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    Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Submitted by stootles on Thursday, May 03, 2001 – 19:00
    Something that has struck me ever since the claims by Mandrakesoft of a 5% to 30% increase in performance when a distribution is compiled for the 586 platform.

    Debian still only distributes a 386 based distro for the intel x86 platform, even worse I am betting in most cases the change to compile for 386 and, say, 686 would be a command line option for gcc.

    Perhaps a few developers could enlighten those of us who do not know the reasons why there was no point in doing a 586 or 686 port? If there are good reasons for a newer x86 port, what would be a way to show the Debian crew that it is wanted?

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Shanep
    Date: Monday, 2001/12/03 – 11:39
    Mandrake is almost completely compiled with pgcc, which is where Mandrake gets the 5% to 30% quote from.

    I have been using pgcc compiled kernels for years, without any mysterious instability. Attempting to compile 2.4 kernels with gcc 3.0.2 on the other hand has never completed for me, so even if it did I don’t know if I would trust it (I’m not running a pgcc 2.4 kernel at the moment though, I have’nt got round to it).

    There are other distros fully built with pgcc, like http://www.stampede.org/, so I think it is pretty stable.

    I also would love to see a pgcc/Athlon Debian distro, though Debian being bent on stability all the way, it might never happen.

    Having said that though, the original pgcc code base is actually from Intel themselves.

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: bahamat
    Date: Saturday, 2001/09/22 – 17:08
    Why not an option to compile all packages from source as they’re installed to be optimized for the
    hardware it’s running on? I can’t immagine that it would be /that/ hard to do, but it would of course be a major undertaking. Maybe if someone likes this idea they can run with it and have something ready by the time sarge is released.
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    Subject: No need.
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Tuesday, 2001/05/08 – 12:28
    Debian is having such a hard time keeping up with i386 and m86k. I don’t think another one is wise.
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    Subject: Re: No need.
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Tuesday, 2001/05/08 – 12:29
    excuse me m68k…keyb happy
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Sunday, 2001/05/06 – 22:31
    One newbie question:

    Can ‘aptget-source package’ fetch the sources and see any dependencies and fetch them too ?

    At the end of compiling it will put every file in the right dir as the packages ?

    This compiled source can be removed with dpkg ?

    Thanks !

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/07/21 – 21:32
    The build dependencies for ‘apt-get source package -b’ can be satisfied with ‘apt-get build-dep package’. Unfortunately the dependencies then aren’t build by hand :(.

    To answer your other questions, everything will be placed on the correct places in the file system and the package can be removed with dpkg later on.

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debian ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Monday, 2001/05/07 – 02:05
    answers:
    no-yes-no
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/05 – 03:57
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this simply done by compiling a package from source (dpkg-buildpackage)? I know that .rpm’s are compiled for your specific computer, so e.g. foo-1.686.rpm if you own a PII, but I am not sure that .deb’s are autmatically created the same way, but maybe with the help of some command line options to dpkg-buildpackage.

    So anyway, if you want your installation to speed up, recompile your kernel (which is another story BTW), glibc, and any other libs and proggies you frequently use (say, for instance, gtk, gnome, Nautilus).

    Anyway, I _guess_ this is possible, but correct me if I’m wrong.

    Pflipp

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Sunday, 2001/05/06 – 15:30
    Simply recompiling from the debian source does not optimize the package for your architecture. For one thing, how would dpkg-buildpackage know which architecture-specific flags to pass to gcc? (uname -a‘s output isn’t reliable; and besides, what if you’re trying to build a Pentium-optimized package on your Athlon system, because it’s faster?).

    Unfortunately, there’s only one way that’s even remotely close to being able to build packages with the compiler and flags that you want, and that’s pentium-builder. Install that, and read through its documentation to see how to use it.

    Where pentium-builder falls short is that it still doesn’t let you say which compiler you want to use. I’ve got a
    wishlist bug
    filed against the package requesting a way for the user to specify which compiler (s)he wants to use.

    For now, if you want to build your Athlon-optimzied debs with gcc-3.0 -march=k7, the only way to do it without hacking up programs in /usr/bin is to edit the debian/rules file in the extracted source tree. (Or run ./configure with the appropriate arguments by hand, etc.)

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    Subject: Higher 680×0 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 23:54
    There are other architectures where specific options are making a greater difference.

    So I demand a 68060-specific distribution with extra support for those nice multi-PPC boards.

    But not really 😉

    AFAIK the changes on x86 are mostly defined by frequency. So the performance gain is relativley small — and binary distributions for [4567…]86, Athlon[ABCD…] (and 680[2346]0, PPC[XY..], Alpha[XY..], …) will lead to nothing, IMHO.

    But a BSDish “make world” would be nice, of course.

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    Subject: Re: There is a package to help doing this
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 12:57
    Package: pentium-builder 0.9
    force pentium optimized compilation
    Replaces gcc, cc, and g++ with scripts that build with pentium optimizations, using egcc.

    By default, after installing this package, the compilers will behave normally. However, if the environment variable DEBIAN_BUILDARCH=pentium is set, they will enter pentium optimized compile mode.

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    Subject: Why not simply change apt-get ?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 02:22
    If debian implemented something like “apt-get source-dist-upgrade” that would download the source for all the applications that had been upgraded then one could in a simple manner “optimize” the entire distribution.
    But having to do apt-get source for every package surely is a pain in the …
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    Subject: Re: Why not simply change apt-get ?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Tuesday, 2001/05/08 – 12:40
    *cough* make World *cough*

    *cough* BSD *cough*;

    Heh, seriously though, it would be cool to have on Debian:)

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    Subject: Re: Why not simply change apt-get ?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/07/13 – 11:20
    It would 🙂

    but it not likely to happen

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    Subject: Re: Why not simply change apt-get ?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 22:20
    Yeah, very good idea. With it + source meta packages (second good idea) it
    would be possible to build the whole
    distro from source easily.
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    Subject: How about..?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 22:02
    gnubie here, but how about patches or diffs for the programs that could use optimization included with Debian, and used only if the machine is 586+?

    Or, what about including optimized shared libraries so that any program that uses them gets the alleged speed increase?

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    Subject: Re: How about..?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 05:20
    In testing there are libc6-i586 and libc6-i686 packages. These claim to be optimized for their respective archetectures, and claim that some programs have trouble with them, notably IBM
    s JDK.
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    Subject: Re: How about..?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/05 – 02:27
    Those were removed due to versioning problems.
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    Subject: Tried, possibly in progress…
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 01:57
    There were versions of glibc for different processors avaiable, and each was picked at run-time. Unfortunately, the maintainer ran into nasty versioning problems. I don’t think he’s resolved them yet, but any aspiring hacker can try.
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 21:50
    The improvement is only significant on 586 machines.

    386-486, 686+ do not benefit more than approx. 3% with arch specific optimisations. The 586 was broken in so many ways that optimisations can help.

    This is all covered in debian-devel every so many months. Search the archives 🙂

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 20:19
    The reason it’s not optimized for >386: It won’t run everywhere. Locking out hackers who are stuck with 486’s is not in the best interests of the Debian project.

    The reason it’s not duplicated for >386: available space and bandwidth on mirrors. The entire Debian distribution (let’s say) is ~2gig. Now multiply that by 6 (to account for Alpha, Arm, x86, Motorola, Power PC, Sparc) == 12gig. Multiply by 2 to account for Stable v. Unstable. 24gig. Then realize that while Unstable is being developed, there’s *lots* of meg’s of data flying around.

    There’s no point to use twice as much space for an optimized, and non-optimized version of ‘ls’, when it’s really PovRay which will get the best benefits of compile-time options.

    The Solution: apt-get source package-foo -b (I think) which will automagically download and compile package-foo for you.

    There’s also some variable you can export so that gcc will use your specified compiler optomizations, and the apt-get source -b will automatically build pakcages with those optimizations.

    Do a search on debian-user at lists.debian.org for an excellent response to a very similar question (that’s where I learned ;^)=

    –Robert

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Sunday, 2001/10/21 – 16:47
    The variable to export would look like this in Bash:

    user@host$ export CFLAGS="-march i686 -O6 -mcpu i686"

    If you aren’t sure what that means, it is explained in the gcc man page. And of course you can modify it to your requirements and tastes.

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/07/21 – 21:24

    The reason it’s not duplicated for >386: available space and bandwidth on mirrors. The entire Debian distribution (let’s say) is ~2gig. Now multiply that by 6 (to account for Alpha, Arm, x86, Motorola, Power PC, Sparc) == 12gig. Multiply by 2 to account for Stable v. Unstable. 24gig. Then realize that while Unstable is being developed, there’s *lots* of meg’s of data flying around.

    There’s no point to use twice as much space for an optimized, and non-optimized version of ‘ls’, when it’s really PovRay which will get the best benefits of compile-time options.

    Of course you wouldn’t use twice the space since you’d only add i586 to the series of Alpha, Arm, i386, Motorola, Power PC and Sparc. Or am I missing something?

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/05 – 06:46
    Um, its just a scheduling issue. Compiling something for a 686 machine will still be run on a 386, but slowly (mmx and such aside.) 686+ has a dynamic -figure out whats best on the fly- scheduler so there really is no *compiling for it*.
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: longarai
    Date: Tuesday, 2001/09/18 – 00:03
    I do think so, AFAIK, the P6 core do out-of-order expeculative processing by itsef, there´s no need to put instructions in the optimal sequence, couse the fetching unit will arrange it “smartlly”.
    There´s any intel engeneer in the list, to enlight the discussion about it?
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 19:32
    I doubt it would be a major performance boost _EXCEPT_ for some of the more performance crunching packages. By that I mean X, window managers and the like.

    How could this be accomodated within the current Debian heirarchy? It seems a waste of build machine time and mirror space to duplicate the whole distro for a small increase, but just a couple of apps would be nice.

    Course someone could go and set up a script to grab any packages they want optimised, recompile them and then stick them somewhere. Everyone else could then just add it to their apt.sources. It’s beyond me, or I’d propose doing it.

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    Subject: IEE fast math
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 21:02
    It always worried me a bit that Mandrake compiled EVERYTHING with –fast-math and other numeric optimizations that aren’t correct if the software wasn’t designed to support it. For numerics, it is a risky business. I switched from Mandrake to Debian, and have been very happy.
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    Subject: The kernel’s always running
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 03:24
    Wouldn’t it make sense to start by compiling that? It strikes me as odd that Debian and Red Hat both have installation routines that are far more complex than custom compiling a kernel, but neither one is fully friendly to the user who sensibly wants a kernel with all and only what they constantly use in it, and compiled with gcc’s best auto-optimization to their CPU. Hell, add a ‘compile your own kernel?’ option to the installation routine – where if you choose to it grabs the latest one from the Net, gives you a little guidance through the config, and then in less than ten minutes on any modern CPU you’re fresh and good to go.

    And if you really care about speed, 2.2.19 with the Reiser patch makes a really noticeable difference on both an AMD 450 and a P-Pro 180 – all those faster disk accesses have a lot more to do with typical performance delays than slightly faster code, unless you’re doing some sort of 3-D transforms. Moving the official distros to Reiser would be more economical payback than compiling a bunch of utilities to >=586.

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    Subject: Re: Forget optimization
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/12 – 14:27
    Concerning the linux kernel, the only officially supported compiler is the gcc 2.95 series, which does not use current cpu’s advanged instruction set. Compiling the linux kernel with optimized compilers (e.g. pgcc) or the unstable gcc series (2.96/3.0) can result in an unstable kernel.

    Additionally 90% of other programs do not gain much performance from compiler optimization. Compile and benchmark an important program like Xfree86 with and without optimization. Not much difference. Only very few utilities, mostly number crunshing programs like compression, (audio/video) en/decoder or encryption utilities, are worth an optimized recompilation.

    Even worse, fully optimizing the whole system will give you a performance decrease on most programs, i.e. small binaries. Just look at the differing file size of optimized and unoptimized binaries to see how the instruction code bloats. This has a negative effect on overall performance…

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    Subject: Re: The kernel’s always running
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/05 – 19:07
    good idea, let’s take it to the limit!

    why not compiling the whole sistem at installation?

    When the installation program asks for apt sources, put the spurce CDs, then the installation compiles and installs on-the-fly all the system.

    I know a whole system compilation can take very long, but it’s really worth the job. And the long-term benefits are just like reducing all the architectures to only one branch, and of course a great performance gain. Consider not only i686 computers but also AMD, Cyrix, etc..

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    Subject: Re: The kernel’s always running
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/10 – 11:49
    It seems a great solution that problem. I’ve never tried it, but I will.
    Is there any special option necessary to be added,
    if I wanna optomize all packages to my Athlon processor?
    By the way the so optomized Mandrake killd my whole vfat32
    partition yesterday. I’ve copied a file from ext2 to vfat2 part.
    I’m sure it was because mandrake was optimized to intel 686 processors
    so much, it’s already not even bugy but EXTREMLE
    DANGEROUS for othler Pc-s like AMD based ones.
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    Subject: Re: The kernel’s always running
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/07/12 – 19:47
    I’m not clear why you not only suspect but are “sure” that mandrake’s optimizations were the case of this. In some cases, the optimizations to bring on additional instability, but only to previously buggy components. The western digital hard drives are infamous for this.

    As far as the AMD/Intel difference there is no added instability for using an AMD product instead of Intel with Mandrake. Many people I work with and myself run AMD boxes with Mandrake with heavy loads and long uptimes and have never had a problem with instability.

    I’m sorry that your partition was wiped, but don’t forget to consider a) was the filesystem already corrupted? b) was there something non-standard about your fs driver? c) is your hard drive flakey?

    -Fros1y

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    Subject: Re: The kernel’s always running
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Monday, 2001/05/07 – 16:21
    Jlinux does this already. Well, that’s a bit too generous – you have to do this for jlinux.
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 19:25
    Personally I’m not convinced that mandrake is all that much faster. Given what red hat’s installs look like these days, (red hat will theoretically run on a 386 machine, but I wouldn’t try installing any reasonable subset of 7.1 on a 386) if there was a real performance benefit, I would expect redhat to compile their software that way too.

    Second, all this time one of the marketing points for linux has been that you can run it on old hardware that isn’t good for anything else anymore. My university has a hypercube of 486’s running linux that work really great. Are you suggesting compiling a whole extra distribution just for the speedup? Or replacing the i386 debs with only 586/686 debs?

    If it really is only a matter of changing a compile option, you can always apt get the source, tweak, and compile with optimization for your CPU. But assumptions are bad. Debian shouldn’t assume that people want that done. And I’m guessing that the speedup isn’t enough to justify the work that it would take to package an entire extra release of the distro for 586/686

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 22:55
    Actually, Redhat _does_ compile for i686, in terms of instruction-set ordering. They don’t compile with i686-specific instructions, so it will still run on i386 machines.

    Alan Shutko, waiting on password

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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: robster
    Date: Friday, 2001/05/04 – 14:04
    Mail password@debianplanet.org about this and i’ll sort it out.
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2001/05/05 – 20:47
    No, I have it, I was just impatient. 8^)
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    Subject: Re: Why isn’t Debain ‘ported’ to the higher x86 machines?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Thursday, 2001/05/03 – 20:43
    I agree with the above.

    It’s natural to consider the idea, and many have done so; the -devel mailing list archives must have hundreds of posts rehashing this. My interpretation of the rehashing is that while mandrake assumes current hardware, debian wants to support all, and the costs to create, maintain and distribute another version are excessive considering a typical performance increase is about 10%. Neither recent release schedules (extended), disk space (short), nor compiles (backlogged) mitigate that.

    I know it’s painful, but try reading -devel and you’ll get a better sense of how debian works. 😉

    ac

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