Earlier this month at the Red Hat Summit where Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 was released with support for the Kernel-based Virtual Machine. At this Red Hat event, virtualization -- particularly KVM -- and cloud computing were the most talked about topics. But how is KVM performing these days? With new virtualization refinements going into almost every new Linux kernel release, we have published a new set of KVM benchmarks using the Linux 2.6.31 kernel, to provide updated numbers against our KVM benchmarks from last year and our Core i7 virtualization numbers. This time around, we are also using a Phenom II processor for testing out the AMD-V technology.
Last December we had looked at the Ubuntu 9.04 home encryption performance after this feature appeared in a development snapshot as an alternative to those looking for security some of their data but are not looking for completely encrypting the hard drive due to the performance impact or other reasons. The home encryption feature ended up being disabled in Ubuntu 9.04 unless a special boot parameter was used, but it has now reappeared in Ubuntu 9.10.
A few weeks back Con Kolivas returned to the Linux kernel scene after parting ways with kernel development for two years. Con, who has contributed a great deal to the Linux kernel in the past particularly with CPU schedulers, returned and introduced BFS. BFS (not to be confused with the file-system of the same name) is a new scheduler for the Linux kernel that's designed for optimal performance on hardware that's more common with a majority of Linux desktop users, not massive data centers running dozens (and in some cases, hundreds) of CPUs. The BFS scheduler is designed to offer "extremely low latencies for excellent interactivity", according to Con Kolivas. In this article we have a set of benchmarks comparing BFS and the current default scheduler within the Linux kernel, the Completely Fair Scheduler.
Last Friday we published Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks and then on Monday they were joined by Ubuntu 9.10 vs. Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks. One of the requests that has come up since publishing those articles are to carry out a set of tests comparing the performance of LLVM and LLVM-GCC. With Apple's Snow Leopard release, some parts of the operating system were built using LLVM-GCC for optimized performance, although this compiler is not yet matured. In this article we have a set of 12 benchmarks comparing GCC to LLVM-GCC.
Beyond pushing out a new graphical boot screen just before the feature freeze went into effect for Ubuntu 9.10, Canonical released the first public version of their own app store, previously codenamed AppCenter, but now known as the Ubuntu Software Store (or software-store as its package is called). Canonical does have some grand plans for the Ubuntu Software Store and in this article we have some screenshots of what it looks like currently and how it functions along with some of their plans for the future.
When benchmarking development releases of Fedora in particular, they often end up being much slower than the final build and perform lower when compared against some of the other leading desktop distributions. As we have mentioned in previous articles, this is generally due to the debugging support enabled within the development builds of Fedora. To see just what the performance cost is, we have compared the Fedora 11 performance of the normal kernel against the kernel-debug package. Additionally, we also compared the performance when disabling SELinux and system auditing support.
Have you considered embracing Linux in any of your articles? If you have, but have not acted on such thoughts, why is that? Is it the Linux learning curve? The "lack of benchmarks"? Simply the lack of resources on the part of your editors and product evaluators? After speaking with several editors from fellow publications, these seem to be most of the excuses at hand. However, at Phoronix Media, we have the solutions to these problems -- and they are free and easy to adopt. I would invite you to think how using Linux to complement your Windows testing in hardware reviews could benefit your publication by providing more thorough reviews to fulfill the needs of more readers, wooing more hardware companies with having another feature to offer, and generate additional page views from having more content.
Phoronix Media has released version 2.0 (codenamed "Sandtorg") of the Phoronix Test Suite, which encompasses hundreds of updates to its flagship testing and performance profiling software. Phoronix Media has also released PTS Desktop Live 2009.3 (codenamed "Gernlinden"), which is the first Linux-based desktop operating system designed exclusively for carrying out automated tests using the Phoronix Test Suite from a live environment. Phoromatic, a web-based remote test management system, has also entered closed beta testing.
In less than two weeks we will be officially releasing Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 "Sandtorg" and this by far is the biggest upgrade ever to our flagship testing and benchmarking software. While the Phoronix Test Suite is most often associated with Linux, this open-source software is also compatible with Mac OS X, OpenSolaris, and BSD operating systems too, all of which offer new improvements with Phoronix Test Suite 2.0. In this article we have detailed some of the major highlights of Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 and how we seek to drive innovation into PC benchmarking and performance profiling.
Since we began benchmarking Btrfs a few months ago we have found it to not deliver any spectacular file-system performance results on Linux. This next-generation Linux file-system that has often been compared to Sun's ZFS has not really performed that well, granted it's still very much under development. Btrfs is far from being the performance king and even its SSD mode has had little positive effect. Just weeks ago we delivered EXT4, Btrfs, and NILFS2 benchmarks, but now there is a new release of Btrfs available. Committed to the Linux 2.6.31 kernel was Btrfs v0.19. Does this release bring any performance improvements? Yes and no.
The Linux 2.6.31 kernel is still under active development until it is released later this quarter, but the merge window is closed and most of the work going on is to address bugs and other regressions within this massive code-base. Some of the key additions to the Linux 2.6.31 kernel include many graphics-related advancements (merging of the TTM memory manager, Radeon kernel mode-setting, Intel DisplayPort, etc), an ALSA driver for the Creative X-Fi, initial USB 3.0 support, file-system improvements, and much more. To see how the general system performance has been impacted by the new Linux kernel that is in development, we have a few benchmarks today.
The past few Linux kernel releases have brought a number of new file-systems to the Linux world, such as with EXT4 having been stabilized in the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, Btrfs being merged into Linux 2.6.29, and most recently the NILFS2 file-system premiering with the Linux 2.6.30 kernel. Other file-systems have been introduced too during the past few Linux kernel release cycles, but these three have been the most talked about and are often looked at as being the next-generation Linux file-systems. Being the benchmarking junkies that we are, we have set out to compare the file-system performance of EXT4, Btrfs, and NILFS2 under Ubuntu using the Linux 2.6.30 kernel. We also looked at how these file-systems compared to EXT3 and XFS.
A beta version of StormOS has emerged, which is a desktop distribution that is based upon the Nexenta Core Platform that in turn is derived from OpenSolaris but with an Ubuntu user-land. The StormOS project emerged out of the an OpenSolaris user being dissatisfied with the slow pace of OpenSolaris on netbooks and preferring the APT packaging system to Sun's Image Packaging System. The beta version of StormOS is shipping with an Xfce 4 desktop and -- unlike the current releases of OpenSolaris -- even ships with a word processor.
One month ago we provided benchmarks of the Btrfs file-system and found that while it contained many features to make it a next-generation Linux file-system, its disk performance was rather displeasing. We had found the EXT4 file-system ran faster in a number of the tests and even EXT3 and XFS had their own advantages. Besides offering features like snapshots and online defragmentation, Btrfs has a mode that is optimized for solid-state drives. Will the Btrfs SSD mode cause this new Oracle-sponsored file-system to be the best for non-rotating media? We have benchmarks in this article, but the results may not be what one would expect.
With the Linux 2.6.30 kernel being prepped for release in early June, we have set out to provide a few benchmarks of this latest Linux kernel to see how it compares to its two earlier predecessors. While this new kernel may offer support for new file-systems (NILFS2, in particular), support for LZMA/BZIP2 kernel image compression, a new CPU architecture (Microblaze) and many other changes, are there any major performance regressions or improvements like we have spotted with our previous Linux kernel benchmarks?
Last year the Wayland Display Server project was started by Kristian Høgsberg, a Red Hat developer and a name known well within the X.Org community for his work on AIGLX, Direct Rendering Infrastructure 2, and various other projects. We were first to talk about the Wayland Display Server in detail, which aims to provide a mini display server that is designed around the latest X/kernel technologies like the Graphics Execution Manager and kernel mode-setting. Wayland also integrates its own compositing manager and is designed to produce a perfect frame (a.k.a. no tearing) each and every time. There has not been much to report on this project recently, but we now have a status update courtesy of Kristian.
Last month the plans for Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 "Sandtorg" were outlined with this next major release of our Linux (and Mac OS X, OpenSolaris, and BSD too) benchmarking software set to introduce many new features for the testing core, Phoromatic for providing remote benchmarking support, a performance and benchmarking oriented Linux distribution, and many other advancements. Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 will not be released until late July or early August, but the first alpha release has been made available this afternoon.
With the release this week of Fedora 11 Preview, which incorporates install-time support for the Btrfs file-system into Red Hat's Anaconda installer, we have now delivered our first set of benchmark results for this next-generation Linux file-system. Through a horde of disk tests we have looked at the Btrfs file-system performance and compared it to that of EXT3, EXT4, and XFS. While Btrfs does perform well in some areas, it is not yet the performance king for Linux file-systems. As our results show, in some tests it even has a hard time competing with the incremental EXT4 file-system.
We have invested a lot of resources into enriching the Linux hardware experience particularly by improving Linux performance benchmarks and taking the necessary steps to make Linux-based benchmarking an attractive offer for hardware and software vendors. We have also strived to ensure that open-source developers understand the importance of automated testing and that they have the proper tools to fully automate tests relevant to them when looking for performance regressions and other conditions that otherwise would not easily be caught in an efficient and effective manner. At the same time, we have sought to standardize the benchmarking process of Linux desktops to make it easier for end-users and companies when looking to gauge how well something works on Linux. The Phoronix Test Suite has made immense progress over the past year, but today it is now time to expose our latest endeavor, Sandtorg.
Phoronix Media has today released Phoronix Test Suite 1.8 (codenamed "Selbu"), which is a sizable update to its very popular testing software. Phoronix Test Suite 1.8 introduces a graphical user-interface making it easier for end-users to test out their computer systems, adds support for reference system comparisons, is compatible with more *BSD operating systems, and adds a number of new test profiles and suites. The Phoronix Test Suite is designed to run benchmarks/tests atop Linux, Mac OS X, *BSD, and OpenSolaris systems in a clean, reproducible, and easy-to-use way.
Today X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 is scheduled to be released, per the release schedule that Daniel Stone proposed earlier this year. X Server 1.7 includes X Input 2 (a.k.a. Input Hotness) and Multi-Pointer X is now enabled by default (it has been in the master branch for about a year, but it has been disabled due to X Input 2 missing). This key piece to the open-source Linux desktop also features E-EDID support, the X Server no longer needing to symlink to Mesa sources, and a horde of bug-fixes. Aside from an updated X Server, X.Org 7.5 will include various updates to different input and graphics drivers.
With the release yesterday of the Linux 2.6.29 kernel, we have set out to explore how the desktop performance has evolved over the past six major kernel releases. On a few occasions in the past we have provided kernel benchmarks (at one point even benchmarking 12 kernels), but this time around we have included nearly two dozen benchmarks using the Phoronix Test Suite. How has the Linux performance evolved since the release of the Linux 2.6.24 kernel back in early 2008? Well, simply put, the Linux 2.6.29 kernel in a few areas does pack some serious performance boosts.
Earlier this week the FFmpeg project reached version 0.5, which was quite significant considering no new FFmpeg release was made available in years. This release contained a plethora of new encoders and decoders, support for VDPAU, a variety of bug-fixes, and many other improvements. What is next for FFmpeg? When will we see proper Blu-ray support? Will there be a 1.0 release in the foreseeable future? To answer these questions plus others, I spoke with three of the main FFmpeg developers about this very popular -- and important -- open-source multimedia project.
It's arriving about two months later than originally scheduled (and didn't arrive in 2008 like Intel wanted), but X Server 1.6 has been officially released this afternoon and it wasn't 212 days late like the infamous X Server 1.4.1 release.
Since releasing the Phoronix Test Suite to the public a year ago, one of the most popular feature requests has been for a graphical user interface. The Phoronix Test Suite is not exactly difficult to use from a command line, but this feature has been in development for Phoronix Test Suite 2.0. However, with this morning's release of Phoronix Test Suite 1.8.0 Alpha 2, a preview of this GUI has been introduced. Those testing Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD, and Mac OS X systems now have a simple yet intuitive interface for facilitating their system benchmarks.
Earlier this month we published an article looking at the Linux versus OpenSolaris performance when using the new AMD Shanghai Opteron CPUs. Ubuntu Linux was faster than OpenSolaris 2008.11 in nearly all of the tests, but as mentioned in that article, OpenSolaris is still dependent upon GCC 3.4 where as Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions are now shipping with the newer and much-improved GCC 4 series. Following that article being published, Sun Microsystems had requested some compiler tests since they were confident the results would be different had their Sun Studio compiler been used. Well, in this article we now have some OpenSolaris benchmarks from the same AMD setup using GCC 3.4, GCC 4.0, and Sun Studio 12.
Phoronix Media today released Phoronix Test Suite 1.6, which is an incremental update to its flagship testing software. Phoronix Test Suite 1.6 (codenamed "Tydal") makes it easier for ISVs, IHVs, OEMs, and independent users to benchmark Linux, OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X computer systems. Introduced in this update are new options to autonomously carry out tests and to analyze the generated results, expanded test coverage, and other features to more effectively test software and hardware on supported operating systems.
One of the items being worked on by Red Hat for Fedora 11 is making the GNOME volume control and sound preferences area more intuitive and easier to use. With Fedora and most other distributions now using PulseAudio, they are beginning to take advantage of some of the features available through this sound server. Some of this work involves reworking the user interface for controlling GNOME Sound Preferences, which we are providing a glimpse of in this article. Among other benefits, there is finally the ability to adjust the volume level on a per-application basis.
We are preparing to release Phoronix Test Suite 1.6 "Tydal" later this month, which is our largest and most significant update to date. Phoronix Test Suite 1.6 has quite a few changes internally as well as a number of new features and added tests. While there are over 200 changes making up this release codenamed Tydal, in this article we are sharing some of the most significant work in this forthcoming release.
GParted is an excellent GNOME program for editing partitions, changing file-systems, and performing related disk tasks. However, GParted is not exactly the ideal program for new Linux users to familiarize themselves with if all they want to do is format a USB drive or external storage device. Fortunately, a new GNOME utility has come about that supersedes GFloppy and is designed to be a simple yet powerful disk formatting utility. In this article we are taking an introductory look at GNOME Format.
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