Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Netrunner 13.06 Enigma Tweaks for the Memory Deprived PC

by Dietrich Schmitz

I've been living with Netrunner 13.06 Enigma for about a week now and am still quite happy with it.

Yet, I am not satisfied to just use any Distro with its 'out of the box' setting for long before the urge sets in to make changes.

Mostly, for my purposes, I want the ram footprint of the GUI to be as small as it can possibly be. (Image credit: smithsonianmag.com)

Where KDE is concerned, while it does weigh in in the 400MB+ range at start-up the Acer Aspire One D260 in default configuration is quite acceptable speed-wise.  I half-expected that would not be the case and was happy to know the system was carrying the weight of a full KDE Plasma Workspace implementation nicely.

So, the lust to tweak set in and here's what I did.

Unneeded Services

I disabled the following services

Akonadi (set StartServer=false in ~/.config/akonadi/akonadiserverrc)
cups and cups-browserd (sudo update-rc.d -f cups remove && update-rc.d -f cups-browserd remove)
Added the below contents to file ~/.kde/share/autostart/krunner.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Command Runner

klipper (sudo apt-get purge klipper)
nepomuk (off by default; set autostart=false in ~/.kde/share/config/nepomukserverrc)

3D Effects

System Settings, Workspace Appearance, Desktop Effect, uncheck 'Enable Desktop Effects at Startup' and on the Advanced tab, switched from OpenGL to xrender.

Other Services

In system settings, Advanced, Service Manager, I unchecked and stopped:

Drive Ejector (my Netbook has no CD drive)
Free Space Notifier (I've never run out of disk space)
Nepomuk Search Module
Remote URL Change Notifier
Wacom Tablet (don't have one)
Write Daemon

System Settings, Desktop Appearance, Widget Style, Configure, Animations, I unchecked 'Enable Animations'.


Preload uses caching algorithms to intelligently preload software based on your user habits.  I installed with:

sudo apt-get install preload


I've been using zram for several days.  I will tell you that this change alone will make a big change in the speed of any PC -- it doesn't matter how much ram it has.  In fact, it's going to be present in the Kernel 3.11 as zswap, but currently, it exists if you are using a Linux kernel 3.2 or greater as zram.  Users of Netrunner get a 3.8 kernel with the 'bonus' of an enhanced LZO compression library.

The command to install:

sudo apt-get install zram-config.

There isn't anything else you need to configure for zram -- it is now mapped and loaded as a kernel module (zram.ko) to two block swap devices with the name /dev/zram[n] where n is the core of your PC.  In my case with the Atom N450, it's /dev/zram0 and /dev/zram1.
If you would like to see your zram swap activity, I would suggest installing ncurses-based 'glances' (sudo apt-get install glances).

So, that's it.  Now things are absolutely 'honkin' fast.

P.S. those using Fedora will find zram installables here.

Good Luck.

-- Dietrich

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