Subject: Re: Resource needs
To: Zbigniew Baniewski <>
From: Chris Wareham <>
List: current-users
Date: 04/01/2005 14:04:17
Zbigniew Baniewski wrote:
> I'm comparing NetBSD with Debian Linux running both on the (almost) same,
> poorly equipped machines (TX, K6-2/300, 64 MB RAM). NetBSD V2.0, with kernel
> recompiled to suit the equipment, and Debian Woody with kernel 2.2.26.

Linux used to be praised for its performance on modest hardware,
especially when compared to MS Windows. However, after the 2.2.x series,
Linux development has been focused on support for 'server' hardware.
This has resulted in a considerable increase in resource usage to
support the features deemed necessary for an 'enterprise' class
operating system. More subjectively, I'd argue that the chaotic nature
of Linux kernel development (a large number of personal developer trees
and vendor versions) has had a negative impact on the size and quality
of the kernel.

As a result, I'd suggest that comparing Linux 2.2.x with its relatively
modest feature set to NetBSD 2.0 is a little unfair.

> It seems, that NetBSD needs more memory (about twice as much?) - just
> because, f.e. while on the Debian system I can use "full" Mozilla (with
> very little swapping), ran in IceWM - on the NetBSD, using Firefox (which
> is less "heavy" than Mozilla, and in fvwm2 environment) I notice regular
> swapping. When trying to make use out of OpenOffice, I can still almost
> normally work on the Debian system (although it's not especially
> comfortable), but under NetBSD it's impossible - heavy swapping while in
> editing mode of OOWriter (not even touching the keyboard).
> And so I would to obtain some info: how can be the resource-needs of NetBSD
> compared to that of Linux (and/or FreeBSD)?

This should be treated as fairly anecdotal, but I've found NetBSD to be
far more efficient than recent versions of Linux. I develop Java and C
applications which are targeted at Linux and Solaris. My work machine
primarily runs NetBSD, but I dual boot into Linux (Fedora Core). I've
found that I had to double my RAM to 512Mb, as Linux was appreciably
slower compiling large C applications. Using an IDE such as NetBeans or
Eclipse was slow to the point of frustration under Linux until I
increased the amount of RAM.

My only complaint with NetBSD is that it sometimes slows to a crawl when
disk activity is high, although I recently switched off softdep's and
the problem has been alleviated somewhat. Linux seems to schedule the
disk activity in such a way that interactive responsiveness remains
fairly smooth. I guess there are sysctl knobs I can twiddle to make
reponsiveness smoother in NetBSD, but I'm too lazy to try.

One is not superior merely because one sees the world as odious.
                    Chateaubriand (1768-1848)