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What are your ways of tuning a freshly installed OpenBSD operating system specifically for a desktop environment (faster UI interaction etc.)? What are the most important factors here to consider?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 8 '11 at 17:33

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

In general, tuning is discouraged by the OpenBSD developers, and you will find it difficult to get help on the mailing lists if you compile a custom kernel, or play with knobs to tweak performance. That being said, the FAQ discusses disk performance tweaks you may want to consider.

The other thing to do is search the mailing list archives for "performance" and seeing what turns up.

If you have a specific issue, I recommend researching it in detail (read the FAQ, man pages, and mailing list archives related to your topic), and then take a question to the mailing list. Don't just ask about "performance tuning" as this is vague, and the developers generally feel that it is not needed.

There is also a paper (from 2002), specifically on tuning a machine for use as a Network Server which may have some further information.

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Thanks. Yes, this is actually the reason why I'm not posting this to misc@.. In my experience UI responsiveness of OpenBSD is noticeably slower than of Linux on a similar setup although overall performance is identical. There are many factors but I naively guess it could have something to do with scheduler implementation.. Was just wondering if any tweaks are possible to this part since I'm using OpenBSD mainly as a desktop OS. – user13165 Dec 8 '11 at 19:08
@Pat The best tweak for performance I've found is to use a window manager that is lean... i.e. not Gnome (: Not sure what you use as a WM, but most of the "lightweight" ones I've tried work very well. Other than that... be sure your graphics HW is fully supported. – gabe. Dec 8 '11 at 19:58
I fell in love with OpenBSD's cwm and I believe it's the most lightweight as you can get (used many popular WMs before), but there's still considerable amount of slowness (not because of actual memory/cpu usage) left when using applications such as Firefox. Perhaps it's possible to adjust timer frequency to make it more real-time if that's relevant. – user13165 Dec 8 '11 at 20:49
Yeah cwm is GREAT! And I agree... it's pretty lightweight! – gabe. Dec 8 '11 at 21:10

Not to second-guess your motivation for choosing OpenBSD as a desktop system, but would you consider another distribution of Linux that is specifically geared toward desktop use?

I would suggest Ubuntu Linux (Debian based) which you can make as lean or as bloated as your hardware permits and benefit from an entire developer community's optimizations for desktop productivity and workflow.

It is just my view that OpenBSD is a distribution which does one thing (secure server) and does it well. However, on the desktop front it is neither mature nor as functional as some other desktop distros.

That said, it seems the suggestion in another answer of using cwm is coming from a user with experience in using this WM. I would also suggest trying XFCE which uses some Gnome libraries but is considered lean by any standard.

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OpenBSD is not a Linux distribution. – Sardathrion Jan 3 '12 at 14:39
Agreed, my answer seems to imply that. However, my suggestion is that Gnome, XFCE, etc can be installed on OpenBSD. – venzen Jan 3 '12 at 16:14

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