With these various profiles, suites, and remote comparisons, how easy is this to use? Well, if you have ever used apt-get or yum before, you can work the Phoronix Test Suite. Right now the graphical interface for the Phoronix Test Suite is still under heavy development, but the command-line options are just as easy (and similar) to installing your favorite application using your distribution's package management system. You can be on a clean installation of your distribution and by just running phoronix-test-suite benchmark universe, the software will install all of the benchmarks in a private directory (and associated dependencies for each test), run all of the benchmarks, parse the results with system hardware and software, and then show you the results complete with graphs. It's that easy.
The only pre-requisites for the Phoronix Test Suite are that you are running Linux (though other operating systems could easily be supported) and that you have the standard development tools/libraries installed (so that the Phoronix Test Suite can compile any of the needed benchmarks) along with php5-cli. The reasoning behind the use of PHP5 for the command-line is described here, but this language was chosen for its portability, low impact on the overall system, and low number (if any) dependencies that PHP5 CLI requires. On a clean Ubuntu installation, it's as easy as first running sudo apt-get install build-essential php5-cli and then running the Phoronix Test Suite.
Among the benchmarks with Phoronix Test Suite profiles already include Nexuiz 2.4, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (demo), Doom 3, timed Linux kernel compilation, timed mplayer compilation, timed PHP compilation, timed MP3 encoding, timed FLAC encoding, timed Ogg encoding, hdparm timed disk read tests, RAMspeed memory benchmarking, and Gzip compression testing. In the near future we have planned more gaming and workstation tests and even video compositing/encoding benchmarks.
The Phoronix Test Suite can be downloaded from the project website. Once you have downloaded the source package and installed the PHP5 CLI and basic build tools/libraries (GCC) for your distribution, you can immediately start benchmarking your system(s). With the Phoronix Test Suite still being in development, it doesn't yet support any installation mode to /usr/local/, but it can simply be executed from the extracted folder. By default, any benchmarks and associated files that are required to complete the test are saved to ~/pts-benchmark-env. If you wish to change this location, just edit the EnvironmentDirectory tag (with an absolute location) within user-config.xml in the root directory of phoronix-test-suite. When the benchmarks are completed, the results are saved into phoronix-test-suite/test-results, but that location can be changed too by adjusting the ResultsDirectory value.
When you're ready to run your first test with this software, run ./phoronix-test-suite from the command-line (in the phoronix-test-suite directory) to see all available options. To see all available benchmarks, run ./phoronix-test-suite list-tests or ./phoronix-test-suite list-suites to see all test suites. As not all of the profiles are fully working with the Phoronix Test Suite 0.1 release, look for the tests that have a reported status of "VERIFIED" when running list-tests. Among the suites that contain fully working tests with v0.1 include audio-encoding, compilation, and universe.
Ready to benchmark? Run ./phoronix-test-suite benchmark <ARGUMENT> with the argument either being a suite name, test, or a global ID from the public database. The global ID for each test is listed in several places on the database web front-end. A good test for starters is ./phoronix-test-suite benchmark audio-encoding. Running the universe test suite will take some time to complete as it's made up of all benchmarks in the Phoronix Test Suite that are in a verified and fully-working state.