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Suse Performance Tuning


Linux Performance Tuning


Recommended Links Linux Kernel Tuning Disk subsystem tuning Performance
ps vmstat nfsstat top        
sar siga nice      Tips Humor Etc

Suse might have an edge over RHEL as it does not have SELinux (until version 11) but it does requre tuning to cut the bloat in order to demostrate better performance. In old version such resource hogs as Beagle should probably be de-installed for good. Cups and other rarely used or unused subsystems should not be installed at all.  For example  [UCI-Linux] Suse vs. Redhat - 2-CPU Recommendations states the following:

"I chose SuSE for the Opteron specifically because a brainy IBM solutions person told me that SuSE has been tuning for AMD for a few years (e.g., they wrote the GCC x86-64 back-end) and the threading performance on SuSE was much superior to RedHat so that's what he always recommended to customers. RedHat is apparently playing catch-up to SuSE, at least on x86-64, which may not affect you."

Disk subsystem tuning

Note: Proposed changes need to be verified with Dell and Novell staff, tested and if they help implemented one at a time.

  1. You need at least six disk per controller to get good performance.
  2. For fast disk subsystems, it is desirable to use large flushes of dirty memory pages. 

    The value stored in /proc/sys/vm/dirty_background_ratio defines at what percentage of main memory the pdflush daemon should write data out to the disk.

    If larger flushes are desired then increasing the default value of 10% to a larger value will cause less frequent flushes.

    As in the example above the value can be changed to 25 as shown in

     # sysctl -w vm.dirty_background_ratio=25

  3. Another related setting in the virtual memory subsystem is the ratio at which dirty pages created by application disk writes will be flushed out to disk.

    The default value 10 means that data will be written into system memory until the file system cache has a size of 10% of the server’s RAM.

    The ratio at which dirty pages are written to disk can be altered as follows to a setting of 20% of the system memory

    # sysctl -w vm.dirty_ratio=20

The best single advice that can be found on Net about Suse tuning is Patrick's Homepage/Getting SuSE Linux faster

Did you ever have the feeling, that every new SuSE Linux version runs more sluggish than the previous one? Well, you might be right about it. SuSE, like Microsoft tries to be a jack of all trades. That is, providing means for every demand, but in consequence optimizing for none. So what can be done to speed things up a bit?

First of all, let's define the scope of this howto (note: even if your system does not match these specs entirely, you might still be able to use one tip or the other):

Please note, that the following tips address experienced users, that are basicly familiar with the system and only need a hint of where to look.

Get rid of unnecessary libraries

Nowadays, a lot of code is outsourced in shared libraries. But in order to use such code, the dynamic link loader is needed. This program requires the file /etc/ to find these libs (which is build up by /sbin/ldconfig). Naturally you want the cache file as small as possibly. Hence have a look at your system and deinstall every library you deem useless for you (easiest way: startup YaST softwaremanagement and search for the term "lib"). Users of 64 bit systems are advised to remove as many 32 bit libraries as possible (just search for "-32" in YaST). Note: it is not possible to remove them all, as certain "office" applications depend on them.

Shoot the beagle

SuSE Linux 10.1 comes with a nifty app called "beagle", kind of a search engine, that tries to index your whole system (emails, IM, visited websites,... ). While in theory this sounds like a good idea, it'll be also a considerable performance hog. To get rid of it, simply remove the package "beagle". Note: You cannot (easily) deinstall the "libbeagle" shared libs.

Don't do it the ZEN way

Another nifty idea, someone came up with was the ZEN installer (not to confuse with XEN virtualization). Also "just being able to install" packages (without fuss) sounds tempting, this means, that a demon is always running in the background, waiting to install/upgrade something. Having systems running, that do nothing 99% of the time is usually not desireable, so just stop the ZMD demon in YaST's runlevel editor. Note: This may mean, gui integrated "ZEN clients" start bugging you to reenable it. Deinstall the "zen-updater" package in this case as well.

The exorcist

SuSE usually starts a lot more demons and other boottime programs, than you actually need or want. Some things to check: Keep in mind: Even though the gains seem little, any program not running will save you tripple: A program not running does not take time to startup and it does not consume RAM, which can then be used for filecaching instead (hence speeding up the system).

Time does not matter

A curious and often overlooked fact on Linux systems is, that filesystems not only keep track on when a file was modified/created but also when it was accessed last time. That is, simply reading a file (e.g. starting a program) will result in disc write operations. This may make some sense for pathes like /tmp (to find abbandonned tmpfiles) and /home ,but it is utterly useless for the static portions of the filesystem. To disable accesstime logging, the respective filesystem can be mounted with the "noatime" option in /etc/fstab. Note: /home and /tmp should live on partitions of their own (and have atime enabled).

Recompile the kernel

One should think, that this was an advise of the past, since stock kernels nowadays support anything and the kitchen sink. But basically, that's also the problem with them: They support way to much and are a compromise between desktop and server system.

For those who are not familiar with the build process (any more):

cd /usr/src/linux
make menuconfig
make install
make modules_install

Things to watch out for:


Application programmers tend to not pay attention to the resource hunger of their software nowadays. With some tweaks you can quite a boost in speed.

Check your locale settings

Systemlanguage (glibc) is controlled through the $RC_LANG variable in /etc/sysconfig/language. For german users it seems to default to "de_DE.UTF-8", which is wrong, as there is no /usr/locale/de_DE.UTF8 directory. However, /usr/locale/de_DE.utf8 does exist (which somehow seems to be the fallback, too ). Trying to access the wrong place first results in several unsuccessfull open(3) systemcalls, whenever an application launches. German users are therefore recommended to set $RC_LANG to "de_DE.utf8" (you can check the result by using "strace" and looking for open(3) calls).

Tweaking gnome

Gnome can be quite a resource hog and unfortunately it comes badly configured.

Things not to install

The following list contains packages, that should be checked, whether the according software is actually used. Merely having the package installed will result in software loaded and/or configs parsed upon login (obliviously loading unused programs/libs/configs is not so desireable). Most of these packages install hooks into the bonobo-activation server and will therefore use resources even if not in active use.

Stop the resapplet from loading

The resapplet takes care of switching screen resolution. This can be quite handy, if fullscreen aps (e.g. games) forget to switch back to the original resolution. However in most cases it's just another applet running and eating resources. The tricky part about disabling it is, that it is not in the users but the systems autostart. Hence the resapplet.desktop file in /opt/gnome/share/autostart has to be deleted.

Reduce themes

SuSE's perception of icon themes seems to be: The more the merrier. Hence, they try to bind all installed themes together (even cross desktop, if the according KDE packages are installed). Selecting one icon theme may mean, that several others are loaded as well, since themes can depend on each other. To reduce icon themes, go to /opt/gnome/share/icons and edit the index.theme file of the theme of your choice. Unwanted themes can be thrown out by removing them from the "Inherits" line. Afterwards the theme cache must be rebuild using /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.gtk2. Also try reducing fonts. Chances are, that way more fonts are installed than needed.

Cut down applnk usage

KDE and GNOME use "*.desktop" files to describe programs. These files associate icons, localized names and other things with the binary. While this is good for useability, it also hit's performance hard, since on startup, GNOME tries to load every *.desktop it can find on the system (it will not only load but also watch them!) - This can mean hundreds of files. To lessen the load, either don't install desktop applications you do not need or limit the search pathes for those .desktop files in the environment variable $XDG_DATA_DIRS (it can be set in /etc/profiled.d/xdg*). Limiting the XDG datadirs to only /opt/gnome/share gains the biggest performance benefit, but will also strip down the desktop seriously (expect to loose program access through the panel menu).

Use gconf-editor

A lot of things about gnome can be tweaked using gconf-editor. Though little can be done regarding performance here, it can greatly boost usability.

Create missing files

By using strace you can find out, which syscalls a program invokes. Of particular interest ist the open(3) syscall, as it is very costly (doing disk io). Trying to open() a file, just to find out, it does not exist and then try to find it in several other locations will considerably slow down things. SuSE is missing some files and hence the desktop tries to guess where they could by (trying several places before giving up):

The obvious stuff

Things worth remembering:

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Old News ;-)

[Nov 20, 2007] IBM Redbooks Linux Performance and Tuning Guidelines

05 July 2007 | IBM

Chapter 1, Understanding the Linux operating system
Chapter 2. Monitoring and benchmark tools
Chapter 3. Analyzing performance bottlenecks
Chapter 4. Tuning the operating system

Download PDF (4.1 MB)

Stress Linux 0.3.1 : Cheeplinux

bonnie++ 1.03a. (Hard drive benchmark). netio 1.23. (Network benchmark). Nepim 0.27. (Network test). Netperf 2.4.2. (Network test). Iperf 2.0.2 ...

Benchmarks for Native IPsec in the 2.6 Kernel | Linux Journal

[PDF] How to measure the Ethernet network throughput

NETIO - Network Throughput Benchmark, Version 1.14. (c) 1997-2001 Kai Uwe Rommel. Project details for Netio by Kai-Uwe Rommel

Netio is a network benchmark for OS/2 2.x, Windows NT/2000, and Unix. It measures the net throughput of a network via NetBIOS, TCP and UDP protocols (Unix only supports TCP and UDP) using various different packet sizes - installs in /usr/local. To find out more about how to use netio, read the /usr/local/doc/netio/netio.doc file and just type netio for options.

System Activity Reporter (sar)

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[May 3, 2007] IBM Redbooks Linux Performance and Tuning Guidelines

A very useful redbook. A lot of difficult to find into about kernel tuning.

Over the past few years, Linux has made its way into the data centers of many corporations all over the globe. The Linux operating system has become accepted by both the scientific and enterprise user population. Today, Linux is by far the most versatile operating system. You can find Linux on embedded devices such as firewalls and cell phones and mainframes. Naturally, performance of the Linux operating system has become a hot topic for both scientific and enterprise users. However, calculating a global weather forecast and hosting a database impose different requirements on the operating system. Linux has to accommodate all possible usage scenarios with the most optimal performance. The consequence of this challenge is that most Linux distributions contain general tuning parameters to accommodate all users.

IBM® has embraced Linux, and it is recognized as an operating system suitable for enterprise-level applications running on IBM systems. Most enterprise applications are now available on Linux, including file and print servers, database servers, Web servers, and collaboration and mail servers.

With use of Linux in an enterprise-class server comes the need to monitor performance and, when necessary, tune the server to remove bottlenecks that affect users. This IBM Redpaper describes the methods you can use to tune Linux, tools that you can use to monitor and analyze server performance, and key tuning parameters for specific server applications. The purpose of this redpaper is to understand, analyze, and tune the Linux operating system to yield superior performance for any type of application you plan to run on these systems.

The tuning parameters, benchmark results, and monitoring tools used in our test environment were executed on Red Hat and Novell SUSE Linux kernel 2.6 systems running on IBM System x servers and IBM System z servers. However, the information in this redpaper should be helpful for all Linux hardware platforms.

[Oct 25, 2005] Oracle Database10g R2 ( on SUSE Linux 10.0 (tip)

This white paper is designed to help you get started with Oracle 10g R2 on SUSE Linux 10.0.

[Aug 29, 2005] A Cool Solutions for Developers Book Review: Performance Tuning for Linux Servers (feature)

Performance Tuning for Linux Servers provides the basic knowledge and skills needed to understand the performance of Linux servers, and contains examples based on popular enterprise Linux distributions (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux) useful to Linux developers, administrators and architects of all experience levels. Read on to see if it this book might benefit you.

[Aug 16, 2005] Review: Linux Kernel Development Second Edition (feature)

Kirk Coombs provides a great review of this book.

[May 18, 2005] Optimizing the Linux Kernel to Work with the Processor of Your Choice (feature)

Check out these ways to improve the performance of a Linux system, both server and workstation, and explore optimization with a variety of different processors/hardware platforms.

[Mar 23, 2005] OProfile -- Linux Profiling Tool (feature)

So, you have created that brand new killer Linux application for SUSE Linux and you're running it on the latest hardware. While testing, you hypothesize that your recently purchased server is capable of giving you a little more out of your application. How do you go about figuring out where you can gain more performance? Check out OProfile.

[Jun 2, 2004] Patching the SUSE Kernel- FAQ (feature)

Check out this nice array of questions and answers about the SUSE kernel.

Watching Hard Drive Activity With iotop On Ubuntu 8.10 And Debian Lenny HowtoForge - Linux Howtos and Tutorials

For Suse 11 Simply type "yum install iotop". Iotop is licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL. The latest version is Iotop 0.3.2 (NEWS), available here : iotop-0.3.2.tar.bz2 or iotop-0.3.2.tar.gz.

Freshmeat project page to stay informed:

100% Cpu Load - SUSE Forums

Remove packages beagle and kerry.
QUOTE(Static @ Apr 6 2007, 11:52 AM)
I uninstalled Zenworks, but I'm still getting this massive load on my cpu whenever I log in. I don't like it and I want this parse-metdata process gone.

Also remove packages beagle and kerry. They may cause substantial CPU load after booting.

QUOTE(D0M1N8R @ Apr 9 2007, 01:25 PM)
Experiencing same thing..
I setup this box probably about 2 months ago
just decided to toss my games on it
Installed nVidia driver
startup glxgears and get 15500+ FPS for a few seconds and then drops way down to 500 FPS. sometimes down to 10FPS
95% parse-metadata thread..
Killed that
then 95% load with update-status
killed that
back to 15500 FPS
so How do I remove meta all together? the search feature is not worth this.

Try zypper (opensuseupdater). It is a selection in YaST, software management, filter on patterns. At the same time you install 'OpenSuSE Software Management', deinstall the 'Enterprise Software Management'. Reboot. If you do not see a blue icon in the taskbar, start it with 'opensuseupdater' , no quotes.

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IBM Redbooks | Tuning SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server on IBM eServer 27 July 2004

Chapter 1. Tuning the operating system
Chapter 2. Tuning tools
Chapter 3. Analyzing performance bottlenecks
Chapter 4. Tuning Apache
Chapter 5. Tuning database servers
Chapter 6. Tuning Samba for file and print
Chapter 7. Tuning LDAP
Chapter 8. Tuning Lotus Domino

Server Oriented System Tuning Info

Configuring SUSE Linux on POWER5 to maximize performance

Tuning Red Hat for maximum performance

Level: Intermediate

Tom Syroid, Author and Linux administrator

21 Aug 2002

This tutorial details the ins and outs of transforming a stock, "out of the box" Red Hat installation into a finely tuned, stable system customized to individual needs and tastes. The material presented here is based on Red Hat 7.3, although many of the techniques and procedures discussed are equally applicable to other mainstream Linux distributions. And while the title uses the phrase "performance tuning," you'll soon discover that performance and security often go hand in hand.

Books (none is recommended)

Slashdot Performance Tuning for Linux Servers



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