Playing with prelink

Well, I finally got up the courage to try prelink today. OK, so it's more like I said, "Oh, what the hell," but the outcome is the same. I installed prelink from the Ubuntu repositories and ran it.

If you've not heard of it, prelink is a tool that, well, prelinks your binaries. I'm not exactly an expert on shared libraries, but my understanding is that it basically does the work of the dynamic linker ahead of time. So, instead of the linker relocating libraries at run-time, it's already done. The net result is that programs load faster. This is supposed to be especially true of C++ programs, as they apparently make the loader do a lot of work.

I heard of prelink some time ago, but was always a bit wary of it. I'm a bit wary of anything that modifies system files. But I read through a thread on it at Ubuntu Forums, and there seemed to be few people who had problems, so I decided to give it a go. I also read the documentation and saw that prelink has an uninstall option and that it should cause libraries to revert to their normal loading if, for some reason, prelinking fails. That eased my mind a little.

It's only been a few hours, but so far I haven't been disappointed. I haven't actually timed application start-up with and without prelinking, but KDE applications are definitely loading faster. I don't know if they're loading in half the time, as some people claimed, but the difference is definitely noticable. In particular, I noticed that Kontact is coming up much faster. Also, Konqueror is loading up with almost no wait. Basically, things are now starting in what feels like the right amount of time. I know my Sempron 2500 with 512MB of RAM isn't exactly a high-end system, but it's got enough horse power that I shouldn't have to wait three seconds for the file manager to start up. And now I don't.

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