| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 9, 4 August 2003
The innocent looking article on linmagau.org attempting to benchmark application speed on Gentoo, Debian and Mandrake opened a can of worms on Slashdot and other forums. It is one of those mysteries of our competitive nature which immediately raises a self-defence mechanism in cases where our choice is challenged. The world of Linux distributions is and excellent example of this - many of us spent months or even years on settling down on a particular distributions, just to be reminded every now and then that our choice might not be the best.
For those of you who didn't read the article, the simple benchmarks of launching applications or compiling a stock Linux kernel indicated that the source-based Gentoo was outperformed by either Mandrake or Debian (or both) in all of the conducted tests. While this raises a valid question about the testers' efforts to optimise Gentoo before conducting the tests, it also brings up another question: how many of the 24,000 Gentoo users registered on Gentoo forums are running their favourite distribution in an optimised state? Just because you are a Gentoo user, can you claim with confidence that your compiler options are exactly right for your hardware? Or did you just copy them from a forum post? The multitude of available options with cryptic names require some solid understanding and involved studying, which not everybody has time for.
On the other hand, even a superficial effort to understand these options, together with the pains required to install Gentoo will undoubtedly lead to greater understanding of your system - both your hardware and software. In this light, what really is the greatest benefit of Gentoo? Speed? The immediate availability of software? Or the "portage" package management? Maybe none of them. It's quite possible that the greatest benefit of a source-based distribution for most users is in its educational value.
Of course, some of us will never admit that Gentoo is not substantially faster then any other distribution, ever. Here come some amusing quotes from Slashdot and Gentoo forums:
- "This test is wrong and prooves nothing - I run Gentoo and I can see it's faster."
- "Either the authors of this article were completely ignorant on compiler optimizations, or they have an anti-Gentoo agenda, because they set it up to fail."
- "An owner of a Hummer once told the owner of a motorcycle that his Hummer got better gas milage. The motorcycle owner said this is ridiculous, and challenged him to a contest. The would each drive the same hundred miles of road and see who used more gas. They did, and the motorcycle used less gas. The Hummer owner immediately pointed out that the test was unfair 'Your motorcycle weighs far less than my Hummer. That's part of the reason you're getting better milage. Also, you're using a different engine with less horsepower. If your motorcycle weighed as much as my Hummer and used the exact same engine, you would see that I get better milage.'"
- "The best way to optimize gentoo is to 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."
- "I think you'll find you forgot -O9 and -fomit-instructions. It might crash every now and then, but I swear bash is responsive in ways I never thought was possible."
|Released Last Week
Xandros Desktop 1.1
Xandros, Inc has released an update of Xandros Desktop Deluxe Edition: "Xandros, Inc. has released a 1.1 edition of Xandros Desktop Deluxe. Version 1.1 enhancements include: support for Microsoft Office XP and Adobe Photoshop 7.0; Mozilla 1.3.1 with spell checking and spam filtering; OpenOffice.org office suite 1.0.3; Evolution groupware client 1.2.4; Enhanced hardware detection; Intel i830/845/855 graphics drivers. Current users of Xandros Desktop can simply click the Xandros Networks icon on their desktop to obtain free updates of most of the items in the version 1.1 release. This free upgrade policy provides customers with the latest updates and enhancements, and resolves various support issues that have turned up since the initial release." See the release announcement for more details. The new Xandros Desktop 1.1 is available from the Xandros Store for US$99.
Damn Small Linux 0.4.2
Less than a week after releasing version 0.4.1, the developers of Damn Small Linux have released version 0.4.2. From the changelog: "After using GNU strip on some of my custom-compiled binaries I was able to make room for some nice new apps. I replaces XFMail with Sylpheed. Also new for 0.4.2 are Xpaint for image editing and Xzgv for image viewing." See the full changelog and package list for further information.
- Lycoris Amethyst Update 3 Release Candidate 0. Annouced on the Lycoris community site, this long awaited beta includes plenty of package updates, although as expected, KDE will remain at 2.2.2 until after the final release of Amethyst Update 3.
- Vector Linux 4.0 rc1 is now available for download and testing. More information here.
- SME Server 6.0 beta3, the announcement includes a full list of changes.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Xandros Desktop 2.0
Xandros has updated their news page with three new items dated 5 August 2003. The first one is the announcement about two new beta programs: "Xandros, Inc., today announced the opening of the beta program for the 2.0 release of its award-winning Xandros Desktop. Users interested in testing Xandros Desktop 2.0 are invited to apply at the Xandros web site. Xandros is also looking for IT administrators considering mass deployment of the Xandros Desktop to test the forthcoming release of Xandros Networks Enterprise." The complete press release is here and you can register for beta testing of Xandros 2.0 on this page.
Xandros has also announced the release of a Spanish edition of Xandros Desktop: "Xandros, Inc., provider of the award-winning Xandros Desktop, has released the Spanish Edition of Xandros Desktop. In conjunction with the release, Xandros has teamed up with Pixart Argentina, a leading South American software distributor, to market Xandros products throughout the southern cone of Latin America."
|Web Site News
I hope you've enjoyed the interview with Judd Vinet of Arch Linux published over the weekend. I am still working on a full review of Arch Linux and I have just received the promised review copy of LindowsOS, so we'll cover both an advanced and a newbie distribution with the next two articles. You might also see a few new interviews in the near future, but this depends on the readers who are working on them. As always, feel free to conduct any interview with distribution maintainers on behalf of DistroWatch and send in the complete story for publishing.
Two distributions were removed from the waiting list. Plop Linux was removed at the request of the developers who cited lack of time for continued development. The MIOLUX distribution's web site has not been updated for over 6 months and no stable version has been released since 1.0 beta in January this year. It was also removed from the list.
Jollix is the only new distribution added to the DistroWatch database last week. Jollix is yet another live Linux CD with hardware auto-detection, cloop file system and KDE as its default desktop environment. It is based on Gentoo Linux. I haven't been able to locate the package list or find out how to list the versions of included packages - if anybody can help with this, I'd appreciate it.
New on the waiting list
Three new distributions were added to waiting list last week:
DistroWatch database summary
- clusterKNOPPIX is a modified Knoppix with the openMosix kernel.
- RUNT (The ResNet USB Network Tester) is Slackware Linux designed to run off of a 128 MB USB pen drive.
- ViruX is a live Linux CD based on Linux From Scratch and Knoppix; the web site is in Swedish.
- Number of distributions in the database: 162
- Number of discontinued distributions: 21
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 53
On DistroWatch icons, logos and banners
Thanks everybody who commented on their banner/logo preferences. One more banner was submitted last week, so let's call this list final, before everybody gets tired of voting for banners :-)
- "I have created a banner, not sure where i should send it in to, I'll give you a link, tell me what you think."
All opinions are welcome.
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday,
1 • Banners (by Tim at 2003-08-04 13:09:52 GMT) |
I'd go for a banner showing the linux penguin as it is becoming a well recognised symbol for Linux-related stuff. On that basis I'd rule out 3&4. Not much of a preference out of the rest, but probably 6 would be my choice.
2 • distro benchmark (by david on 2003-08-04 14:13:06 GMT)
Let me start by saying that i do beleive the results of the benchmark, because I have no reason to discredit it. I was surprised, but the result of the test doesn't really affect either the usability nor my opinion of my system. :-)
I use both mandrake and gentoo linux on the same machine. With using gentoo - as Ladislav assumed - my first aim was learning. Yes, I set up my CFLAGS, but I wouldn't speak of system optimization. I do not need it. My sytem is quite responsive wit both distros, even with the slow gentoo. ;-)
The only thing, which i can surely claim, that gentoo boots up much faster (with the same components), and the startup time of kde is incomparably shorter on gentoo. But these are not the facts, which i love gentoo for.
3 • Banners (by C on 2003-08-04 15:21:07 GMT)
banner 2 is a very professional job and fits the overall scheme of the page nicely. banner 6 would have suited if there were other "raised" graphics on the page.
Since the overall scheme of gfx of distrowatch is flat, 2 wins the race as a perfect fit.
The others are too big.
4 • optimization; banner 7 (by Penguin Domesticus on 2003-08-04 15:51:59 GMT)
Not that I know much about hardware-specific optimization, but isn't it so that you'd see the real difference in speed mainly with large, CPU- & multimedia -heavy apps, plus with the kernel (i.e. boot up time), with xfree86 and so on? Majority of the smaller non-CPU heavy apps show no practical difference in speed whether optimized for your PC or not.
The banner #7 is nice but the blueish penguin looks like deep-frozen. Banner 7 might be a winner if the lighter colors of the banner were the distrowatch light yellow (for the penguin) & light green (text).
5 • Xandros (by Anonymous on 2003-08-04 15:55:47 GMT)
Nice to see Xandros finally making the jump from KDE 2.2 to 3.1. Can you follow Lycoris and Lindows? :-)
6 • banner 7, clean a professional (by Anonymous on 2003-08-04 16:27:10 GMT)
Banner 7 is the most professional of all! You can use it as a banner but also as the new site logo. Yes, the colors aren't those who are used on the site, but they can be changed i guess. I don't think that the size is an issue here. They all can me be resized. I also think that banner 7 can be costumized to easily fit in any other situations.
7 • Gentoo optimizations (by Butters at 2003-08-04 17:27:09 GMT)
Anyone who uses all those optimizations like that quoted Slashdot poster is barking up the wrong tree. Those interested in GCC optimizations should check out http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/730/ for some handy info. Many of his extra optimizations are included in -fexpensive-optmizations, which means that they are generally expensive, and should not be used to compile everything (like he is doing). As this page notes, your only guarantee is that -O2 will be fast, faster than -O3 in many cases, and with smaller compiled code. And the popular -fomit-frame-pointer optimization is included in -O1 if it is safe on your architecture. That said, on my Athlon T-bird, I use the very simple:
CFLAGS="-march=athlon-tbird -O2 -pipe"
Finally, to all those who do want to go to great lengths to improve the usability of your Linux system, I recommend instead rolling yourself the latest 2.6.0-test2-mm* kernel. The O(1) process scheduler will no doubt impress you more than -fomit-instructions!!
8 • Banners and Xandros (by Kenneth on 2003-08-04 19:13:09 GMT)
The right angle on the left of Banner #4 reminds me of the Slackware banner/logo. I think Banner #7 would look nice, except that it should be scaled down a bit becasue it doesnt' need to be that big and so it would fit on the top of DW better if it's used. And what a banner rotating script? A random banner everytime you reload! And on a side note, I'm planning on going to the LinuxWorld Expo for the next two days, and I'm hoping to get on of those free copies of Xandros. If I do get one, maybe I'll do a review for DW! :) I'd do interviews, except that I'm not the type of person that has the courage to go up to a stranger and start asking them questions. :( Unless you guys have something you really want to ask, I geuss I could slip something in. And I think I'll make some sketches of my own banner and logo for DW too. :)
9 • Regarding Gentoo (by Luk at 2003-08-04 21:44:14 GMT)
If you use Gentoo just for the theoretical speed increase, you are totally missing the point about Gentoo. Gentoo is not about very high performance. It's about power and control, about configuring and tweaking it to your own needs. More significant is Portage, because that is the main tool that gives you so much control. Performance optimalisations are just a part of it.
10 • Banner (by Luk at 2003-08-04 21:47:39 GMT)
I like #2 best. Professional and smooth look.
Btw sorry for my bad English.
11 • Banners (by Glenn at 2003-08-04 21:48:25 GMT)
I like the design of Banner 5 with the .COM shadowed in the background, and the 'USE LINUX' in larger text, but the peguin just isn't right; and as another commenter noted, the whole thing is too big. So I cast my vote for banner #7, even tho the peguin looks deep-frozen. After all, its cold where peguins live. :)
12 • gentoo optimizations (by John at 2003-08-05 00:40:41 GMT)
It's fun working with gentoo, and I am a doubter of how the tests were done. There's a neat benchmarking program out there- ccbench (google for it). It goes through lots of different flags for gcc. Improper flags can make your system 4 times slower (at least on my system), and compared to the standard redhat/mandrake flags, I can get around 10%-30% increases in certain programs. It's important to note that not all programs are compiled with restrictive flags on gentoo, so the speed increase overall isn't that much- the point is, it's customizeable and there are speed increases with correct cflags. I also doubt that most gentoo users have their flags set for such increases- their speed normally comes from not having as many services running, which can be done in any other distro.
Just my 2 cents.
13 • Up and coming LindowsOS look (by Moe Bergeron at 2003-08-05 00:49:18 GMT)
I'm very new to Linux and have recently installed and tried a number of the latest distros including Mandrake 9.1, VectorSOHO, Slackware, Licoris, Yoper, JamD, and numerous Knoppix releases. VectorSOHO, JamD really impressed me as well as Knoppix using the new SUDO knoppix-installer. They all worked well but not one of them measured up to LindowsOS 4.0. Even my wireless (wusb11 atmel) worked. Couldn't say the same for the atmel driver that Claus recently bundled with his distro. The bottom line for this non-technical guy; I put my money where my mouth was and made the Lindows people happy. BTW, the Lindows variant of Xine played Harry Potter just fine. Needs a bit of polish but it worked. I might add, I just want to thank Claus the Knoppix guy for providing his free distro. He deserves the credit for getting this poor fool to look to Linux for the future of computing.
Ps., Anyone know of a real Bible Study program for linux?
14 • Gentoo, banner (by Carolina on 2003-08-05 01:16:56 GMT)
My favorite banners are #5 and #7.
I'm a Gentoo user. My CFLAGS are very simple, my system is not very optimized. But I don't care. I run Gentoo because Portage is a great package manager. I can also build your own customized system the way I like it. A very nice distro.
15 • Banner discussion (by Anonymous on 2003-08-05 06:07:18 GMT)
I'm awaiting the days when most of the comments after the weekly column will be again about distributions and not about banners anymore. :-)
16 • Banner Seven (by Harry on 2003-08-05 06:13:21 GMT)
Banner seven is very nice. Love it.
17 • RE: Banner discussion (by ladislav at 2003-08-05 06:18:37 GMT)
This is the last week of banner votes. Promise :-)
18 • Banners & FLAGS (by John Lowell on 2003-08-05 06:59:09 GMT)
I vote for the banner with the CFLAG on it, or is it the CFLAG with the banner on it. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. :-)
19 • Banner #7 (by Nicolas on 2003-08-05 07:28:11 GMT)
Banner 7 is very clean and professional. I like it. #5 is also a great job, but the pinguin is a little too big!
20 • Banner of Choice (by Bob at 2003-08-05 16:23:39 GMT)
I still prefer #5. There is something about the typeface that looks so official. The word "Watch" in Distrowatch looks like it means business. Given that this website is becoming the site of record for Linux, banner #5 is the most appropriate one.
21 • I'm interested in benchmarking distros. (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2003-08-05 17:18:57 GMT)
Perhaps I'll write another review, detailing the performance, compatibility, etc. In an old argument on the Red Hat mailing list, I brought up the validity of rebuilding everything, and I ended up doing some testing. It was really preliminary, but I tested RH 8.0, RH 8.0.94, RH 9, SuSE 8.1, MDK 9.0, FreeBSD 5.0, Lycoris/LX, Sorcerer, and an old Gentoo (I can't remember which).
I'm curious, and I don't mind the flames I'm sure to get. Perhaps I'll test a few. If anyone would like me to test a particular distro, email me. (Of course, this all depends how much time I have available.)
I always figured that the difference in speed between distros was negligible until I tried Lycorix/LX that refuses to give me more than 10MB/sec hard drive read speed, and I tried Vector 3.2, which runs respectably on a P100.
I can't wait to see which banner wins! I still like banner 2, perhaps 3 in second. By the way, have there been no other submissions for logos?
22 • LinuxWorld (by Kenneth on 2003-08-05 21:53:07 GMT)
Okay, back from LinuxWorld, and I got one of the free Xandros Desktop! :) Does this mean that no more banners or icons will be excepted?
23 • Noo.... (by Kenneth on 2003-08-06 05:37:40 GMT)
That sucks, I never knew about this cause I was vacation and now I can't submit anything. :( Can I just submit something later and see if you like it ladislav?
24 • Gentoo Benchmarks (by lemming at 2003-08-07 18:20:44 GMT)
I've found a performance boost in some areas using Gentoo, but nothing significant. However, the reason I like Gentoo is just the ease of package updating and customization. This could be done on any of the other distros as well, but I've also found the Gentoo forums to be some of the best places to dig for knowledge.
25 • Gentoo CDs (by Kenneth on 2003-08-07 20:10:52 GMT)
Speaking of Gentoo, I think they ran out of the free Gentoo CDs at LinuxWorld. I had been hoping to get one.
26 • Yourlinux.com (by Andrew Faulkner at 2003-08-08 12:24:07 GMT)
I would like to warn people about Yourlinux.com before orders are placed (if the site isn`t down as it is today). A while ago I placed an order with them but had to email them because the order was not sent out. After emailing them they sent out my order but one of the disks was incorrect, they sent a `disk 2` instead of the Install disk for the distro I`d requested. I have emailed them several times since but not had a reply. Also the phone number listed on their site is never answered. My advice - buy off someone else.
27 • Banner Number 7 (by darkproximity at 2003-08-08 16:17:06 GMT)
In my opinion, banner #7 looks too Microsoft, it looks like something they might make..
28 • Number 7 (by Neurook on 2003-08-09 11:44:51 GMT)
Just remove the Penguin and make the "w" in watch a "W"
29 • No subject (by RealLife Comics on 2003-08-11 00:37:23 GMT)
Ummm is it just me or does banner 7 look like a carbon copy of the http://www.reallifecomics.com RealLife Comics Logo at the bottom of each comic? Just a thought...
30 • No subject (by tom at 2004-04-19 13:22:07 GMT)
keep up the good work.
http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00011.htm http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00012.htm http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00013.htm http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00014.htm http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00015.htm http://www.schlitzmaus.de/nasse_schlitzmaus00016.htm
Number of Comments: 30
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