The Liquorix Kernel: Mixed experiences

According to the developer’s definition, Liquorix is a distro kernel replacement built using the best configuration and kernel sources for desktop, multimedia, and gaming workloads.

The project has been around for quite a while, but it has gained some momentum early this year after the favourable Phoronix benchmarks, which  showed significant performance improvements of the Liquorix kernel 3.8 as compared to a generic Linux kernel.  Improvements that go beyond the realm of “desktop applications” to include the Apache benchmark.

I have tried Liquorix 3.9 in 3 different machines:

1.- A clone PC with a dual-core Celeron and an integrated Intel graphics card running Debian Wheezy 32-bit.

2.- A laptop with a Core-Duo T9300 and a NVIDIA 8800M GTX running Debian Sid 64-bit.

3.- A workstation with 2x Quad Core Xeon X5550 and a NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 running Debian Wheezy 64-bit.

None of them therefore was a cutting edge machine.

In case scenario number 1 (generic 32-bit clone with Intel card) the results were quite impressive. Even if I have not run any benchmarks, the desktop and applications “felt” noticeable more responsive. I had no problems with VirtualBox and no other issues whatsoever. The system has been perfectly stable for months.

In the other two cases, the systems would not even boot, displaying all kind of meaningless (for me) error messages during booting.

I must mention that both 64-bit machines had the NVIDIA proprietary drivers installed and running well with the standard Debian kernels.  This may or may not be the culprit for the failure… In the first machine, driver 319.17 was installed directly from the NVIDIA blob, in the second, driver 304.88 was installed from the Debian repos. It is my impression, however, that the errors displayed during boot were CPU and not GPU-related, namely because they showed up way before the X server was started. In fact, in the laptop, I verified this by trying to boot in failsafe mode and also failing miserably…