15-Way Linux Distribution / Operating System Comparison, Including Windows 10 & WSL

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 31 May 2018 at 11:00 AM EDT. Page 1 of 8. 24 Comments.

As part of the large Linux performance tests we have begun and continuing through June with Phoronix celebrating its 14th birthday next week along with the 10th anniversary of the Phoronix Test Suite 1.0 release, for your viewing pleasure today is a 15-way Linux distribution / operating system comparison testing not only the leading and latest Linux distributions but also Windows 10 April 2018 Update and Linux on Windows WSL.

Using the same exact system throughout the entire duration of testing, a number of operating systems / Linux distributions were cleanly installed and each tested out-of-the-box in their default configuration as any new user would find each platform. This system used for testing was a high-end desktop/workstation type system with an Intel Core i9 7980XE, ASUS PRIME X299-A motherboard, 4 x 4GB DDR4-3200MHz Corsair memory, 256GB Intel 760p Optane NVMe SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. Though in this article we are mainly looking at the CPU/system performance as well as I/O and reserving the graphics comparison for an article on its own.

The tested Linux distributions included Antergos 18.5-Rolling, CentOS Linux 7 1804, Clear Linux 22690, Debian 9.4, Debian 10 Buster Testing, Fedora Workstation 28, Manjaro 17.1.10, Sabayon Linux 18.5, Solus 3.9999, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, openSUSE Leap 15.0, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Debian 9 WSL on Windows 10, Ubuntu 18.04 WSL on Windows 10, and then Windows 10 April 2018 Update itself for the supported Windows tests. BSD operating system tests are also coming in the next week.

A recap of the prominent details for each operating system:

Antergous 18.5-Rolling: This Arch-based Linux distribution is riding with the Linux 4.16 kernel, Mesa 18.04, GCC 8.1.0, and uses an EXT4 file-system by default.

CentOS Linux 7: The latest CentOS release based upon Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5. Its stack includes Linux 3.10, Mesa 17.2.3, GCC 4.8.5 as the default compiler, and uses an XFS file-system by default.

Clear Linux: Intel's rolling-release Linux distribution with the Linux 4.16 kernel, Mesa 18.2-dev, GCC 8.1.1, and an EXT4 file-system. Note that with the NVMe SSD storage, all of the Linux distributions were defaulting to "none" for the I/O scheduler except Clear Linux as well as openSUSE Tumbleweed both defaulted to the MQ-DEADLINE configuration for this system. Clear Linux also defaults to the performance governor over powersave, ships with aggressively optimized CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS by default, and its packages are also optimized for performance, among other out-of-the-box tuning for delivering a performant Linux experience.

Debian 9.4: The latest Debian Stretch stable release with Linux 4.9, Mesa 13.0, and GCC 6.3.0, and EXT4 file-system.

Debian Testing: The current testing/development release of what will become Debian 10 Buster next year. At this stage Debian Testing has the Linux 4.16 kernel, Mesa 18.0, GCC 7.3.0, and EXT4 by default.

Fedora Workstation 28: With updates, Fedora 28 is up to the Linux 4.16.11, Mesa 18.0, GCC 8.1.1, and EXT4 by default for its Workstation spin.

Manjaro 17.1.10: The other popular Arch-based Linux distribution was tested and it's currently shipping the Linux 4.14 kernel, Mesa 18.0.4, and GCC 8.1.0 with EXT4.

Sabayon Linux 18.5: The popular Gentoo-based Linux distribution with the 4.14 kernel, NVIDIA 390.42 by default, and GCC 6.4.0 compiler.

Solus 3.9999: The updated Solus 3 Linux distribution ahead of Solus 4 provides the Linux 4.16 kernel, Mesa 18.1.0, and GCC 7.3.0 compiler atop EXT4.

Ubuntu 18.04: The Bionic Beaver LTS release has the Linux 4.15 kernel, Mesa 18.0, GCC 7.3.0, and EXT4 by default.

openSUSE Leap 15: The newly-released openSUSE Leap 15.0 derived from the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 code-base. This means the Linux 4.12 kernel, Mesa 18.0, GCC 7.3.1, and a root Btrfs file-system but XFS for the home partition where tests occur.

openSUSE Tumbleweed: The rolling-release version of openSUSE has the Linux 4.16 kernel, Mesa 18.1.0, and the same file-system configuration. As stated above, Tumbleweed on this system defaults to mq-deadline rather than none for its I/O scheduler.

Debian 9 WSL: Debian 9 from the Windows Store running via WSL atop Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

Ubuntu 18.04 WSL: Ubuntu 18.04 from the Windows Store running via WSL atop Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

Windows 10 April 2018: Microsoft Windows 10 itself running for the supported native test cases with Build 17134 and NTFS file-system.

More details in the automated system table:

All of these benchmarks on Windows and Linux were run in a fully-automated and reproducible manner from this Intel Core i9 system via the Phoronix Test Suite.

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