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Old 02-03-2009, 09:39 PM
Grant Edwards
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
better performance because all executables are optimized for
exactly the right instruction set.

Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
parroted by so many people?

AFAICT, the "performance" benefit due to compiler optimization
is practically nil in real-world usage.

In my experience the huge benefit of source-based distros such
as Gentoo is elimination of the library dependency-hell that
mires other binary-based distros.

For many years I ran RedHat and then Mandrake. After a year or
so, they became impossible to maintain because of library
version conflicts. Every time I tried up upgrade an RPM package
to fix a bug or security hole, it required a handful of
libraries to be upgraded, but doing that would break a bunch of
other RPMs for which upgrades weren't available. The solution
was always to start building stuff from sources. Once you
started doing that, the package manager would get upset because
it doesn't know about some stuff that's installed (unless you
built from source RPMs, which had another set of problems).

The second benefit is that with Gentoo, upgrading a system
actually works over the long-run. With RedHat/Mandrake, things
would gradually deteriorate to the point where the system was
unmaintainable, but attempting to upgrade between major
releases was always futile. I've had Gentoo machines that have
been upgraded for 4-5 years without any significant problems
(failed hard-drives don't count).

The third main benefit I've seen is that there are vastly more
packages available for Gentoo. Putting together and
maintaining an ebuild appears to take a lot less work than
putting together and maintaining a binary RPM package. I've
had far fewer problems with third party ebuilds than I did with
third-party RPMs (on the rare occasions when I found one for
some obscure application I wanted to run). Again, the solution
was always "build from sources".

Are the real benefits of Gentoo too hard to explain to the
unwashed masses, so instead they're told the fairy tale about
imporoved performance?

--
Grant Edwards grante Yow! ! Up ahead! It's a
at DONUT HUT!!
visi.com
 
Old 02-03-2009, 10:03 PM
Saphirus Sage
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Grant Edwards wrote:
> Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
> similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
> The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
> better performance because all executables are optimized for
> exactly the right instruction set.
>
> Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
> parroted by so many people?
>
> AFAICT, the "performance" benefit due to compiler optimization
> is practically nil in real-world usage.
>
> In my experience the huge benefit of source-based distros such
> as Gentoo is elimination of the library dependency-hell that
> mires other binary-based distros.
>
> For many years I ran RedHat and then Mandrake. After a year or
> so, they became impossible to maintain because of library
> version conflicts. Every time I tried up upgrade an RPM package
> to fix a bug or security hole, it required a handful of
> libraries to be upgraded, but doing that would break a bunch of
> other RPMs for which upgrades weren't available. The solution
> was always to start building stuff from sources. Once you
> started doing that, the package manager would get upset because
> it doesn't know about some stuff that's installed (unless you
> built from source RPMs, which had another set of problems).
>
> The second benefit is that with Gentoo, upgrading a system
> actually works over the long-run. With RedHat/Mandrake, things
> would gradually deteriorate to the point where the system was
> unmaintainable, but attempting to upgrade between major
> releases was always futile. I've had Gentoo machines that have
> been upgraded for 4-5 years without any significant problems
> (failed hard-drives don't count).
>
> The third main benefit I've seen is that there are vastly more
> packages available for Gentoo. Putting together and
> maintaining an ebuild appears to take a lot less work than
> putting together and maintaining a binary RPM package. I've
> had far fewer problems with third party ebuilds than I did with
> third-party RPMs (on the rare occasions when I found one for
> some obscure application I wanted to run). Again, the solution
> was always "build from sources".
>
> Are the real benefits of Gentoo too hard to explain to the
> unwashed masses, so instead they're told the fairy tale about
> imporoved performance?
>
>

Being a metadistribution, the concept of higher performance isn't quite
that much of a fairy tale. If you can easily configure your system to a
specific purpose, that would ideally lead to better performance, whether
it be due to the specialization of the system or at least a placebo
effect on the user. Gentoo is honestly my first linux system, so I don't
really have the experience of library conflicts of binary distros.
People in general will usually just want confirmation that something has
benefits over what they currently have, irregardless of evidence of
exactly why it is better, so that may be part of why so many supporters
"parrot" the same view regarding Gentoo. On the other hand, I just take
a lot of it as peace of mind in that all the responsibility for how my
system is running is directly mine, as opposed to being able to blame
someone who made a bad RPM. I like knowing any little factor of my
system and what it's doing.
 
Old 02-03-2009, 10:10 PM
Volker Armin Hemmann
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

On Dienstag 03 Februar 2009, Grant Edwards wrote:
> Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
> similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
> The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
> better performance because all executables are optimized for
> exactly the right instruction set.
>
> Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
> parroted by so many people?

because it was true in the beginning, when most distris were still built for
386 and the difference of an optimized built was that you could watch dvd
movies without hangs and frame loss.

It is still true to a certain degree today - code compiled for 386 runs much
slower than code compiled for core2 - on a core2. But on todays overpowered
cpus you don't see it as prominent as back on k6-2 400 or p3 650 ....


> AFAICT, the "performance" benefit due to compiler optimization
> is practically nil in real-world usage.

nope, they are there. But compiler optimiziations are a very delicate thing.
You can't just throw funroll-all-loops into make.conf and think that was it.
And for a general set, march is the most important one. It does do a lot of
good - the rest is just minor at best.
 
Old 02-03-2009, 10:20 PM
kashani
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Grant Edwards wrote:

Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
better performance because all executables are optimized for
exactly the right instruction set.

Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
parroted by so many people?


IIRC as late as 2001 almost all distros were primarily built for i386
there were definite improvements to be had by moving to i686. For things
that do complicated math like Mysql, openssl, etc there were noticeable
improvements. Apache likely doesn't benefit at all from anything beyond
i686, but things like video encoding/decoding do have code that can take
advantage of mmx, sse, etc.
Additionally when NTPL hit glibc-2.3 Gentoo was one of the first
distros that let you move to a NTPL glibc which practically doubled
Mysql performance in our environment. Not instruction based, but most
other distros required waiting an additional six months for a release to
get this.


kashani
 
Old 02-03-2009, 10:48 PM
Nikos Chantziaras
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Grant Edwards wrote:

Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
better performance because all executables are optimized for
exactly the right instruction set.

Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
parroted by so many people?

AFAICT, the "performance" benefit due to compiler optimization
is practically nil in real-world usage.


I get a bit of a performance boost in some corner cases, like encoding
videos with x264. But these small stand-alone programs can be compiled
from source with custom optimization options easily even in binary distros.


So all in all, I agree. Using Gentoo is nowadays not so much a matter
of performance optimization but of better control of how to build the
packages and the rolling release nature (I'm tired of major updates
every 6 months in the majority of binary distros.) I also like the USE
flags which let me chose how to build something and get rid of
dependencies I don't need. Administrative features like dispatch-conf
are also very useful.


A downside is that you'll need fast machines to comfortably build
packages. I wouldn't use it on my Pentium 3 800Mhz for example. That
would take ages to compile system/world with recent GCC versions. I
guess GCC was much faster in the 2.x versions back then?
 
Old 02-03-2009, 11:50 PM
Dale
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Saphirus Sage wrote:
> Grant Edwards wrote:
>
>> Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
>> similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
>> The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
>> better performance because all executables are optimized for
>> exactly the right instruction set.
>>
>> Where did that bit of apocrypha come from, and why is it
>> parroted by so many people?
>>
>> AFAICT, the "performance" benefit due to compiler optimization
>> is practically nil in real-world usage.
>>
>> In my experience the huge benefit of source-based distros such
>> as Gentoo is elimination of the library dependency-hell that
>> mires other binary-based distros.
>>
>> For many years I ran RedHat and then Mandrake. After a year or
>> so, they became impossible to maintain because of library
>> version conflicts. Every time I tried up upgrade an RPM package
>> to fix a bug or security hole, it required a handful of
>> libraries to be upgraded, but doing that would break a bunch of
>> other RPMs for which upgrades weren't available. The solution
>> was always to start building stuff from sources. Once you
>> started doing that, the package manager would get upset because
>> it doesn't know about some stuff that's installed (unless you
>> built from source RPMs, which had another set of problems).
>>
>> The second benefit is that with Gentoo, upgrading a system
>> actually works over the long-run. With RedHat/Mandrake, things
>> would gradually deteriorate to the point where the system was
>> unmaintainable, but attempting to upgrade between major
>> releases was always futile. I've had Gentoo machines that have
>> been upgraded for 4-5 years without any significant problems
>> (failed hard-drives don't count).
>>
>> The third main benefit I've seen is that there are vastly more
>> packages available for Gentoo. Putting together and
>> maintaining an ebuild appears to take a lot less work than
>> putting together and maintaining a binary RPM package. I've
>> had far fewer problems with third party ebuilds than I did with
>> third-party RPMs (on the rare occasions when I found one for
>> some obscure application I wanted to run). Again, the solution
>> was always "build from sources".
>>
>> Are the real benefits of Gentoo too hard to explain to the
>> unwashed masses, so instead they're told the fairy tale about
>> imporoved performance?
>>
>>
>>
>
> Being a metadistribution, the concept of higher performance isn't quite
> that much of a fairy tale. If you can easily configure your system to a
> specific purpose, that would ideally lead to better performance, whether
> it be due to the specialization of the system or at least a placebo
> effect on the user. Gentoo is honestly my first linux system, so I don't
> really have the experience of library conflicts of binary distros.
> People in general will usually just want confirmation that something has
> benefits over what they currently have, irregardless of evidence of
> exactly why it is better, so that may be part of why so many supporters
> "parrot" the same view regarding Gentoo. On the other hand, I just take
> a lot of it as peace of mind in that all the responsibility for how my
> system is running is directly mine, as opposed to being able to blame
> someone who made a bad RPM. I like knowing any little factor of my
> system and what it's doing.
>
>
>

I'll also add this info. I switched from Mandrake to Gentoo a long time
ago. Mandrake was slow and took a good while to login and open larger
apps. Gentoo on the exact same machine runs way faster. Login is a LOT
faster, especially the second time around since it is cached, and apps
start a lot faster too.

You do have to have a set of sane FLAGS for this to work but it can be
faster depending on how much time you spend looking up the correct settings.

Dale

:-) :-)
 
Old 02-04-2009, 02:38 AM
James
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

Grant Edwards <grante <at> visi.com> writes:


> Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's describe as a system
> similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
> The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
> better performance because all executables are optimized for
> exactly the right instruction set.
> is practically nil in real-world usage.

Not true. You can eliminate many non-essential portions of a compiled
program, via use flag and the freedom you get to select software, as
opposed to other distros. Smaller executables are usually always faster.


One *BIG* difference is when the GPUs on video cards are used as co-processors
on systems. ATI and Nv are working on making general purpose "C" languages
for programs to take advantage of the power of the GPU. Look for Gentoo
to beat the other distros, by the very nature of how it compiles code
for everything. It's an approaching revolution, and thats is where AMD
is going to slaughter Intel......


Bet on Gentoo, in this area, smoking even Microsoft!


Cheers,



James
 
Old 02-04-2009, 05:17 AM
Grant Edwards
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

On 2009-02-04, James <wireless@tampabay.rr.com> wrote:
> Grant Edwards <grante <at> visi.com> writes:
>
>> Whenever I see a write-up of Gentoo, it's described as a system
>> similar to BSD "ports" where you build packages from source.
>> The main benefit claimed for this approach is that you get
>> better performance because all executables are optimized for
>> exactly the right instruction set. is practically nil in
>> real-world usage.
>
> Not true. You can eliminate many non-essential portions of a
> compiled program, via use flag and the freedom you get to
> select software, as opposed to other distros. Smaller
> executables are usually always faster.

You're right, that's another big advantage: you can control
what features get included/enabled in an application. Leaving
out features you don't use makes a big difference in many
applications load/startup times and library dependancies. For
example, leaving out the Gnome and/or KDE support in some apps
makes a pretty big difference. If you only use mutt with
"mbox" formatted mailboxes, you can leave out imap, ssl, pop,
and maildir support.

But that wasn't what I was talking about, and AFAICT that's not
what reviewers are talking about when they talk about adjusting
compiler flags to optimize performance. They seem to be talking
about building for Athlon instead of P4 (or vice-versa).
Perhaps I've always completely misunderstood the articles I've
read, and they were indeed talking about USE flags that control
options passed to "configure" and not about things like gcc's
-march and -O options.

> One *BIG* difference is when the GPUs on video cards are used
> as co-processors on systems. ATI and Nv are working on making
> general purpose "C" languages for programs to take advantage
> of the power of the GPU. Look for Gentoo to beat the other
> distros, by the very nature of how it compiles code for
> everything.

That would indeed be interesting.

--
Grant
 
Old 02-04-2009, 05:58 AM
Alan McKinnon
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

On Wednesday 04 February 2009 01:48:34 Nikos Chantziaras wrote:
> So all in all, I agree. *Using Gentoo is nowadays not so much a matter
> of performance optimization but of better control of how to build the
> packages and the rolling release nature (I'm tired of major updates
> every 6 months in the majority of binary distros.) *I also like the USE
> flags which let me chose how to build something and get rid of
> dependencies I don't need. *Administrative features like dispatch-conf
> are also very useful.

This is the main benefit of Gentoo for me. I have to use SuSE or RHEL at work
for the database machines - Sybase will not support any other other distro -
and the 1G+ base install from those distros drive me nuts. Contrast that with
the DNS caches which run FreeBSD, the difference is about a factor of 5 if
not more.

I also get sick and tired of installing postfix on a database machine purely
to send nagios alerts, and watching the distro "helpfully" want to pull in
PostgreSQL, MySQL, LDAP, SASL, Courier and some fancy MTA-switcher thingy.
All because the maintainer enables those features and now I gotta have them.

No thanks. Rather give me USE so I say what goes on the box.

--
alan dot mckinnon at gmail dot com
 
Old 02-04-2009, 06:27 AM
Christopher Walters
 
Default Gentoo's advantage: "optimized for your system" -- huh?

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA512

Alan McKinnon wrote:
> On Wednesday 04 February 2009 01:48:34 Nikos Chantziaras wrote:
>> So all in all, I agree. Using Gentoo is nowadays not so much a matter
>> of performance optimization but of better control of how to build the
<snip>
> I also get sick and tired of installing postfix on a database machine purely
> to send nagios alerts, and watching the distro "helpfully" want to pull in
> PostgreSQL, MySQL, LDAP, SASL, Courier and some fancy MTA-switcher thingy.
> All because the maintainer enables those features and now I gotta have them.
>
> No thanks. Rather give me USE so I say what goes on the box.

I'd have to agree. The main advantage of Gentoo over binary distributions is
that it is a great deal more configurable than any of the major binary
distributions. *I* choose, through USE flags, what I want to be pulled in,
compiled and merged. I have tried Debian, *BSD, Ubuntu, SuSE, RedHat, Fedora
Core, and others. I have found them to be bloated and slower, compared to
Gentoo (any time you have to pull in over 500 binary packages to install a
single package, there is definite bloat).

I will mention that the performance optimizations for Gentoo mainly lie in the
kernel configuration (the binary distributions compile just about everything
you can imagine into their kernels), and in fine tuning the USE flags, so you
you don't pull in anything you neither want nor need, thus limiting bloat. JMHO.

Regards,
Chris
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