The Performance Of Five Linux Distributions From Early 2016 To The End Of 2018

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 21 December 2018 at 10:05 AM EST. Page 3 of 3. 17 Comments.

Like C-Ray, the Smallpt benchmark was another case where Clear Linux improved a lot compared to the other distributions (openSUSE also saw a nice jump as well) and remains much faster than the other distributions due to its aggressive compiler defaults.

For the single-threaded MP3 audio encoding benchmark, CentOS didn't see much change due to still being on the same EL7 stack but the four other Linux distributions all saw nice performance improvements in their latest releases.

With the FFmpeg H.264 benchmark, the Linux distributions slowed down in their 2018 state compared to 2016, but Clear Linux slowed down the least and allowed it to have a more measurable first place finish lead as we enter 2019.

Redis was another one of the real-world workloads affected by this year's Spectre/Meltdown work. As a result, there was a fair amount of variation in the results compared to 2016. Intel's Clear Linux distribution though continued delivering faster performance than CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and openSUSE. In fact, the 2018 Clear Linux performance state with all the default mitigations applied is still faster than the four other Linux distributions were nearly three years ago.

That's where these five Linux distributions stand at the end of 2018 compared to their releases from early 2016. Clear Linux was the fastest out-of-the-box distribution then on Intel hardware and remains that way now and in some instances only increased its lead over this time period of nearly three years. CentOS 7 meanwhile is certainly showing signs of its age compared to SUSE, Ubuntu, and other enterprise platforms all seeing new major releases particularly in the past year. Thankfully RHEL 8 / CentOS 8 is making progress for debuting next year. I'll also be looking at some of my other older test data particularly for the rolling-releases to see what other interesting data I can compare to where I still have the hardware functioning in the same configuration for comparison purposes.

Stay tuned for other end-of-year interesting benchmarks coming up on Phoronix in the days ahead. Premium supporters, as always, can also send in their own test requests or other interesting areas to explore as we get ready for the new year.

Lastly, in ending, here are a few other extra benchmarks run on the 2018 Linux distribution releases... Just some extra tests for seeing how these latest Linux distributions are running on this Intel Core i7 Broadwell CPU with Iris Pro graphics:

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via