Intel released Moblin 2.1 earlier this month, Canonical released Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 late last month, and various other vendors have offered up their fall distribution refreshes too. Oh yeah, and Google just released the Chromium OS source code a few days ago! With all of the netbook-focused distribution updates, we found it time to run an onslaught of new benchmarks, comparing some of the leaders in this field along with running a couple full-blown desktop distributions for this round of Linux netbook benchmarking. Here are our benchmarks, including the world's first look at the Chromium OS (Chrome OS) system performance from the latest development build. Covered is everything from the video playback performance to encoding to battery power consumption and CPU/memory usage tests.
The netbook we used for this Linux benchmarking fiesta was a Samsung NC10 comprised of an Intel Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.60GHz, the motherboard uses an Intel 945GME + ICH7-M Chipset with the standard 945 integrated graphics, 2GB of system memory, a 32GB OCZ Core Series V2 SSD, and a 1024 x 600 LCD panel. All of this hardware had worked fine, including the integrated 802.11g WiFi, with all distributions tested -- Chromium OS included.
The operating systems we tested for this round of benchmarking included Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10, Moblin 2.1, Fedora 12, Chromium OS, and openSUSE 11.2. We built Chromium OS from source at build 999.999.32609.201950-a1 without any external patches or configurations. All tested distributions were left in their default configurations, packages, and settings. The exceptions however with Chromium OS we needed to remount the root file-system in a read-write mode and add in the standard Ubuntu Karmic package repositories for which Google's operating system is based. The tests in this article were all facilitated through our Phoronix Test Suite software for carrying out all tests in an automated manner from running encoding benchmarks to monitoring the battery power and CPU usage all in a fully repeatable manner. Before jumping to the results, we have a few additional notes to share on each of the Linux distributions that were benchmarked.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 ships with the Linux 2.6.31 kernel, GNOME 2.28.1 albeit with Ubuntu's Clutter front-end for the Netbook Remix edition, X Server 1.6.4, xf86-video-intel 2.9.0, Mesa 7.6, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT4 file-system.
Intel's Moblin 2.1 release ships with the Linux 2.6.31 kernel, X Server 1.6.5 RC1, Mesa 7.6, GCC 4.3, and an EXT3 file-system.
Fedora 12 (a.k.a. "Constantine") has the Linux 2.6.31 kernel too with GNOME 2.28.1 while packing X Server 1.7.1, xf86-video-intel 2.9.1, Mesa 7.7-devel, and GCC 4.4.2. Fedora 12 uses the EXT4 file-system by default. The core packages found in Fedora 12 are the most latest upstream versions among the distributions we are testing out today. We were using just the standard Fedora i686 LiveCD installation without its optional Moblin interface but just running the standard GNOME desktop.
Next up is Google's much talked about Chromium OS, which is the open-source version of Chrome OS. With build 999.999.32609.201950-a1 of Chromium OS we had a 2.6.30 kernel (2.6.30-chromeos-intel-menlow), X Server 1.6.3, xf86-video-intel 2.8.0, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT3 file-system by default. Chromium OS is currently based upon Ubuntu 9.10, but as you can see from some of the version numbers, it's only loosely based on Karmic -- with an entirely different kernel, not opting to use the EXT4 file-system, and many other underlying changes. Chromium OS is also running with the Chrome OS window manager. From our initial Chromium OS testing it had ran surprisingly well on the Samsung NC10 in our hardware configuration with the only major bug we have to report being the system not rebooting properly unless holding down the power button.
Lastly, we have openSUSE 11.2 using the i686 LiveCD with the default KDE 4.3 desktop environment. Key packages here included the Linux 2.6.31 kernel, KDE 4.3.1 desktop, X Server 1.6.5, xf86-video-intel 2.9.1, Mesa 7.6, GCC 4.4, and an EXT4 file-system.
Before jumping to the really interesting results where we look at the thermal performance, battery consumption, CPU usage, and other system vitals, we first have some quantitative benchmarks from within the Linux desktop. This first round of tests included H.264 video playback, OpenArena, LZMA compression, 7-Zip compression, IOzone, PostMark, dcraw, Ogg Encoding, FFmpeg, and x264 video encoding.