The boot speed may be slower due to no zdrv as already mentioned -- which can easily be remedied. If someone wants to continue development of 218 then they simply choose to create a zdrv when running the '3builddistro' script in Woof. Note, the 218 download directory on ibiblio also has a snapshot of the Woof tarball.
GTK gets bigger with each release, so perhaps that has contributed to a slow down, though I would be surprised if it is a noticeable amount.
Then there is the question of the kernel -- I configured the 126.96.36.199 kernel with 100Hz interrupts, which may have a noticeable affect in certain circumstances, but it is very dependent on what is running (like a video). The original 188.8.131.52 kernel used in pup 2.x also has 100Hz interrupts. So, I don't think that is a factor.
There is one thing that may make a slight difference. The Woof builds have a 'pup_event' daemon event manager, which is a script that runs in the background to monitor events such as insertion or removal of a CD. This is a slight overhead, and if you suspect that this may be causing a noticeable slowdown on old hardware, run the Event Manager (see System menu) and turn off the pup_event daemon completely, then compare. Puppy will still run fine without it. There is also the 'udevd' daemon, that the old 2.x series don't have.
There is no other reason I can think of why 217 should be slower or faster than any of the earlier 2.x releases.
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