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Byte.com: A Forest Of Kernel Trees

Feb 04, 2002, 19:35 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Moshe Bar)

[ Thanks to Moshe Bar for this link. ]

"Now that we have all these independent kernel trees, which one should we use? Which kernel is faster? Which ones are more reliable and which ones are bound to cause you problems? I set out to answer these questions for myself, so I downloaded the two most controversial kernel types (the standard kernel/Andrea Arcangeli type and the Alan Cox/Rik van Riel kernel type) and pitted them against each other. Andrea Arcangeli has his own aa tree, but for most purposes it is very similar to the standard Linux tree. That's because the virtual memory engine in the standard Linux was actually written by Andrea Arcangeli and improved by Ben LaHaise, Linux Torvalds, Andrew Morton, Alan Cox, and Marcelo Tosatti (the 2.4.x maintainer), among others.

On the other hand, the Alan Cox 2.4.18pre3 ac tree is the improved version of the first 2.4. kernels (from 2.4.0 to 2.4.9) with significant enhancements in the VM (Virtual Memory) area. As you might remember, up to Version 2.4.10, too many people were complaining about the poor performance and the poor reliability of the VM engine. Problems like swap storms and degrading performance were easily reproducible. See my October 2001 column on this subject.

Before even starting to test the various kernels, I asked Alan Cox, Andrea Arcangeli, and Rik van Riel what they thought would be a good test, and for any tuning preferences they might have. Both Alan Cox and Andrea Arcangeli wrote back with elaborate advice and opinions, while Rik restricted himself to question whether the standard Linux kernel would ever even finish a stress test. Andrea Arcangeli and Alan Cox were very helpful and provided advise, code, and comments. Alan Cox even went so far as to offer to find a company that would let me run benchmarks on its servers and software."

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