Last week we shared that we were benchmarking Ubuntu's current and past LTS releases and began by running graphics benchmarks looking at how the proprietary drivers from the past compare to open-source drivers from the present, but now we have our assortment of system benchmarks to publish from the Long-Term Support releases of Ubuntu 6.06.1, Ubuntu 8.04.4, and an Ubuntu 10.04 development snapshot. In this article, we are looking at how Ubuntu's performance has evolved over the past four years.
Like with our LTS graphics tests, we used an aging Lenovo ThinkPad T60 notebook with an Intel Core Duo T2400 processor, 1GB of system memory, an 80GB Hitachi HTS541080G9SA00, and a Mobility Radeon X1400 128MB graphics processor. Our assortment of benchmarks provided by the Phoronix Test Suite for comparing the three Ubuntu LTS releases to date included Apache, PostgreSQL, LZMA Compression, 7-Zip compression, Parallel BZIP2 compression, LAME MP3 encoding, FFmpeg, GnuPG, Gcrypt, OpenSSL, C-Ray, MAFFT, IOzone, Dbench, FS-Mark, GraphicsMagick, and Himeno.
To recap some important package versions for each of the Long-Term Support releases, Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake" shipped with the Linux 2.6.15 kernel, X.Org Server 7.0.0, xf86-video-vesa 1.0.1, Mesa 6.4.1, GCC 4.0.3, and ran atop an EXT3 file-system. The Linux 2.6.24 kernel, X.Org Server 188.8.131.52, xf86-video-ati 6.8.0, Mesa 7.0.3-rc2, GCC 4.2.4, and an EXT3 file-system powered Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron". For our Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" testing we were running the beta release with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, X.Org Server 1.7.6, xf86-video-radeon 6.13.0, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system. Like is standard practice for these comparisons, each Ubuntu release was left with its default settings and packages. A clean installation was carried out for each release. The 32-bit versions of Ubuntu were used in each scenario as the original Core Duo is not 64-bit capable.
For those not familiar with Ubuntu's LTS releases, these Long-Term Support builds come every two years and are backed by Canonical with a longer period of support than the normal six-month Ubuntu releases. The LTS versions of Ubuntu receive three years of support on the desktop and five years for servers. In other words, once Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" is officially let go into the wild later this month, it will continue receiving maintenance / security updates on the desktop side until 2013 and for server installations all the way to 2015. Canonical also occasionally releases new re-spins of LTS versions, to incorporate these fixes, such as with Ubuntu 8.04.4 from earlier this year.