Since the first day I saw a lab full of students happy with the performance of a single-core GNU/Linux terminal server six years ago, I have been quite happy. Of course, I could tell the difference between a heavy and a light load but the end-users generally found performance even then was better than XP on their usual hardware.
It gets better than this however. Linus and company have just developed a patch to balance CPU load amongst interactive users. They see benefits for one of them doing a huge compilation job while being free to do e-mail or web-browsing. I see the potential for even better results from my GNU/Linux terminal server. The few power-users should less affect the performance for others. Even without this patch, my server rarely gets above 20% CPU usage and the load average is a small integer. Occasionally an app will misbehave and the load average will spike. This patch should throttle that. I like the possibility. I will try to implement this as soon as possible.
“This option optimizes the group scheduler for common desktop workloads, by creating separate per tty groups. This separation of workloads isolates aggressive CPU burners (like build jobs) from desktop applications.”