Tickless Kernels

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Tickless Kernels

Post by Nanook » Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:20 pm

Posted on November 25, 2019

If you are running any Debian derived operating system, Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, Zorin, Julinux, etc, you may wish to try a tickless kernel.

What tickless kernels do for you is eliminate the CPU from having to wake-up to service clock interrupts unless there is actual work to be done. This saves a significant amount of CPU time on a single machine these days, particularly if Intel, because the overhead of context switching has increased significantly as the result of various CPU flaws that have to be worked around.

This can significantly improve battery life in a laptop or tablet.

Where this kernel really shines though is on the server side when hosting multiple virtual machines. Each virtual machine has it’s own clock ticks wasting CPU, plus the host. This can end up eating more CPU than the actual work the machines are doing.

I have made available two kernels both based upon the recently released 5.4 final. One is called “client” and is intended for end user systems where interactive response and low latency are important. This kernel is entirely preemptive.

The second is called “server” and is for server loads like physical hosts hosting virtual machines, web servers, mail servers, etc. It is the same as the client kernel except that it is non-preemptive.

Both of these are based upon Ubuntu 19.10 configuration except modified to be completely tickless and modified to work on the i7-6850k / Asus z-190 systems. The stock kernels do not talk to the network on these systems. ALL CPUs and hardware supported by the Ubuntu kernels plus the above is supported by these.

You can download these via ftp from ftp.eskimo.com:

Login: anonymous

Password: You@whereever.net (your e-mail address).

Complaints, suggestions, questions can be sent to: nanook@eskimo.com

After logging in cd /pub/kernel/linux-5.4-tickless/[client|server]

Then prompt off

mget *.deb

After you’ve retrieved the files install with:

dpkg -i *.deb

These kernels aren’t signed. Sorry but I’m not willing to buy in to the Microsoft Secure Boot extortion scheme, so you will need to have secure boot turned off to use these.

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