November 24, 2004
World's cheapest G5 upgrade
My G5 fans have been running a little loudly, and almost all the time, lately. I hadn't noticed an effect on the machine's speed, but in checking the load average, it was always above 1.00. At first, I thought maybe this was an effect of the dual processor setup, but I checked the dually at work, and the load average was about .50.
I installed a fresh copy of Panther on an external FireWire drive, booted up, and my fans spun down. Load average was suddenly in the .25 range. I rebooted off the internal drive, and the fans came back. Looking at 'top', I discovered the Finder was hovering within a few percent of 100 percent. Hmmmm. In poking around, I noticed my 'Finder Preferences' file (com.apple.finder.plist) was about 2 MEGABYTES. I deleted it, fired back up, and my machine was instantly 5 times faster, with the load average down in the .20 range.
Right now, running NetNewsWire, MarsEdit, Entourage, SpamSieve, iPulse, QuickSilver, and iTunes, I'm showing "0.20 0.12 0.13" in 'w' or 'uptime'.
It's been about 36 hours since I fixed it, and the office is even noticeably cooler.
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I always discover that the Finder is at the root of most of my performance issues: killing it usually helps. But I have worn that fix out and moved onto RAM starvation which is doubly painful on a laptop since a. bus bandwidth is less than a desktop (usually) and b. disks -- ie swap capacity/speed -- are slower.
I have a 512 Mb card on its way though: interesting to recall that PCs maxed out at 640k and this laptop maxes out at 640Mb.
Posted by: paul at Nov 25, 2004 12:45:43 PM