If you have been using Linux for a decade, you must have come across many news stories/blogs/forums/release notes stating "the latest kernel version promising some performance enhancements".
I have read news of performance improvement at every new kernel release - starting from kernel 2.2 to this date (kernel 2.6.31). These days some blog posts state that the latest 2.6.31 kernel will improve desktop performance greatly (40%). But I have never really experienced performance improvement with new kernels. For example, the boringly stable Centos 4 with 2.6.8 kernel is way too fast on my aging PIV HP system than the later Fedora or PCLOS, or anything. Besides, on my cheap Compaq C702 Notebook PCLinuxOS 2008 (MiniMe) with Kernel 2.6.22 is faster than PCLinuxOS 2009.2 with Kernel 2.6.26. There are hundreds of such examples.
So, drawing from 8 years of my Linux computing, I have seen the skinny Linux growing fatter and fatter, keeping in pace with the upcoming devices and demands. Sorry, if I am too dumb, but I always try a lower version of kernel if it supports my hardware, and I have seen it works better.
For me, it really pays a lot if you install a kernel that’s contemporary of your hardware. Any big time difference forward or backward affects performance, very often, badly.
Well, let’s see, if Kernel 2.6.31 can defy my view.