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Gentoo on a PB G3 Pismo (Firewire) - need your opinions
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owczi
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Joined: 27 Jul 2005
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Location: Koszalin, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject: Gentoo on a PB G3 Pismo (Firewire) - need your opinions Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I am a proud owner of a standard issue PowerBook G3 Pismo (G3 400mhz, 6gb hdd, 192 MB RAM), and currently running my favourite Linux distro (PLD Linux). Expressing it with no bad language - I suffer from lack of performance - I mean the box works damn slow... When some app works it's okay, but starting applications takes just too much time. I mean compared to mac os I had running on that box once. I must add I have only compiled my kernel from sources - all the rest from binary packages. Each and every single piece of hardware this box has is now configured and working - except for the ones that aren't supported - like tv-out or IRDA FIR mode. But it takes too much time to start up. I guess. So the system is working great, but just not as fast as I would like it to.

Therefore, I started thinking about Gentoo.

I would like to know is it worth at all for me to do a Stage 1 install on my box, and I have a few questions, and need some information:

(that is, preferably from owners of the same powerbook)

- how long does it take to boot your notebook (from pressing the power button to a logon screen - gdm is my case)?
- how long do these apps start up: firefox, openoffice?
- how long did you have to wait to have a full system running (mean all stages and installation of needed software)?
- some other arguments that would convince me to switch to Gentoo
- does the fact that I have a preemptible kernel affect the performance somehow?
- I am using kernel 2.6.11 with no problems, but I'm just about to upgrade it. When I tested a 2.4.some kernel, I found my box working much faster. Could it all be a matter of kernel?
- is ReiserFS a good choice? I'have used Reiser for a short time on my box and currently just forgot how good/bad it worked, now I'm on ext3.
- I suspect that the problem I have can be disk-related. The cpu usage just jumps up to 100% when I use disk. I remember that it worked faster on 2.4 kernel. I am using my good and tested hdparm flags so I can't blame these. Here's a test output:

Code:

[root@opium root]$ hdparm -tT /dev/hda

/dev/hda:
 Timing cached reads:   328 MB in  2.02 seconds = 162.72 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:   32 MB in  3.09 seconds =  10.35 MB/sec


Generally I guess I need suggestions on tweaking my box' performance rather than just 'switch to gentoo man!'.


Thanks for your attention ;] and thanks in advance for any feedback.

owczi
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Wojciech 'owczi' Owczarek
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btlee
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am using iBook g3-500, which is similar with yours except the amount of memory.
Actually, I have 640mb, whereas yours 192mb.
I think that your long booting time might be caused from the lack of memory.
It takes about two minutes to boot on my laptop.
Additionaly, your hard disk is a little small.
After making file system, your space will be under 6 gb.
If you use several application under gnome or kde,
the application and portage will comsume about 4 gb.
If i were you, i will install debian, and then i will use a lighter window manager,
such as windowmaker or icewm.
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owczi
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Joined: 27 Jul 2005
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Location: Koszalin, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for your reply.

Well my boot time is a little more than 2 minutes, so I gues it's all okay.

As to the window manager, I'm using XFCE (yeah, supposed to be slow but the attempt to use Gnome or KDE was a real nightmare, and xfce runs nice), . The ram is enough for me I think (that is, there is never enough RAM, I know, but I don't think this has impact on performance in my case), I almost don't touch the swap.

Bad thing is app startup time. Could you please check the time you need for firefox or openoffice to start?

If it just has to be like that on this box, there is no reason for me to change to Debian and configure the whole machine again.
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nokilli
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have Gentoo on a Pismo and it simply rocks.

I do what is being called the Jackass build, that is, you can start with a Stage 3, but then you do:
Code:
emerge -e system
emerge -e world
to get everything optimized for your machine (and which takes about three days to complete but you can use the system in the meantime of course).

I run Gnome 2.10 and it is very quick. I boot in under a minute, but sleep works so well that I only end up rebooting when rebuilding the kernel.

I have 512MB of RAM, but really, I think 192MB is more than enough. Used to have Gentoo on an iMac Rev. A with only 160MB and it rocked too.

I think the Pismo is the best laptop Apple has ever made. The things has lasted five years now, has excellent wireless, excellent battery life and good performance. I did have to replace the display a year ago or so, and I did replace the 20GB HD with a 60GB model, so that helps.

The extra space is handy for running MOL, which I must say, is absolutely amazing! MacOS 9 runs at least twice as fast under MOL; startup is easily less than one-fifth the time, shutdown is nearly instantaneous.

My only criticism is that it isn't really a game machine. No Unreal Tournament on this baby, which is just as well. Get more work done that way.
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owczi
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that's the post I've been waiting for!

Thanks, I'm soon going to start installing the damn thing :)


Yes, I have the same feeling that pismo is the true leet apple laptop, rock solid and good looking. the last one ;]. I don't use apple airport yet / for now running on a cisco aironet 340. My upgrades are on their way - G4/550 upgrade and a superdrive. and airport, and RAM.

Tell me, how long do your batteries last? I mean a new battery fully loaded, and normal work?
And how long can your pismo live on a full battery in sleep mode? Is it okay to keep carrying it around in sleep mode?

What kernel version are you currently using? Have you tried experimenting with software suspend?
Also, did you manage to get gplflash running? OR firefox in MOL?
And did you manage to get java applets working in firefox? Opera can do it cause it doesn't have to use the java plugin, while I guess firefox has to, and there are no recent linux ppc java netscape plugins.

And while the pismo won't run UT (that I've never liked), it runs quake2 perfectly nice ;]
and it runs Runescape - my favourite mmorpg which is heavy java.
No 24bit acceleration (reminds me of my old voodoo banshee card in my pc) and being too weak for watching DVDs smoothly sucks a little, but still, this box rocks.

now please gimme more and tell me how long does it take you to start firefox for the 1st time after reboot.


thanks again,


owczi
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nokilli
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Tell me, how long do your batteries last? I mean a new battery fully loaded, and normal work?


In Mac OS 9 I can get five hours out easy. OS X I seem to recall not being as good, maybe 3 1/2 hours. That may changed recently, as I haven't used recent versions on battery.

I have two batteries, so double the above times.

I have no idea how much time I'll get on Linux. I keep it tethered to the AC right now since I only use it in my bedroom, and haven't yet tweaked cpu power management, will have to play with it.

Quote:
And how long can your pismo live on a full battery in sleep mode? Is it okay to keep carrying it around in sleep mode?


Oh yeah. I've kept it in sleep for days on nothing but battery. It's very efficient that way (caveat, this is MacOS 9/OS X, can't speak to Linux just yet.)

Quote:
What kernel version are you currently using? Have you tried experimenting with software suspend?


The latest stable, which is 2.6.12-gentoo-r6. No, I can see doing that on a desktop but for a laptop that sleeps so well I don't see the need.

Quote:
Also, did you manage to get gplflash running? OR firefox in MOL?


Nope. Nope... but you can run MOL and still switch to Linux processes. Firefox on Linux is really as good as it gets, no?

Quote:
And did you manage to get java applets working in firefox? Opera can do it cause it doesn't have to use the java plugin, while I guess firefox has to, and there are no recent linux ppc java netscape plugins.


Yeah I don't think PPC Java plug-in is happening in our lifetimes. Ah! So that's probably a good reason to run Firefox under MOL! Got it. I'll have to give that a try.

You do of course have appletviewer. I'm developing a rather involved Java applet and, interestingly, I use Pismo to do this (have other machines I could pick.) I think it's interesting because Sun doesn't offer a VM for PPC, so I'm using IBM's, which I wasn't very excited about in the beginning, but after having used it a bit I have to tell you, this is one excellent VM. I guess it's comparable to Sun's on x86, but it just blows the crap out of the Sun VM that comes with OS X. The difference is night and day.

If you're doing Java stuff and you want to play around with compiling natively, remember to include the gcj USE flag. They don't really have swing or anything like that working yet but they do have java.nio, so, depending on what you're doing, you can get some really tremendous network performance.

That's all I do all day. emacs, ant, IBM's java, and gnome-terminal, all full-screen under Gnome. Oh yeah, and Firefox too. It's an excellent development environment.

Quote:
and being too weak for watching DVDs smoothly sucks a little, but still, this box rocks.


Haven't tried watching a DVD under Linux yet (I prefer using my desktop with the big 21" monitor for that) but under OS X DVD playback is excellent. And since you're getting a G4, I mean, you really shouldn't have any problems.

Quote:
now please gimme more and tell me how long does it take you to start firefox for the 1st time after reboot.


I'm not going to reboot for you but as I recall it's around 10 seconds, tops.

The key here of course is that you should end up rebooting very infrequently on this machine. When you rebuild the kernel, yeah OK, or as a last gasp in fixing a problem (did this for ALSA quite a bit, and wireless too a couple of times), but other than that, the laptop just sits there, asleep, and when you need it, you open it, and it's there.

It takes a few seconds to wake up... it prints stuff out on the screen, and then you have to sort of wake it out of the screensaver mode, whereas under OS X it's more instantaneous, but it's nothing major.

Have fun with it.
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