[lug] debian

David Morris lists at morris-clan.net
Thu Sep 18 17:56:20 MDT 2003

On Thu, Sep 18, 2003 at 04:39:30PM -0600, Peter Hutnick wrote:
> David Morris said:
> > On Thu, Sep 18, 2003 at 02:26:47PM -0600, Peter Hutnick wrote:
> >> Debian focuses on Freedom and (extreme) stability.
> >> These are admirable, but make it hard on a guy who is
> >> hoping to run contemporary hardware and have it "just
> >> work."
> >
> > See my other post for details, but this is not quite the
> > correct reason the hardware doesn't "just work" out of
> > the box.  The support in this case *is already there*
> > (though the NVidia drivers are better), but they are not
> > loaded by default.  This creates a much cleaner and
> > faster system, at the expense of more needed user
> > knowledge.
> Forgive me, but this is nonsense.  In every case that I am
> aware of Linux kernel modules will not load if the
> hardware isn't present.

Yes and no.  True, you don't need to load modules, but not
everything is always compiled as a module.  If it hasn't
been compiled as a module, the code is *always* loaded....no
choice about that.  Linux also does not auto-detect and load
modules (except during probing at installation sometimes, or
with special toos). RH puts a *lot* of drivers compiled into
the stock kernel....Debian has fewer compiled in.  I
frequently compile my own kernel (especially for a laptop)
and drop out 90% of the stuff in the stock kernels simply
because I will never need them (a near guarantee on a

RH does have helper programs to auto-probe hardware and help
minimize user intervention in the setup process, but they
still have a larger stock-kernel then I peersonally like on
my systems.

This all means more memory is used.  If you have a system
with effectively unlimited reasources (i.e. a new system),
this means system performance is not effected.  I (and
*many* people I know) are running Linux on computers that
qualify as something out of the dark ages in terms of
computer years.  This isn't a problem (one of the wonderful
things about linux!), but a bloated kernel *does* effect
system performance simply because it is huge.

> But even if that were not the case I am skeptical about
> your claim that a system would run more slowly with
> extraneous modules loaded anyway.  They wouldn't produce
> any interrupts and they would consume a negligible amount
> of memory.

Not only that, a stock kernel is not tuned to your
hardware....it is usually compiled for the
lowest-common-denominator.  Used to be all kernels (except
for Mandrake) were compiled for a 386....this is no longer
true, and all distros have at least compiled kernels
486/586/686/etc. They do not, however, tune performance to
hardware specifics......for instance, in the 2.4 kernel
there is an option to check for "Dell Laptops".  You have to
compile your own kernel for this, but in return you get a
few added minor features and a tad better performance (if
I'm recalling the details of the option correctly). Also, if
you *do* compile drivers into the kernel rather than loading
them as modules they use less memory.  I could be wrong, but
I believe in some cases they run faster as well.

You are right though Peter, extra drivers loaded in and of
themselves don't slow the system down....its other factors

> > There are HOWTOs, FAQs, and guides all over the place to
> > give the tiny bit of extra knowledge needed if you just
> > look for it.
> I don't deny this, but could you explain what this has to
> do with hardware "just working"?

It doesn't....I just wanted to point out that for systems
that do require a little bit more user knowledge, the users
don't have to work in a vacuum as they once did....there is
a wealth of easy to get to documentation that makes most
tasks trivially easy (especially with apt-get / debian
standards removing most of the installation and setup


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