Whee! Crux at 1Ghz

I’ve been lax in posting over the past few days because I’ve been installing Crux on my “fast” machine. And this is one of the few times when 1Ghz has actually felt fast.

Part of that is because I cut my teeth with Crux on a 450Mhz machine. So this one, running at over twice the clock, feels like a real speed demon. And in reality it was a speed demon, once. About eight years ago, that is. 🙄

But the other reason it feels fast is because it really is fast. My start times from the Grub menu to X are exactly 16 seconds. No joke. That’s with a Pentium III Coppermine, a 7200rpm boot drive and 512Mb of PC133. I’m using the nv driver right now but I want to switch to the proprietary one, just out of curiosity.

This is ungodly fast. I was impressed with a 25-second boot on a K6-2, but a 1Ghz machine that’s online and ready to surf in 16 seconds is like a brand new machine. I can only imagine what modern hardware must feel like with Crux on it; stepping from Ubuntu to Arch was a breath of fresh air, but Arch to Crux is like inhaling pure oxygen.

The tradeoff, of course, is that I am recompiling everything from scratch. My kernel is stripped to almost nothing and will compile in less than 25 minutes, but things like python and other stuff are slowly melting my brain. I needed cmake to install Sakura (which is at version 2 now, in case you want to try it), and that alone took nearly an hour to create. And that was just a tool to make another program — I literally entered “cmake” at the terminal prompt once, and haven’t used it since.

But this is definitely worth the effort. Everything is unbelievably crisp and speedy. Firefox springs to the desktop in seconds; in Ubuntu I could barely suffer to install it. emelFM2 behaves like it’s on a pure caffeine diet. And so does just about everything else.

I think this might be around for a little while, or at least until I get tired of building everything from scratch. I set aside a partition to install Arch, just in case I needed something in the way of software that I couldn’t bother to compile manually, but I haven’t got around to setting it up yet. I’ll see how this goes, and then decide what comes next.


17 thoughts on “Whee! Crux at 1Ghz

  1. K.Mandla Post author

    I don’t think so, but I don’t know that it’s impossible either. I have really only scratched the surface with Crux, and I’m sure the packaging between the two has evolved over the years so I would doubt they were compatible.

    Perhaps if you know details about packaging for both distros you could find a way to mesh them, or convert one to the other. For me, learning those two systems would probably take longer than it would to just compile the entire business. 😉

  2. Sam

    Crux is insane speed-wise but the disadvantages you mention were just too much for me. I got it running on my 550mhz PIII with a very custom kernel and openbox but I gave up when trying to install thunar. It’s not in the official repos and the only one I found with all the components (volman etc) was an svn version with loads of dependences it couldn’t satisfy. I think I’ll stick with arch for now even if it is comparatively slow. Before I do re-install arch on that box I’m trying to install gentoo but on my first attempt I stripped one too many things out of the kernel and it couldn’t mount my root partition on boot but I’ll try again when I have time. Do you have any experience with other source based distros such as Gentoo? If so what did you think of them compared to Crux?


  3. K.Mandla Post author

    I did a very sparse, command-line-only Gentoo install about a year and a half ago, and it was mostly as an experiment to see how it worked. I got the basics installed and decided to quit while I still had a perfect score. Aside from that I haven’t really gotten into the nitty gritty of it, although from time to time I consider it.

    I suppose it’s not that big a leap from Crux to Gentoo, so I might give it a try sometime soon. These experiments with compiling do make me wish for a faster machine though. I will admit that much.

  4. Sam

    If I give up with Gentoo like I did Crux then I might try an arch install using yaourt’s -Sb option to compile everything from source specifically for my processor and with a custom kernel. I wonder how the speed of that would compare with crux.

  5. Onyros

    @ Sam: if Gentoo is any kind of comparison, you probably won’t feel much difference. Arch is really the best of both worlds. Its default isn’t everything and the kitchen sink, but it’s still pretty simple to keep. Unlike Gentoo. And that was why I gave up on my Gentoo installation, it took too much time.

    It doesn’t limit you, lets you decide pretty much everything and still provide solid defaults for those who don’t want to bother, but never choose too much on your behalf, if you know what I mean.

    Arch is perfect, simply perfect. Equilibrium in a Linux distro.

  6. K.Mandla Post author

    @Onyros: I give it that; there is equilibrium in Arch, and I prefer that. Right now my disaffection is simply with the start times — I can’t get past the idea of a laptop running at half the speed having a faster boot, and the udev uevents lag irritates me. But that’s purely superficial and I’m sure I’ll be back to it within a week or so. Still, that 16-second start time feels liberating. … 😀

  7. Onyros

    You know what? I reboot such few times that I don’t really bother much with startup times, even on my Thinkpad (I just keep it in suspension whenever it’s not being used or pulling something with rTorrent). But being able to boot in 16 seconds is better than resuming from hibernation, altogether; probably faster than resuming from suspension in Ubuntu?

    But that boot udev lag issue had me wondering, too, as I was finishing up my little config-of-a-distro/LiveCD-based-on-Arch. If it wasn’t for that, I’d be able to boot into Awesome or Fluxbox with a LiveCD in under 40 seconds. Even with that, the boot time is around the 44 second mark on that same Thinkpad. After installed to disk, the boot time is exactly @ 18 seconds (for Awesome) on a 4200 rpm HDD!, but I could still shave a few things off. Especially so, because I was aiming at keeping it under 180MB, so I could use it on a Mini-CD.

    The same Thinkpad on Ubuntu registers 29 seconds on bootchart. Add a few seconds for it to start Awesome, and it’s over 30 seconds right there.

  8. K.Mandla Post author

    Hey, I forgot about that: Where is this mysterious one-man distro you’ve been putting together? You promised a link.

  9. Onyros

    Ah, it’s not forgotten. Turns out Awesome v2.0 still had a few quirks I thought were deal-breakers (windows focus related things), which made it somewhat unintuitive. Imagine having to ALT+K to make a window which should be on top gain focus again? It only happens in floating mode, obviously, but I am configuring it to use different types of windows layouts, for different kinds of apps and workspaces (or tags, in Awesome lingo).

    The release candidate is out, the mailing list and bug reporting are incredibly active, so I suppose it’s not far from a stable release. By then, I’ll tweak the awesome dot file to fit my “model” and it’ll be good to go.

    And I really expect it to stop being a one-man “LiveCD-config-of-a-distro”, I’ll surely be garnering some extra help, if people are interested.

  10. Onyros

    Hehe, check your UF PM’s tonight (it’s 2:13 pm here) or tomorrow morning in your case. I haven’t released anything since v0.2 (nicknamed Stray Dog) but will provide you with a link for v0.5 (nicknamed Holy Cow), which is still very much in BETA.

    (BTW, the release candidate mentioned in the last comment was Awesome’s, not the LiveCD’s).

    And after all this, I still haven’t mentioned it: the LiveCD has a name, and everything. It started out as Onyric (LiveCD), as it was just a personal pet project, not meant for distribution. After thinking about it, I renamed it Satori LiveCD (because the primary version was based on Enlightenment, if you know what I mean, pun intended).

    And it’s a beauty booting into a LiveCD in 44 seconds, while using 18MB of RAM. This is a pic of the old, 1st version, with Fluxbox as WM – http://img153.imageshack.us/my.php?image=onyric2id9.jpg – but a lot has changed since. A whole lot 🙂

  11. justin

    I have a question, when installing crux, you hit the part where you edit fstab, could someone post their fstab? Im messing something up. Also, you install, ignore a partition, and then add that partition (a small windows one) to the boot menu. this is easy with grub, but ive never used lilo

  12. K.Mandla Post author

    I’ve never used lilo either, to be honest. I omitted lilo from the package installation process and stuck with grub. I’ll post my fstab later today; mine was very straightforward though … something like:

    /dev/hda1 /boot ext2 defaults,noatime 0 1
    /dev/hda2 swap swap defaults 0 0
    /dev/hda3 / ext2 defaults,noatime 0 1
    /dev/hda4 /home ext2 defaults,noatime 0 1

    Note that I wandered away from the official Crux installation guide there; I like a partition array like that, and I only use ext2.

  13. K.Mandla Post author

    You might search in here. There are a lot of user-supplied ports available there, but not all those are up-to-date. I’m finding that the most frequently updated are still the “official,” crux.nu-hosted ones. 😐

  14. Pingback: Howto: Desktop “widgets” for the console « Motho ke motho ka botho

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