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OS X 10.8 vs. Ubuntu Linux: A Battle With No Clear Winner

Michael Larabel

Published on 23 August 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 15 of 15 - 16 Comments

While running performance benchmarks of OS X and Ubuntu Linux on the mid-2011 Apple Mac Mini and late-2010 Apple MacBook Pro, there's a few interesting findings:

- The OpenGL/graphics support on OS X continues to do better in general than Linux. For the Intel HD 3000 "Sandy Bridge" graphics, OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" was faster than the Intel graphics found in Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10. OS X was easily faster with its Intel OpenGL stack. On the MacBook Pro that bears switchable Intel/NVIDIA graphics, this continues to be one of the biggest areas where Linux graphics struggles. There isn't a seamless "out of the box" experience for handling switchable graphics on the Linux desktop. There's work in the right direction that will likely materialize in mainstream Linux distributions in 2013, but that will have been three years after Apple began introducing such laptops. For now the switchable/hybrid graphics laptops -- whether it is from Apple or another vendor -- should really be avoided if you're using Linux. [As stated earlier in this article, coming up soon on Phoronix will be an OS X vs. Microsoft Windows 7 vs. Linux comparison that provides a very in-depth look at the OpenGL performance.]

- For many of the computational benchmarks, OS X with Apple's preferred Xcode software using LLVM/Clang 3.1 was comparable and competitive with GCC on Ubuntu Linux. Xcode did seem to have an advantage though at being able to compile software faster than the GNU Compiler Collection.

- With the few disk benchmarks ran, OS X with the Journaled HFS+ file-system was comparable most of the time with the disk performance to Ubuntu on the EXT4 file-system. With a solid-state drive though, Linux seemed to do better than OS X.

- The rest of the computational benchmarks were a toss-up based upon the specific test case.

- UPDATE [23 August]: Power consumption results have been posted between OS X 10.8 and Ubuntu 12.10, where Apple's operating system carries a definite advantage.

- UPDATE #2 [24 August]: Fedora 17 MacBook Pro results have been added to another Phoronix article.

Those are the general points that can be made from the OS X vs. Ubuntu Linux benchmarks that were done on the two distinctly different Apple Macs. For this year's Retina MacBook Pro, OS X remains the only viable choice until the Linux support improves. At the end of the day there is no clear winner in terms of whether OS X or Ubuntu Linux is faster, but comes down to what workloads are most important to your needs, etc.

Stay tuned for the Windows 7 vs. OS X vs. Ubuntu Linux OpenGL comparison. There's also some power consumption numbers forthcoming.

If you appreciate this cross-OS benchmarking, please subscribe to Phoronix Premium for viewing entire articles on a single page and without any advertisements, make a PayPal tip with any test requests, and please disable the use of AdBlock on Phoronix.com. You can follow the latest Phoronix content via Facebook and via Twitter from @Phoronix and @MichaelLarabel.

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About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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