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SubjectRe: real kernel bloat

On 25 Jun 1996 20:53:00 GMT, (Alexander Sanda)

> In article <>
> Steve VanDevender <> wrote:

>> As far as I can tell Digital UNIX (formerly Digital OSF/1) is a fat
>> bloated pig. At boot the kernel allocates over 8 megabytes of memory to
>> itself on a 32 meg machine. Once I load up X and my assortment of
>> desktop doodads the machine runs acceptably, as long as only one thing
>> is running. ...

> [compared to 486 / 32 megs, linux]

> Hm, you should not compare those two systems. It is not fair. 32 MB is
> a fine amount of memory for a intel-based linux machine, but it is
> extremely low memory for a RISC based system, running a microkernel
> based OS.

It's not RISC that's the issue. Honest. I've got an alpha Multia
running beside me here with 24MB ram, and it flies under Linux. Oh,
yes, and it's still running with all binaries statically linked ---
we're only just getting shared libraries working properly under alpha

So, the criticism IS due to the kernel, which IS bloated.

>> ... If, however, I try to compile something and then do something
>> else the machine swaps like mad, and simple window system
>> operations like raising or moving windows have 5-10 second delays
>> between pressing the buttons and seeing something happen.

> Downgrade your linux box to - let's say - 8 megs of memory. Then boot
> it up, fire up X and start a kernel build. I'am sure, it will start to
> swap a lot, and the interactive performance will go down.

But it will still work fine, interactive performance will be good,
editor sessions and so on will still feel snappy, and you will NOT see
5-10 second delays with no visible activity if you try to raise a
window. I spent a lot of time benchmarking behaviour on 8MB systems
while I was tuning the kernel swapper, and I reckon Linux actually
does pretty well here.

Stephen Tweedie <>
Department of Computer Science, Edinburgh University, Scotland.

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