Fedora Core 3 test 2 performance

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I installed Core 3 test 2 on a Dell Precision M50 laptop.  The
performance is abysmal.

>From the login screen to the desktop takes almost 4 minutes.  Disk
performance seems to have a lot to do with this.  With an hdparm line

hdparm -d1 -c1 -u1 /dev/hda

I see variable results.  with repeated cycles of hdparm -t, I'll see
anything from 570 kB/sec to 10 MB/sec.  Nothing higher.  Other  Dell
laptop users report read rates closer to 20 MB/sec from what I can
glean from Internet posts.

Any good resources for tuning a Fedora system?  Any other advice?

Thanks, Glenn

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