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 Forum index » House Training » Beginners Help ( Start Here)
Understanding mounts/memory/RAM & filesystems/_save file
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canbyte


Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 266
Location: Hamilton, Canada

PostPosted: Sat 07 Mar 2009, 16:29    Post subject:  Understanding mounts/memory/RAM & filesystems/_save file
Subject description: great tutorial by Dennis, Bruce, foo. Tips on optimizing
 

[Edit] please add any comments before i set about editing/transferring to wiki - link to other threads, fill in on gui issues + whatever [/edit]


How can i kick junk out of ram so seamonkey & all the pages i open can run as fast as possible? ie. manage memory to ensure no encroachment on seamonkey's ability to handle multiple (18+) flash heavy (business) pages.

I download lots of junk (articles, pdf files etc) and see no reason to hold it in memory so i save it to a 2nd flash drive - but there it is. Even though i unmount the 2nd flash drive, the free ram indicator on bottom right stays the same - so its still in memory?

Whole buncha questions come up.

I also think this info should be in puppy's manual or the wiki and if you can help me understand what's going on, i'll be glad to make a little effort to get that info edited & into the wiki or manual, whichever you think best (or i have permission for).

So......

Are all the files on the mounted drive put entirely in memory, or just the file system/structure/info or whatever you call it so it can be accessed? or

This windows refugee is confused by the same object being in two places/ two name at once:
sdb1 also exists as mnt/home,
sdc1 also exists as mnt/sdc1.
They all exist in memory. I'm getting confused as to which flash is which. Hard to tell even by watching their little lights. Can i relabel them to say whiteflash, blackflash, etc?

How can some files be removed from memory but still remain accessible?

What exactly is that little free ram meter reading?
Have a look at this film
http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=26614
About an hour in, a message flashed up to the effect that there is only 2mb left in ram, then 1 then 0. Crash. The ram meter never deviated from 443mb free. Can anybody detect the size of this film. PCU meter also rises to 6 or 7 lines at time of crash.

What exactly is the red graphical indicator beside it calibrated when various lines show up? (I used to worry at the third line, now only at the 5th on the Dell)

Why do the dates not change on the pup_save files? ie seems to remain at the created date and not the last modified date. Can this be fixed - its very confusing and hard to keep track of my changes (despite adding a suffix to the name). Now i have 2 files dated at the same instant! Help!!

Newbies note that a 1G flash drive will not hold a backup of your 512mB pup_save file!!! Mine got truncated & unusable. No warning.

Having put all my junk on the 2nd flash drive, can windows grab files and change them without risking puppy's ability to use them?

What is the purpose of swap files? How big should a swap file be/ what logic? My guess is that swap files are used to compensate for too little ram. While puppy seems to be able to run in 128mb ram, I really could not use seamonkey (heavily) until I went to 378mb. The Dell (256mb) is ok as long as i'm careful what/how many i load. CPU speed is also a factor.

Having installed Devx to get my printer working, can i now unload it to free up memory? How? How much memory does it consume? If i can only accomplish that by stepping back to an older pup_save file, how can i keep the changes that i want (plus all the info junk)?

ie. i keep adding bookmarks & don't want to lose them. Can i save bookmarks to a separate file? Ok, i see that under bookmark manager l tools l export - Wiki needs to record that!

Thanks ahead

_________________
1. Dell Dimension E521, AMD Athln 64, 2 GHz 1.93GB ram,
Puppy 533 on CD, accesses flash drive only,
FFox Nightly12.0
2. Compaq P3 733Hz 375RAM
Printer: Oki C3400 > LAN


Last edited by canbyte on Mon 09 Mar 2009, 12:32; edited 2 times in total
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Bruce B


Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 11130
Location: The Peoples Republic of California

PostPosted: Sun 08 Mar 2009, 04:51    Post subject: Re: How to optimize memory/RAM & _save file?
Subject description: how can 412 be optimized for heavy browser demand?
 

canbyte wrote:

I download lots of junk (articles, pdf files etc) and see no reason to hold it in memory so i save it to a 2nd flash drive - but there it is. Even though i unmount the 2nd flash drive, the free ram indicator on bottom right stays the same - so its still in memory?


Right off the bat we have nomenclature problems.

To me memory means RAM

To Puppy memory means in most cases 'physical storage space' and some times might mean RAM.

Addressing some questions

1) mounted devices typically don't use RAM, but they could, if you set them up that way. The general rule is they are where they are physically located and get mounted in order to be accessible.

Quote:
sdb1 also exists as mnt/home,
sdc1 also exists as mnt/sdc1.
They all exist in memory.


2) /mnt is a traditional parent directory for mounting devices in child directories of /mnt

conventionally mounts don't exist in ram and there is nothing in the 'mount' command which would move the device physically.

3) no change on the pup_save file date / time stamp because Puppy doesn't utilize it as a flat file character device, rather as a mounted block device, not treating it differently than it would a partition.

4) a swap file should be a bigger than it needs to be. by monitoring your swap file usage over a period of time, you can determine the optimal size. On this computer, it is 80mb. If the usage ever approached 80mb I'd make it larger.

-------------------

This could clear up a portion of your questions I hope.

Bruce

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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Sun 08 Mar 2009, 13:11    Post subject: Re: How to optimize memory/RAM & _save file?
Subject description: how can 412 be optimized for heavy browser demand?
 

canbyte wrote:
How can i kick junk out of ram so seamonkey & all the pages i open can run as fast as possible? ie. manage memory to ensure no encroachment on seamonkey's ability to handle multiple (18+) flash heavy (business) pages.

You may need to adjust your expectations. I don't like to have that many open tabs on my Windoze box, where I have a processor three times as fast as my Puppy box and 2GB of RAM as opposed to 256MB on Puppy.

Personally, I wouldn't try to have that many open tabs to flash heavy sites all at once. Why is it necessary for you to do so?
Quote:
I download lots of junk (articles, pdf files etc) and see no reason to hold it in memory so i save it to a 2nd flash drive - but there it is. Even though i unmount the 2nd flash drive, the free ram indicator on bottom right stays the same - so its still in memory?

It might help to talk about what memory is on a Linux machine.

Linux and Windows are both virtual memory systems. Total virtual memory is the sum of installed RAM and the swap file on disk. (On Linux, swap is normally a separate partition. On Windows, swap is normally pagefile.sys in the root directory of the boot drive , though you can specify a different location.)

The OS divides available physical RAM into 4K pages, and keeps track of what pages are used by what processes. When more physical RAM is required by something than is available, the OS will swap out pages in RAM that have not been accessed recently to make room. If something tries to access a page that was swapped out, a "page fault" occurs, and the requested page is swapped back into RAM. This happens transparently to the user and to any applications running.

Applications think they have the total virtual memory to play in.

For both Linux and Windows, more RAM is better. Memory is an order of magnitude faster than disk, and the best way to improve performance is to reduce the need for paging.

In general, Linux handles memory management for you. You can make sure you aren't running any other applications besides Seamonkey to reduce demands on RAM, but beyond that Linux handles it all.

Quote:
Are all the files on the mounted drive put entirely in memory, or just the file system/structure/info or whatever you call it so it can be accessed?

It depends upon the installation. Puppy is capable of running entirely in RAM if enough exists, but for most Linux systems, what is in RAM will be pointers to the stuff on disk.

Quote:
This windows refugee is confused by the same object being in two places/ two name at once:
sdb1 also exists as mnt/home,
sdc1 also exists as mnt/sdc1.
They all exist in memory. I'm getting confused as to which flash is which. Hard to tell even by watching their little lights. Can i relabel them to say whiteflash, blackflash, etc?

Linux handles file systems differently than Windows.

On Windows, when you have more than one file system (like partitions on a single drive, or more than one physical drive), each file system is seen as a drive, and identified with a drive letter in My Computer. It is also possible to specify a volume name that will be shown with the drive letter.

Linux doesn't do that. If there is more than one file system, other file systems are mounted off the main one. It's common in Linux installations, for example, to have a root file system starting at /, and having separate partitions for user home directories and for third-party applications. This is set up when Linux is first installed. These are likely to be mounted off of root as /home and /opt respectively, though other mount points can be specified. Once the initial setup has been done, Linux handles that for you. In most cases you don't need to know or care that /home and /opt are in fact separate partitions. Linux makes them appear to be parts of one large unified file system.

In Linux, a directory entry does not point to a file. It points to a construct called an inode which is maintained by the kernel. The inode stores things like the files name, size, owner, owner's group, permissions, and creation/access times, and pointers to where the file lives on disk.

This makes several interesting things possible. Because directory entries point to inodes, not files, it's possible to have more than one directory entry pointing to the same inode. This lets you have the same file appear in more than one directory, or the same file appearing under several different names in the same directory. For example, Unix systems ship with a standard full screen editor called vi. There is also a line editor called ex, and a read-only file viewer called view. They are three different names for the same program, and all point to the same underlying executable. The program knows which name it was called by and behaves differently depending upon which name was specified.

There are two kinds of links, created by the ln command. The vi example above is a "hard" link. Hard links simply provide additional directory entries pointing at a file on disk. Hard links have the limitation that they must all be on the same file system.

Symbolic links are similar in concept to but more powerful than Windows shortcuts. They are pointers to a file. Linux follows the pointer and accesses the file. This makes it possible to do things like have a program that actually resides on a separate partition appear to be in a system directory.

NTFS 5 in Windows 2K and XP supports hard links, though the functionality is not exposed by default, and you need a Microsoft utility or a third party tool to make them. Windows Vista adds support for full symbolic links.

When you see file systems appearing in more than one place, you are seeing symbolic links. /mnt/sdb1 is the actual mount point in the file system where the sdb1 file system is attached. /mnt/home is a symbolic link to the mount.

I plug flash drives into a USB 2.0 add-on card on my Puppy machine, and simply note what mount point is assigned when I plug one in. I've never had a problem keeping track of which was which. One thing might do is simply create a file on your flash drive with a desired name, like _whitespace. When you mount the drive and access the contents, you'll see the name. (I use a leading underscore in the file name because file names are sorted alphabetically by default, and the "_" appears before alpha chars.)

Quote:
How can some files be removed from memory but still remain accessible?

See above.

Quote:
What exactly is that little free ram meter reading?

Total system load, which is not the same things as RAM usage. See http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=28483 for an extensive discussion.

Quote:
Newbies note that a 1G flash drive will not hold a backup of your 512mB pup_save file!!! Mine got truncated & unusable. No warning.

I have no idea what actually happened, but I don't believe a Puppy limitation was involved. The save file is simply one big file being written to a storage medium. If the write fails and the file is truncated, the usual reason is either that there wasn't enough free space on the medium to store the entire file, or the media has a problem. The first thing I would check is that the 1GB flash drive did in fact have more than 512MB free. The second thing I would do is access it under Windows and run CHKDSK. Flash drives are format with the FAT file system, as either FAT16 if < 2GB in size, or FAT32 if > 2GB. It's possible for them to have file system corruption just like a real FAT formatted disk drive, which will mightily confuse things accessing them.

Quote:
Having put all my junk on the 2nd flash drive, can windows grab files and change them without risking puppy's ability to use them?

What files, and what would you be doing with them? In general, yes you can, but it depends on the files and what you do in Windows.

Quote:
What is the purpose of swap files? How big should a swap file be/ what logic? My guess is that swap files are used to compensate for too little ram.

See the above discussion about virtual memory.

As a rule of thumb, I make a swap partition as large as installed RAM, then monitor usage and resize after I've seen what actually gets used in practice.

Quote:
While puppy seems to be able to run in 128mb ram, I really could not use seamonkey (heavily) until I went to 378mb. The Dell (256mb) is ok as long as i'm careful what/how many i load. CPU speed is also a factor.

Puppy has been reported to run in as little as 64MB, or even 48MB. If you try to do that, you really need a swap file.

Quote:
Having installed Devx to get my printer working, can i now unload it to free up memory? How? How much memory does it consume? If i can only accomplish that by stepping back to an older pup_save file, how can i keep the changes that i want (plus all the info junk)?

Dexv includes the Gnu compiler and associated utilities. Once you have compiled something and put it in place, it should be possible to remove Devx.

Quote:
ie. i keep adding bookmarks & don't want to lose them. Can i save bookmarks to a separate file? Ok, i see that under bookmark manager l tools l export - Wiki needs to record that!

Under Puppy, your SM bookmarks are stored in your SM profile, which will be in /root/.mozilla/default/<something>.slt/bookmarks.html

I believe this stuff should be in your pup-save file, reloaded the next time you boot Puppy.
______
Dennis

Last edited by DMcCunney on Sun 08 Mar 2009, 17:31; edited 2 times in total
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canbyte


Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 266
Location: Hamilton, Canada

PostPosted: Sun 08 Mar 2009, 15:00    Post subject:  

Thanks Dennis and BB, what a great tutorial.
I may have some questions after i reread and let things sink in for a bit. Mostly, i guess i'll just have to get used to things in linux - a run in period of 6 months or so may end these points that i now find confusing. Otherwise i'll be looking for workarounds like your great idea to put a _descriptorFileName on each flash drive. Glad Wallmart is selling them for just 5 bucks each but it can get confusing!

Do you/ someone have some good links for the wiki entry such as swapfiles, uninstalling (howto), methods of optimizing setup/memory, especially where you indicated "It depends upon the installation." I suppose, one wants to include all/some of the main installation types

One thing to clarify for us newbies is the gui representation of these issues. Here is what i understand, maybe someone can fill in the rest.

green dot on folder = its mounted
grey dot = not mounted
yellow dot = ??

bolded folder or file = ?
a box with an arrow = ?

Cheers for now, i'll edit later as needed

_________________
1. Dell Dimension E521, AMD Athln 64, 2 GHz 1.93GB ram,
Puppy 533 on CD, accesses flash drive only,
FFox Nightly12.0
2. Compaq P3 733Hz 375RAM
Printer: Oki C3400 > LAN

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`f00


Joined: 06 Nov 2008
Posts: 809
Location: the Western Reserve

PostPosted: Sun 08 Mar 2009, 16:35    Post subject:
Subject description: a few quick as
 

The 'gospel' to link to would be Barry's pages (install, etc), they are diligently updated to both current versions and noted for older work that may still be of import.

yellow or gold dot overlay on a drive icon means mounted for boot or "locked" (note also - if a .sfs file is mounted the drive or partition that the .sfs is on will also be locked until the .sfs is unmounted (if I recall correctly there is no static graphical representation of this locked state in the case of temporary mounting such as when one simply clicks on an .sfs to open it, when there is a green 'success' message box .. the drive will simply not unmount until the .sfs is first unmounted by another click which then shows a nice orange 'unmounting' message box).

bolded labels generally mean that the file or folder has been recently accessed or modified.

"box with an arrow" may be a compressed file or utility for dealing with compression .. this can get confusing to some as different graphical representations are often used (folder with zipper on it, a screwpress, a c-clamp etc)

A very good local reference to the Rox file system is available on Puppy distros by clicking the life-preserver icon on the Rox filer toolbar. It's amazing how often this jewel is overlooked by new users.

Hope this helps a trifle and good luck with the writing, canbyte
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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Sun 08 Mar 2009, 17:35    Post subject: Re: How to optimize memory/RAM & _save file?
Subject description: how can 412 be optimized for heavy browser demand?
 

canbyte wrote:
Quote:
Newbies note that a 1G flash drive will not hold a backup of your 512mB pup_save file!!! Mine got truncated & unusable. No warning.

I have no idea what actually happened, but I don't believe a Puppy limitation was involved. The save file is simply one big file being written to a storage medium. If the write fails and the file is truncated, the usual reason is either that there wasn't enough free space on the medium to store the entire file, or the media has a problem. The first thing I would check is that the 1GB flash drive did in fact have more than 512MB free. The second thing I would do is access it under Windows and run CHKDSK. Flash drives are formatted with the FAT file system, as either FAT16 if < 2GB in size, or FAT32 if > 2GB. It's possible for them to have file system corruption just like a real FAT formatted disk drive, which will mightily confuse things accessing them.

Thinking about this a bit more, were you trying to store two pup-save files on the 1GB drive? That might have bitten you.

The issue is that 1GB is the nominal total size of the media. The actual usable size will be less, because there is overhead taken by the formatting. I have a 512MB SD card plugged into my Puppy box at the moment, along with a 4GB card. (The 4GB card is where I am storing standard stuff I always want in Puppy. The 512MB card gets stuff from my Windows system to the Puppy system, since the Windows box doesn't want to read the 4GB card in my existing SD card reader.)

Puppy thinks there are 488MB total space on the 512MB card, with 100MB currently free, and 3.75GB total space on the 4GB card, with 2.3GB free.

If you have two 512MB pup_save files, and try to store both on a 1GB flash drive, one will get trashed, as there isn't enough space to hold both.
Windows will complain and abort the transfer if there isn't enough space on the target media to hold what you are trying to store.

Puppy (if you do it through Rox) will copy as much as it can, but not abort the transfer. It will simply copy what will fit and stop. It will throw an error message that the copy was not successful, but it's possible to miss that and find out the hard way things didn't work when you try to access the file.
______
Dennis
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canbyte


Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 266
Location: Hamilton, Canada

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 00:55    Post subject:  

Great info Dennis, Foo. Before i browse to see what i should respond to, ie before i forget, i think this thread is a good place to discuss some disk oriented issues such as fragmentation or lack of it in linux. Will my browser performance deteriorate to the point of unusability over time as it did in Win98? I've suspected a little slowness in startup of the browser lately but haven't got any definitive evidence. Do we have to do periodic defragging, if not, why not?

I've noticed in some posts, a concern about flashdrive lifespan - some kind of deterioration of something physical? What should one do about this if anything - ie. reorder files? How would anyone notice - or how would one diagnose this problem?

I've come at this thread from my viewpoint of crash prevention, stability, understanding the limits of function vis a vis ram/memory. Other folks might want to delve into these same topics to achieve greater speed or other objectives (games, multimedia) i'm not familiar with. Please feel free to explore/explain any tangent you think users should know about.

I've also come at things as a newbie, noob to be exact. So i'll be trying to put the main issues up front /top with the details techies appreciate later on. The file foo pointed me to is a good example of the tech aspects involved, what i want to do is distill out a few critical items newbies should absorb asap.

I didn't think of it before but our discussion of the file system also affects how one approaches the issue of backup. On windows, i periodically make a cd copy of My Documents and a few other things like mail, addresses, etc. Here is where we need to understand what is inside the pup_save file and what is outside. If/when the time comes to install 4.2, will the pup_save file be portable to that system or will i have to import all my stuff, rebuild my printer driver, etc. So do folks typically just keep backups of their _save file or do they keep backups of their separated files. Well, i guess if you're a pack rat like me, you gotta keep data files separately so pup_save is really just saving settings, bookmarks, special drivers, etc.

I've got the idea that newbies can ignore filesystems unless we interact with windows systems. Any difference between ext2 and ext3 doesn't affect us and is handled automatically by linux.

One of the nicer aspects of puppy that is an unexpected energy(?) bonus - the pc's hard drive goes to sleep for long periods of time. At least on the Compaq. This means very quiet operation. At times it seems a bit noisier so i assume the hd came to life and was wondering if/why it would do that (no blinking light to guide me). Anyone have any thoughts as to this aspect, what to expect, how to encourage the sleep mode? Same thing for the monitor with puppy's blank screen saver.

One area of curiosity / mystery to me is this kernel thing which seems to be central to linux and would be nice to give a thumbnail explanation of for newbies. Using my limited investigation skills, i asked Pfind to look for 'kernel', whereupon 7 files showed up from win98 on the hd! Some were quite large (700k) Puppy has 25 such files, some being about 300kb. I guess this is the OS guts but i also wonder about all the drives needed for the zillions of cards, devices, motherboards, memory/ cpu/ types, and all the legacy protocols. Has to be huge database in there somewhere. You'd wonder why the kernel isn't more of a custom thing, downloaded to suit each/any combination of hardware.

Specific points from above:
Dennis, you hit tthe nail on the head - the 1G usbdrive was trying to save 2 _save files, 512 each! Interesting explanation of result.
The truncated file ended up being about 80 mb instead of 512.

I jus discovered that one can change the label on the sdb1 icon - using right click l edit. Makes life easier.

What Bruce mentioned still bothers me, i wonder if there is a way to change it to be time stamped every day.
Quote:
3) no change on the pup_save file date / time stamp because Puppy doesn't utilize it as a flat file character device, rather as a mounted block device, not treating it differently than it would a partition.


Thanks again all

_________________
1. Dell Dimension E521, AMD Athln 64, 2 GHz 1.93GB ram,
Puppy 533 on CD, accesses flash drive only,
FFox Nightly12.0
2. Compaq P3 733Hz 375RAM
Printer: Oki C3400 > LAN

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rjbrewer


Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 4422
Location: merriam, kansas

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 03:36    Post subject:  

Canbyte:

If you want to cavort with the Bulls and Bears of Wallstreet, you
need heavy equipment. Your puny little Puppy boxes don't
stand a chance of handling the tasks you're giving them.

Puppy can not make the wretched excesses of Lassez Faire
Capitalism go away. "Crashing" is the name of the game in the
foreseeable future.

Personally; if I were into that stuff; I'd have a few dozen little
computers and monitors to keep track of "the financial sky
falling". Just for fun of course.

Hang in there.

rjb

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Full installs

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Bruce B


Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 11130
Location: The Peoples Republic of California

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 07:10    Post subject:  

canbyte wrote:

What Bruce mentioned still bothers me, i wonder if there is a way to change it to be time stamped every day.
Quote:
3) no change on the pup_save file date / time stamp because Puppy doesn't utilize it as a flat file character device, rather as a mounted block device, not treating it differently than it would a partition.


Thanks again all


I liken Puppy to an Erector Set, I build it how I want. If you want pup_save time stamped, that's easy.

How about updating the date / time on shutdown?

We use the touch command.

To see what a command does, generally you can say cmdname --help

Let's see what happens if we:

touch --help

Code:
[~] busybox touch --help
BusyBox v1.8.2 (2007-11-30 09:20:42 GMT-8) multi-call binary

Usage: touch [-c] FILE [FILE ...]

Update the last-modified date on the given FILE[s]

Options:
        -c      Do not create any files

[~]


If I ran this command

touch /initrd/mnt/dev_save/dingo/pup_save.3fs it would change the (modified) time stamp on the pup_save file

If I put the same command in /etc/rc.d/rc.shutdown it would update the time stamp on my pup_save.3fs every time I rebooted or shutdown.

You could put it as the first command in /etc/rc.d/rc.shutdown. Only your command would be different in terms of path and pup_save extension, most pup_save using .2fs and mine using .3fs and your path directory is likely different also. And Linux is stricter than an English teacher with her hair in a bun.

.

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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 16:09    Post subject:  

canbyte wrote:
Great info Dennis, Foo. Before i browse to see what i should respond to, ie before i forget, i think this thread is a good place to discuss some disk oriented issues such as fragmentation or lack of it in linux. Will my browser performance deteriorate to the point of unusability over time as it did in Win98? I've suspected a little slowness in startup of the browser lately but haven't got any definitive evidence. Do we have to do periodic defragging, if not, why not?

Linux file systems are far more resistant to fragmentation than FAT file systems are. It's not a concern. Most Unix systems are up 24/7 for years (save scheduled maintenance windows) and never have a problem.

Quote:
I've noticed in some posts, a concern about flashdrive lifespan - some kind of deterioration of something physical? What should one do about this if anything - ie. reorder files? How would anyone notice - or how would one diagnose this problem?

It's not a huge concern. The flash media used in things like thumbdrives has a limit to the number of writes it can handle. The limit is about 100,000. But the circuitry in the drive transparently remaps failed sectors and marks them unusable, so what you would see is a graceful degradation. You are likely to upgrade to larger, faster flash drives long before you would see any actual effects from disk sectiors becoming unusable.

Quote:
I didn't think of it before but our discussion of the file system also affects how one approaches the issue of backup. On windows, i periodically make a cd copy of My Documents and a few other things like mail, addresses, etc. Here is where we need to understand what is inside the pup_save file and what is outside. If/when the time comes to install 4.2, will the pup_save file be portable to that system or will i have to import all my stuff, rebuild my printer driver, etc.

The pup_save file is a squash file system, automounted by Puppy. The changes in 4.2 should not make an existing pup_save unusabe, as the SFS file format hasn't changed, nor has the way Puppy handles it. (If you think about it, changes that made Puppy 4.2 incompatible with existing pup_save files would be profoundly stupid, and while the Puppy devs are occasionally mistaken, they aren't dumb.)

(NB: I use a Full install, so I'm not expert on pup_save files and what does/doesn't get included.)

Quote:
I've got the idea that newbies can ignore filesystems unless we interact with windows systems. Any difference between ext2 and ext3 doesn't affect us and is handled automatically by linux.

Pretty much. There are third-party Windows utilities for reading ext2 file systems, but in general, Windows sees the pup_save file as just another big file in its file system. It neither knows nor cares what's in it.

Quote:
One area of curiosity / mystery to me is this kernel thing which seems to be central to linux and would be nice to give a thumbnail explanation of for newbies. Using my limited investigation skills, i asked Pfind to look for 'kernel', whereupon 7 files showed up from win98 on the hd! Some were quite large (700k) Puppy has 25 such files, some being about 300kb. I guess this is the OS guts but i also wonder about all the drives needed for the zillions of cards, devices, motherboards, memory/ cpu/ types, and all the legacy protocols. Has to be huge database in there somewhere. You'd wonder why the kernel isn't more of a custom thing, downloaded to suit each/any combination of hardware.

The kernel is vmlinuz in the root directory. It's stored in a compressed form and is uncompressed and loaded at boot. You can see the messages about it when you boot.

Drivers are loaded and linked to the running kernel at boot time. There is a large database of drivers to handle possible hardware on which the system will be run, but which drivers are actually used is determined when Linux is initially installed. They aren't all loaded and active at once.

The kernel is the core of the OS. It sits between you, your programs, and the hardware. It handles memory management, process management, and access to the hardware through drivers. Properly speaking, Linux is the kernel. The rest of the stuff shipped with a Linux distribution tends to be Gnu versions of Unix utilities, and are available on lots of different systems. Mac OS/X includes them, for example. The fact that shipping Linux systems include the Gnu utilities is why they are often called Gnu/Linux systems.

(I run a Windows package called Cygwin. Cygwin is a project to port the Gnu toolchain to Windows. Instead of rewriting every utility to use Windows system calls instead of Unix system calls, the Cygwin developers wrote a POSIX compatibility layer containing the most frequently used Unix system calls translated to Win32 equivalents. Lots of Unix code builds under Cygwin because it links against the Cygwin1.dll, and sees the routines it expects to see. Cygwin includes the Gnu Compiler Suite and most of the other standard Unix/Linux utilities, including the vi editor and the bash shell.)

It's less popular now, but one of the common tasks a Linux user would perform was to recompile the kernel. Linux distributions ship with a generic kernel intended to run on the widest possible range of systems, and includes stuff a particular system may not need. Users would get the source and recompile the kernel to include only the stuff their particular system required to make it smaller and more efficient.

Modern hardware tends to be powerful enough that there is less need for that sort of optimization (and the results might not be significant if you did.)

Quote:
Quote:
Dennis, you hit the nail on the head - the 1G usbdrive was trying to save 2 _save files, 512 each! Interesting explanation of result.

The truncated file ended up being about 80 mb instead of 512.

Use a 2GB card. You ought to be able to store three pup_save files.
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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 16:30    Post subject:  

rjbrewer wrote:
Puppy can not make the wretched excesses of Lassez Faire Capitalism go away. "Crashing" is the name of the game in the
foreseeable future.

"Laissez-faire Capitalism" is irrelevant to the equation.

Hardware gets steadily smaller, faster, and more powerful. More powerful hardware permits applications that weren't possible on older systems. It also means that expectations must be adjusted, as things possible on newer hardware can't be done on older systems, as they lack the power to perform the tasks in an acceptable manner. Programs may not run at all, or run so slowly as to be unusable.

Puppy Linux does a good job of getting the most out of older hardware, but can't perform miracles.

Hardware is cheap, and getting cheaper. The scarce resource is programmer time. It's faster, cheaper, and simpler to just get more powerful hardware than to try to optimize code to run on older hardware.

This is a consequence of computer development, and will be true regardless of the economic system in place.
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rjbrewer


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PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 20:02    Post subject:  

DMcCunney

You missed the point of my "tongue in cheek" message
to Canbyte.

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canbyte


Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 266
Location: Hamilton, Canada

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar 2009, 23:49    Post subject:  

Hi folks, Unfortunately got derailed in my reply when Dell crashed this am.

About that tongue crashing in cheek thing, I have to guess that the folks here would be about the least vulnerable to this meltdown, or lets hope so.

RJB said
Quote:
Puppy can not make the wretched excesses of Lassez Faire Capitalism go away.
Well!! Perhaps this pic-that-tells-thousand-words will make folks sit up and take notice of our little beast! You never know.
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=1y&l=on&z=m&q=l&p=m50%2Cm200&a=&c=&s=msft

The hardware issue of course is important - i have avoided the more intensive involvement in something called Level 2 & 3 systems, dual monitors and the like. I just use normal web base systems that Puppy seems to handle ok. The reason for so many windows is just habit, inclination and sometimes, the press of time. One learns by experience what works and adjusts accordingly. So far, very good.

You've given me lots to chew on. But first, a few new items.

I tried the partition thing on the dell - unsuccessfully. Then, Using the 'graphical disk map' item on the menu, i discovered to my surprise that there is 234mb on 'file system', (incl. 170 on 'usr'. I had thought puppy was only 80mb or so - no wonder the dell crashed with only a little going on. How did it ever start with only 127mb ram ( and showing 53free)???
Finally got swap going with these easy instructions from purple ghost.
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=279708

Free mem went from about 200mb (smaller save file) to 645 (partition activated) then 495 once the pup_save file got rebooted at the larger size. I wonder why it dropped?

More on swap files.
This link discusses swap file instead of swap partition & large sizes
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=28174

This link has interesting dissertation on life of sticks - confirming no worry.
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=21916&start=15

This link has discussion of swap security issues
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=36856

THis link gives strategies to use for lots of junk (photos) on limited (frugal) systems. Go to last 5 posts on page. Involves moving myDocs folder
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=35568&sid=eaf5d65a1376ef858cd3ab0b6746714f
rcrsn51 says
Quote:

Think of the savefile of a frugal install as being like the glove compartment of your car. It's more organized, but it has limited size.

Think of the rest of your hard drive as being like the back seat of your car. It's less organized, but you have way more space.

In a frugal install, anything you save through the "file" icon goes into the savefile. Anything you save through /mnt/sda1 goes into the rest of the partition outside of the savefile.

Good rule of thumb.

I guess one can surmise that using different puplets will affect the memory/swap/speed thing. Perhaps someone can make up a chart that gives all the functions & memory requirements of various puplets.

Dennis wrote:
Quote:
The second thing I would do is access it under Windows and run CHKDSK.

A caution for newbies here: do not let windows fix the problem, correct?? ----
since you said later that the flash drives essentially fix themselves.

I guess this thread should be called something like "memory management, requirements and optimization". I'm not sure we are there yet but perhaps we're getting close.

Cheers

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2. Compaq P3 733Hz 375RAM
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rjbrewer


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Posts: 4422
Location: merriam, kansas

PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar 2009, 00:47    Post subject:  

A little tip Canbyte:

Life with Puppy is at least a whole order of magnitude easier
using "full install" instead of "frugal". No worries over errant
pup-save files or mysteries about the numbers in the free-mem
applet.
I did download and do a cd-less frugal install of 4.2rc yesterday;
then used that frugal install to make a full install without needing
a cd. Deleted the frugal.

Takes 38 seconds for full to boot on my laptop....about 60 secs.
for the frugal.

The movie played fine on my setup. Interesting; but it's best to
be cautious when dealing with "lunatic fringe Alex Jones" type
stuff.

rjb

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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar 2009, 12:56    Post subject:  

canbyte wrote:
Perhaps this pic-that-tells-thousand-words will make folks sit up and take notice of our little beast! You never know.
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=1y&l=on&z=m&q=l&p=m50%2Cm200&a=&c=&s=msft

MS would be having problems these days in any case.

MS is the quintessential "growth" company. For many years, it handily beat analyst's expectations, and recorded double-digit increases in revenues and profits. As a consequence, it got a stock price in the stratosphere. It didn't originally pay dividends, but investors made out in capital gains: the value of their holdings increased.

The problem is maintaining growth. At this point, just about everything in the US that can run Windows and Office, does. Revenue comes from upgrades of existing installations, and not new sales. (Blame Vista getting getting released before the extant hardware was really up to running it on MS's need to get a new product out the door and generate a revenue stream from it.) Where will the new sales growth come from? The EU is resistant to MS. MS has so far failed to significantly penetrate the Indian or Chinese markets. MS's online initiatives have never been successful. The Xbox is only beginning to contribute to MS's bottom line.

MS is in transition from a "growth" company to a "mature" company that dominates its market. Mature companies throw off enormous amounts of cash, but don't have stock proces in the stratosphere. Bill Gates picked an apt time to retire. He left a winner, with Microsoft at a peak. It's now Ken Ballmer's job to support the price of the stock, and it's a good question as to whether he can in the absence of significant new sales of MS products to the rest of the world.

Quote:
Dennis wrote:
Quote:
The second thing I would do is access it under Windows and run CHKDSK.

A caution for newbies here: do not let windows fix the problem, correct?? ----
since you said later that the flash drives essentially fix themselves.

No, because you are conflating two different kinds of problems. A few words about drives might help.

All drives, whether they are actual disks with spinning platters or flash media that looks like a disk share common characteristics and problems. Problems can be hardware or software related.

The usual hardware problem is "bad blocks". These are actual sectors on the disk (or memory cells in flash media) that cannot be successfully read/written. Hard drives ship from the manufacturer with a bad block table, and blocks in the table are marked as unusable and not accessed when data is read from or written to the drive. If bad blocks develop on a drive in a Windows machine, the usual fix is to run CHKDSK with a flag that tells it to do a surface scan. It will scan all disk sectors, and if it finds bad ones it will mark them as unusable and add them to the bad block table.

As previously discussed, flash media has limits inherent in the technology on the number of times it can be written to. But as mentioned, the controller circuitry in flash drives transparently maps bad cells as unusable and copies the data elsewhere, so what you would see if you saw anything was a gradual degradation as more cells grew bad. In practice, you are likely to replace the flash drive with a bigger faster one long before you would actually notice any issues.

Those are hardware issues. The more common problem is file system corruption, which is fundamentally software. Flash drives come formatted with the MS-DOS FAT file system. There are several variants of FAT in existence.

The smallest unit of disk space that will be read from/written to in one operation is the cluster. Each cluster must have a unique address. The version of FAT used by MS=DOS PCs and Windows 3.X machines was FAT16. It used a 16 bit cluster address, and therefore permitted a maximum of 65,536 (2^16) clusters on a drive. How large a cluster was depended on the size of the drive, with the maximum possible size of a FAT16 volume being 2GB. This gave rise to a phenomenon called "slack space". Since the smallest unit of disk that could be used was the cluster, and since a cluster could not contain more than one file, you could have cases where a one line text file totaling 100 bytes could actually take up much more space on the drive, because the rest of the space in the cluster it occupied could not be used for anything else and would be wasted. The waste space was called "slack space", and various utilities existed to tell you how much slack space there was on a given volume.

As drives got progressively larger, it became necessary to partition them into multiple logical drives of 2GB or less so MS-DOS and Windows could use them. MS came out with an updated version of FAT called FAT32, whch used 32 bit addressing, permitting many more clusters and much larger volumes.

Flash drives are shipped formatted as FAT, using either FAT16 if the drive is <= 2GB, or FAT32 if it's > 2GB. FAT is well known and widely implemented, and just about everything understands how to access a FAT file system, which is why it is used in flash drives.

The common problem with FAT file systems is "lost clusters". It's possible for clusters to be marked as "in use" in the File Allocation Table without actually being owned by any files. The usual cause for this is a program or Windows itself crashing before the FAT table was properly updated. These are known as "lost clusters", and mightily confuse the OS and programs. On MS-DOS and Windows, the solution is to run CHKDSK (or ScanDisk on Win9.X machines). CHKDSK examines the file system and looks for lost clusters. If it finds them, it allocates them to files it creates with names like FILE000.CHK, and puts those files in a directory called FOUND.000 where they may be examined and (usually) deleted, restoring the file system to sanity. (CHKDSK has no idea what it in the clusters - it may be program code, data, text - it simply maps them to files, and the contents may or may not be useful.)

I use SD cards in my Palm OS PDA. I've occasionally had to pop one into a USB card reader and run CHKDSK on it to repair lost clusters, because they confused the FAT driver the PDA used to access the card. You can assume Puppy will be similarly confused if lost clusters exist.

If the flash drive is used to store pup_save files, it's problematic. Lost clusters may be part of a pup_save file, and deleting them will make the file unusable, but if you have lost clusters, you're going to have problems accessing the pup_save file in any case. Your best option may be to copy the contents of the drive elsewhere, reformat the drive, then copy the contents back, but there's no guarantee the pup_save files will be usable.

You can check a drive for problems by just running CHKDSK with no arguments. CHKDSK will do a read-only scan looking for problems. If it finds any it will report that it found errors and can't continue in read only mode.

I use flash drives with my Puppy machine, but haven't had problems with them so far. As mentioned, the cause of lost clusters is a program or OS crash that prevented the file system from getting updated. Puppy doesn't crash on me. Nor does XP and my applications on the desktop. (People who have that sort of problem are probably still using Win98/ME, and really need to move away from them. Win2K and XP are an order of magnitude more robust and stable.)
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