After performing a fresh Linux installation, most users are concerned with customizing their desktop or application set for their needs, but an increasing number of enthusiasts tend to be looking at their kernel. The Zen kernel was once very popular, but of increasing popularity amongst die-hard Linux enthusiasts is the Zen-related Liquorix kernel. While it claims to offer superior performance for common workloads, is this really the case? Here are some benchmarks of the stock Ubuntu 12.04 kernel versus the 3.2 kernel offered by Liquorix.
Compared to the mainline Linux kernel, the Liquorix 3.2 kernel includes out-of-tree patches like the BFS scheduler. It is just not the Brain Fuck Scheduler that provides the delta, but the Liquorix 3.2.12-1 patch over the vanilla Linux 3.2 kernel amounted to 3.5MB (147,996 lines) of changes scattered across the various sub-systems (unfortunately I'm not aware of any concise change-log). The Liquorix kernel configuration itself also obviously differs from what Canonical (and other Linux distributions) ship with their closely stock kernels. The Liquorix kernel developer is also one of the developers behind the Zen kernel.
The Liquorix Project web-site describes this kernel as a "replacement built using the best configuration and kernel sources for desktop, multimedia, and gaming workloads." With that said, in this article are some benchmarks comparing the stock Ubuntu 12.04 Linux 3.2 kernel versus the 3.2-based kernel offered by Liquorix. The Liquorix Project does offer a Debian package archive, which was used to make for a straightforward and reproducible comparison.
Comparing Ubuntu's Linux 3.2 kernel against the Liquorix 3.2 kernel was done from three separate commodity PCs: a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 notebook with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 "Penryn" CPU, an HP EliteBook notebook with an Intel Core i5 2520M "Sandy Bridge" CPU, and an AMD FX-8150 "Bulldozer" desktop. The only change made for each of the system runs was swapping out the Linux kernel of the otherwise stock Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin" installation.