[ut2004] Tweaking Linux for playing games

Gian Paolo Mureddu Thetargos at tutopia.com
Fri Aug 6 19:17:26 EDT 2004

Rick B wrote:

> Gian Paolo Mureddu wrote:
>> Rick B wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>>    I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for the optimal settings 
>>> for Linux and gaming? Shortly I will be doing a reinstall and that 
>>> would be a ideal time to start from scratch with building a highly 
>>> optimized Linux gaming machine. I am not talking about tweaking 
>>> UT2004, I am talking about the OS. Things that I have in mind are, 
>>> switching the partition I keep my games on from Reiserfs to XFS as 
>>> XFS is supposed to read larger files faster, since UT2004 seems to 
>>> have large files. I have learned to tweak bdflush to write to disk 
>>> more often in smaller chunks of data rather than to store data in 
>>> memory and write large chunks at once thus causing the scheduler to 
>>> not be able to supply the video card with the information it needs 
>>> to keep your framerate stable. These are just two examples of things 
>>> that can help make Linux a great gaming OS, surely there are many 
>>> more tweaks out there that I dont know about. Links are welcome too.
>>>                Rick B
>> I'd also mention some of the tweaks you may do to your kernel. For 
>> starters the use of -mm or -ck patches will definitely help here, and 
>> since the integration to the kernel (as of 2.6.8) of the new 
>> Staircase Scheduler, that will mean even better system 
>> responsiveness. Just out of curiosity, which distro will you be 
>> installing, you may want to go Gentoo or LFS due to the degree of 
>> optimization those let you achieve. If you have an Audigy or SB-Live 
>> class card, you can use the Accelerated OpenAL from this page 
>> http://www.lost.org.uk/openal.html, I've seen an acutal increase on 
>> FPS with UT2004 and my ATi card when I used this instead of the 
>> default openal from UT2004, I still have to do some tests (like 
>> VoIP), but I can tell you the difference is worth having it.
>    I use CCRMA's version of FC1 that is optimized for low-latency 
> audio work. They still are using the 2.4.26 kernel because tests on 
> the 2.6 kernel have revealed that the low-latency charactaristics are 
> not yet as good as the 2.4 kernel, but I don't know if this is the 
> best kernel (2.4) for gameplay. That is, I don't know if just because 
> it is good for low-latency audio work means that it is good for 
> gaming. It seems to perform very well though and I know that it does 
> include some of the -ck patches. I *was* going to wait for CCRMA to 
> come out with their version of FC2 and the 2.6 kernel, but I'm kind of 
> undecided. I have looked at Gentoo and I do have enough disk space for 
> installing two different distros. I have heard about Accelerated 
> OpenAL but I use ALSA with the onboard Nforce2 Soundstorm sound on my 
> mobo.
>                Rick B
    I don't know if there will be an Accelertaed OpenAL for nVidia 
audio, according to the guy who made the one for emu10k1 chips, he only 
could because Creative has an OpenSource version of the emu10k1 driver 
(which was used to build both ALSA and OSS drivers). I'm currently 
running FC2 with a custom 2.6.7-ck6 kernel, I applied the -ck patch and 
I could tell the difference from the stock FC2 kernel. Although Con 
Kolivas recommends to disable PREEMPT when using this patch (if you have 
the Hz set to 500+), I've found that the kernel behaves quite well. 
Another thing that must be said about tweaking your distro for Gaming, 
is about your DE and window manger. Big-fat-bloated DEs (KDE and GNOME) 
may induce additional overhead to the machine, so using a light weight 
WM/DE is recommendable for gaming. I've been looking around for one that 
both, satisfies my taste in the desktop and is reasonably light 
weighted. There are many WMs and DEs you can try (Flux, Balck, OpenBox, 
TWM, VWM, XFCE, etc). Of the ones I've tried, I can safely say that the 
best *for me* is XFCE4. It is both ligh weighted and VERY functional. 
Some people call it the light weight GNOME or GNOME's little brother, 
since it's based on GTK+. It has all the goodies from GNOME when it 
comes to confiugrability and customizability and also is blazing fast!, 
the downside is that if you are used to an Explorer-like file manager 
(Konqueror, Nautilus), the XFFM is a little sour.

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