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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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9.1.3 Optimizing hardware

There are a few hardware optimization configurations that Debian leaves to the sysadmin to take care of.

  • hdparm

    • Hard disk access optimization. Very effective.

    • Dangerous. You must read hdparm(8) first.

    • hdparm -tT /dev/hda to test disk access speed.

    • hdparm -q -c3 -d1 -u1 -m16 /dev/hda to speed up a modern IDE system. (It may be dangerous.)

  • setcd

    • Compact disc drive access optimization.

    • setcd -x 2 to slow down to 2x speed.

    • See setcd(1).

  • setserial

    • Collection of tools for serial port management.

  • scsitools

    • Collection of tools for SCSI hardware management.

  • memtest86

    • Collection of tools for memory hardware management.

  • hwtools

    • Collection of tools for low-level hardware management.

      • irqtune: changes the IRQ priority of devices to allow devices that require high priority and fast service (e.g. serial ports, modems) to have it. 3x speedup of serial/modem throughput is possible.

      • scanport: scans I/O space from 0x100 to 0x3ff looking for installed ISA devices.

      • inb: a quick little hack that reads an I/O port and dumps the value in hex and binary.

  • schedutils

    • Linux scheduler utilities.

    • taskset, irqset, lsrt, and rt are included.

    • Together with nice and renice (not included), they allow full control of process scheduling parameters.

Mounting a filesystem with the noatime option is also very effective in speeding up read access to the file. See fstab(5) and mount(8).

Some hardware can be tuned directly by the Linux kernel itself through the proc filesystem. See Tuning the kernel through the proc filesystem, Section 7.3.

There are many hardware-specific configuration utilities in Debian. Many of them address needs specific to the laptop PC. Here are some interesting packages available in Debian:

  • tpconfig - A program to configure touchpad devices

  • apmd - Utilities for Advanced Power Management (APM)

  • acpi - displays information on ACPI devices

  • acpid - Utilities for using ACPI

  • lphdisk - prepares hibernation partition for Phoenix NoteBIOS

  • sleepd - puts a laptop to sleep during inactivity

  • noflushd - allow idle hard disks to spin down

  • big-cursor - larger mouse cursors for X

  • acme - Enables the "multimedia buttons" found on laptops

  • tpctl - IBM ThinkPad hardware configuration tools

  • mwavem - Mwave/ACP modem support

  • toshset - Access much of the Toshiba laptop hardware interface

  • toshutils - Toshiba laptop utilities

  • sjog - A program to use the "Jog Dial" on Sony Vaio Laptops

  • spicctrl - Sony Vaio controller program to set LCD backlight brightness

Here, ACPI is a newer framework for the power management system than APM.

Some of these packages require special kernel modules. They are already included in the latest kernel source in many cases. In case of trouble, you may need to apply the latest patch to the kernel yourself.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire