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Linux MInt/Ubuntu users, it's time to shift your OS into Overdrive!


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#1 cat1092

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 04:25 AM

While there are a few things on the page I'm going to link with instructions, the two that we're going to be concerned about are Preload & TMPFS (the first & last two in the list). 

 

What these will do, especially for those with extra, unused RAM, is take it, & supercharge your system by placing your most frequently used applications in RAM. Which is faster than the fastest of the consumer oriented HDD & SSD's. 

 

Preload will usually never need any configuration on the user's end, will silently do it's job in the background, and if one doesn't know how to configure it for a special need, ask. Otherwise, if your system receives a boost from installing it, may be best to leave alone. It's covered well in the page I'm linking, so I don't have anything to add. 

 

The second (TMPFS), which I applied first, is the one where loads temporary files directly to RAM, in effect creating what's known as a RAMDisk in Windows, only this is better, and so far, I've had to do no extra configuration. This is also the one that really throws one's computer into OverDrive, making it faster than ever. It was evident to me after the first & required reboot, I reopened Google Chrome, and the Restore option showed to reload the pages, no more spinning of pages to load, all was there near instant, and I'm speaking of what was over 20 tabs. Before this, many would sit there & spin for minutes. 

 

Before I go further, here's the page with the details. Written 2.5 years ago, the same principle applies today & these aren't gimmicks, as can be seen in the link below the first one with performance charts. 

 

http://www.yourownlinux.com/2013/05/speed-up-computers-running-ubuntulinux.html

 

http://www.hecticgeek.com/2013/05/using-preload-ubuntu-13-04/

 

Some of the others may be also helpful, many of us are already reducing Swappiness to 10, being that I have an SSD, mine's set at 1. While I haven't used ZRAM, have read in a few places where it can help those with very low spec systems. 

 

So to sum it up, to install Preload, it's as simple as this:

 

 

 

sudo apt-get install preload

 

And to install TMPFS, depending on if one's running Ubuntu or Linux Mint (this is a critical choice & easy to do), if there's a # key already there in gedit or pluma, keep in mind to post the two lines below that one, these can be copy/pasted in a single operation. Be sure to Save the file before closing & rebooting under the File tab. 

 

 

 

Ubuntu- sudo gedit /etc/fstab 

Linux Mint-  sudo pluma /etc/fstab

Insert following two lines at the end of the file, Save and Reboot:

# Move /tmp to RAM
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noexec,nosuid 0 0 

 

Please read the linked pages & not just apply the above blindly. RAM usage will increase, yet if one has 4 or more GB (more will be needed for running games & VM's), that's enough for a base 64 bit configuration, mine was still under 4GB of usage (no Swap), with over 20 Google Chrome tabs open. We all know how heavy of a browser that is with just 4-5 open pages, 20 is a massive amount for some computers to handle, some 64 bit computers cannot handle that many, hopefully these tweaks will help. Since I cannot verify if these main two tweaks works with 32 bit computers, am not going to say if these works or not, though ZRAM does with those with 1GB or less installed RAM. 

 

 

cat@cat-XPS-8700 ~ $ cat /proc/meminfo

MemTotal:       32897028 kB
MemFree:        28249824 kB
MemAvailable:   29697244 kB
Buffers:           69752 kB
Cached:          1703072 kB
SwapCached:            0 kB
Active:          3384400 kB
Inactive:         927148 kB
Active(anon):    2545236 kB
Inactive(anon):   189608 kB
Active(file):     839164 kB
Inactive(file):   737540 kB
Unevictable:        8600 kB
Mlocked:            8600 kB
SwapTotal:       4226556 kB
SwapFree:        4226556 kB
Dirty:               116 kB
Writeback:             0 kB
AnonPages:       2547548 kB
Mapped:           507404 kB
Shmem:            192628 kB
Slab:             121648 kB
SReclaimable:      79320 kB
SUnreclaim:        42328 kB
KernelStack:       11488 kB
PageTables:        48136 kB
NFS_Unstable:          0 kB
Bounce:                0 kB
WritebackTmp:          0 kB
CommitLimit:    20675068 kB
Committed_AS:    8161464 kB
VmallocTotal:   34359738367 kB
VmallocUsed:      164508 kB
VmallocChunk:   34359563260 kB
HardwareCorrupted:     0 kB
AnonHugePages:    323584 kB
CmaTotal:              0 kB
CmaFree:               0 kB
HugePages_Total:       0
HugePages_Free:        0
HugePages_Rsvd:        0
HugePages_Surp:        0
Hugepagesize:       2048 kB
DirectMap4k:      239724 kB
DirectMap2M:     7049216 kB
DirectMap1G:    27262976 kB
cat@cat-XPS-8700 ~ $ 
 

 

Have fun with your now supercharged Linux Mint/Ubuntu loaded computer! :guitar:

 

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#2 myrti

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 05:10 AM

Hi,

as you may know linux always tries to use all your RAM, even without tempfs & preload, the RAM is used for caching data by default. So by adding these kind of settings, you're reducing the space which can be used for caching which can slow down the machine.

Let me add that preload only really makes sense for applications that you open & close a lot. For me, it makes little sense for example, because I only start my applications once during boot and then there's not really much sense in me waiting 2s longer during boot but getting firefox to open 2s faster and loose RAM to the firefox preload data being held there even though I won't use that again.
If you have to restart certain programs constantly though, then it makes sense, because you'll save those 2s every time you start the application.


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#3 NickAu

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 05:27 AM

 

If you have to restart certain programs constantly though, then it makes sense, because you'll save those 2s every time you start the application.

 

i5 8GiB ram 256GiB SSD and its not even 2 seconds


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#4 mremski

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 07:46 AM

Most of the modern *nix system have /tmp on a tmpfs in ram.  This is a good thing from a security perspective because you wipe out /tmp everytime you boot.  Since by it's nature /tmp is writeable/readable by everyone, it's a convienient dumping ground for bad things.

 

Preload can sometimes get in the way when programs/libraries get updated:  when you update firefox executable and libraries, you may have just invalidated any work that preload just did :)

 

As pointed out above, Linux kernel will try to use all of your ram.  There are differing schools of thought on RAM, some think "I need to have X% headroom": basically leave some percentage free "in case of emergency".  Other side is "Unused RAM is a waste of money and power".  What the kernel does is expand the in memory disk cache;  you read stuff off of the disk, a copy is stored in buffer cache.  Next time you read the same section of the disk, kernel only has to go to memory (reads flow from device to buffers, writes from buffers to device).  I think most will agree that modern DDR3 is faster than spinning media and probably a lot of SSDs.  The downside of expand to use all free RAM is what happens when you are using most of it and you need some, because you started a new program?  Well the kernel starts to flush the oldest buffers to the device (if needed) and then free that memory up.  If it needs to, it copies some out to swap (think of swap as physically backed really slow memory).  Last resort is the notorious OOM Killer;  a chunk of code that looks to terminate the biggest memory users in order to free up memory.  It does it's job, but sometimes picks the wrong guy to kill (X server can be a big memory user).

 

My opinion (if you've made it this far without falling asleep): coming from the embedded world I always like to see some free RAM but I don't get concerned if there's a lot "in use": as long as I can understand what's using it.  As to the tmpfs and preload;  tmpfs makes sense even on a 2GB system.  I'm ambivalent on preload since the kernel covers a lot of the same thing, and as pointed out above, if you are starting, stopping the same set of applications it may help, if you boot your system, start 5 apps and leave it running for years, preload is a waste of resources.

 

But thanks to cat for pointing the options out, makes for good discussions.


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#5 cat1092

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 08:01 AM

If that little bit of extra RAM is going to make 20+ pages reload in an instant, whereas before some took minutes after a reboot, then it's worth the effort to me. 

 

Had I seen no improvement when enabling both, though TMPFS was installed first, I'd not have created this Topic. We all know how much of a RAM hog that Google Chrome is, and slow loading of multiple pages, if it can fix that, it's good for me to keep installed. 

 

Though I have another computer with Ubuntu MATE that I'm going to try this on, it has 6GB RAM total & uses less than 2GB. My point being, the RAM is there to be used, 4GB doing nothing is not good, especially if that computer has a slower CPU, hopefully this will force the RAM to carry more of the load. There are many of these underpowered computers as far as CPU goes, yet has 6-8GB RAM available & using 2-3GB tops. Force it to carry the load if the CPU cannot. 

 

Will install this on Ubuntu MATE 15.10 64 bit, on my Dell Optiplex 740 with a AMD Athlon X2 4850e (I believe 2.6GHz), a 120GiB HDD & 6GB DDR2 PC2-6400 RAM. Google Chrome tends to load & run slow on it, though it's using only a third of available RAM. So what if it uses 5GB, if it'll load several Web pages faster, it's done it's job, as far as I'm concerned. 

 

I'd like to hear from members whom has tried this & reports back with the results, to help give us the information we need to help determine if these are useful. Though one limitation is that it loads more used apps faster, rather than those used less often. And not everyone on this forum has fast SSD's, an abundance of RAM, or a large, fast CPU. These are the users I'm hoping this will help the most, mainstream ones, the users the linked pages were targeted towards. 

 

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#6 mremski

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 08:28 AM

Cat,  I'm not discounting your results.  I'm guessing it was mostly due to the tmpfs not the preload, but either way, doesn't matter.  You saw positive results;  I was just pointing out some details of how things work at the lower level and why some people may not see an improvment.

 

It does help point out an old rule of thumb I learned a long time ago:

If you have to choose, chose more physical memory over a faster cpu or faster hard drive.  You get more bang for your buck.


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#7 myrti

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 08:41 AM

Hi,

I think that this basic assumption here is wrong:

it has 6GB RAM total & uses less than 2GB. My point being, the RAM is there to be used, 4GB doing nothing is not good.

As an example, our server at work currently uses 15GB out of 64 according to htop, but if you use the more accurate command "free" it'll show you that actually 50GB are used:

total: used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 64187 50451 13735 0 268 35047
-/+ buffers/cache: 15134 49052
Swap: 32767 11 32756

This is because the buffers fill the RAM with all the files that are useful for the operating system to have cached, reducing access time much more than, for example, if you write a temporary file to RAM than to the hard drive.


If you're running Linux, then it's always using the 6GB RAM out of the 6GB of RAM you have. There's nothing 'empty'. The 4GB that are shown as "unused" are not unused, but contain cached data to increase the speed of accessing it. It's already doing what you do for tempfs but for "normal data" rather than temporary data and that's why I was saying that if you have limited RAM, it may slow down the PC rather than increase its speed.
This is because you're adding more uses for the RAM and thereby reduce the amount of cached data. So instead of the OS caching the files it accesses a lot, you're now using the RAM for the temporary log files some program wrote out once and that never gets accessed again.

It may not be the best use of your RAM, especially if it's low. In the same way, caching those chrome tabs may be nice for the start of chrome. But how often do you restart chrome? And how strongly do you notice the 200MB of RAM you're missing now that are constantly occupied by those pages in case you want to restart chrome again in the future. If you are low on RAM, these 200MB will be noticeable and slow you down significantly. Particularly in cases where you don't have so much RAM (and I would count 4GB to that)




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#8 Captain_Chicken

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 11:05 AM

Great tutorial! Now I know what to do with all 16gb of ram!

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#9 pcpunk

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 07:20 PM

Really because I am just more confused now lol.  Well, not really, but now we have some controversy here so maybe am a little confused.

 

@cat, I do use Preload, and feel that it works...especially for LibreOffice which I use often.  I also use a lot of the same software quite often so though this would be a good program to run, installed about a month ago and all working good so far.

I won't need tmpfs as I only have 4GB of RAM.  I appreciate that it works for you but am now not sure about it after reading myrti's Post.  Again though, I see you have had great success and sometimes that is all that matters, and, could it be different for Home users as opposed to the Server?

 

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#10 cat1092

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 12:03 AM

Actually have had to clean install Linux Mint 17 (no point releases) because of a few undesirable effects these has caused, have been up all day working on this. 

 

Have installed TMPFS alone and not Preload, based on some of the comments in the Topic so far. Seems to have an effect like the RAPID app that ships with Samsung SSD's, which also uses up to 25% of available RAM to do it's thing, yet I find so far, that TMPFS outperforms RAPID on an SSD. Seriously, I don't understand how RAPID benefitted me, the only 'noticeable' difference was when running benchmarks, the numbers (even on a SATA-2 computer) would go through the ceiling. Yet benchmarks are not real world usage. 

 

So far, have found TMPFS to be the real deal, have never seen Google, for the 2nd straight night, reload all of the sudden closed pages so fast after a reboot, which today during my reinstall, had to do often. Prior, the tabs would spin sometimes for minutes, and it's not like I don't have a weak PC, I'd say that with a solid quad core i7, 32GB of DDR3 RAM & decent ISP speed for this area, this should be happening w/out me having to do anything. Yet it's not, the browser really doesn't perform better than the 1st gen i5 powered MSI notebook that was at one time my best computer, now it's third in line & I loaded Linux Mint on it for my wife. 

 

Just happened to be installing some thing from the Software Manager in the middle of this post, wow the blinding speed apps are getting installed, usually if 4 or 5, it would backlog, and often would just freeze, it never had the chance to get jammed like that when installing 7-8 apps. Have seen this happen on way too many Linux OS's (mine & others) to know, even assuming I may have jumped the gun on Preload, TMPFS is helping me perform tasks at speeds I've never reached. 

 

 

 

It may not be the best use of your RAM, especially if it's low. In the same way, caching those chrome tabs may be nice for the start of chrome. But how often do you restart chrome? And how strongly do you notice the 200MB of RAM you're missing now that are constantly occupied by those pages in case you want to restart chrome again in the future. If you are low on RAM, these 200MB will be noticeable and slow you down significantly. Particularly in cases where you don't have so much RAM (and I would count 4GB to that)

 

myrti, that's why in my OP, I reminded not to blindly install the apps, rather read the linked pages first. There's an app called ZRAM in the list (have a notebook of my own that may benefit from that one), as well as others to disable unneeded software from starting with the OS for those who needs as much freed resources as possible. Every computer is different & even among the very same model, the usage is different, there was at least one tip in the list to assist the majority of home users, and everyone's mileage will vary. One thing for certain that I believe we all can agree with, there's no software substitute that can outperform properly configured newer & more powerful hardware, and there's a lot of gimmicks on the market, free & paid. 

 

Had I thought this all to be gimmicks or smoke & mirrors, would have never created the Topic. The author had nothing to sell, same as many Linux journalists, are doing their part to assist others to make the most out of their hardware. There are some where the pages are loaded to the gills with ads which I avoid linking, the first link also had no-cost Linux guides available. Though by now, it would seem that many computer users to run an adblocker, regardless of the OS ran, this is a major cause of infections on the Windows OS's, clicking onto something too good to be true, or a legit looking ad that had Malware well hidden. 

 

 

 

In the same way, caching those chrome tabs may be nice for the start of chrome. But how often do you restart chrome? 

 

myrti, actually quite often, as I'm always messing around with my computers, frequently reinstalling OS's on some, and naturally making many changes requires a reboot to finish. Chrome is usually always open, usually with no less than a dozen pages, yet often as many as 25-30, and when I reboot, after signing back in, will always open Chrome first, and there'll be the Restore tab because I didn't close the browser. 

 

I cannot possibly count the number of times, even after my main PC has been rebooted for 25-30 minutes, that some of those tabs are still spinning (not loaded). For now, TMPFS has cured that situation. 

 

My wife is always asking me 'why are you working on those same computers over & over?', well it gives me something to occupy my mind that I'm interested in, and likely keeps me sane. Looking at 4 walls all of the time would be a boring life, and probably drive me nuts. :P

 

 

 

Cat,  I'm not discounting your results.  I'm guessing it was mostly due to the tmpfs not the preload, but either way, doesn't matter. 

 

mremski, I believe your guess is right, because right now, this is the fastest Linux install I've ever ran, and I feel fortunate to have ran across that first linked article. :thumbup2:

 

Another benefit for SSD users, the more shoved into RAM, the less writes to the drive. While many of today's SSD's are designed to outlast a HDD by a decade, if not longer, there are many low cost brands & models that can use the help. One example & a popular seller, are the Samsung 850 EVO versions. There's a reason why they're guaranteed 5 years less than the PRO version, this is because the total writes during the lifespan are half of the PRO model, these are cheaply built or 'entry level' SSD's. I have one of their earlier models in the 250GiB 840 EVO, and it's already showing signs of wear, the reason why Samsung released a software patch to correct a bad hardware issue. One thing on their side, it has only a 3 year warranty & they won't accept RMA's unless the SSD won't run at all. 

 

LInux Mint 17.1 wouldn't even install on that SSD, since Samsung doesn't support Linux on that particular model. We get what we pay for, 250GiB SSD's for $79.99 is just too cheap, though it wasn't that price when I got mine. I'll never again consider a Samsung what's a non-PRO version, unfortunately on the day that I purchased that bad model, there was also the same size Intel for the same price with 5 years of warranty. The mistake I made was in assuming (as has many others) that because it was Samsung branded, it had to be good. And yet my 2nd SSD purchased in 2012, still running quite well, is a 180GiB Intel 330 series, has given no troubles. 

 

At any rate, anything to help these lower grade SSD's will go some ways towards making the models run longer, even DDR2 RAM has the speed edge over consumer grade SSD's. Most Temp files are just that (to be later trashed), and if can be flushed with a reboot, then TMPFS is well worth installing. Because most of the cleaning tools for Linux can often do lots more harm than good. The largest example of this is BleachBit, which doesn't belong on a newbie's install. I've see more Linux installs torched with this than any other single tool available, and Computer Janitor isn't far behind, just less well known. 

 

Because I've been working on this PC all day & now half the night, won't get TMPFS installed on the Optiplex 740, hopefully can get to it in the next couple of days. There's still software to install on this one, as well as moving my virtual machines back over to my /home folder. Yet the bulk of my work is thankfully, done.  :thumbup2:

 

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#11 mremski

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 12:01 PM

Cat, good followup.  /tmp is used by a lot of different things on a running system, installing software is one that would use it heavily.   If you think about what happens when you are installing software, you go over the network, pull down the package (.deb, rpm, etc), install it, then delete the package.  Most of the package formats are tarballs behind some headers, so they get untarred into their final place.  The update managers (yum, ubuntu sw center) are probably verifying checksums/hashes on the downloaded file to ensure integrity.  That requires a place to hold them.

 

All of that is simply saying "/tmp is the temporary place.  /tmp in RAM is faster than /tmp on a SSD/HDD".


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#12 pcpunk

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 03:43 PM

Preload can sometimes get in the way when programs/libraries get updated:  when you update firefox executable and libraries, you may have just invalidated any work that preload just did :)

 

So you would suggest not to use Preload?  I don't really need it but it seems to help little.  I don't leave LibreOffice open all the time so I get (or think I get some better speed elsewhere) so that I can surf the web etc. and do other things faster.  And think it's really only helping Libre for me anyhow, most other stuff opens well enough.  I can always use AbiWord or leave Libre open I guess.


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#13 mremski

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 04:32 PM

 

Preload can sometimes get in the way when programs/libraries get updated:  when you update firefox executable and libraries, you may have just invalidated any work that preload just did :)

 

So you would suggest not to use Preload?  I don't really need it but it seems to help little.  I don't leave LibreOffice open all the time so I get (or think I get some better speed elsewhere) so that I can surf the web etc. and do other things faster.  And think it's really only helping Libre for me anyhow, most other stuff opens well enough.  I can always use AbiWord or leave Libre open I guess.

 

If it seems to helping you, go ahead and use it.  I was pointing out one potential downfall;  if you're not updating the programs that are preloaded, there's no negative interaction.

 

I guess my suggestion is if it's making a difference for you, use it.  If you can't tell if it's making a difference, turn it off.


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#14 pcpunk

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 04:34 PM

Okay!


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#15 cat1092

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 02:29 AM

Finally got a chance to install TMPFS only on the Optiplex 740 with Ubuntu MATE, and while I didn't see the same results as on this PC, it did run somewhat faster. Especially the Terminal, which I was using because that install wasn't (& still isn't) quite complete. 

 

Unfortunately, that PC doesn't benefit from a modern Intel quad core CPU & 32GB of RAM, only a AMD Athlon X2 4850e CPU with only a 1MB cache, and 6GB of DDR2 RAM. So any speed increase at all would help that PC, am going to install a HDD in there with a little more cache, the speed will be the same at 7200 rpm, I can at least double the cache by installing a HDD with 16 or 32MB installed. Not 100% sure what the current one has, though believe it's 8MB, and likely has the auto equivalent of 350,000 miles on it, as it was removed from a corporate environment, prior to me getting it for $29.99 shipped w/o an OS installed, yet the COA was still intact for Windows Vista Business. Which is why it'll run newer Linux releases, only slower. Was going to upgrade the CPU to a AM3 one that was Dell certified for that model (AMD Phenom), yet with the AM2 MB, would never see the potential of the upgrade. Maybe a 5-10% increase over what's in there, not worth $30-40 to find out, as I have needs for more current models & to save for my next PC, which will likely be the successor to the recently released XPS 8900. Being that mine (XPS 8700) made a near 2.5 year run, if the XPS 8900 makes a 2 year one, will by ready at time of release. 

 

The other unfortunate is that though the Optiplex 740 desktop edition supports SATA drives (SATA-2 ports), these are really nVidia glorified IDE ports, as I could use a Dell XP Pro install CD, which normally won't work on a true SATA MB, the install should stop at the point of selecting partitions to install on, rather the XP Pro install went through w/out the slipstreaming of drivers, though didn't use the OS. I suspect a Windows 2000 Pro install would also go through. 

 

nVidia never provided the proper (or as we know today) SATA infrastructure for these cheap MB's, being primarily a GPU vendor, tried to venture in the MB business & failed miserably, exiting around the time of the Windows 7 release. I have a similar type PC (only Intel based) from HP which did the same, though HP did offer a driver (through Intel) to make the computer work with select SSD's, that's where the Intel 330 SSD resides today. 

 

In regards to these types of ideas to speed things up, there's no 'one size fits all'. While I don't know if Preload helped me, do know that TMPFS did, and will be deploying it on all of my SSD equipped computers with Linux installs. I'd suspect it would benefit those with SATA-2 (& 1) MB's just as well as SATA-3 ones, if not more so, because these drives are already slowed by these past speeds. Again, while one's mileage may vary, those that has 8GB RAM (often the max for SATA-2 MB's) can benefit the most from placing their Temp files in RAM, which also dumps these at reboot or shutdown. 

 

Hopefully many will benefit in one or more of the speed tweaks in my OP, the next time I fire up the T42 Thinkpad with 2GB of DDR RAM, will have to check out ZRAM. Note that most all of these tips aren't new ones, rather opened for discussion again, as some new Linux users won't know these things if not brought up. Initially was going to place these in the Tutorial section, yet that would have prevented feedback from others, which was exactly what I was looking for. I felt that there were some long term Linux users onboard who would post, and there were.  :)

 

Cat


Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 





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