If you're curious how Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is running against upstream Debian, given that SteamOS is Debian-based and Gabe Newell runs Debian, here's some fresh benchmarks comparing several flavors of Debian against Ubuntu 14.04 in its current development state.
All benchmarking for this article was done from the same Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" system with HD Graphics 4600, 16GB of RAM, and 120GB Samsung SSD 840. No hardware or settings changed between the clean installs of the different Linux distributions. The operating systems tested from this Intel Core i7 desktop were:
- Debian 7.4 "Wheezy" stable with the Linux 3.2 kernel, GNOME Shell 22.214.171.124, Mesa 8.0.5, and GCC 4.7.
- Debian 8.0 "Jessie" testing with the Linux 3.12 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.8.4, Mesa 9.2.2, and GCC 4.8.2.
- Debian "Sid" unstable with the Linux 3.13 kernel on top of the Jessie changes.
- Ubuntu 14.04 with the Linux 3.13 kernel, Unity 7.1.2 desktop, and Mesa 10.1-rc3.
Due to Debian Wheezy shipping with an old version of Mesa that doesn't properly support the Intel Haswell HD Graphics and running into some stability issues on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS for Mesa 10.1-rc3 + Linux 3.13 on this HD Graphics 4600 system, for this article we're focusing on other tests outside of the graphics performance. OpenGL tests from Debian/Ubuntu will come in a later article when running some different hardware.
All benchmarks were facilitated in a fully automated and reproducible manner using the Phoronix Test Suite. Again, aside from the OS installs, there were no other changes made to this system for the duration of the testing (the reported CPU speed differences come down to the CPUfreq governor that each distribution/kernel deploys, etc).