After releasing Phoronix Test Suite 2.4 earlier this month and delivering the subsequent 2.4.1 update, we have now released PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 "Anzhofen" to the public. PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 makes it extremely easy to benchmark your computer on a completely standardized software stack from a Live DVD/USB environment.
The first release of PTS Desktop Live came last year and was released in conjunction with Phoronix Test Suite 2.0. PTS Desktop Live 2009.3 "Gernlinden" was the inaugural version that was well received for making performance benchmarking simple and that it made benchmarking fun. The Gernlinden release was a stripped down version of the latest Ubuntu development code at the time and then coupled with the Phoronix Test Suite and embedding several dozen tests onto the live file-system. The goal of PTS Desktop Live was to make a live environment to run the Phoronix Test Suite for carrying out our automated Linux benchmarks with a standardized software stack from top to bottom to isolate any software differences for those looking to compare the hardware performance in a professional environment or simply seeing if your system can out run your friend's hardware. At that time though we expressed we had aspirations to do so much more with PTS Desktop Live and to begin investigating different performance optimizations and tweaks to make this Linux-based operating system run even faster as unlike most Linux distributions, with PTS Desktop Live we only care about the experience of running the Phoronix Test Suite and while running it on relatively new hardware.
We began this optimization work and brainstorming other possibilities almost immediately after the release of Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 / PTS Desktop Live 2009.3, but due to the limited development resources and investing a lot of energy into Phoronix Test Suite 2.2 that was released late last year, we didn't end up releasing PTS Desktop Live 2009.4 "Loderhof" to the public. Instead, the work was diverted to what is now known as the PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 "Anzhofen" operating system.
PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 pulls in a very slim set of packages from the Ubuntu Lucid repository (the latest development packages as of mid-February) for its Linux base and to provide a limited GNOME desktop. Atop that, we then strapped on the Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1 release and bundled it with the files for 43 tests (there are nearly 130 test profiles available in Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1, just not all of the files are bundled with PTS Desktop Live 2010.1). PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 is also running off our own custom kernel. The Anzhofen 2.6.33-rc6-phx10 kernel is powering this live Linux benchmarking environment. Packaged up, our kernel is 16MB in size, which is about 40% smaller than the Linux kernel that is packaged up for Ubuntu.
The Linux kernel in Anzhofen is built for x86_64 and is optimized for Intel Core 2 processors and later. Making this kernel much smaller is that we have been much more selective about what drivers and other modules we allow in this and future releases. With PTS Desktop Live we are focusing our optimization work on desktop / workstation hardware that has been released in the past two to three years. Support for older chipsets, disk controllers, graphics processors, and other devices have been dropped. We have also made other kernel configuration changes from what is normally flipped on in Ubuntu and other desktop distributions that are focused on providing a full desktop experience no matter what hardware you may be running. As to the desktop, it is a stripped-down version of GNOME 2.29 that just features a web browser, text editor, and the Phoronix Test Suite are really the only main applications to be found. There still are many rough edges with PTS Desktop Live, but these areas will be smoothed out in forthcoming releases.
With that said, you obviously need a 64-bit AMD or Intel processor and particularly one of their recent processors for best results. PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 should be run with 2GB or more of system memory and an Internet connection are highly recommended for integration with Phoronix Global and Phoromatic. When it comes to graphics support, an ATI or Intel graphics processor is recommended. The latest Linux 2.6.33 kernel DRM is in this release as well as a Mesa snapshot that does support R600/700 3D capabilities and on the Intel side the recent Clarkdale IGPs are supported too. The Nouveau DRM code is also bundled in this release; however, it has received only limited testing and in Anzhofen is known to not be working in certain scenarios. This will be addressed in PTS Desktop Live 2010.2. For those with incompliant hardware, you should use PTS Desktop Live 2009.3 or just use the Phoronix Test Suite directly atop your favorite operating system whether it be a Linux distribution, *BSD, OpenSolaris, or Mac OS X. The size of the Anzhofen ISO is 1.4GB.
As Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1 is in use on PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 there are a number of improvements ranging from better hardware detection to a much more robust GTK2 GUI compared to what was found in Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 in the Gernlinden OS. Going forward, the next planned release is PTS Desktop Live 2010.2 (codenamed "Rottbach") and it is expected to arrive around the same time as the Phoronix Test Suite 2.6 release in May. PTS Desktop Live 2010.2 will feature greater kernel optimizations, much more polishing, and the latest benchmarking innovations presented by the Phoronix Test Suite 2.6 "Lyngen" code-base. Earlier this month we also announced with Anzhofen we would be releasing PTS Netbook Live, or basically the 32-bit netbook-equivalent to PTS Desktop Live with optimizations for Intel Atom devices. PTS Netbook Live 2010.1 should be released shortly.