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Joined: 05 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:06 am    Post subject: Gentoo on ibook G4 Reply with quote

Hi -

Half a year ago I bought an ibook (G4, 800 MHz).
I still believe that Apple's computers are of high quality but one thing I was unaware of is the slowness of the powerpc compared to Intel processors. A typical intel procesor nowadays comes with around 2 GHz cpu frequency or more. Now I am sure Apple would argue that cpu frequencies - while relevant- cannot be compared if the chips in question have totally different architectures. I think Steve Jobs also said something like this when Apple introduced the G5 last year. Of course, he was promoting the G5. They did some comparisons, between a G5 and an Intel Xeon processor. The point is - they very carefully chose applications like Photoshop at which Apple excels. If I remember correctly, they also hired some independent (?) company to do a benchmark test - somewhere I saw a thread where people raised questions about this test. At any rate, based on all of this my understanding is this : for certain apps like Photoshop Apple powerpc 's do a very good job ( especially the new G5), but when it comes to pure performance, the more recent Intel processors beat Apple.

I am using latex a lot and I noticed that a 70 page latex document ( with a lot of xypic-diagrams in it) compiles fairly slowly on my ibook. I am using Mac OsX 10.3.5. When invoked from within Emacs ( Carbon Enhanced Emacs), the compilation takes about 25 seconds, when invoked from an xterm in Apples's X11 it takes about 14 seconds. When I ssh into our department's server running linux ( I believe Suse 9.1) the same compilation takes about 3 seconds. Of course, the server is based on a faster processor , I believe an amd 64.

So, I have the following options :

1) use shh ( this means I am using another computer to do the compilation)

2) just be content with the fact that the compilation takes about 15 seconds - it's not the end of the world.

3) buy a new computer with a fast processor, something like a Pentium 4 3 GHz proceesor and install Gentoo Linux on it


4) I could split my hard drive ( 40 Gb) into two parts of 20 Gb each and install Panther on one partition and Gentoo on the other.

Questions :


would 4) yield any significant increases in speed of a latex compilation as described. I mean, the proceesor frequency would still be 800 Mhz, no matter what. I tried various ways of installing tetex for Mac OsX - Gerben Wierda's i-installer, fink, and darwinports. latex via darwinports is the fastest of the three ( for that 70 page document mentionend earlier, all three of them take about 13.5 seconds). The technology behind darwinports is perhaps not so different from portage. darwinports also compiles from source as does fink (?). However, perhaps if the entire os was compiled for optimal performance like in Gentoo, that might speed things up. I am wondering how may of you are using latex under Gentoo on i-books - or perhaps powerbooks ? If you have been using TeX in MacOsX AND Gentoo - is their any difference in speed ?
( what realy slows down the compilation is xy-pic - for those who are familiar with latex and wo are wondering... If the document has only 10 pages or so, the compilation is over in a second, but for a document with more than 90 xymatrices things begin to slow down...)

second question :

b) suppose I decide to give Gentoo Linux a try - how many of you have successfully installed Gentoo on an ibook with an 800 MHz G4 proceesor ?
I searched the web and references for this particular setup are rare.
I found one japanese web-page,though :wink: . So if anyone here is using Gentoo on an ibook - my question is this : judging from this forum, it seems that there are quite a few problems with getting the keyboard, GL aceleration, airport extreme, sound and so on to work. In fact, airport extreme probably doesn't work (?). Could you describe the status-quo ? It seems that Gentoo provides more support for the x86 architecture.

I am aware of the fact - since this is the Gentoo Linux form for the PPC - that many here probably decided to give Gentoo a try. But perhaps not everyone. I could imagine that some are, like me, playing with the idea of installing Gentoo but need some convincing.

So first question is latex-specific- would gentoo speed up latex ?,
second question is about gentoo on ppc, in general.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.
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Joined: 04 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lets continue the discussion here.
"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."
-Oskar Wilde
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