More DSL Hard Drive Fun

I decided to recompile my DSL hard drive install kernel while watching the Hornets beat down the Mavericks. My goal is to get it even smaller and faster.

Ten megabytes (plus some marginal amount cached) while running X and several other processes (I took the screenshot in console while ssh’elled in and then used sshfs to convert the image from a raw X dump to png on the laptop). Take a look at the torsmo shot in my ‘dsl hard drive’ page for comparison. I’m getting there. Now I need to see why hotplug-knoppix loaded fat/vfat modules (which were loaded when this shot was taken)…

As for the rest of the stats:

% du -h –max-depth=1 /lib/modules/
20M /lib/modules/2.4.31 (default)
1.7M /lib/modules/2.4.36.3-mini (first try)
1.2M /lib/modules/2.4.36.3-miniM (current)

984K linux-2.4.36.3-miniM (current)
988K linux24-31 (default)
My other one was 1.2MB but it was a case of ‘better safe than sorry.’

I’ve yet to run into any issues. :-)

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5 Responses to “More DSL Hard Drive Fun”

  1. momerath616 Says:

    I noticed that you’re using a 2.4 series kernel. I don’t know a ton about the differences between the 2.4 and 2.6 kernels so I was wondering what exactly you gain by using such an old kernel. It seems like your system’s capabilities would be limited. I’m assuming the main reason you use it is because it uses less resources than the 2.6 right?

  2. lucky Says:

    I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I don’t understand what you mean by “such an old kernel” when the version I’m using is more recent than 2.6.25:
    2.6.25 — 2008-04-17 03:15
    2.4.36.3 -2008-04-19 14:41

    I think maybe you’re showing the human tendency to have the “latest” and most recent version of everything. Maybe you just don’t understand that 2.4 development continues — it hasn’t ceased, though it is waning. Many features from 2.6 have been backported. It’s not suitable for all hardware but it’s definitely still usable for most hardware. But like I said, human tendencies being what they are, many users shun 2.4 even when it’s perfectly suitable for their needs.

    I’ve run 2.6 and 2.4 kernels on this computer and on this particular computer 2.4 is certainly ideal. It uses less RAM and its overhead (disk space for kernel and modules, CPU use, etc.) on the system is much lighter.

    Contrary to your assumption about capabilities, I have *ZERO* system limitations. I have full use of every bus on this computer — PCI, IDE, USB. I have full function of video and audio, USB storage. I also included modules for hardware I don’t have connected and which I would use as a last resort (such as if my USB ethernet adapter became dysfunctional and I needed to use CDCether as an interim measure). I have full function of everything and every device I use (USB keyboard, mouse, networking, webcam, USB storage, etc.) except the winmodem, which wouldn’t work in 2.6 anyway.

    I admit it’s not suitable for other things, like my laptop. Wireless development in 2.4 will not keep pace with 2.6. So I use a 2.6 kernel in the laptop. I’m not going to quit using this desktop until it stops working and I’m not going to put another 2.6 kernel on it unless I have a compelling reason. I’ll continue to look at the updates in 2.4 and consider compiling as warranted. I think the proof is in how much faster this thing is. I timed my boot from selection in GRUB to login prompt at 12 seconds — on a lowly 400 mhz Celeron — and I think I can reduce that a little further if I adjust things between modules and what I put in the kernel.

  3. momerath616 Says:

    I didn’t realize that the 2.4 kernel still had that much active development going on. I suppose I should have done a little more research before making such a comment. How well do you think a 2.4 kernel would perform on a more modern system? One with say a dual core processor and a fair amount of RAM. If the 2.4 kernel really does use a lot less resources than the 2.6 kernel I may give it a shot. I do a bit of graphic design on this machine and I use it for playing games (using Wine mostly). Do you think I would have any issues there? I’m always looking for ways to increase the performance and reliability of my system and this sounds like it might help.

  4. lucky Says:

    Depending how much more modern, it should be more than adequate. Slackware didn’t switch to 2.6 until version 11 last year (previously, a 2.6 kernel was available in extras but the default install was 2.4). I don’t think Slackware users were “left behind” before last year even though 2.6 had already been available for some time. The 2.4 kernel has SATA, irda, Bluetooth, and support for other more recent technologies.

    As to specifics you asked, it would be more helpful to know specifics — such as any brand new devices, any graphics accelerators requiring special drivers, etc.

    I noted in the edited green text region on the “DSL Hard Drive” page linked on the top left, I initially compiled with SMP flagged on (which is the default selection in menuconfig — I’d forgotten to set it n). That kernel was “mini” and my current is “miniM,” reflecting mono-core because SMP now flagged off and a few things removed and switched around between being in the kernel or module. So 2.4 is adequate for multicore processors.

    One of the items in menuconfig allows you to select RAM level. I grepped my config and this is the relevant section:
    CONFIG_NOHIGHMEM=y
    # CONFIG_HIGHMEM4G is not set
    # CONFIG_HIGHMEM64G is not set

    I hope anything that can be optimized for up to 64GB of RAM would have you covered. :-)

    I can’t speak to issues about WINE or gaming because the closest I come to that is using a DOS emulator to play really old games which I’ve had about 20 years of practice so I have a fair shot at beating the kids. I do know that DSL, which is 2.4 based, has WINE extensions and some forum users seem to use it quite a bit. I would think that WINE isn’t kernel-dependent any more than any other emulator, utility, or application.

    Where you’ll run into more issues is in areas like wireless — like I wrote previously, I’m using 2.6 on my laptop — and bleeding edge hardware. I saw several graphics accelerators listed in menuconfig, none of them appropriate for this computer. You may also have a few issues with CPU scheduling, particularly if you’ve used an optimized 2.6 kernel with either the old ck patch or the newer fair scheduler. IIRC, the 2.4 and 2.6 kernels use different threading. I don’t know if or how much you would notice differences.

    One thing I would recommend is to download the latest source and at least walk through the config and see how much of your hardware is directly supported. Be sure to select y for the code maturity options — this will give you more choices because it includes newer and experimental options, but some of them are for newer hardware. It might take you a little while to go through but you can jump to the sections where you think you might have issues (video drivers, drivers for any specific devices, etc.) to speed it up. If there’s no lapse between the kernel and what you’re using, you could make a decision to proceed with building and see if there’s an appreciable difference.

    Let me know if you do that and how it goes.

  5. lucky Says:

    Whoops, clarification/error. Slackware 11 was still 2.4 default and switched to 2.6 with version 12.

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