Pippi, who was having problems returning results worthy of a P4/3.0ghz box, turned out to be a bad CPU benchmark issue that always occurred during an rsync. Also, thanks to Nagios, I was able to determine spikes in load due to Xnvc (which I have now disabled) and leaving an X session running (now disabled).
And finally, I got around to finding optimized SETI binaries. The test box, Toshiuki, was giving me the lowest results, and he has P3/800mhz clones to compare: Satsuki and Pikachu. The CPU times for these clones are about 20-30k on average per unit. Last night, after the detailed install, Toshiuki's initial results seemed to double, with CPU time down to 14k per unit. On top of that, he's already downloading more than double the results he used to.
Haku (AMD Athalon64 3700+) is already doing an impressive 6-8k per unit. The other "high end box" in our house, Avatar P4/3.0ghz, is doing only about 12-15k/unit.
And NO ONE has 'fessed up to sending me DEV2.0... [dark clouds rumble from the horizon] ... there will be... consequences... [flash in the distance]