[Beowulf] Sidebar: Vista Rant

andrew holway andrew at moonet.co.uk
Tue Jul 17 09:38:41 PDT 2007

+1 for windows only as a 'linux application'

I wouldn't trust windows to take the lid of a can of beans that was
already open :-)

On 17/07/07, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:
> On Mon, 16 Jul 2007, Bruno Coutinho wrote:
> >> >Consumers will forgive a lot, but not poor interactive performance.
> >> >That's why Linus has made excellent interactive performance a design
> >> >mandate from the very earliest days of the kernel (and why linux plus X
> >> >on 486's was peppier -- much peppier -- than Vista on multi GHz multi
> >> >cores).
> >
> >
> > When machines start coming with 8-16GB RAM this will be forgotten.
> > More than ten year ago everyone said that NT was bloated, but when
> > machines went with 128MB RAM, everyone switched to 2K, XP.
> I don't believe that Vista's slowness has anything to do with hardware
> memory footprint.  My experience is limited to a dual core 1.6 GHz CPU
> with 2 GB of RAM, running "nothing" but the OS itself and a single
> bo-ring application (e.g. a game) that runs under XP FAST in 512 MB (and
> runs perfectly acceptably in half of that).  Vista is configured with
> transparency off and all that -- obviously computing translucent windows
> is a COSMIC and STUPID waste of cycles.  In fact, it is configured for
> maximum performance (it has a lovely little configuration interface that
> lets you do it with a single mouse click, basically).
> Slow, slow, slow.  To call it a pig does disservice to pigs.  Move the
> mouse and a few seconds later the mouse pointer moves.  Type into the
> keyboard and 0.5 seconds later (with irregular luck) characters appear.
> I have no idea "what it's doing in there", but with two CPU cores with
> an aggregate 3.2 GHz of cycles to dispose of and 1 GB of high speed RAM
> apiece, to be unable to manage what amounts to a single threaded
> foreground task (on say one CPU) and the thumb-twiddling of kernel
> idleness (on say the other CPU) isn't something that will be solved by
> 16 GB of RAM.  At least not until the software itself is fixed.  This is
> just plain broken behavior.
> The real question is -- is it broken by design -- something that will be
> VERY expensive for them to fix, as it basically back to the drawing
> board to start over again, and as I alluded to in a previous note, they
> might have to go ALL THE WAY BACK and re-engineer Windows itself from
> the ground up if they've encountered a scaling limitation in their
> generic design.  Or it may be a matter of retuning, fixing bugs, falling
> back to XP and relabelling a working but much more humble advance on XP
> "Vista" on an emergency basis.  Those things would be expensive too and
> of course the whole situation is already embarrassing, and embarrassment
> is expensive in its own right to a company that relies on the confidence
> of its customers that however painful and expensive Windows might be, it
> can be made to WORK!  It isn't clear that Vista can be made to "work",
> no matter what.
> > But Linux plus X on a 486 with a 640x480 VGA is a very different
> >> matter from digital rights managed 1600x1200 HD on that
> >> multicore.  It's not really an apples/apples comparison.  You have to
> >> burn a lot of compute cycles to make sure that your content is
> >> legitimately being viewed <grin>.
> >
> >
> > Really this is a very unfair comparison. :-)
> > I read that Vista multimedia system has 7 modules:
> > 2 to playing multimedia content and 5 to ensuring DRM.
> I didn't even mention Apples, because they are a different OS and issue
> altogether;-)
> My point was that to a computer user -- even a sophisticated and
> somewhat jaded one like me -- the "speed" of a computer has nothing to
> do with its clock, the amount of memory it has, the quality of its
> network, the vast ocean of its disk.  It is measured in very simple
> terms.  When I type, do characters appear "instantly" or after a lag?
> When I move the mouse, does the pointer or view scroll smoothly, or
> jerkily and after a lag?  When I click an execution box, or run a
> program from the command line, does the process execute "now" so that I
> can see the new process hop up on the screen, or is there a 2-3 second
> delay?  When I load a file to work on it, save a file to disk, or do
> ANYTHING AT ALL does it happen NOW or does it happen LATER, after an
> annoying interruption while the system "thinks"?
> SunOS (4.x, say) was amazing in the way it would make interactive use of
> its GUIs (sunview, X11R4 and up) happen NOW.  Solaris was amazing in the
> way that it would make interactive use of its GUIs on much more powerful
> hardware happen LATER.  Linux on 486's and beyond was amazing in that it
> was pretty much as good as SunOS 4.x at making things happen NOW, a
> property that has been carefully preserved in later version of Linux by
> deliberate design.  As long as the system has enough memory not to swap
> a linux box works NOW.
> This is where Vista is a major screw up.  Nobody cares about DRM
> compliance but the DRM police.  Nobody cares about multimedia systems,
> and since functioning multimedia now fits in $500 telephones people are
> understandably cynical about needing multicore multi GB systems to make
> it work.  What people DO care about, very much, is having a system that
> happens NOW, click to keyboard, at their actual UI.  Microsoft is in
> deep trouble...
>      rgb
> --
> Robert G. Brown                        http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu
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