While we are just weeks away from delivering the most comprehensive Mac OS X vs. Windows 7 vs. Linux benchmarks, and Apple is on the heels of releasing the major Mac OS X 10.6.3 update (update: well, soon as this article went live, Apple just happened to push out Mac OS X 10.6.3), for those impatient ones today we have published an extensive set of tests comparing the performance of Mac OS X 10.6.2 against a development build of Ubuntu 10.04. This is our first time exploring how Canonical's Lucid Lynx can compete with Apple's Snow Leopard.
For this testing of the latest Snow Leopard and Lucid Lynx operating systems we used one of our newer Apple Mac Mini systems that had an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 clocked at 2.00GHz, an Apple Mac-F22C86C8 motherboard with NVIDIA MCP79 Chipset, 1GB of DDR3-1067MHz system memory, a120GB Fujitsu MHZ2120B SATA HDD, and NVIDIA GeForce 9400 graphics. Mac OS X 10.6.2 uses the 10.2.0 kernel, X.Org Server 1.4.2-apple45, GCC 4.2.1, and a Journaled HFS+ file-system. With Ubuntu 10.04 LTS not being officially released for a few weeks we used a daily snapshot from 2010-03-28 with the Linux 2.6.32-17-generic 64-bit kernel, GNOME 2.29.92, X.Org Server 1.7.6, NVIDIA 195.36.15 graphics driver with OpenGL 3.2.0, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system. Both the Mac OS X and Linux operating systems were left with their defaults.
Via the Phoronix Test Suite we ran the following tests: Urban Terror, OpenArena, Warsow, X-Plane 9, MPlayer, LAME MP3 encoding, Mencoder, dcraw, 7-Zip compression, Gzip compression, GraphicsMagick, John The Ripper, MAFFT, PostgreSQL, Sudokut, Crafty, TSCP, Tachyon, C-Ray, and Bork. Here is our Mac OS X 10.6.2 versus Ubuntu 10.04 benchmark results for now. Stay tuned for our big arsenal of tests that will include Mac OS X 10.6.3, Microsoft Windows 7, and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, among others.
We started by looking at the OpenGL gaming performance between Mac OS X 10.6.2 and Ubuntu 10.04. One of the rumored big areas of improvement for Mac OS X 10.6.3 will be with the graphics drivers, but for now, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with the latest proprietary Linux driver is outperforming the Cupertino OS. Ubuntu 10.04 was running significantly faster than Mac OS X 10.6.2 when at 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, and 1280 x 1024. Once the resolution was pushed beyond this limit, the results were much closer where at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1080 the frame-rates were virtually the same.
With OpenArena, Lucid Lynx started out the fastest with the proprietary NVIDIA driver, but at resolutions of 1280 x 1024 and greater, it actually fell below the Mac OS X 10.6.2 performance level. Unless NVIDIA's Unix graphics driver team has some performance optimizations in store, this delta may widen once Mac OS X 10.6.3 is released if it delivers on the rumored GPU driver improvements.
Warsow was similar to OpenArena where Ubuntu Linux started out being the fastest, but at higher resolutions, it fell behind Apple's operating system.
With X-Plane 9 at 1920 x 1080, Ubuntu 10.04 was slightly behind Mac OS X 10.6.2, but neither operating system when running with the GeForce 9400 graphics were playable at this high resolution using this realistic flight simulator.