While testing for this three-way OS comparison was completed on a single workstation system, with that AMD hardware, the strongest performance was exhibited with Ubuntu 8.10. The Intrepid Ibex wasn't the winner in all tests, but in a majority it was and in some of the tests it even garnered a sizeable lead.
In our LAME MP3 encoding test, Ubuntu 8.10 was the fastest followed by FreeBSD 7.1 Beta 2 and then OpenSolaris 2008.11 RC2. In the 7-Zip and Gzip compression tests, Ubuntu had led the way followed by OpenSolaris and then FreeBSD. In the GnuPG file encryption test, however, FreeBSD had overtook OpenSolaris for a second place finish. While a narrow escape, FreeBSD had over-powered Ubuntu in the PHP-driven Tandem XML test, which led it to taking first place. Like the GnuPG test, there was a considerable difference in performance between Linux/FreeBSD and OpenSolaris.
With Java and OpenSolaris being products of Sun Microsystems, it shouldn't be too surprising that the fastest Java performance was generally witnessed atop this Sun operating system. In the Bork file encryption test, OpenSolaris had a very strong lead over Ubuntu and FreeBSD. With the Java SciMark test created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, OpenSolaris exhibited the best FFT and Monte Carlo performance. Ubuntu managed to take a close lead in the Sparse Matrix Multiply performance for Java SciMark and then the SOR performance was too close to call between the three test operating systems. The last Java-powered test was the Sunflow Global Illumination Rendering System, which is built around a ray-tracing core. Here the best performance was found on FreeBSD 7.1 Beta 2.
For some file-system/disk-centric testing we had used Bonnie++ with the sequential create, random read, and random delete modes. In all three of the tests, OpenSolaris 2008.11 was the champion and had trenched its competition. However, it's important to reiterate that all three operating systems were left in their stock configurations and that no additional tweaking had occurred. The performance differences between EXT3, UFS, and ZFS are clear.
The last area we tested with the Phoronix Test Suite was the BYTE Unix Benchmark to gauge its Dhrystone 2, register arithmetic, and floating-point performance. FreeBSD had a considerable lead with Dhrystone 2, but at register arithmetic, OpenSolaris managed a slight lead, and finally in the floating-point performance Ubuntu had a slight lead over FreeBSD.
If simply counting which operating system was in first place most frequently, it would be Ubuntu. Ubuntu 8.10 x86_64 was in first place eight times, OpenSolaris 2008.11 RC2 was in first place seven times, and FreeBSD 7.1 Beta 2 AMD64 was in first just three tests. Depending upon your system usage, one operating system may appear more favorable, like OpenSolaris with the greater disk performance. To reiterate though, all of the testing was done on a single workstation-oriented system with dual quad-core processors and 4GB of RAM. FreeBSD and OpenSolaris were also using their latest testing builds while Ubuntu was using a final release copy. We do plan, however, to deliver more operating systems benchmarks in the future to look at these final release versions on different hardware. Thanks to the Phoronix Test Suite, we could also throw in Mac OS X again and have a heated four-way comparison.