Traditionally at Phoronix we have stayed away from publishing benchmarks of Gentoo and similar source-based distributions for the lack of them having a standard or "stock" configuration for which one can easily replicate our tested software stack due to all of the different variables that come into play so the value of these benchmarks are much less compared to those distributions providing pre-compiled binaries for a standardized set of packages. However, satisfying a number of requests, we are publishing such benchmarks today. Rather than using Gentoo itself for benchmarking, we are using Calculate Linux Desktop, which is Gentoo-based while providing a very nice "out of the box" experience, i686 and x86_64 binaries, and overall is a polished and user-friendly Gentoo experience.
For those not familiar with Calculate Linux Desktop (Calculate is ranked as the 81st most popular Linux distribution according to DistroWatch), it along with Calculate Directory Server and Calculate Linux Scratch make up the Calculate Linux family. Calculate Linux is described by its developers as "an optimized distribution designed for rapid deployment in a corporate environment. It is based on the Gentoo project and includes numerous pre-configured functions." There are releases of the Calculate Linux distributions (though users can emerge newer Gentoo packages at anytime), can be installed in a number of minutes from the Calculate Linux Desktop LiveDVD in a matter of minutes, is fully compatible with Gentoo, and is designed for easy administration. Additional information on Calculate Linux is available on the project's web-site, Calculate-Linux.org.
To see how fast the Gentoo-based Calculate Linux Desktop is compared to other popular Linux distributions, we tested both the i686 and x86_64 versions of Calculate Linux Desktop 10.4 (the latest stable release) on an Intel Atom netbook and a multi-core AMD desktop, respectively. We compared the performance of the Gentoo distribution to that of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Sabayon 5.3 that is also based upon Gentoo, and Fedora 13.
Calculate Linux Desktop 10.4 ships with the Linux 2.6.32-11-calculate kernel, GNOME 2.26.3, X.Org Server 1.6.5, xf86-video-intel 2.9.1, xf86-video-ati 6.12.5, Mesa 7.5.2, and we used an EXT4 file-system during installation. We upgraded GCC with both Calculate Linux Desktop installations to GCC 4.4.3 so that the compiler would be comparable to that of the other Linux distributions tested, to avoid any reader concerns.
For reference, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS ships with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, GNOME 2.30.0, X.Org Server 1.7.6, xf86-video-intel 2.9.1, GCC 4.4.3, Mesa 7.7.1, and uses an EXT4 file-system. Sabayon 5.3 is also Gentoo based and it shipped with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, GNOME 2.28.2, X.Org Server 1.7.6, xf86-video-intel 2.11.0, Mesa 7.8.1, GCC 4.4.2, and an EXT4 file-system. Lastly, Fedora 13 has the Linux 2.6.33 kernel, GNOME 2.30.0 desktop, X.Org Server 1.8.0, xf86-video-intel 2.11.0, Mesa 7.8.1, GCC 4.4.4, and an EXT4 file-system.
The Intel Atom netbook for the 32-bit software testing was the Samsung NC10 with the Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.60GHz, Intel 945GM graphics, 2GB of system memory, and sports a 32GB OCZ Core Series SSD. The AMD desktop used for the 64-bit testing was made up of an AMD Athlon II X3 425 triple-core processor clocked at 3.21GHz, an MSI 890GXM-G65 motherboard, 4GB of DDR3 system memory, a 250GB Seagate ST3250310AS SATA HDD, and an ATI Radeon HD 4670 (RV730XT) graphics card.
The benchmarks we ran across Calculate Linux Desktop, Ubuntu, Sabayon, and Fedora were OpenArena, World of Padman, 7-Zip, LAME MP3, FFmpeg, x264, OpenSSL, GraphicsMagick, Himeno, NAS Parallel Benchmarks, Apache, C-Ray, PostMark, Gzip, and Parallel BZIP2. All of this testing was done by the Phoronix Test Suite, which supports automated testing on the aforementioned distributions plus plenty of other distributions and Unix-like operating systems.