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Can Ubuntu 9.10 Outperform Mac OS X 10.6?

Michael Larabel

Published on 31 August 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 10 - 79 Comments

Back on Friday we published Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks and found it to offer some terrific performance improvements, but at the same time, there were a few notable regressions. Apple engineers have been working hard at pushing technologies like Grand Central Dispatch (GCD), OpenCL, full 64-bit support, and other changes to their OS X stack to bolster its performance capabilities and reduce the overall footprint. Now that we have tested Mac OS X 10.6, we are seeing how its performance compares to that of Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" will be out in October and does have some performance improvements as our earlier tests have shown, but Canonical engineers have not been exclusively focusing on performance optimizations with this release. Can the Karmic Koala outperform Snow Leopard? Yes and no.

For this article, we tested out Ubuntu Linux via BootCamp immediately after our testing had wrapped up on Friday. Our test system we used for this article was MM2 (if you followed the Mac OS X 10.6 article) and that consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU clocked at 2.00GHz, a NVIDIA MCP79 motherboard with GeForce 9400M 128MB graphics, 1GB of DDR3 memory, and a 120GB FUJITSU MHZ2120BH HDD. We tested not only the latest development snapshot of Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala", but we also decided to repeat the tests under Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope", which is currently the latest stable release. For our usual package reporting process, Ubuntu 9.04 ships with the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, GNOME 2.26.1, X Server 1.6.0, NVIDIA 190.25 display driver was installed, GCC 4.3.3, and an EXT3 file-system was the default. For our Ubuntu 9.10 installation, we used the daily LiveCD from 2009-08-29, which contained the Linux 2.6.31-rc8 kernel, GNOME 2.27.91, X Server 1.6.3, NVIDIA 190.25 display driver, GCC 4.4.1, and the default file-system is now EXT4. We were using the x86_64 versions of Ubuntu to match our 64-bit Mac OS X Snow Leopard tests.

The same sets of tests were run that we ran Friday in Mac OS X 10.6 Brings Serious Performance Gains, so read that article for all of the details. On the following pages are our results from this massive testing, now with the Ubuntu 9.04 and Ubuntu 9.10 (2009-08-29) benchmarks appended. The testing was, of course, done through the Phoronix Test Suite.

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