Thursday, August 16, 2007

PCLinuxOS Home Desktop Performance Tweaking

To a newbie Linux becomes little tedious, first, because it is not fully configured right after installation, and second, it is not fully loaded. PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and Mepis address these issues to desktop users. Let's discuss how to make our wonder kid, PCLinuxOS, jump with joy within minutes after installation.

  1. Remove the unnecessary desktop features: I reduced my virtual desktops to just one. That's enough for me. Besides, I removed clipper and other icons from desktop panel. As for the big desktop I removed the wallpaper and disabled screensaver. My PCLinuxOS got some boost after these changes.
  2. Remove The Eye Candy: After a week of my linux experience with PCLinuxOS in Compiz+Beryl enabled mode, I got bored of all those glitz (I wonder why many are after those 3D features, I am sure you will also get bored of those soon after). Then removed Beryl, Compiz and all the themes (except default PCLinuxOS theme). This time I got my system respond even faster.
  3. Disable GUI Effects: I disabled the GUI effects from KDE control center. They don't give you much eye-pleasing experience, but kill much of your RAM.
  4. Comment out unnecessary things from init: I edited /etc/innittab. Removed runlevels 2, 3 and 4. Now I have only 1, 5 and 6. Also, I removed all the gettys.
  5. Disable Unnecessary Services: Remove all those unnecessary services like nfs, atd, anacron, apmd (if your system is acpi capable), numlock. Choose which of the services you don't need and then remove/disable them.
  6. Remove unnecessary packages, programs and modules: I am using a desktop, I don't need those laptop features. So, I searched for laptop in the synaptic and removed them (cross-check for dependencies while removing any package inside synaptic, you might remove some important apps). I don't use any modem, firmware, printer, and my system is used only for home desktop purpose, it's not a server. Hence, I carefully removed all those stuff.
  7. Load PClinuxOS with proprietary stuff: I installed ntfs-3g, libdvdcss2, unrar and rar, win32codecs, realplayer, wordnet, xmms with wma codecs, antiword, vobcopy, xvidcap, vlc and avidemux. Now I feel my system is fully loaded. With these packages included to your PCLinuxOS, you will never need Windows XP in another partition of your hard drive.

If, after the above tweaks you found your system still unresponsive or slow, or you get a hissing sound from cpu fan, it's high time you cleaned your system hardware. The problem lies there.

What Drives Me Crazy for PCLinuxOS

PCLinuxOS ScreenshotLet me give you some background to my love-hate crazy thoughts about PCLinuxOS (PCLOS).

My linux experience dates back to 1999, when Linux as a desktop was not so much of a hoopla. We used RedHat 7 and Mandrake 5 or 6. My last Linux box was Fedora Core 6, until a lucky chance hit me, that's PCLinuxOS.

As DOS/Windows convert to Linux, I had much difficulties at the beginning. Because Linux just did not work the way I wanted it to, as it was oriented towards the developers and hobbyists, and for server purposes. But now the talk of the hour is Desktop OS and Desktop Linux for home users. In distrowatch everyday I find a dozen of desktop distros struggling to get better ranks. So far Ubuntu has been commanding the position at No. 1 and PCLinuxOS is a close second. But if there were a fairplay, there would have been a role reversal, i.e., Ubuntu in second position and PCLOS at first position. You might ask why, because much of the credit of Ubuntu owes to its Shipit program. Well, Ubuntu is also a great disto - cutting edge and stable. But my concern is a very usable and running-on-the-fly OS. And that's PCLinuxOS. Let's count the points why.

  1. Ease of Installation: I installed PCLinuxOS 2007 onto my PIV 2.66, VIA M24800 Motherboard, 512 MB RAM box in 10 minutes. Luckily enough the installation detected all the hardware and chips. Though later I had to configure it for my new Nvidia card.
  2. Fully Loaded Applications for Home Desktop Users: PCLOS installs almost 2GB of applications that home users will love to have. Its canon of apps are: OpenOffice 2.2, Gimp 2.2, Latest KDE apps+add-ons, Mplayer, Amarok, Kaffeine, DeVeDe, K3B, KTorrent, Frostwire, Samba, Firefox, Thunderbird and lot more.
  3. Proprietary Multimedia Support: I had no problem playing MP3 and DVD Video right away, though for some encrypted videos I needed libdvdcss2.
  4. Easy configuration: PCLinuxOS Control Center (PCC) is the most usable control panel I have ever come across in any OS (I mean all - windows, linux, Mac and BSD). It's often just a single click and you are done.
  5. A great repository of Software: The other day after installation of PCLinuxOS I wanted it to make a fully loaded system so that I can wipe out the blue devil - Win XP. Within 10 minutes I was able to install unrar, rar, win32codecs, ntfs-3g, xvidcap, xmms with wma codecs, libdvdcss2, pdfedit, wordnet, realplayer, avidemux, antiword, Vobcopy and VLC. Lo, I have it all - now I can play any DVD, copy any VCD (using vcdxrip that comes with VCDImager), dump lossless DVD using vobcopy, author video disks using Devede, encode any video using mencoder, look up words using wordnet, use ntfs disk drives using ntfs-3g, watch/listen any windows multimedia (as I have win32codecs installed), view/edit MS Office files using OpenOffice, even I can edit PDF files.
  6. Blazing speed: My PCLinuxOS had a moderate (in comparison to Windows) boot speed and application-response time. But after removing those Beryl+Compiz stuff and optimizing system services, it became a rocket. Now it boots in just 30 seconds.

PCLinuxOS Captured

I will discuss you about the full-story of PCLinuxOS home desktop tweaks later.

How about this