Sunday, May 21, 2006

Performance: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good

  • The latest Dapper betas are starting up GNOME with less than 95 MB of ram. This is really impressive. Everyone involved in this should feel really good about it.
  • I think we're making good progress in terms of startup memory usage in general. In the next round of distros, I'm willing to bet we can bring the GNOME startup cost to about 85 MB. This will result in startup time reductions for everyone (even those with 1 GB of ram) and will be very important for low-memory users

The Bad

  • My box wastes 3.4 mb of private dirty ram to load hpssd, some sort of HP printing thing. I don't have a HP printer. Even if I did, why does 3.4 mb of stuff need to be loaded? This piece of software simply needs fixing. There's already a bug on this in launchpad.
  • Evolution sees it fit to launch evolution-exchange-storage just because the Exchange plugin is installed. This wasts 1.6 mb of private dirty ram. I personally think distributions should remove evolution-exchange from the default install set until this is fixed. Exchange users are likely using managed distros. Those people can install the plugin along with their other configurations. I filed a bug for Ubuntu to remove this from the default install. I also filed a Evolution bug.
  • The way Ubuntu uses gettext to translate gnome-panel items caused 1.2 MB of memory to be used

The Ugly

  • We load way too many processes at startup. nm-applet, gnome-volume-manager, gnome-power-manager, etc. All of these are loading must of the same stuff in their address space. I think we need to have some shared infrastructure for desktop plugins that listen for some sort of event and then take action on it. These are all small, simple tasks that should be in one process.
  • Firefox, Evolution, and OpenOffice are still taking much more memory than they should. We may be reaching the point of diminishing returns in desktop startup memory. We will need to turn our focus to these apps.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're still finding some time to look at this even with the new job. Thanks a ton- much needed work.

Anonymous said...

Hi, as a "normal" user (Ubuntu for six month now) I think that performance is THE most important area for improvments. I was very glad to see that Dapper is faster, but I think there is still loads to do. On my parents computer (lee than 1 GHz and 256 MB RAM) GNOME is still slow.

Thank you very much for all the work so far, and especially for keeping an eye on it in the future!

Ploum said... must be, IMHO, an Edgy goal.

Ben Maurer said...

IMHO, allowing the removal of packages isn't the solution. The desktop should have good performance without the need for user intervention.

Removing packages *is* useful for people admining large networks of low-power computers (OLPC). However, this is a corner case.

HPReg said...

"These are all small, simple tasks that should be in one process."

I'm not sure I agree with this. I use Linux, Mac OS and Windows apps daily. One thing that strikes me all the time on Linux is how slowly apps load. Although I have not verified this, I heard the slowness comes from the loader. If that is true, it seems more beneficial to me to optimize the loader (which benefits all apps) rather than creating a global process for all applets (which only benefits the applets).