up massively (way more
then all of the windows tweaks together can do).. setting a few tweaks for algorithms
is never as effective as changing the algorithms itself..

Anyway, you need help with some of this stuff you can always come on IRC.. Thats the
great thing about open source, you can tweak it FAR beyond the puny windows tweaks because u can optimise the code..

The idea is that if you need to adjust any settings of a algorithm in linux, then usually its badly designed anyway, and the kernel developers need to tweak the settings in the kernel source for everyone.



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