The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

Summary: The patch, created by Linux kernel developer Mike Galbraith, is 233 lines long and tweaks the kernel scheduler and cutting down latency by a whopping factor of ten.

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Linux is already fast, but it's about to get a whole lot faster thanks to a new patch that's been developed.

The patch, created by Linux kernel developer Mike Galbraith, is 233 lines long and tweaks the kernel scheduler and cutting down latency by a whopping factor of ten.

Phoronix has some demo videos showing the improvements the patch offers. Here is the before video:

And here is the after video:

Even Linus Torvalds, who is arguably the father of Linux, is impressed:

Yeah. And I have to say that I'm (very happily) surprised by just how small that patch really ends up being, and how it's not intrusive or ugly either.

I'm also very happy with just what it does to interactive performance. Admittedly, my "testcase" is really trivial (reading email in a web-browser, scrolling around a bit, while doing a "make -j64" on the kernel at the same time), but it's a test-case that is very relevant for me. And it is a _huge_ improvement.

It's an improvement for things like smooth scrolling around, but what I found more interesting was how it seems to really make web pages load a lot faster. Maybe it shouldn't have been surprising, but I always associated that with network performance. But there's clearly enough of a CPU load when loading a new web page that if you have a load average of 50+ at the same time, you _will_ be starved for CPU in the loading process, and probably won't get all the http requests out quickly enough.

So I think this is firmly one of those "real improvement" patches. Good job. Group scheduling goes from "useful for some specific server loads" to "that's a killer feature".

When Linus calls this a "real improvement," and a "killer feature" then it's probably time for the rest of us to shut up and pay attention to this patch.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Software

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  • Nah - it may just be catching up to Windows

    which has had multimedia scheduling for ages now. Linux has constantly been bugged with poor prioritization between non-mm and mm jobs. This patch doesn't really solve this problem as elegantly as Windows, it merely "groups" very CPU intensive threads and levels out at group level instead. That way a process with 64 tasks cannot starve a foreground process the way it used to.

    Linux merely solved a long standing problem. It has been common knowledge that your multimedia playback could be affected by non-nice processes.

    Windows still goes furher than both Linux and OS X in this respect: Windows is still the only OS with memory prioritization and multimedia network bandwidth reservation.

    You can still cause a Linux or OS X to stutter during playback by copying large files acorss the network interface. No so on Windows.
    honeymonster
    • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

      @honeymonster
      It's a step forward, and that's a good thing. I eagerly await the patch.
      RickB9
    • Allow me to head off the linux crazies...

      @honeymonster
      YOU DON'T KNOWS! Filthy tricksy WINBLOW$! PROVES IT! We wants a LINK!

      AAAARRGH!

      ...my preciousss... *strokes stuffed penguin*
      ericesque
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque - ROFL LMAO. Still wiping the coffee off my screen! :)
        bitcrazed
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque @honeymonster
        YOU DON'T KNOWS! Filthy tricksy WINBLOW$! PROVES IT! We wants a LINK!

        AAAARRGH!

        ...my preciousss... *strokes stuffed penguin*

        Oh Smeagal, go back to your cave! :)
        boomchuck1
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque lol the strokes stuffed penguin line made me chuckle :p either way I think this patch is going to be a good thing sounds like it's a big improvement and vie been impressed with Linux in recent months, both in the progress made and future progress being discussed.
        Big_Belly_Bob
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque ACK!!!!

        Oh well - I should have cleaned this display a long time ago anyways...

        Thanks!
        Marc Erickson
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque Nice!
        athynz
    • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

      @honeymonster

      So what your saying is that linux will always have the issue of only being able to play one sound at a time? Its been 15 years and they still haven't solved the stuttering problem, LOL!!! That is just embarrassing for the linux community.
      Loverock Davidson
      • Embarrassing

        @Loverock Davidson

        It is more embarrassing that you do not know the difference between "your" and "you're", consistently so I might add.

        http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You%27re-and-Your
        Economister
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @Loverock Davidson
        Playing back and/or routing multiple sources at once is a separate problem. I do believe that some Linux audio stacks actually can do this.

        No, this is about achieving a better balance between multiple processes running on a machine. Linux is still a server OS at heart, and nowhere is that more evident than in the scheduler. Glitches and stuttering is the norm if you run other CPU intensive processes on your Linux box while playing back audio or video. This news celebrates that *some* of this problem has been addressed. It is still not on par with Windows, though. You can take a Windows box and stress the c*** out of the CPU. If you are playing back audio/video it will still hold its own. As I said, Windows takes it a step further and reserved network bandwidth so that other taxing processes cannot starve the playback process.

        Another common issue when running many intensive processes/threads is how memory is managed. Memory intensive processes will cause other processes memory to be swapped out. This will in turn cause a page fault and a delay when the original process needs the memory. In audio/video even a small delay is noticeable. Windows has a unique memory prioritization model where background processes cannot starve foreground processes for memory. This is also missing from Linux and OS X.
        honeymonster
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @Loverock Davidson
        ALSA/OSS mixers, PulseAudio, no? So hello to you too troll.
        SkyBon
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @honeymonster

        I see. Good to know linux is still full of bugs. I'll go for other options instead of linux.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @SkyBon

        Hello. They don't solve those issues. *waving*
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @Loverock Davidson I have no stuttering problem, even while playing music on rhythmbox, system sounds beeping and doing their thing, while at the same time playing multiple tracks recorded in ardour back using the JACK server, which of course is also running. On top of all this, I always have at least one browser open with at least 20 tabs, office suite, email, and gimp. All running at the same time. All this on a machine that's FAR from being the top of the line- a Dell Inspiron 530s with a core 2 duo 1.8GHz processor and 1 measly GB of RAM.<br>No, I still haven't figured out which distro you tried 15 years ago that still has you being such a hater. Maybe you could try knowing what you're talking about before talking out of your a**. (Note the proper spelling of the word 'you're' in this example.) <br>Back on subject though; this looks like a great patch- I'm looking forward to it!<br>www.dfwsupergeek.com
        unclefixer
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @Loverock Davidson

        Idiot as usual I see.... I often wish it would only play one audio/video stream at once. It drives me nutz when I am watching a video stream while surfing and an ad loads on the other page and I am hearing both clearly and race to get the ad shut off.

        So in short....it can.....
        devlin_X
    • So why is it...

      that my multimedia playback in Windows stutters when doing just about anything? Especially DVD playback. It doesn't matter what the OS is, the rule of thumb is always don't have anything else running if you want to watch a DVD...
      jasonp9
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @jasonp@...
        Do you mean on a Windows netbook? I can watch a dvd while I surf and chat on my 4 year old desktop running Windows 7 without bothering to close office applications, Zune, or anything else I may happen to be running. AND the chat client and system audio alerts work just fine without interrupting the video's audio.
        ericesque
      • RE: The Linux desktop is about to get a LOT faster

        @ericesque@...
        I'm currently remote desktopping session, on firefox commenting here, listening to songs streamed via last.fm and watching a youtube video all at the same time with no stuttering on ubuntu 10.10.
        tmsbrdrs
      • Nope, not a netbook...

        On a laptop, dual core 2.26 GHz Intel i3-350M processor, 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM, 17" display, Windows Vista, Windows Media Player 11.
        jasonp9