Well, that is part one of our Ubuntu 10.04 LTS vs. Windows 7 testing. As much as we would have liked to see Ubuntu's Lucid Lynx handily beat Windows 7, this was not the case, but to some extent the opposite. Windows 7 in some of the tests possessed definitive leads over Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with the OpenGL performance when using the proprietary ATI/AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers, which have largely shared code-bases between Windows and Linux. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS also had its leads in some areas while in many of the tests the differences between the two operating systems were insignificant.
What these results do show is that Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" is very capable of being a comparable gaming platform to Microsoft Windows at least as far as the quantitative performance is concerned. This is good news as Valve's Steam client and the Source Engine come to Linux and the first of the Unigine Engine games (likely Primal Carnage) are released. The exception to this, however, is if using Intel graphics. As these tests conclusively show, the Intel Linux graphics driver is no match to their Windows driver. The Intel Windows driver is significantly faster than the open-source Linux driver at this time, and with Intel's integrated graphics processors not being the best, every frame-rate really counts when it comes to making a game playable.
If switching from the proprietary ATI/NVIDIA Linux drivers to the open-source ATI/NVIDIA Linux drivers that are available, you too will take a performance hit, but at least the Radeon and Nouveau (NVIDIA) developers are embracing Gallium3D, which has shown to be faster than a classic Mesa driver like Intel's implementation. With ATI/NVIDIA hardware, you also have the choice of which driver to use, where as with Intel there is only one option and that is the driver that offers humiliating performance.
This article will also hopefully dispel all sorts of myths and FUD that has come up for both operating systems. Here's just a recent example that was mentioned on our Facebook page, "Linux drivers even proprietary ones have a long way to go, nvidia has improved vastly and ATI is still lagging far behind but none are close to their Windows equivalent, at least nvidia bought VDPAU which ATI is yet to implement, except for graphics, I expect Ubuntu to outscore Win7 on other tests."
More of the Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 10.04 (and Mac OS X) tests will follow in the coming weeks for non-gaming areas. The Windows support upbringing will also allow us to closely compare and monitor the performance of Wine (the free software project that allows the running of many Windows binaries under Linux), which too will be coming soon and should be interesting. As work gets underway on these future articles, we invite your feedback in the Phoronix Forums (or also our IRC channel - #phoronix on FreeNode) on these results and what else you would like to see tested.
You can also reproduce these test results for yourself or run many other benchmarks all via the Phoronix Test Suite. We also invite any organizations interested in this testing or software to contact us.