Going into this four-way Linux distribution comparison on the ASUS Eee PC 901 with Intel Atom hardware we really didn't know which operating system would lead in performance. This is only our second time publishing Intel Atom benchmarks and with that said these are really the first major Linux benchmarks of this new Intel architecture.
Starting with the Mencoder test that measures the time of encoding an 89MB AVI file to LAVC, the fastest distribution was Ubuntu 8.10. Ubuntu had only taken 152 seconds to encode while Mandriva 2009 Beta 2 was a few seconds slower and Fedora 10 Alpha tacked on a few more seconds. However, the Xandros distribution was 48 seconds slower than Ubuntu, which equates to a 32% difference!
While Ubuntu was fastest in encoding, Fedora proved to be much faster in GCC compilation performance. It had only taken about 330 seconds (or about 5 minutes and 30 seconds) to compile ImageMagick on the Eee PC 901, but for Ubuntu and Mandriva it had taken over ten minutes. While Ubuntu and Mandriva were slow, it wasn't as slow as Xandros, which took over 14 minutes.
The margins were much closer when measuring the time it took to compress a 512MB file using Gzip. Ubuntu and Mandriva were virtually tied with each of them taking 81 seconds to compress the file while it took 95 seconds for Fedora. Xandros finally finished not in last place with a compression time of 87 seconds.
Moving to the XML read/write tests was another mix-up. Here Ubuntu had a noticeable lead over the other three distributions for the write performance while for the read performance Xandros had finally won a test. When it came to writing again though with processing 2400 SQL INSERTs using the SQLite system, Ubuntu was in first place.