Laying down the glove to the ricers

Hans Fugal hans at
Mon Sep 11 09:14:47 MDT 2006

On Mon, 11 Sep 2006 at 08:51 -0600, Alex Esplin wrote:
> On 9/11/06, Hans Fugal <hans at> wrote:
> >Ok, I'm going to call your bluff. Gentoo is a lot of things, but less
> >resource intensive is not one of those things. Oh, you were talking
> >about the times when you're _not_ recompiling everything? Ok, let's
> >think it over.
> Definitely when not recompiling everything.  Once my gentoo systems
> are up and running everything I need, you can go a goodly while
> without recompiling everything

But you still have to recompile whenever you want to update stuff. But
that's a choice you make and I was mostly taking a fun jibe. I
personally am way too impatient to wait for things to recompile every
time I want to update.
> >Linux is Linux, and the software you run is the software you run. I dare
> >you to demonstrate a human-noticeable speedup in boot time or
> >minimalistic operating system setup that is due to compiler flags; I
> >believe you would fail.
> I wasn't talking about a human-noticeable speedup due to compiler
> flags, just that he might get a slightly smaller installed base by
> using -Os instead of -O2 which is what I would assume the default is
> for most binary distros

Slightly, perhaps. But why assume binary distros use -O2 by default? In
any case the marginal savings will be more than dwarfed by the
difference of number of packages installed.

> >The alternative then is that you believe gentoo
> >has more streamlined startup scripts. Maybe gentoo does the parallel
> >startup stuff and gets you a prompt before all your daemons are started.
> That's the main thing I was inferring to.  By default Gentoo starts
> only those daemons that are _absolutely_ necessary for the kernel to
> run when it boots.  You then tell Gentoo which additional daemons you
> want it to start at boot time (or any other runlevel you want).

Well that's not an enhanced startup system, but just a minimalist
install. Any distro will let you enable or disable daemons.
> >If so I commend gentoo. I think that's where we're all headed and I wish
> >we'd get there sooner than later. Maybe gentoo just has fewer installed
> >packages by default and therefore starts quicker because fewer daemons
> >start.
> As above, my gentoo system usually ran about a third to half as many
> processes as my Ubuntu desktop system did, running the same window
> managers (this is not a comparison between Gnome and Fluxbox).

Oh, but you're talking about Ubuntu Desktop here. Quite a different
beast, I believe. Once you're running X you've long passed the
minimalist installation anyway. Those extra processes are doing things,
and its those things that makes Ubuntu what it is. I've never used
Ubuntu Server, but I imagine it takes a quite different approach (or it
wouldn't be called Server).
> >I've never done an ubuntu server nor a gentoo install, but I
> >know it's really easy to disable or remove the daemons you don't want in
> >a Debian-based distro (not as easy to disable as it should be, but no
> >harder than any other distro in my experience either). Any admin worth
> >his salt will take stock of what daemons are being started and adjust
> >that to his needs anyway.
> I wouldn't consider myself necessarily an "admin worth his salt" and I
> don't know what some of the daemons are and therefore haven't been
> adventurous enough to kill them as I need a working system during
> school.

And that's ok. If you do want to become a professional admin, take the
time to walk through pstree someday and figure out just what each
process is doing. It's a very instructive process.

But, didn't you say above that you have to explicitly enable daemons in
gentoo? I'm a bit confused there.

> >So, why in the world do you believe gentoo is less resource intensive?
> >You can partially restore my faith with the enhanced startup scripts
> >argument (if it's true), but once it's booted one won't be noticeably
> >more or less resource intensive than the other.
> Because of the reduced number of processes running as noted above that
> in Ubuntu I haven't gotten around to teaching myself which ones (for
> the most part) I want to turn off and how to do so.  I may be a little
> out of touch here but it would seem that a system running 60 processes
> would use less resources than one running 120 or so.

That depends entirely on which processes they are, of course, but in
general it's a good guess. 

So, it seems we've cleared up the confusion. Your assertion is that
gentoo consumes fewer resources because it has fewer daemons
installed/running. If the precondition is true, your conclusion is
probably true. I have no experience with running gentoo or ubuntu
server, so I can't say how those two compare. But I do happen to have a
fresh debian system in vmware, where I didn't select any additional
daemons. I have 34 processes running, and that could easily be cut down
to 27 if I cared to do a little daemon cleanup (it's running nfs stuff
and hald/dbus stuff that may or may not be useful). As for RAM,
according to free that system is using 128 kilobytes of RAM (and no
swap). I'd say it's pretty lean on resources. Of course when you set the
box up to actually do something useful then you'll have more RAM usage,
but that's the base installation.

Hans Fugal ;
There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the 
right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
    -- Johann Sebastian Bach
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