About three weeks ago I became so fed up with the disgusting performances of my Fedora computer to make a public Help request: why is my Linux so damn slow?. I got plenty of help (90 comments to that post while I’m writing this one) and useful suggestions. Later this week I will reformat all those suggestions in a separate post aimed to complete Linux newbies, to help them to find get support faster when they find themselves in a similar situation.
This page, instead, is a short status report,
that I publish to provide more information that may be useful to developers, testers and other users looking for a quick fix to some Linux performance problems. As usual, feedback is very welcome. As soon as I had the possibility to burn CDs, I tried the live distributions Puppy Linux and Slitaz: I had no performance problems with them. I am not sure that this is a really rigorous test, since what I was and am doing on Fedora isn’t possible with those live CDs (run Firefox, Kate, OpenOffice, Mysql…) but it proved, as it could, that there’s no hardware problem.
Then I cleaned up the Sqlite databases that Firefox uses to store cookies, passwords and lots of other things, with the trick explained in this blog (thanks Adrian!). If Firefox is slow, open a command prompt and type:
cd ~/.mozilla/firefox/_your_profile_.default for i in *.sqlite; do echo "VACUUM;" | sqlite3 $i; done
I can confirm that this immediately makes Firefox 3 faster. Until you surf enough that those databases grow again. The only way to make this a permanent fix, at least with Firefox 3, is to add that command to your .login file so it’s executed every time you log in. I did it, and was happy for a couple of days more. Had it been possible, I would have stopped debugging right there, because, as I explained in another page, I (and lots of non-programming Linux users) can’t afford to do software debugging as it ought to be done. This morning, however, I ran
yum update and I found myself, again, without a monitor full of crap. The details (with pictures!) are in another page, but this is the summary:
my computer runs much better than [three weeks ago](/help-request-why-is-my-linux-so-damn-slow/)
If you’re thinking “this is what you deserve if you buy chipsets from vendors that don’t provide FOSS drivers, or enough info to write them”, here’s why I bought nVidia: besides Free Software, I care at least as much, probably more, for the environment. I bought a motherboard with an nVidia chipset, even knowing that it had no FOSS drivers, because I did not want to dissipate more electricity than absolutely necessary for my desktop activities; and I wanted the smallest possible usage of raw materials (be they a big case, a water cooling system or a separated graphic card). Besides, I can’t think with a big fan humming right below the table. Therefore, it was and still is important for me to use a motherboard with on-board graphics that could work without extra fans and a small/silent power unit. When I went shopping, a couple of years ago, this motherboard was the best choice available where I could shop. Now that I have them, I want if at all possible to use it until it breaks, because e-waste is really bad. Often more than proprietary software drivers.
Final question: some folks suggested me to get rid of these problems by moving to Ubuntu Natty Narwhal as soon as it is officially released. I have no problem to change distribution, but is there any objective reason known in advance why Narwhal (or any other distro) would give me less of these specific headaches than Fedora?