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 Forum index » House Training » Users ( For the regulars )
Timing Experiments on OpenOffice SFS & Program Folders
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playdayz


Joined: 25 Apr 2008
Posts: 3788

PostPosted: Sun 25 May 2008, 15:03    Post subject:  Timing Experiments on OpenOffice SFS & Program Folders  

I was playing around with OpenOffice in the Fatdog SFS and in the OpenOffice 2.4 SFS and noticed that it ran anywhere from faster than I had ever seen to normally, abysmally slow, depending on how it was installed. I tried the different ways of mounting the sfs files and I also tried what I call a Program Folder (putting all the files in one folder—basically just an uncompressed, unmounted sfs file) and running it from /mnt/home. There is another article in HowTo's that describes the details of the Program Folder installation.
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=29562

What I found is that OpenOffice runs from the program folder significantly faster (by a factor of from 1.5 to 5) than it runs from an sfs file, no matter how the sfs file is mounted In fact, OpenOffice runs faster than I have ever seen it before, fast enough to be a delight to use—which has never been the case for me before. OOo has always been too slow and frustrating. IMO this is huge because I think Linux (and by extension Puppy) needs a full featured office suite and OOo is the only candidate (other than KOffice). Additionally, I believe there might be other advantages to using program folders.

Here are some numbers. These timings have been done on my Thinkpad T22, 900 MHz PIII Coppermine, 256MB, 4 GB Sandisk Extreme 4 CF to IDE udma 4 disk formatted ext3 with frugal install, a more or less representative Puppy machine I think. If I mount the sfs OOo after Puppy boots (by clicking on the sfs file), then it takes OOo 11 seconds to start from the program folder and 39 seconds to start from the sfs installation. If I mount the sfs file when Puppy boots (by adding it in the Bootmanager config) then it takes OOo the same 11 seconds to start from the folder but a full 60 seconds to start from the sfs installation! There is clearly some sort of memory problem in that second case—it seems to me anyway, so if I then boot with pfix=noram (a hint from fatdog) the startup times get a lot closer: OOo from the folder starts in 11 seconds and the sfs OOo starts in 15-17 seconds.

Since it seems not only simpler but faster in every case to just use a folder containing all of the program files, should that be standard procedure, or is there something wrong that I haven's seen? In addition to speed there are other things to recommend the program folder approach, one being that it is very easy to update—I like to keep my browser current, so updating Firefox (which I am also running in the same way, from a single folder with all the program files) is just a matter of downloading and unzipping. Voila, Firefox 3 rc—and I have not used up any user memory in doing so (unlike with a pet file). A few years ago I know Rox was pushing an install method with all files in one folder, and it was the way Macintosh worked until they shifted to Unix. And finally, it seems to me that the one folder method could satisfy Puppy's goal of being easy to use and understand, coupled with high performance: just download the folder, put it in the right place, and the program waits there unobtrusively, taking up no memory until you want to run it. It could even be made to be automatic like the Petget package manager. Click a program and then it is there when you need it. It seems like it could apply not only to frugal installations but also to USB installs and even to those who routinely run from the CD—either by putting the extra programs on the CD or on the pup_save disk. It seems like a good way to provide some of the extra programs that are either too large or too specialized to go into the puppy400.sfs file.

One problem could be, I guess, that not all programs could be made to live nicely in a single folder—surely some would harder but I doubt that any or many would be impossible. Another problem might be that some features would be compromised by this method of installation, but, again, I doubt there would be insurmountable problems.

There is one trick to all of this. When I move the folder to /mnt/home Puppy takes 25M of memory to remember that I have done so. What I mean is that if, for instance, I was to download Firefox, unzip it, and move it to /mnt/home then I would have used 25mb of my available memory, because Puppy would be keeping a record of what I was doing. But, ah-ha, if I move the folder to /mnt/home and clean up any remaining mess, then when I reboot, Puppy forgets all about the folder and it's 25M. The folder just sits there unobtrusively until I call on it. It uses ram to run of course, and takes up the 25M of hard disk, but none of the precious user memory (the stuff in the lower right corner of the desktop Wink ) as a Pet or Pup does. Theoretically, it is like running an Underdog Linux, but with only the programs instead of an entire Linux installation. Because which other Linux can run those programs with the speed and elegance of Puppy?!

Last edited by playdayz on Sun 25 May 2008, 23:15; edited 1 time in total
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erikson


Joined: 27 Feb 2008
Posts: 735
Location: Ghent, Belgium

PostPosted: Sun 25 May 2008, 16:10    Post subject:  

You don't mention your PC...

I'm using pcPuppyOS (final), that has OpenOffice (Oxygen Office Professional v2.3.1) built in. It runs on my laptop (see sig below) from USB flashdrive.

All OO programs (swriter, smath, simpress, sdraw, sbase, scalc) open in 2 (+-1) seconds.

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playdayz


Joined: 25 Apr 2008
Posts: 3788

PostPosted: Sun 25 May 2008, 17:00    Post subject: Computeer Specs  

@erikson

Sorry, I put the specs in the other post. The one I tested on is Thinkpad T22, 900 MHz PIII Coppermine, 256MB ram, 4 G Sandisk Extreme IV CF to IDE drive (UDMA 4) disk,

Yours would be a frugal install on the USB stick? Are you using pfix=noram? I'm betting that with those startup times OpenOffice Quickstarter is running? With enough ram Quickstarter is a good solution. I don't think that even on my Athlon 64 with SATA drive and 1G ram that OOo would start that fast without Quickstarter. I'm going to check it out. Thanks. i worked this out to open the topic and get some info. (And thanks again for your help with trying to get my Thinkpad to scale frequenciues--I put that on that back burner to do this.) best.
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erikson


Joined: 27 Feb 2008
Posts: 735
Location: Ghent, Belgium

PostPosted: Mon 26 May 2008, 10:17    Post subject: Re: Computeer Specs  

playdayz wrote:
Sorry, I put the specs in the other post.

Oh, I had not noticed it was you. And oh oh, I overlooked that you did mention PC specs in your first post of this thread... Embarassed

Quote:
The one I tested on is Thinkpad T22, 900 MHz PIII Coppermine, 256MB ram, 4 G Sandisk Extreme IV CF to IDE drive (UDMA 4) disk

Okay.

Quote:
Yours would be a frugal install on the USB stick? Are you using pfix=noram?

Yes, frugal on usb. No, no pfix parameter is used.

Quote:
I'm betting that with those startup times OpenOffice Quickstarter is running? With enough ram Quickstarter is a good solution.

Well, I dunno, I just use OO as provided in pcPuppyOS. With all OO executables in /usr/bin and at first sight there's nothing like Quickstarter. I ought to check closer.

Anyway, I have now clocked down my laptop to 600 MHz (powersave governor), which is lower than your 900 MHz, and the time to open a first OO application (from clicking to fully opened window) is now 5 to 7 seconds. Opening a second OO application (with already one open) takes just 2 to 3 seconds.

It looks like RAM quantity (256 MB for you, 480 MB for me) might be a major determining factor (?) even though conky shows RAM usage of just 129 MB with swriter, scalc, firefox, geany and rxvt open simultaneously.

Quote:
I worked this out to open the topic and get some info.

It's interesting indeed.

Quote:
(...) get my Thinkpad to scale frequenciues--I put that on that back burner to do this

So I presume that your timing results are at full 900 MHz speed.

Then there's something strange going on, with your timings much longer than mine... "Why" is an open question...

_________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. --- erikson
hp/compaq nx9030 (1.6GHz/480MB/37.2GB), ADSL, Linksys wireless router
http://www.desonville.net/
Puppy page: http://www.desonville.net/en/joere.puppy.htm

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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4765
Location: Manila

PostPosted: Mon 26 May 2008, 12:36    Post subject: compressed vs uncompressed  

There are some similarities in the discussion of frugal vs full hard disk install of Puppy: frugal is comparable to the use of sfs, and full install is comparable to the use of program folder. What I recall is that the timing difference is very little.

The use of sfs involves decompression in RAM after disk read, while the use of program folder involves longer disk read of uncompressed files.

IF the whole sfs is copied to RAM at boot, then no file is read from disk at execution time and the program loads quickly - this is erikson's case with 480 MB RAM.

IF the available RAM can't load the whole sfs in volatile RAM (thus, using swap in hard disk for virtual RAM), then using sfs will present speed penalty as the OS will read from hard disk while swapping files in virtual RAM. And the penalty will be greater if the disk access speed is not that fast (think of older hard disks).

The way out of course is the liberal use of volatile RAM, making sure that OpenOffice can be loaded entirely into it. I solve that in a 256 MB-RAM PC by using a small and older OpenOffice 1.1.5 (it can read OpenDocument). Maybe you can try this sfs in your experiment? Just rename it to o115_301.sfs (if your Puppy version is 301), reboot with pfix=ram to rename your other sfs, then reboot again normally. Find soffice in /usr/OOo115/program.

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erikson


Joined: 27 Feb 2008
Posts: 735
Location: Ghent, Belgium

PostPosted: Mon 26 May 2008, 12:56    Post subject: Re: compressed vs uncompressed  

Well, surely these considerations are at least part of the answer.

However...
raffy wrote:
IF the whole sfs is copied to RAM at boot, then no file is read from disk at execution time and the program loads quickly - this is erikson's case with 480 MB RAM.

... I'm using the pretty "fat" pcPuppyOS, with its pup_301.sfs of 586 MB (on my USB pendrive), that does not fit in my 480 MB RAM. At present I also have no swap, and so far never got a message of running out of RAM.

_________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. --- erikson
hp/compaq nx9030 (1.6GHz/480MB/37.2GB), ADSL, Linksys wireless router
http://www.desonville.net/
Puppy page: http://www.desonville.net/en/joere.puppy.htm

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playdayz


Joined: 25 Apr 2008
Posts: 3788

PostPosted: Mon 26 May 2008, 15:21    Post subject: More Timings
Subject description: Which of course I should have done earlier
 

I did timings on 3 more computers. I should have done them before I posted anything, but I was too excited and undisciplined about finding something that I thought was interesting.

Athlon 64 2.0 GHz, 1GB ram SATA hard disk, CD install with pup_sav.2fs

OOo3eta started from both the SFS file and from the program folder in 3-4 seconds in all situations. RAM is good.

Asus PIIB w/Celeron 1400, 384K RAM, UDMA 4 hard disk, CD install w/ pup_sav.2fs

In a series of tests OOo3eta started in various timings. Each test had two starts, the second one in each set was making use of cache.:

Program Folder: 15, 6, 9, 6, 7, 6, 8, 6
SFS file: 11, 5, 20, 5, 13, 5, 14, 5

Dell Latitude D600, 784K RAM, Pentium-M 1300 MHz, CD install with pup_sav.2fs, IDE hard disk

From /mnt/home: From Program Folder: 21, 4
From SFS file: 8, 4

From /mnt/sda 2GB USB stick: From Program Folder: 13, 3.5
From SFS File: 9, 3.5

Modified Observation: There is still one case where the Program Folder has a clear performance advantage (256M RAM w/o pfix=noram) which is exactly the configuration of my main Puppy laptop. I prefer to run the default configuration of Puppy (w/o pfix=noram) for reasons I can't clearly articulate--it just seems right to me.

<EDIT>When will I stop saying stupid things? I am testing my 256M ram configuration with default options and with pfix=noram. Come to think of it, with the default options there might have been strange slowdowns that could be memory related. So far pfix=noram is just as snappy as the default options. If pfix=noram is better for 256M, perhaps the installer could check and recommend that.</EDIT>

There is another configuration (784M RAM) where the SFS file has a definite performance advantage on the first startup.

On other configurations, it is more or less a wash.

Comments. I will continue running Program Folders on my laptop with Puppy in the default configuration. I would recommend on the basis of my experiments that anyone else with 256M RAM consider doing so also. I also think the Program Folders are a nice and easy way to keep one's browsers up to date.

I have taken this about as far as I can. I hope developers and others will consider speed of startup for OpenOffice because I think it can be a strength of Puppy, to provide a fast and friendly platform for users who need OpenOffice.

There are other reasons for considering Program Folders than pure speed, which are mentioned in this post and discussed in more depth in the companion post in HowTo's. One of those reasons is that Program Folders correspond to Rox "appdirs" (pointed out by Raffy) and therefore might lead to a closer integration of Puppy and Rox to the possible benefit of both.

Companion post --> http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=29562

Finally, it is but a small step from a Program Folder to an SFS file. Once the Program Folder is prepared then mu's dir2sfs script will turn it into an SFS file. Using this script one could prepare Program Folders (of browsers for instance, which come in such folders) and then convert to an SFS file and compare to see which gives better performance with one's particular configuration.

dir2sfs --> http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=29037
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Bowhunter

Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Elgin, IL

PostPosted: Thu 22 Oct 2009, 02:23    Post subject: Great Stuff  

I really like the ease of upgrade as the application moves along. Also, I've got Puppy up and running, so why mess with it?

"These timings have been done on my Thinkpad T22, 900 MHz PIII Coppermine, 256MB, 4 GB Sandisk Extreme 4 CF to IDE udma 4 disk formatted ext3 with frugal install, a more or less representative Puppy machine I think. "

My Dell Lattitude C600 has an 850 PIII 512MB ram, and a 20gig Toshiba with a frugal install of 4.2.1 So it is right there w' your Thinkpad.

So it's Open Office, Firefox, and (maybe) Thunderbird for me, unless I find another, more Outlook like mail handler, ALL running from folders.

Then I'll want to figure out how to remove SeaMonkey, and the ABI* applications.

Thanks for the help. Very Happy
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playdayz


Joined: 25 Apr 2008
Posts: 3788

PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct 2009, 15:36    Post subject:  

hey bowhunter, how did you stumble across this old thing. a year and a half, that is a long time in Puppy years Wink

i have been doing this routinely for so long now i forgot that it was a question. still just placing a folder in /mnt/hone and still keeping up with timings--i'm serious about that--from edwards demming--if you want fast you have to find a way to measure it--you can improve what you can measure--making sure you have good measurements is the trick

btw, i just measured firefox 3.6 beta and it was fast. 3.6beta was 10% faster than swiftfox 3.5.3 which is 10% faster on my computer than firefox 3.5.3. faster is the wrong term--firefox 3.6beta scores 10% higher than swiftfox 3.5.3 on the peacekeeper browser benchmark.

peacekeeper is not the only benchmark of course but its results have been consistent for me, so i can also compare whether other changes in the computer and operating system make a browser run faster than a previous test of the same browser

Even Better: The previous 10% improvement timings were in VirtualBox; these are Puppy directly on the machine.

Firefox 3.5.3 1979
Swiftfox 3.5.3 2167
Firefox (Namoroka) 3.6b2pre 2574

(it could be that firefox has learned to play to the benchmark better, but that is quite an improvement, 30% higher score from Firefox 3.5.3 to Firefox 3.6b2pre,
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Bowhunter

Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Elgin, IL

PostPosted: Sat 24 Oct 2009, 02:15    Post subject:  

Thank you for the updated info. Smile

As a raw Newbie I've been working hard to understand how to use Linux and Puppy especially. So I've been searching the Puppy Forum for info. Yours seems very useful.

It is looking like while Puppy is a superb performer in obsolete hardware, it is also much more a challenge to get running and maintain than Ubuntu or Debian would have been for someone of my low skill level. I made my choice to try Puppy based on the promise of good performance on old hardware. Puppy is delivering (so far) on that promise.

I got some free help from a geek today who fixed a couple of things for me. Now Swiftfox is running great. I'm happy with the performance.

I learned the importance of getting competent with the command line. I may have learned enough to do my next install myself. We'll see.

Before I do Open office, I want to install a new email handler, remove unused programs like Seamonkey, Abiword, the spreadsheet, and the games. Finally remaster a new CD as backup for my 'load'. Yikes. Seems like I'm biting off a big chunk. Shocked

I'm searching for the new email program now. Nobody seems to have used Thunderbird on Puppy. I'm very interested in Evolution as it is described as like Outlook with an integrated calendar. However, there is no discussion of alternatives to Seamonkey for email here on the Puppy forum that I have been able to find. Rolling Eyes
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craftybear


Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 65
Location: East Coast Oz in God's Country

PostPosted: Sat 24 Oct 2009, 07:47    Post subject:  

Bowhunter wrote:
I'm searching for the new email program now. Nobody seems to have used Thunderbird on Puppy. I'm very interested in Evolution as it is described as like Outlook with an integrated calendar. However, there is no discussion of alternatives to Seamonkey for email here on the Puppy forum that I have been able to find. Rolling Eyes

Evolution requires Gnome and AFAIK hasn't been ported to Puppy. If it has I WANT ONE! Laughing

I believe Sylpheed is the most often used alternative to Seamonkey mail, and there most definitely is a package for that, but it is JUST mail and nothing more. No contacts, calendar, etc. Not really worth ditching the Seamonkey suite for.

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Bowhunter

Joined: 12 Oct 2009
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Location: Elgin, IL

PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct 2009, 11:31    Post subject:  

craftybear wrote:
Evolution requires Gnome and AFAIK hasn't been ported to Puppy. If it has I WANT ONE! Laughing



Thank you for that insight. As I am just gettting started, I didn't realize the need for a different desktop.

I've decided to try Opera 10.1b2 and see how it works for me.

bowhunter

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