A Look At Ubuntu 10.04 To Ubuntu 18.04 Linux Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 29 March 2018. Page 1 of 6. 12 Comments

With the Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" release fast approaching and it being the latest Long-Term Support release, the latest benchmarking at Phoronix has been looking at how the Ubuntu LTS performance has evolved going as far back as the Ubuntu 10.04.0 LTS "Lucid Lynx" release. On three systems where supported Ubuntu 10.04 / 12.04 / 14.04 / 16.04 / 18.04 were tested each time.

On three older systems I went as far back as possible in testing each of the Ubuntu YY.04.0 LTS releases, as far back as Ubuntu 10.04.0. With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS I was using a daily development snapshot as of this week, considering the kernel version and all other key components are now onto their final versions. As the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release approaches at the end of April, there will continue to be more benchmarks of this Linux distribution on Phoronix. The three platforms used for this latest round of testing included:

Intel Core i7 990X - An old six-core (plus HT) Gulftown Extreme Edition platform that debuted at the start of 2011. The i7-990X was paired with an MSI X58M motherboard, 3 x 4GB DDR3-1066, and a 120GB PNY CS1211 solid-state drive. This system worked going back to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

Intel Core i5 2500K - The good old Sandy Bridge hardware! This Core i5 2500K quad-core was tested with the Sapphire P67 Hydra motherboard, 4GB of RAM, 120GB SanDisk SSD, and a Radeon HD 4890 graphics card. Sadly the i5-2500K had issues with the Ubuntu 12.04 kernel rebooting the system, so the furthest this Sandy Bridge PC could go back for testing was Ubuntu 14.04.0.

Intel Core i7 4960X - The "newest" system for this Ubuntu LTS comparison going as far back as possible was the once high-end Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition CPU. The i7-4960X as a reminder is six cores / 12 threads and a turbo frequency up to 4.0GHz. This rig was with the MSI X79MA-GD45 motherboard, 2 x 4GB DDR3-1866, VisionTek 240GB SSD, and a FirePro V4800 graphics card. This i7-4960X Ivy Bridge system worked fine going as far back as Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

As a refresher of the software makeup of these Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases:

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS - Starting with the Lucid Lynx is where the i7-990X would run. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS shipped with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, GNOME 2.30, Mesa 7.7.1, and GCC 4.4.3. The system defaulted to the CFQ I/O scheduler and CPUFreq frequency scaling governor (well before the time of P-State!).

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - The good old days of the Precise Pangolin had the Linux 3.2 kernel, Unity 5.10, Mesa 8.0.2, and GCC 4.6.3. On these systems with Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu was using the CFQ I/O scheduler by default and the CPUFreq frequency scaling driver.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS - Trusty Tahr has the Linux 3.13 kernel, Unity 7.2.0, and GCC 4.8.4. On these systems the default was the deadline I/O scheduler.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS - The current Ubuntu LTS, the Xenial Xerus, at its initial release stage ships with the Linux 4.4 kernel, Unity 7.4.0, Mesa 11.2, and GCC 5.3.1. On Ubuntu 16.04 LTS these SSD systems were defaulting to the deadline I/O scheduler. In going from 14.04 to 16.04, it's worth noting that this is when the change-over happened from using the CPUFreq CPU frequency scaling governor on Intel Sandy Bridge and newer systems to now using the P-State driver.

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS - The Bionic Beaver is shipping next month with the Linux 4.15 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.28.0, Mesa 18.0, and GCC 7.3.0 compiler. These SSD-backed systems were defaulting to the CFQ I/O scheduler.

It's worth noting that during the installation process of 16.04 and 14.04 LTS, the kernel automatically updated to the latest patched version on the respective kernel release for Spectre/Meltdown mitigation. Ubuntu 14.04's Linux 3.13 kernel and Ubuntu 16.04's Linux 4.4 kernel had KPTI, OSB barrier, and full generic Retpolines. With Ubuntu 18.04 out-of-the-box is KPTI, __user pointer sanitization, and full generic Retpoline on Intel hardware.

All of these benchmarks from Ubuntu 10.04 to 18.04 were carried out in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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