Open Source Insider

Mar 18 2011   11:18AM GMT

Superzapping desktop Linux for a 10x speed boost

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater


Right at the end of last year, Linux developer Mike Galbraith created a patch just 233 lines long that was designed to improve the scheduler inside the Linux kernel. The result of this patch is intended to produce a reduction in latency for desktop versions of Linux.

The superzapping effect of these tweaks and refinements are generally believed to lead to what will be a 10x speed boost for desktop Linux.

Even Linus Torvals was excited, “BTW, let me say that I think the patch is great,” he said, also commenting that he thought it looked clean and it seems to perform very much as advertised.

Well, it was his idea in the first place.

Tux 2.jpg

Although reports detailing the onward implementation and wider deployment of this patch are more limited, the justification for addressing latency in desktop Linux is very reasonable and makes interesting reading.

Linux itself has often been criticised for being so server-centric with a large proportion of the new innovations being directed at enterprise level requirements and issues.

This is argued to be down to the fact that the Linux kernel is optimised for throughput and this is a good thing if in server land – but not so integral to the needs of the desktop.

Desktop environments on the other hand love latency (needed for scrolling web pages, moving windows around etc.) and Linux has never been as tuned for latency as it has for throughput and – and here is the bad news – latency and throughput are relatively mutually exclusive.

Mike Galbraith’s patch has been heralded as being capable of cutting desktop latency by a factor of ten. So if you have been balking at the thought of desktop Linux for your home or work PC, now may be the time to think again.

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