Phoronix Test Suite 1.4 "Orkdal" will be released tomorrow, and while this release is coming just two months after the release of Phoronix Test Suite 1.2, there are in fact quite a few changes for this Q4'08 release. In two months time we have pushed out five development releases of Orkdal, there are over 220 official changes, and the diff output between the Malvik and Orkdal releases amount to over 20,000 lines of code. The most prominent features in Orkdal are compatibility the Mac OS X operating system, support for Cascading Test Profiles, support for Self-Contained Test Profiles, new modules being added, updates to all in-tree test profiles, WINE test coverage, and improved hardware/software detection.
Most of the details surrounding the Mac OS X benchmarking support can be read in Phoronix Test Suite Brings Benchmarking To Mac OS X, but there are a few points worth reiterating. In bringing Phoronix Test Suite support to Mac OS X some of the underlying changes will benefit users of other operating systems too. For instance, the Phoronix Test Suite now supports using Curl (on systems where available) when downloading test files. In addition, the Phoronix Test Suite Results Viewer now has an experimental SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) renderer for generating the graphs that show the system performance. Apple doesn't provide the GD library for PHP so we were unable to use our PNG renderer, so we had created this SVG renderer instead that will be automatically used when the PHP-GD library isn't available. There are still a few formatting issues with the SVG renderer, but overall it is in good shape.
To run the Phoronix Test Suite on Mac OS X, simply download the Phoronix Test Suite (version 1.4.0 or newer), extract the .tar.gz file, open the terminal and change directories to the phoronix-test-suite/ folder, and then run ./phoronix-test-suite with any arguments. To see tests that are available on Mac OS X, run ./phoronix-test-suite list-tests. Additionally, there is a Mac OS X test suite named darwin. If running ./phoronix-test-suite benchmark darwin, it will download, install, and proceed to run all of the major tests that are known to be compatible with this Apple operating system.
Orkdal also ships with support for Sun's OpenSolaris 2008.11 (An Early Look At OpenSolaris 2008.11 and OpenSolaris 2008.11 Starts Coming Together). A few changes that occurred with this open-source Solaris operating system following the OpenSolaris 2008.05 release required the Phoronix Test Suite to be updated. In addition, the Phoronix Test Suite now supports reading DMI data through Sun's Device Driver Utility, in order to provide more detailed hardware information. The test suite that provides tests known to be compatible with OpenSolaris 2008.11 is named nevada.
The Phoronix Test Suite is also able to read the decoded Desktop Management Interface (DMI) on Linux when /dev/mem is readable. The DMI information on Linux is currently being used to provide more detailed information about the system's RAM. In Phoronix Test Suite 1.4, the system's hard disk drive(s) are also better recognized with the manufacturer and model number being reported. Many other minor improvements have been made to provide greater compatibility in detecting the system's motherboard, chipset, and graphics card(s).
In Orkdal, Cascading Test Profiles is really a feature for test profile writers. Cascading Test Profiles makes it very easy for one test profile to extend another test profile (or to extend a "test base" profile) so that common attributes among tests can be easily shared. For instance, with the new WINE tests, they all extend a generic WINE profile that will take care of the process of download, installing, and setting up WINE along with some other common tasks. When that WINE base profile is updated against the latest version of WINE or other changes made, all test profiles will benefit. This relieves a burden on the test writers and makes it easier for similar tests to be better maintained. Cascading Test Profiles are already being used in Phoronix Test Suite 1.4.0 with the Java, timed audio encoding, timed build, WINE, and video tests.