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Re: [school-discuss] Which is the fastest Desktop distro for schools?

On Tue, Nov 16, 2004 at 09:06:20AM -0700, Cameron Miller wrote:
> >Oh no.  Please don't mix up boot time and runtime performance
> That is true, but faster boot times were asked for.

Ah, mea maxima culpa -- didn't get back to the top of the
subthread (it wasn't properly started but rather forked off
completely different one).

But then they highly likely don't know what they ask for. :]

> If the environment is such that machines are turned off when
> not in use, boot time becomes more important to the perception
> of speed.  At least that is what my wife gripes about when she
> turns her computer on.  So I make her cheap home computer start
> up faster than her monster Win2k box at work, "linux is so much
> faster".

Well my home system tends to work weeks (somebody months) and
systems at work do so conveniently; the main factor behind that
isn't even the remote access (I have Internet over Ethernet at
home) but the fact that starting up the system nears its physical
end, especially for hard drives but to some degree for
electronics.  It's thermoelectrical shock, the kind of thing
that kills tungsten bulbs.

If it's educational institution, I'd propose turning the systems
on some time before the lessons start and turning them off in the
evening (or when the lessons and maybe additional time is over).

It will bring in more electricity, heat and noise but at least
here in Ukraine losing a single hard disk is worth such a huge
amount of electricity that we prefer _normal_ power cycle (ask
any fellow colleagues who were working with computer systems for

If the boot times are still critical, I'd propose watching
swsusp2 development -- right now it seems there's a bunch of
issues with it but some people in our team do use it for months.
It gives hibernation abilities to Linux-based systems.

> >>Use EXT2 instead of EXT3, you lose journaling but gain a lot
> >>of speed.
> >And a lot of wasted time in case of abrupt power.
> Which would mean more reboots?  See "boot times" :)

Well I do remember ext2 boot times when some 2-gig HD would get
fsck'ed through... (and 30-gig times with UFS and FreeBSD 4.x)

> Maybe invest some of what is saved by low end workstations in
> better power protection.

*sigh* :-)

> >It's better to use reiserfs then -- it's much faster than ext[23]
> >anyways and a friend of mine with a vast experience with computer
> >and internet clubs on Linux insists that it's resisting frequent
> >resets and sometimes power outages the best (compared with ext*
> >and xfs).
> >I personally prefer xfs and UPS combos but his experience may
> >be useful for some people here.
> From the last numbers I saw, with smaller files and lighter
> loads ext2 is faster than Reiser, according to Bonnie++.

Umm... any link?  Never seen that, ext2 is fairly slow with
everything but deleting files IIRC.  It _is_ simple enough to
recommend it for backup partitions and the likes (which we'd
better have some hope of recovering even after severe crash) but
no other case comes to mind.

> For heavier loaded servers, (higher load larger files), Reiser
> beats everyone, according to Postmark.

Well my _personal_ bias these days (with Linux 2.4) is:

- xfs for everything which needs good balance between
  performance, features and durability, needs UPS;
- ext3 for everything that needs either pertability between
  max-wide tange of distros and kernels, gets along with
  data=ordered instead of UPS (kidding!! :);
- reiserfs for spools, build directories and the likes where
  speed (especially with *lots* of dir entries) is critical, 
  but e.g. mail spools -- only when we're on UPS.

> All the journaling filesystems on linux, even ext3, have a
> history of problems with quotas, a big multi user server
> requirement in my book.

Reiser3 did need patches; now I'm on XFS for those.  It also
provides ACLs and behaves very nicely under diferentiated load --
we've had a day on local F/OSS FTP mirror when some 10 Mbps
outbound traffic met some 50 Mbps inbound traffic, mostly on the
spindle running ext3 -- and it felt very bad after cache began
getting to the surface, with disk throughput dropping to ~500KB/s
and LA climbing above 10.  Moving data to identical disk (on
identical IDE channel, ribbon-per-disk) with XFS helped a lot --
an ext3 developer I know said it was due to delayed allocation
present in xfs and missing in ext3.

> And I like afterstep. :)

Well the main thought was diversity. :)

> I think a better question is, what are currently the best linux
> desktop distribution choices for schools?

Good question, and there were some answers.  Is anyone eager to
sit down with distrowatch.com and write up an article on those?

In our experience, having:

- educational applications out-of-box (without the need to
  compile them by hand), 
- some GUI tools for basic system management (user management,
  screen resolution),
- proper localization for the region in question

is what schools (and to some extent universities) demand or want
to see.  Schools are more problematic here as average experience
is less than in universities, and involving students in bringing
things together is harder for them (lacking motivation, etc).

Universities are more eager to deploy centralized systems
management infrastructure (sometimes LDAP, sometimes something
else -- would have to recheck the situation in univ.kiev.ua).
Having that in school *may* be worth it for a hundred systems or
so but only when they know it already or the distro has means for
reasonably fast and clean setup.

We've looked at Novell Linux Desktop a couple days ago, and at
least after text install it's not LDAPable -- things missing.
Didn't see FC3 yet; no experience with _administering_ Debian,

ALT has a nice guide on setting up LDAP -- but that's in Russian,
and almost complete lack of proper GUI tools to set up system(s)
bars me from recommending it here and now, even if that
particular topic would be a breeze...

 ---- WBR, Michael Shigorin <mike@altlinux.ru>
  ------ Linux.Kiev http://www.linux.kiev.ua/