EOMA68 Computing Devices

An Earth-friendly way to easily upgrade and fix your own computer

Aug 11, 2016

Speedy Devuan

by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton

After running the libreoffice, printing and web browsing updates with associated videos on Parabola-Arm GNU/Linux-libre, the performance was less than modest. In complete contrast, when running the exact same programs under Devuan, the difference in speed is staggering and so noticeable as to be worth doing a separate update.

From these two videos it is very very clear: start-up time for libreoffice is four seconds - compared to almost ten to fifteen on Parabola. The print dialog (which was black for over twelve seconds on Parabola) loads up almost instantly and then takes 3-4 seconds to show the print preview. This really is not that much different from the same programs running on a budget Intel Atom laptop.

But the real kick-in-the-teeth is when running dwb (a light-weight webkit-gtk web browser) on devuan and viewing a random video from youtube: with absolutely no hardware acceleration whatsoever the video is clearly watchable with a reasonable framerate. Checking the CPU usage it’s almost maxing out the A20 on both cores (148% CPU usage) and the A20 is a little bit hot to touch (indicating that it’s reached somewhere a little over 60 Centigrade) but amazingly it’s actually functional and watchable. In direct contrast when operating from Parabola, page load times are just about tolerable, and the framerate for video playback on icecat is somewhere around 4 per second.

The lesson here is that compiler options really make a massive difference to the performance on ARM systems. Parabola use many packages from archlinux-arm directly without modification, so a bugreport needs to be filed with them so that they can take a look. The expectation is that at some point in the future, now that this has been noticed, the performance of Archlinux and Parabola ARM packages will dramatically improve. Welcome to Software Libre!

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