ASUS Eee PC 901 / Intel Atom: Linux Distribution Comparison
File encryption can be very important for mobile devices and here Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 won once again. Ubuntu was almost twice as fast as Mandriva and nearly three times as fast as Xandros and Fedora at encrypting a 1GB file using GnuPG. More encryption benchmarks from the Eee PC can be found in this article.
For a synthetic memory test we had used RAMspeed. Here when computing the addition performance of integers, Ubuntu took another goal. In second was Mandriva followed by Xandros and Fedora.
Now ray tracing really isn't a task to worry about with netbook computers, but we had used the Sunflow Rendering System as one of our tests with its global illumination and image synthesis engine. The Sunflow test had caused a shake-up with Xandros coming in first place for its second time. It took just 24 seconds to run Sunflow while coming in last place was Fedora 10 at 48 seconds. Mandriva took second with 30 seconds and Ubuntu in third at 38 seconds.
Our tests were rounded out with additional disk tests using Bonnie++ and IOzone. Ubuntu results though weren't generated with Bonnie++ and IOzone though due to a results merging bug. However, here the Eee-optimized Xandros distribution won both for random read and for write performance. The margins were small for Bonnie++ but Xandros had a noticeable lead with IOzone write performance.
In some tests the stock Eee Linux distribution was running quite slow and placing far behind Mandriva, Fedora, and Ubuntu, but when it came to the solid-state disk performance Xandros had the lead. Overall though, it appears that Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 had delivered the best performance on the Intel Atom architecture. These are just our initial figures though. We are still running some additional benchmarks on the Eee PC 901 to look for the best Linux OS, but it looks like it is a toss-up right now depending upon how the system will be used. With Ubuntu 8.10 now using the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, the results of the final release will certainly be different.
Aside from the performance, there are a number of other factors that play into which Linux distribution is best for the Atom hardware and netbooks/nettops. Among these are the optimized user-interfaces, such as Ubuntu's Netbook Remix or Ubuntu MID Edition 8.04, and which distributions supply the best support for the onboard components.
If you are currently running Linux on a netbook or with an Intel Atom processor, be sure to share your thoughts in the Phoronix Forums.
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