Next Tuesday at XDC2011 Chicago I am hosting a Q&A panel about contributing to X.Org and open-source projects, where the panel participants are largely comprised of well known X.Org and Mesa developers that began contributing while at university. In hopes of sparking new contributors to these key open-source projects, computer science students from the major Chicago universities have been invited to attend this panel discussion and anyone else wishing to learn more about open-source development. In preparation for this panel, I have been collecting some new development statistics on Mesa and X.Org.
It's approaching the one-year anniversary of when Mark Shuttleworth announced Ubuntu is going to deploy Wayland with Unity, eventually. As those know that pay attention to the continual flow of information from Phoronix regarding the next-generation Wayland Display Server and Linux graphics drivers in general, it's being developed at a brisk pace and with several key open-source projects now betting big on its adoption, but how's it playing in the soon-to-be-released Ubuntu 11.10?
If you were hoping that the Linux 3.1 kernel would fix the big power regression problem that's caused by PCI Express Active State Power Management (ASPM) being disabled on more systems since the release of the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, you're not in luck. There has not been any active work in this area. Making things worse though for mobile Linux users interested in a long lasting battery is another new regression in the Linux 3.1 kernel. Affected systems can easily see a 30% increase in power consumption simply when comparing the Linux 3.0 kernel to the current code being assembled for Linux 3.1. For an Intel Sandy Bridge notebook, the power consumption is up by 76% just over the course of this year from Linux kernel regressions.
This month marks the two-year anniversary of the release of BFS, the Brain Fuck Scheduler, for the Linux kernel. While BFS has not been merged into the mainline Linux kernel, the scheduler is still actively maintained by Con Kolivas and patches are updated for new kernel releases. The BFS scheduler has also reached mild success and adoption over the past two years. In this article is a fresh look at the Brain Fuck Scheduler along with a fresh round of benchmarks from the Linux 3.0 kernel.
With my recent work in tracking down Linux power regressions and looking at other areas of Linux power consumption, there's been a number of emails sent in by Phoronix readers concerning the power consumption of web-browsers. In particular, some users seem to think that Google's Chrome/Chromium web-browser causes the system to go through noticeably more power than Mozilla Firefox and other web-browsers. But how much is this really the case? Here's some benchmarks.
In the middle of July, Adobe released the first Flash Player 11 beta, which had updated the Linux version too. The Flash Player 11 release notably incorporated native 64-bit support, once again, after the earlier "Square" 64-bit beta had lagged behind in terms of updates. Shortly following the Flash Player 11 Beta 1 release I had carried out some Linux benchmarks, but those results never seemed to make it out the door. Here are those results for anyone interested in seeing how the CPU usage and system power consumption differ between Flash 11 with and without VDPAU rendering and then against the open-source Gnash Flash Player.
This weekend at the Desktop Summit in Berlin, plans were presented by Martin Gräßlin, the maintainer of the KWin compositing window manager, for supporting the Wayland Display Server as an alternative to KDE being limited to X11. For early adopters and those using Plasma Active, KDE on Wayland should become a reality in the 2012 calendar year.
With Phoronix Test Suite 3.4-Lillesand and the new MATISK support, over one thousand revisions of the Mesa graphics library were benchmarked. Two small performance optimizations were also noted.
While S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) is widely used by many games and applications since its inclusion into OpenGL 1.3 and Microsoft DirectX 6.0, these lossy texture compression algorithms have not been implemented in the open-source Linux graphics drivers. This lack of open-source support is due to S3 Graphics holding the patent rights to this technology that they actively license to major hardware vendors. There long has been an external library that can be loaded and will work with most Mesa / Gallium3D drivers for advertising S3TC support, but it's not found by default and it's not included in leading Linux distributions due to these legal fears. There may now be a new solution for the S3TC Linux problem thanks to the advent of a new (and simpler) texture compression algorithm that can serve as a drop-in replacement.
Last month when publishing Fedora 15 vs. Ubuntu 11.04 benchmarks in some of the disk workloads the Fedora Linux release was behind that of Ubuntu Natty Narwhal. Some users speculated in our forums that SELinux was to blame, but later tests show SELinux does not cause a huge performance impact. With Security Enhanced Linux not to blame, some wondered if Fedora's use of LVM, the Logical Volume Manager, by default was the cause.
"Mobile users are urged to seriously consider these results, and possibly even avoid the Natty Narwhal...I hate to say it, especially in an Ubuntu review, but the mobile edge goes to Windows for now...There are also compelling reasons for folks to avoid [Ubuntu 11.04] at all costs. Linux gamers should see substantial improvements, while mobile users suffer a dramatic loss in battery life," were among the critical comments that Tom's Hardware had in their Ubuntu 11.04 review as they were referencing the power regressions I discovered nearly two months ago within the mainline Linux kernel. As I mentioned on Sunday, the Phoronix Test Suite stack and I have now nailed this major power regression in the Linux 2.6.38 kernel that is affecting a significant number of mobile Linux users. Here is what is happening and a way that you should be able to workaround the serious regression should it affect your computer system(s).
With the Linux 3.0 kernel carrying CleanCache support along with various improvements to the EXT4 and Btrfs file-system modules, it is time for another Phoronix file-system comparison. This time around the EXT4 vs. Btrfs performance is particularly important with Fedora 16 possibly switching to Btrfs by default. Due to this level of interest, for our Linux 3.0 kernel benchmarks of the EXT4 and Btrfs file-systems, an Intel SSD was tested as well as an old 5400RPM IDE notebook hard drive to represent two ends of the spectrum.
As mentioned last week, a plethora of Linux power tests are on the way now that we have found an AC power meter with USB interface that works under Linux and we've been able to integrate nicely into the Phoronix Test Suite and its sensor monitoring framework. In this article is one of the first tests that have been completed using this power-measuring device as we monitored the Linux kernel power consumption for an old Intel Pentium 4 and ATI Radeon 9200 system for the past several kernel releases. Even this very old desktop system looks to be affected by the kernel power problems.
Phoronix Media has announced the immediate release of Phoronix Test Suite 3.2 (codenamed "Grimstad") as the planned quarterly update to their open-source Phoronix Test Suite software. The Phoronix Test Suite provides a framework for conducting qualitative and quantitative tests in a manner that is reproducible, easy-to-use, and fully automated.
Within the free software world, GCC has long been the dominant compiler with it being backed by the Free Software Foundation, it being the most well developed free compiler suite, and is a feature rich offering that is put out under the GNU GPLv3. As of late, LLVM has also been hitting the nail on the head. The Low-Level Virtual Machine with its C/C++ Clang compiler front-end offers great performance, is successful in building code-bases like the Linux kernel, its modular design allows the compiler infrastructure to be used in areas like graphics drivers, is under a BSD-style license, and carries numerous other advantages. Other open-source compilers have advanced too, including the release of PCC 1.0. Now there is a new and extremely interesting option to shake the open-source compiler world: PathScale is freely releasing the source to the EKOPath 4 Compiler Suite. EKOPath 4 is a high-performance compiler that up until now has been proprietary and costs nearly $2000 USD per license, but now it's open-source and can sharply outperform GCC in many computationally-intense workloads.
To much dismay, the major open-source announcement we have been waiting for, did not happen this week. Yes, this is the major open-source announcement that we have codenamed Dirndl. It is really that deserving of such a fitting codename. As our early tests have shown, it can dramatically speed-up the system's performance in computationally intensive workloads. No other open-source solution comes close in many of these tests, albeit there are some other proprietary brethren. In this article are some more details and performance results for what has been called "Dirndl" in technology terms.
As discovered by a Phoronix reader, there is a patch in the Linux 220.127.116.11 kernel that can partially improve the system's power performance. The patch by a Nokia engineer is entitled "cpuidle: menu: fixed wrapping timers at 4.294 seconds" and initial reports have said that it will lower the power consumption compared to the stock 2.6.39 kernel.
Earlier this week there were Fedora 15 vs. Ubuntu 11.04 benchmarks looking at the overall system performance as well as the power consumption. Both of these Linux distributions had performed close to one another, as is expected considering the similarities in their kernel and other packages, but there were some discrepancies in the disk tests. Speculations in the forums were that some of the performance differences might be attributed to SELinux, so here are some tests seeing the performance impact of SELinux on Fedora 15.
On Sunday, the 5th of June, Phoronix.com will be turning seven years old. Here is to an early happy birthday for Phoronix, a look back, and what is coming up.
Those that follow my Twitter feed know that over the weekend I began running some benchmarks of the various open-source and closed-source graphics drivers. But it was not like the usual Phoronix benchmarks simply comparing the driver performance. Instead it was to see how each driver performed under the various desktops / window managers now being used by modern Linux installations. In this article are the first results of this testing of Unity with Compiz, the classic GNOME desktop with Metacity, the classic GNOME desktop with Compiz, the GNOME Shell with Mutter, and the KDE desktop with KWin. These configurations were tested with both the open and closed-source NVIDIA and ATI/AMD Linux drivers.
Last weekend I mentioned that Wayland for MeeGo Tablet UX would be discussed and showed off at the 2011 MeeGo Conference that took place this week in San Francisco. Two sessions on the topic of Wayland took place, including one by Kristian Høgsberg, Wayland's creator. In this article are the slides that Kristian presented along with a few notes. This also shows off the plans to adopt Wayland in as soon as MeeGo 1.3, which will be released this October.
While we have already delivered a number of benchmarks from the Linux 2.6.39 kernel, surprisingly we have not yet published any new file-system benchmarks from this latest stable Linux kernel release. Fortunately, that has changed today with a fresh round of Btrfs, EXT4, and XFS file-system benchmarks on the Linux 2.6.39 kernel and compared to the preceding 2.6.38 and 2.6.37 kernel releases.
As mentioned earlier on Phoronix, LinuxTag 2011 took place this past weekend in Berlin. One of the few talks I was able to make due to the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest colliding with the event was the Wayland talk by SUSE's Egbert Eich. The focus of this talk was whether Wayland is on the way to becoming a new desktop standard.
With the recent look at the major Linux power regressions taking place within the Linux kernel, some initially wondered if the increase in power consumption was correlated to an increase in system performance. Unfortunately, it is clear now that is not the case. With that said though, here's some performance benchmarks of all major kernel releases going back to Linux 2.6.24 and ending with the Linux 2.6.39 kernel.
Recently there were benchmarks on Phoronix looking at the Ubuntu 11.04 boot performance relative to past Ubuntu Linux releases. This was done with five mobile systems and going back as far as Ubuntu 8.04. The tests showed around Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was where the boot performance in Ubuntu's been the best but Ubuntu 10.10 and 11.04 have slowed down a bit in how fast it's reaching the desktop. In this article we are looking at the boot performance when simply changing out the kernels. Every kernel from Linux 2.6.24 to 2.6.39-rc4 was analyzed.
Matthew Tippett and I presented at the 2011 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit today in San Francisco about benchmarking and continuous testing of LLVM and the sub-projects that depend upon this compiler infrastructure. As the slides are somewhat generic and can be applied to many other open-source projects, the slides are now available. It's basically how to leverage the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org for driving continuous benchmarking to monitor performance regressions.
Version 4.6 of GCC was released over the weekend with a multitude of improvements and version 2.9 of the Low-Level Virtual Machine is due out in early April with its share of improvements. How though do these two leading open-source compilers compare? In this article we are providing benchmarks of GCC 4.5.2, GCC 4.6.0, DragonEgg with LLVM 2.9, and Clang with LLVM 2.9 across five distinct AMD / Intel systems to see how the compiler performance compares.
Version 2.9 of the Low-Level Virtual Machine is set to be released in a little more than a week, but what will it mean much for users in terms of performance? We will be looking at the LLVM 2.9 and Clang performance in the coming days (along with GCC 4.6, which was just released). We are beginning this weekend by providing a look at how using LLVM 2.9 affects the performance of the Mesa Gallium3D LLVMpipe driver relative to the previous LLVM 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8 releases.
While the performance of the Btrfs file-system with its default mount options didn't change much with the just-released Linux 2.6.38 kernel as shown by our large HDD and SSD file-system comparison, this new kernel does bring LZO file-system compression support to Btrfs. This Oracle-sponsored file-system has supported Gzip compression for months as a means to boost performance and preserve disk space, but now there's support for using LZO compression. In this article we are looking at the Btrfs performance with its default options and then when using the transparent Zlib and LZO compression.
There have been a flurry of comments this week following my post why software defaults are important and why in the Linux benchmarks at Phoronix.com the tests are most often carried out in their default/stock configurations: it's what most everyone uses. There have been comments by Ted Ts'o on file-system default mount options and whether they are sane or not in the non-enterprise distributions and others have questioned if defaults like Compiz on in Ubuntu by default makes sense. Does using Compiz still hurt your graphics performance?
492 software articles published on Phoronix.