[Wolves] Couple of (redhat) problems

James Turner wolves at mailman.lug.org.uk
Sat Jul 12 20:54:00 2003

On Saturday 12 Jul 2003 12:35 pm, Bob Walker wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm a wee bit new to this group, and indeed to linux, so bear with me (I
> might ramble).
> I recently installed Redhat 9 on the recommendation of alt.linux (it was
> apparently either than or Mandrake 9.1) and it is incredibly sluggish,
> but then I am running the graphical environment with 128Mb RAM rather
> than the required 192Mb.

Sounds like memory is indeed likely to be a big factor in performance, 
especially with "heavyweight" applications such as Mozilla or OpenOffice.org. 
If the hard disc light is on almost continuously while the machine is being 
particularly sluggish then it is almost definitely a case of lack of memory.
What's the spec on the other aspects of the machine (may also be relevant to 
the "kernel panic: VFS" problem too)?

> My first question then is how on earth to I
> speed it up? I've tried various window managers (on the recommenation of
> alt.linux) but none seem to help (if they work at all).

You could disable unnecessary services. To do this, log in as root and type 
/usr/sbin/ntsysv into a terminal/command prompt. (Use the arrow keys to 
scroll up/down, TAB to move the cursor to/from the OK/Cancel buttons and 
space to turn a service on/off or select OK/Cancel.)

For a basic desktop machine that doesn't act as a server in any way, you 
should be able to turn off every service other than the following:

gpm (could possibly turn off if mouse works OK in X without it press
	CTRL+ALT+F1 to switch from a graphical login screen to a text-only login
	screen if you get stuck without a mouse)

The changes will come into effect following a reboot (or changing runlevel, if 
you know how to do this). Don't forget to to make a note of any changes, in 
case you find you need to change them back.

The two graphical environments provided in RH9 (GNOME and KDE) both use up 
memory in a big way. Of the two, I've found GNOME to give better performance 
on my laptop (cue angry KDE enthusiasts), which also has only 128Mb.

You could speed up GNOME by setting it not to run Nautilus (the file manager) 
on startup. The main effect of this is that you will no longer have any icons 
("Start Here", "James' Home", etc) on your desktop. The file manager is still 
available from the "Start" menu should you need it.

In KDE, you could choose "Desktop Settings Wizard" from the "Start" menu and 
turn off the various visual effects, themes, etc. In particular, you could 
move the slider down to "Slow Processor (Fewer effects)" in "Step 3: 

You could also try using less resource-hungry applications:

 - Instead of Mozilla, use Galeon
 - Instead of OpenOffice.org use AbiWord, Gnumeric, Dia (collectively known as
   GNOME Office?) or KOffice

As a more radical "no-frills" approach, you could try a different window 
manager, as I gather has been already suggested by others. A few suggestions:

	WindowMaker (similar to NeXTStep)
	AfterStep (similar to NeXTStep)
	ROX (One of Aq's favourites. Similar to Acorn RISC OS)
	FVWM (similar to OS/F Motif or Windows 3.1)
	Blackbox (notable for low memory usage)
	IceWM (notable for low memory usage)
	OLWM (a.k.a. XView) (as seen on old Sun workstations)

> Because of this I decided to downgrade to (what #linuxhelp calls
> "stoneage linux") 7.3 but it won't install.

Ah, Old Hat Linux 7.3, I remember it well...

> The install process gets
> through the install options screen, gives lots of information, then dies
> tragically on:
> Kernel panic: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on 09:00
> I was told it might be a duff CD so I ran off a couple more copies and
> tried them. Same old same old. any ideas what I can do about this?

Sounds like a bug in the way the installer bootstraps the kernel, presumably 
caused by some sort of incompatibility with your hardware. You could try 
making a boot floppy (instructions on CD) rather than booting from the 
installation CD itself, try a different version, different distro or 

> Failing that any way I can speed up redhat 9 without upgrading cos I
> really can't afford to. Incidentally, It's just occurred to me that the
> only version of linux I have tried (out of 7) that at some point during
> the install process/ 1st boot hasn't given me a kernel panic error and
> crashed, is redhat 9.
> - cheers
> - bob