Ok, So I installed kubuntu 7.04 (feisty Fawn) on my 1.5GHz Thinkpad T42 with 1GB of ram. My expectation was that it would be as snappy to use as Archlinux. Sure I was running XFCE on Arch, and Kubuntu defaults to KDE … but I thought the machine is surely fast enough to disregard the load of the desktop environment. So I had high expectations … and hey every unix noddy I talk to says ‘You should try ubuntu’.
It was OK, but it was noticeably slower than Arch (admitedly most people would not notice the difference, but I expect everything to happen without delay). As a crappy test I ran glxgears in both environments. In kubuntu I got about 980 fps. In Arch I got 1300fps. This is with the same xorg.conf … and obviously using the same hardware driver (I use the xorg radeon driver as fglrx doesn’t support the ATI 7500 chipset anymore). That is very puzzling. I thought ubuntu was compiled for i686. Or it could be my kernel. I run an old 2.6.17 kernel on my T42 under Arch. Occasionally, I try upgrading to the latest official Archlinux kernel (now up to 2.6.22 and a bit) … and usually I end up switching back to the 2.6.17 kernel because something has changed that annoys me.
So I switched back to Arch. Regarding my problem with jpeg viewers dying, I eventually worked out a workaround. It seems that the likes of xzgv and qiv do not like the transparency settings in my xorg.conf … so there’s an environment variable you can set :
And then it works. Go figure. I have no idea what on earth that env variable does. There’s this Gentoo page about it.
So I still wouldn’t mind trying some other distro. I just want a really fast system … and only essential updates. Surely someone makes such a thing. I’m tempted to go back to Slackware … but I think I’d miss having a decent package repository.