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mathey
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:17 am    Post subject: Gentoo on ibook G4 Reply with quote

( I corrected some typos)


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 75 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

or

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 :

a)

would 4) yield any significant increases in speed of a latex compilation as described. I mean, the procecessor 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 75 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 many 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 really slows down the compilation is xy-pic - for those who are familiar with latex and who 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 acceleration, airport extreme 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 forum 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.


Last edited by mathey on Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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pindar
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, long posting, but maybe I can help with some points. First off: I do have gentoo double-boot installations on a G4 and a G5, not on an ibook though. I work with TeX a lot (thought typically with ConTeXt, not LaTeX). I tried both under OS X and gentoo, and the gentoo installation is significantly faster. It is also true that the processor speed matters a lot: long documents that compile in something like 20 seconds on my G5 (ConTeXt is a lot slower than LaTeX) will take 120-180 seconds on my ibook G3 700. Nevertheless, I gave up on using TeX on gentoo. I found Gerben Wierda's i-Installer so priceless for keeping everything up to date and installing all kinds of additional packages; doing all of this by hand in Linux just made me sick and tired. I could emerge the tetex ebuild, but when I tried to install TeXLive from a DVD, it wouldn't compile. And tetex just misses a couple of important packages (utf-8 inputenc and the memoir class, to name but a few). SO: if you are happy with a vanilla TeX installation and don't need many additional packages, you might gain some speed by running TeX under linux. Don't expect too much, though; your processor speed will still be a limiting factor.

As for your second question: given that I don't use an iBook G4, I'm not an expert here. I think that Airport extreme isn't working. And in general, support for the ppc platform is less perfect than for x86. So if you absolutely need a system that will be perfectly usable, gentoo ppc might not be a good solution. On my G5, I managed to get many things working (printing, scanning, X.org 6.7), but some took me quite a while, and some still refuse to work (keyboard problems in Open Office, no sound). But then, I still have a perfectly fine OS X system on which everything works; gentoo is just for learning how linux works and testing new software.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-- I just realized that you double-posted your message. Since this version already got an answer, lets use this thread. --

You could split your document, and only compile the part you are working on. You connect the parts by a "master-texfile", where you \input the parts and that you compile only when you need the whole document.

I wrote a 440 KB latex-file (lots of big \pictures, several thousand lines of code, ~40 pages) and it compiles in less than 2 seconds on my G3 iBook 800 MHz running Gentoo Linux. I do not use osx, so I cannot make a comparison.

Setting up Gentoo on an iBook is not harder than doing it on x86. The G3 model is perfectly supported. But there is no airport extreme driver. The reason is that Apple hides the specs. No other linux-distro has support for airport extreme, it is not a Gentoo-specific problem.
Sleep was also a problem on G4, but it got fixed IIRC.

As I indicated, my iBook is gentoo-only and I am perfectly happy.

There are quite a few G3 vs. G4 discussions in this forum, just search for it.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The reason is that Apple hides the specs.


Actually, I believe that Airport Extreme is by Broadcom, and it's Broadcom that will not release the specs. I don't think Apple has the rights to release them even if they wanted to.

~Michael
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I wrote my full thesis on my iBook G3 700MHz running Gentoo Linux.

It takes about 4 seconds of human time (if you exclude bibtex, running twice etc.):
1.967u 0.107s 0:03.56 57.8% 0+0k 0+0io 0pf+0w

Its 150 pages with about 20 eps figures. I have no clue how it compares with your document.

I always found OS X very slow. Never did any LaTeX on it though.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

servobf wrote:
Actually, I believe that Airport Extreme is by Broadcom, and it's Broadcom that will not release the specs. I don't think Apple has the rights to release them even if they wanted to.


Quite right. In fact, the specs for (as far as I know the only) 802.11g chip are not known in the x86 world either, so 802.11g will not work in Linux at all.

As for LaTeX, my PhD thesis (some 200 pages, about ten Postscript figures) typesets in 2.896u 0.065s 0:07.61 38.7% 0+0k 0+0io 0pf+0w on my 667MHz G4 Tibook running Gentoo. I have never really used Mac OS so I cannot compare with it.

    [rant]The following is my very personal opinion, feel free to ignore or disagree. I am sort of sick of hearing that the PPC platform is not well supported. Except for the proprietary applications that are Flash and Acrobat Reader (the latter useful to fill in PDF forms) I cannot see any real difference between the level of support of the PPC platform compared to x86. Oh yeah, true, Nvidia chips are supported by binary-only, x86 drivers, but then who would want to use Nvidia anyway given that ATI chips are much better supported under Linux. I have a G4 Tibook, a dual G5, a Powermac 7300, and a Pentium IV; they all run Gentoo and do so exceedingly well--I am not seeing a real difference between them. The G5 does run circles around all the other machines, including the Pentiun IV.[/rant]

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servobf
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 1:27 am    Post subject: ar Reply with quote

Quote:
[rant]The following is my very personal opinion, feel free to ignore or disagree. I am sort of sick of hearing that the PPC platform is not well supported. Except for the proprietary applications that are Flash and Acrobat Reader (the latter useful to fill in PDF forms) I cannot see any real difference between the level of support of the PPC platform compared to x86. Oh yeah, true, Nvidia chips are supported by binary-only, x86 drivers, but then who would want to use Nvidia anyway given that ATI chips are much better supported under Linux. I have a G4 Tibook, a dual G5, a Powermac 7300, and a Pentium IV; they all run Gentoo and do so exceedingly well--I am not seeing a real difference between them. The G5 does run circles around all the other machines, including the Pentiun IV.[/rant]


Well put, especially with Gentoo. You build (almost) everything from source, there's not even much of a lag between works on x86, works on ppc. And to hear how hard it is to get wireless and otherthings working on my friends x86 laptops with their random screen sizes, and wireless cards, I think it's probably better supported in some respects, or at least more focused.

~Michael
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

servobf wrote:
Quote:
The reason is that Apple hides the specs.


Actually, I believe that Airport Extreme is by Broadcom, and it's Broadcom that will not release the specs. I don't think Apple has the rights to release them even if they wanted to.

~Michael


ok, so I reformulate it:
Apple decided to buy the Airport Extreme adapters from a company that hides the specs.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it interesting that there are this many of us who use TeX on Gentoo PPC. I'm not doing a thesis, but I write smaller reports using LaTeX and LyX (although I'm starting to learn AUCTeX at work).

Is there any interest in an ebuild for the IEEE BibTeX and LaTeX files? Does anybody already have one?

mathey: If your document can be compiled using just the classes which come with tetex, I would be happy to time it for you on my 1GHz iBook.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

toojays wrote:
I find it interesting that there are this many of us who use TeX on Gentoo PPC. I'm not doing a thesis, but I write smaller reports using LaTeX and LyX (although I'm starting to learn AUCTeX at work).

Do learn AUCTeX. It maybe has a steep learning curve, but once you get hold of it you will never look back (especially under XEmacs). If you are a beginner with LaTeX, you may want to install and use the ``preview'' Emacs (XEmacs only?) package to have a WYSIWYG interface (later you will find this useless except for the most obscure typesetting needs, but then you can always disable it later). LyX is adequate for a starter but sooner or later you will stumble upon its defficiencies.
Quote:
Is there any interest in an ebuild for the IEEE BibTeX and LaTeX files? Does anybody already have one?

I had never really bothered with this one, I just dumped the files into some directory (say ~/tex) and set the TEXINPUT variable accordingly (e.g., to ~/tex:).
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments.
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