The first beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 was made available yesterday morning. RHEL 6.0 is set to offer many virtualization enhancements, power management improvements, new security features, many package updates, and even some reported performance enhancements. With Red Hat mentioning this major upgrade to their enterprise operating system carrying "performance enhancements", these claims have now been tested using the Phoronix Test Suite within our labs. There are some improvements for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 to note, but also some losses.
Shortly following the announcement of the first public beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0, we began running a fresh set of benchmarks on CentOS 5.4 and Fedora 12. CentOS 5.4 was tested as it's equivalent to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, but CentOS 5.5 is not yet available as the facsimile to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 that was released three weeks ago. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 is largely based off Fedora 12 packages, which is why we tested Red Hat's community operating system. With Red Hat's FTP server running slow today, we also tested today's Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" daily snapshot in this comparison too.
The RHEL 6.0 Beta announcement in regards to the performance enhancements said the following:
"Red Hat engineers have played key roles in the upstream development of a wide range of kernel performance enhancements that we plan to feature in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. This includes a complete rewrite of the process scheduler so that it more fairly shares compute cycles among processes and provides more determinism by enabling higher-priority processes to run with minimal interference from lower-priority processes. Additionally, there are a substantial range of multi-processor lock synchronization enhancements. For example, elimination of unnecessary locking occurrences, replacement of many spin locks with sleep locks and implementation of more efficient locking primitives. These foundational changes impact a number of kernel subsystems."
In the initial testing of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 x86_64 Beta the experience has been stable, quite pleasant, and certainly enjoyable. Red Hat Linux 5 is based upon Fedora Core 6 so the move to RHEL 6.0 is very evident on different levels with it being based off of Fedora 12 and then the Fedora 13 release is also just weeks away. There is the Nouveau graphics driver now in RHEL, KDE Software Compilation 4, the Plymouth boot splash system, and many other advancements that have built up over the past three years. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 Beta uses the Linux 2.6.32-19.el6.x86_64 kernel, GNOME 2.28.2, X.Org Server 1.7.5, xf86-video-ati 6.12.99 (among other updated X.Org drivers), Mesa 7.7, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system by default.
In comparison, CentOS 5.4 uses the Linux 2.6.18-164.el5 kernel, GNOME 2.16.0, X.Org Server 7.1.1, Mesa 6.5.1, GCC 4.1.2, and uses an EXT3 file-system by default. Fedora 12 had the Linux 188.8.131.52-127.fc12.x86_64 kernel, GNOME 2.28.1, X.Org Server 1.7.1, Mesa 7.7-devel, GCC 4.4.2, and an EXT4 file-system. Lastly, Canonical's enterprise offering is the Ubuntu 10.04 Long-Term Support release carrying the Linux 2.6.32-21-generic kernel, GNOME 2.30.0, X.Org Server 1.7.6, Mesa 7.7, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system. The 64-bit versions of CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, and Ubuntu were used during this testing.
We used an AMD Shanghai test system boasting dual AMD Opteron 2384 quad-core processors, a Tyan Thunder n3600M (S2932) using NVIDIA's MCP55 Chipset, 4GB of system memory, a 160GB Western Digital WD1600YS-01S SATA HDD, and an ATI FirePro V8800 workstation graphics card.
The benchmarks we ran on this selection of Linux distributions were largely workstation and server oriented. The set of tests from the Phoronix Test Suite included Apache, PostgreSQL, Bork, C-Ray, POV-Ray, 7-Zip, Parallel BZIP2, FLAC, GraphicsMagick, HMMer, MAFFT, John The Ripper, NAS Parallel Benchmarks, Compile Bench, PostMark, and Unpack-Linux. No workstation graphics tests were carried out, as the brand-new FirePro V8800 that was used in this testing is not yet supported in any public ATI Linux driver that supports this ASIC and the newer X.Org Servers found in Fedora 12 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0. That capable driver though will come later this month and for now can be found as a handout to Canonical in Ubuntu 10.04.