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.
Last year we had looked at The Greatest Linux Innovations Of 2007, and as this year ends, we have compiled a similar list of what we believe were some of the greatest Linux innovations or achievements of 2008. Among the innovations named this year were KDE 4, NetworkManager 0.7, new hardware companies standing behind open-source support, and the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix.
The Linux 2.6.28 kernel was released this past week in time for the holidays. This quarterly update to the Linux kernel brought the stabilization of the EXT4 file-system, the Graphics Execution Manager, a host of new drivers, and a variety of other updates. For some weekend benchmarking we had tested the latest Linux 2.6.28 kernel along with other recent kernels using the Phoronix Test Suite.
Video acceleration APIs for Linux has been a hot topic recently with NVIDIA having introduced VDPAU last month (the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix) that brings PureVideo-like features to Linux with great results while it's already finding its way into MPlayer, FFmpeg, MythTV, Xine, and VLC. AMD has been working hard on XvBA (X-Video Bitstream Acceleration), but that has yet to be officially introduced. In the open-source realm there has been talk of extending XvMC to support video formats besides MPEG-2, but that hasn't yet amounted to anything. Today though another video API is now on scene with VA-API finally being implemented in MPlayer and FFmpeg.
Have you ever wondered on what operating system Java works the best? While by no means is it a conclusive multi-platform comparison, for this article we ran a number of Java benchmarks on both Windows Vista Premium and Ubuntu Linux to see how the Java Virtual Machine performance differs. In addition, when running Ubuntu we had tested Sun's official Java package as well as the OpenJDK alternative.
With the EXT4 file-system being marked as stable in the forthcoming Linux 2.6.28 kernel, and some Linux distributions potentially switching to it as an interim step until the btrfs file-system is ready, we decided it was time to benchmark this journaled file-system for ourselves. We ran a number of disk-centric Linux benchmarks along with several of our real-world tests from the Phoronix Test Suite to gauge how well the EXT4 file-system performance will be noticed by desktop users and computer gamers. We have compared these EXT4 results to the EXT3, XFS, and ReiserFS file-systems.
The KDE development community has banded together and today released an early Christmas present to those using the K Desktop Environment on Linux and other operating systems. The first beta release of KDE 4.2 is now available. KDE 4.2 Beta 1 features a large number of improvements since the release of KDE 4.1 in July.
The Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card driver for Linux from Creative Labs was awful. That's simply the nicest way to put it. The driver was home to many bugs, initially only supported 64-bit Linux, and it was arriving extremely late. The open-source drivers supporting the Creative X-Fi drivers have also been at a stand still. However, Creative Labs today has finally turned this situation around and they have open-sourced the code to this notorious driver. The source-code for the Creative X-Fi driver is now licensed under the GNU GPLv2.
It's no secret that much of the code-base that makes up the modern-day X.Org Server is old and in some places bloated. The X.Org Server continues to evolve and has received a number of major additions in recent times, but wouldn't a clean and lighter server that is designed around today's needs be ideal? Red Hat's Kristian Høgsberg has started a new project, which is currently known as Wayland, and is just that: a new lightweight X Server. Wayland isn't just a rewrite of the current X Server, but instead it's a small server that is designed around some of the latest graphics technologies such as kernel mode-setting and the Graphics Execution Manager. Wayland also has its own built-in compositing manager.
Phoronix Media has announced the immediate availability of its Q4'08 update to the Phoronix Test Suite, its extensible open-source platform for conducting automated testing and benchmarking by ISVs, IHVs, ODMs, OEMs, and end-users. Phoronix Test Suite 1.4 (codenamed "Orkdal") adds support for Apple's Mac OS X operating system, new test profiles, support for Cascading Test Profiles, enhanced software/hardware detection, WINE-based tests, and run-time capabilities for Self-Contained Test Profiles. This quarterly update to the Phoronix Test Suite has more than 200 changes since the Phoronix Test Suite 1.2 "Malvik" release in September.
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.
Back in July we shared Red Hat's intentions to replace RHGB with Plymouth, a new graphical boot process that is able to benefit from the latest Linux graphics capabilities. Red Hat engineers had primarily designed Plymouth around a forthcoming feature we've talked about quite a bit known as kernel mode-setting, which provides end-users with a cleaner and flicker-free boot experience. In September in The State of Kernel Mode-Setting we then shared more information on Plymouth along with a brief video. Most recently we published another video of Plymouth that shows the tighter integration between the boot process and starting the GNOME Display Manager. Today though we are looking at Plymouth and its different plug-ins along with providing a few more videos.
Ubuntu 8.10 is shipping next week with a horde of updated packages including the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, X.Org 7.4, Pidgin 2.5, GIMP 2.6, and many other packages that have experienced significant milestones since the April release of Ubuntu 8.04. On top of these updated packages from the community, Canonical has been working on a few desktop Linux innovations of their own. For instance, arriving late into the Intrepid Ibex release cycle is a USB start-up disk creator. In this article we are providing a quick look at this utility to easily spin your own USB disk images.
In the Phoronix Test Suite 1.2 "Malvik" release our flagship Linux benchmarking software was brought to OpenSolaris and FreeBSD. With Phoronix Test Suite 1.4 "Orkdal", to be officially released later this year, we are now extending our test support to include Apple's Mac OS X operating system. In Phoronix Test Suite 1.4 Alpha 2 that was released this morning there is full support for Mac OS X within this open-source benchmarking framework and there are about three dozen tests that will run "out of the box" in this environment. We believe this is now the most comprehensive benchmarking platform for Mac OS X and it allows real-world test results to be compared from Linux, OpenSolaris, and FreeBSD.
It's been a hell of a time getting X.Org 7.4 out the door, but this afternoon Adam Jackson has released this long-delayed update to this X system. X.Org 7.4 is arriving after the release of X Server 1.5.1 earlier in the day. Yes, it's finally here! In this article we have information on the features that make up this release along with what it's taken to get X.Org 7.4 primed for release.
Introduced in Ubuntu 7.10 was a feature known as BulletProofX, which provides a fail-safe mode that is by default used when the X server fails to properly initialize. In this original implementation, it would default back to using the VESA display driver with 256 colors and then proceed to run the displayconfig-gtk utility. While this is nice for the end-user as it keeps them from touching a terminal to debug an X server problem, for experienced users it inhibits them from easily debugging the problem. This Canonical implementation also had frustrated other users. However, with the forthcoming Ubuntu 8.10 release, it has received some much-needed improvements while making BulletProofX more simple.
The final release of the Xfce 4.6 desktop environment was supposed to come this month, but instead the first alpha release has finally come about. Xfce 4.4 was originally released in January of 2007, so it has been quite a while since this lightweight desktop environment has received a major update. This release though does introduce a fair number of changes, which we have covered in this article.
Back in August we shared some of what we are doing to drive new graphics benchmarks on Linux through the Phoronix Test Suite. With that, we showcased Lightsmark 2008, which was ported to Linux for integration with the Phoronix Test Suite, and Unigine Sanctuary. Unigine Sanctuary showcased the latest work from Unigine Corp, which is a Russian development studio focused on creating cross-platform middleware for virtual 3D worlds. The Unigine Sanctuary demo was stunning, but introduced with the Phoronix Test Suite 1.2 "Malvik" release last week was their latest technology benchmark. Unigine Tropics is an absolutely stunning test with impressive graphics capabilities and it really sets a new precedence for Linux graphics capabilities through its OpenGL renderer.
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