15-Way Linux OS Comparison Shows Mixed High-Performing Linux Distributions

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 9 March 2016 at 10:49 AM EST. Page 1 of 10. 29 Comments.

Succeeding January's 10-way Linux distribution battle is now a 15-way Linux distribution comparison on an Intel Xeon "Skylake" system with Radeon R7 graphics. Distributions part of this Linux OS performance showdown include Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, OpenSUSE, Antergos, Sabayon, Void Linux, Zenwalk, KaOS, Clear Linux, and Alpine Linux.

Throughout all testing, the same system was used for benchmarking. This system was built around a Xeon E3-1280 v5 Skylake CPU with MSI C236A Workstation motherboard. Thanks to MSI Computer for making this system comparison possible.

This quad-core+HT CPU that boosts up to 4GHz was complemented by 2 x 8GB of DDR4-2133MHz EUDIMM memory, MSI Radeon R7 370 graphics, and a Samsung 850 EVO 120GB solid-state drive.

Here are more details on each of the distributions tested and a few notes about their default configuration:

- Fedora 23 was tested that with currently available updates pushes it to Linux 4.4, GNOME Shell 3.19.3, Mesa 11.1.0, and a GCC 5.3.1 compiler. Fedora 23 defaults to an EXT4 file-system, P-State CPU scaling driver, and CFQ I/O scheduler.

- Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS has the Linux 4.2 kernel, Mesa 11.0.2, GCC 4.8.4, EXT4, P-State driver, and deadline I/O scheduler.

- Ubuntu 15.10 has the Linux 4.2 kernel, Mesa 11.0.2, GCC 5.2.1, and EXT4 file-system.

- Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in its current development form with the Linux 4.4 kernel, Unity 7.4, Mesa 11.1.2, and GCC 5.3.1. Ubuntu 16.04 used the P-State driver and defaulted to the deadline I/O scheduler.

- Debian 8.3 has the Linux 3.16 kernel, Mesa 10.3.2, GCC 4.9.2, and it defaulted to the CPUFreq scaling driver with ondemand governor for this system. CFQ was the default I/O scheduler.

- Debian Testing for 9.0 Stretch had the Linux 4.3 kernel, Mesa 11.1.2, GCC 5.3.1, and defaulted to the CFQ I/O scheduler.

- CentOS 7 has the Linux 3.10 kernel, Mesa 10.6.5, GCC 4.8.5, and defaults to an XFS file-system. CentOS 7 was using CFQ and ACPI CPUFreq.

- OpenSUSE Tumbleweed has the Linux 4.4 kernel, Mesa 11.1.2, and on the partition tested was using XFS. OpenSUSE defaulted to the CFQ I/O scheduler and P-State CPU scaling driver.

- The Arch-based Antergos 16.2-rolling distribution had Linux 4.4.3, Mesa 11.1, and GCC 5.3.0 with its EXT4-based file-system. Antergos was another Deadline and P-State system by default.

- The Gentoo-based Sabayon 16.03 distribution had the Linux 4.4 kernel, Mesa 11.1.2, GCC 4.9.3, and an EXT4 file-system. Sabayon defaulted to the CFQ I/O scheduler.

- Void Linux was one of the distributions requested by readers that I test. This from-scratch rolling release shipped with the Linux 4.2 kernel, GCC 4.9.3, EXT4 file-system, NOOP I/O scheduler, and used the CPUFreq Ondemand governor.

- The Slackware-based Zenwalk 8.0 Beta 2 release had the Linux 4.4.1 kernel, Mesa 11.1.1, GCC 5.3.0, and EXT4 file-system. Zenwalk defaulted to the NOOP I/O scheduler and P-State CPU scaling driver.

- The KaOS rolling Linux distribution had Linux 4.3, Mesa 11.1, GCC 4.9.3, and an XFS file-system.

- Intel's Clear Linux 6640 distribution had the Linux 4.4.4 kernel, GCC 5.3.0, and EXT4 file-system. Clear Linux defaulted to CFQ and was using the CPUFreq Performance governor.

- The lightweight Alpine Linux has the Linux 4.1 kernel, GCC 5.3.0, and EXT4 file-system.

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