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xylophone
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:22 pm    Post subject: How was it using Gentoo in the early 2000s? Reply with quote

I'm curious about the experience with Gentoo on old hardware, but specifically usage in the early days with regard to installation and updating (compiling, basically).

I spent last week installing Gentoo on a reasonably old machine with a modest processor and 3GB of RAM. In ~2000, I know many users had even more modest specs than mine -- but, I think it's important to note that software has become more demanding and gained more dependencies over time.

Did the smaller kernel and software with fewer dependencies even out the compile time against weaker processors and less RAM? Any insights on using Gentoo in the early days on early hardware would be much appreciated!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xylophone,

My first install was using the 1.4-rc4 liveCD on a k6-2 450 MHz PC, probably with 512Mb RAM, as fitting more would have meant that the RAM above 512Mb could not be cached.
The cache and tag RAM were on the motherboard, not inside the CPU.

My main memory of that era is spending 8 hours building OpenOffice, only to find all the icons were black squares.
However, I kept binpackages of everything, even then, so the downgrade was only 10 min.

It may still be possible to relive those days. The ebuilds are all online in CVS, I know I still have that liveCD somewhere. The GuideXML documentation is in CVS too.
FInding the stage1 tarball and 18 year old sources may be a problem.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My earliest memories I have about running Gentoo is on a Core2 Duo laptop, which was quite nice back in 2005 :P

Compile times didn't differ that much from what i'm experiencing now. I guess the complexity of projects grew at a similar rate as the CPU speed :) (or at least for the packages and CPU's i'm using :) ). I guess using current packages at a system with specs from 2005 would be terribly slow :roll:
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was running Gentoo on my Pentium IV machine with 512 MB memory. It wasn't proportionately slower than modern kit because (a) source code packages were smaller (b) gcc ran a lot faster (less large-scope optimization) (c) more code was pure C and other simple languages that compiled a lot faster (d) portage only had package-level dependencies, none of the USE flag dependencies there are now, and no slots. But I used to dread the big package upgrades - libreoffice, Qt, KDE and the like were overnight jobs. (That was before KDE split itself into three layers "so you could reduce the amount of compilation if your desired application only required certain components" - but of course it turns out everything in the apps layer seems to require everything in the lower layers, right down to Qt, so the savings evaporated.)

What makes life hard these days is the broad reach of source-code inclusions (i.e. inlining & generic handling) that makes C++ and the like and some C compilations into a huge graph-solving problem. IMHO there's a lot to be said for the Java approach, where the inter-module definitions are purely interfaces, and the code optimization is handled by the JIT runtime.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"How was it using Gentoo in the early 2000s?"
That's a good question. It was good.
I miss the KDE3.
There are devs that is keeping it updated on the Trinity project (there is even one overlay https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Trinity_Desktop_Environment).
Linux was never the same for me, after they upgraded to KDE4. And even the latest versions of KDE3 already showed some weight in it (a pity that Trinity inherited this, otherwise I would be using it to this day; still very light by the current standards). With KDE 3.5.4 everything used only around 16MB of ram on my machine, and the applications were very light too, but with a lot of features. And now I use the fluxbox. I miss that Konqueror3 feeling of power and integration (one tab browsing the web, other tab with ftp, another tab with cvs or svn, another tab with files, and more, with everything integrated and working like magic).
Good times indeed (^_^)/
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't have to keep up with things constantly being deprecated. libpng forcing long recompiles were better than M___ G____ breaking my working computer to the point I am loathe to emerge world ever.

EDIT: redacted name of person just out of politeness i guess.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had (still have) a k6-3+ on 512M RAM similar to NeddySeagoon's. I do remember that the initial emerge -e @world took three days.
These days, I update by building packages on another machine. An open support request still exists by someone else for eix. Eix built on another machine crashes on an illegal instruction. Eix built native does not. I have the same situation and was never able to find where the crash occured, much less why.

Biggest problem is that it only supports ISA and PCI cards and only a few PCI slots. The ISA slots are totally useless.

So, tes, it's faster now. When I upgraded an install from Athlon II X3 to Ryzen 2700X, emerge -e @world built overnight, maybe 12 hours(?) I sleep late.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Circa 2004-2010, portage glitches were regular events. Problem-free updates were the exception. I stuck with it by sheer endurance. I thought it was worth the chase. I was very weary of one-size-fit-all distributions and their long-term update/maintenance issues. Unlike some others, I'm pretty sure I had a full gig of RAM on my main machine when I started, and some kind of AMD processor. I never had an Intel CPU of my own until I found a discarded HP box with an i7-2600 somebody put out with the trash, and that's now my main machine.

Back to the summer of 2006, I deployed eight Gentoo desktop computers to use at a one-week convention, so I guess it wasn't THAT hard by then. Most of those machines were then re-deployed to a parochial school and they continued to run Gentoo until about 2016.

Today, portage glitches are almost non-existent as long as you keep updates current. Dependency resolution seems to be nearly perfect.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Overall using any Linux in the early 2000s was a lot harder. You needed to make your own XFree / xorg config to get graphical interface working. Gentoo took it to a bit higher level, and every update in ~testing could make your X / other programs to not work. But it surely taught you how to deal with these situations and work in the shell, which is advantegous using any distro out there.

Gentoo nowadays is very stable, and overall using any Linux distro is much easier than it was 20 years ago.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My desktop today's 100 times faster and has 100 times more RAM than the one I first installed Gentoo on (2004.1 stage1 iirc), but some days it doesn't really feel that way. My other running machines are on life support and need cross-compiling to update, because @system packages are getting too bloated to compile on them.

The dozens of funky kernel patchsets from forumgoers here don't really exist any more. At least ck-patches is still going.
We had einit and initng long before Canonical and RedHat started their petty feud. Those two projects went away from lack of interest, because openrc was good enough.

I used to run KDE3. I gave KDE4 a try for as long as I could tolerate it. These days I use Openbox.

Portage itself has gotten much, much slower and not much smarter. There's a whole 1 second of difference just between "emerge -pv llvm" and "emerge -pv sys-devel/llvm"
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ant P. wrote:
There's a whole 1 second of difference just between "emerge -pv llvm" and "emerge -pv sys-devel/llvm"


sorry, I don't understand the significance of this, could you explain?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Juippisi wrote:
You needed to make your own XFree / xorg config to get graphical interface working.
Yup. Getting graphical interface to work on my first Gentoo PC (PIII 900MHz) took quite much RTFMing and time.
What has been improving since then is all kinds of autodetection.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xylophone wrote:
Ant P. wrote:
There's a whole 1 second of difference just between "emerge -pv llvm" and "emerge -pv sys-devel/llvm"


sorry, I don't understand the significance of this, could you explain?

Portage is supposed to have pre-built package name to category lookup caches, so that 1 second difference should be no more than the time it takes to fgrep a text file.

I re-ran it a few times just to be certain - elapsed time without a full name on the command line is always longer, sometimes by up to 20%:
Code:
 ~ # for i in llvm sys-devel/llvm; do sync; echo 3 >| /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches; echo "***$i"; \time emerge -p $i; done
***llvm

These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

Calculating dependencies... done!
[ebuild   R    ] sys-devel/llvm-10.0.0
5.31user 0.29system 0:12.40elapsed 45%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 138620maxresident)k
111112inputs+192outputs (56major+47064minor)pagefaults 0swaps
***sys-devel/llvm

These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

Calculating dependencies... done!
[ebuild   R    ] sys-devel/llvm-10.0.0
5.20user 0.29system 0:11.83elapsed 46%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 137056maxresident)k
110088inputs+192outputs (56major+45979minor)pagefaults 0swaps

For a large package like this it's a nuisance, but for something simpler it spends longer figuring out the package name than resolving its deps. Sometimes longer than src_compile.

There's paper-cut problems like this everywhere. They add up, and nobody really understands how portage works so nobody can fix it.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ant P. wrote:
There's paper-cut problems like this everywhere. They add up, and nobody really understands how portage works so nobody can fix it.

Lack of a design specification and ad-hoc design. Big projects need both. Even large software houses think these are busywork to do after development. No. they are needed for bug free development and release. Yes,v bug free software exists. No, it didn't start that way. Every project has initial bugs, but they are not recognized until too late if there is not comprehensive testing. You can't have comprehensive testing unless you have a comprehensive spec. "Looks like it works, let's ship it!" doesn't work.

Here at Gentoo we have a large group of testers, those using ~ keywords. But they don't know what they are looking for until it smacks them in the face.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony0945,

Plan to throw one away. You will anyway. :)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:19 pm    Post subject: Re: How was it using Gentoo in the early 2000s? Reply with quote

xylophone wrote:
I'm curious about the experience with Gentoo on old hardware, but specifically usage in the early days with regard to installation and updating (compiling, basically).

I spent last week installing Gentoo on a reasonably old machine with a modest processor and 3GB of RAM. In ~2000, I know many users had even more modest specs than mine -- but, I think it's important to note that software has become more demanding and gained more dependencies over time.

Did the smaller kernel and software with fewer dependencies even out the compile time against weaker processors and less RAM? Any insights on using Gentoo in the early days on early hardware would be much appreciated!

Cheers
Some packages took a long time to compile, but less RAM was needed. 3GB was probably enough. Today, that 3GB probably ought to be 8GB (a complete guess). I probably had 4GB then, now I have 8GB and 16GB.

My perception is that there are more changes now that in a practical sense require more frequent updates. Major updates were probably more risky, but seemed more thoroughly worked through (at least by the time I made an attempt). I think that is also a byproduct of increased frequency of changes.

While there are definite usability improvements, I'd say my overall experience has decreased. Maintaining three separate systems then seemed a relatively trivial task. Now it seems much more difficult and/or time consuming. I dread having to deal with it, and in some cases avoid it. In fact, one of my systems is "temporarily" booted using the last sysrescuecd (not systemd based). Another system I update sporadically. I did recently and it had been ~50 days since the last sync.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember that back than, when nobody had 1GB of ram, not even my servers at work, a couple of weeks after trying gentoo someone on this forum promptly recommended me to put ACCEPT_KEYWORDS=~arch in make.conf to have recent versions of programs. So I did, started emerge and went to sleep, back than going from arch to ~arch was almost the same as doing an emerge -e world. In the mean time some friends on IRC informed me that it wasn't a good idea. When the emerge ended after a day or two I realized why ...... I also found out that going back from full ~arch to arch was impossible.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 2006 I was running a couple of LAMP and mail servers that had Pentium II CPU and 512M RAM. These were competent, fully functional Gentoo machines with no X programs. They were terribly slow building and updating, but I didn't have to watch them work.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Circa 2000 and very early Gentoo releases:
It required considerable patience, though not as much as you might think. Hardware was slower, but software was also smaller.

Hardware compatibility on any Linux was kinda naf in general, and a bunch of things were in flux (remember static /dev and module autoloading?).

IIRC I was running pretty ancient hardware at the time (overclocked Pentium 166 and/or a 486 120), with distcc assist from a 350Mhz PII. Compile times were at least manageable, and Gentoo didn't suffer RedHat dependency-hell or Slackware no-package-manager/huge download (33k modem) issues.
Gentoo's configurability helped rather a lot WRT runtime performance, and compiler flags made a real difference on that old hardware.

I don't recall any Gentoo specific aggravation at all TBH, most of the pain was the usual distro-agnostic old-hardware workarounds and manual configuration. And Xfree86 configs. Always with the Xfree86 configs and the manual modelines.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still have Gentoo on my Core2 Duo desktop with 4 Gb RAM from 2007 ( I remember my supplier back then was surprised I asked for 4Gb, she said that everybody is happy with 2Gb)
And I still compile things like libreoffice on it. Gave up on qtwebengine, though :)

Back in 2004 when I came to Gentoo it was actually ahead of other distros in support of modern to the time hadrware. I came because I got quad opteron machine with 32 Gb RAM ( don't ask at what cost,
it was my startup grant), and I needed 64 bit, which RedHat has not provided yet, but Gentoo was faster rolling out kernel with 64-bit.

Also at the time, it felt that any software you hear about from friends was already in Gentoo tree. I remember first thing doing emerge --search name_I_just_heard, before googling it :).
This of course may be just my perception, plus my friends are almost all colleagues, so they were talking about narrow range of softwares.

since 2004 I had Gentoo on all my laptops, the first with 1GB RAM, retired in 2008.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steve_v,

I don't think Gentoo took any more keyboard time to maintain in 2002 than it does today.
Its probably less now because portage no longer breaks things during an update until you run revdep-rebuild.

I don't count machine time, that's always going to be too long. :)

Maybe I have the software bits to put together a 2002 i686 VBox image.
That might be a fun project for the dark nights.
I still have some AMD XP 3200+ hardware but the 5v STB from the PSU is only 1.5v, so it won't power up.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:

I still have some AMD XP 3200+ hardware

Introduction date 13-May-03
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erm67,

My original install started out on an AMD k6-2 450MHz in May 2002, about a month after I got ADSL, a whole 512Mbit/sec download. :)
It was migrated through several sets of hard drives, CPUs and motherboards until I went 64 bit in 2009. It ended up on that AMD XP3200+
That's my original Gentoo install on that hardware, or is it? :)
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steve_v wrote:
And Xfree86 configs. Always with the Xfree86 configs and the manual modelines.


I loved Xfree86 config and manual modeline calculations in particular. On my CRT monitor of the time, I managed to achieve quite nice sharp picture utilizing max real estate.
All of this became moot with LCD's, of course.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
I don't think Gentoo took any more keyboard time to maintain in 2002 than it does today.

I agree, or at least my rose-tinted memory agrees...

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Its probably less now because portage no longer breaks things during an update until you run revdep-rebuild.
I still run it after updates TBH, not sure if it's paranoia or just habit. It doesn't hurt anything anyway.


NeddySeagoon wrote:
I still have some AMD XP 3200+ hardware but the 5v STB from the PSU is only 1.5v, so it won't power up.

If that's an AT style PSU, I'm pretty sure I have some somewhere around here... but I don't think they're worth the shipping :P


dmpogo wrote:
On my CRT monitor of the time, I managed to achieve quite nice sharp picture utilizing max real estate.

Indeed. At one point I got down on a bunch of ex-corporate 21" IBM CRT monstrosities on a "You can have them free, but you have to take at least 2" basis. Awesome image, requiring an awesomely sturdy desk.

That 486 also had a VLB GPU (Cirrus logic?), so not only did I get to mess with Xfree configs, I got to enjoy mucking about with kernel badram patches to make a memory hole for hires VGA modes. Plug 'n play LCDs and autoconfiguring Xorg is nowhere near as much fun.
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