The Performance Of Ubuntu Software Running On Windows 10 With The New Linux Subsystem

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 11 April 2016 at 12:28 PM EDT. Page 1 of 6. 47 Comments.

At the end of March was the surprising news about Microsoft bringing Bash and Ubuntu's user-space to Windows 10 via a new "Linux subsystem" for natively dealing with Linux ELF binaries atop Windows. Since last week the latest Windows Insider update now ships with said support for being able to run Bash and other Ubuntu user-space programs on Windows 10. I've been benchmarking the performance of Ubuntu/Linux software on Windows 10 and have some results to share comparing it to a clean Ubuntu installation.

This weekend the new Windows 10 Pro x64 build finally landed on the test system I setup for this comparison. From Windows 10 when entering the Ubuntu user-space via typing "bash" from command prompt to enter the Linux environment, I carried out a series of our usual performance benchmarks within this environment atop Windows 10 and then compared to some clean Linux OS installations.

Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview Build 14316.rs1_release was used for the benchmarking on the Windows side, which ships currently with the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS user-space applications. From my testing, it worked out pretty well with a few caveats like needing to manually configure the DNS, some oddities when dealing with Bash like the backspace key not working, etc. From this Ubuntu user-space it was easy to run apt-get and install all of the necessary dependencies for running our usual CLI benchmarks without any dependence on Cygwin or other alternatives. All of the benchmarking was done within this Ubuntu user-space on Windows 10.

For benchmarking clean installs for reference, Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS was first tested since it matches the user-space of what's currently offered by Windows. I followed that testing by doing a clean install of a daily snapshot of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS from this weekend to show the latest state of Ubuntu Linux. Lastly, I did a clean install of Intel's Clear Linux for some non-Ubuntu Linux performance coverage. Clear Linux from Intel's Open-Source Technology Center is routinely one of the fastest Linux distributions due to its optimized defaults and investing in features like AutoFDO.

All of the benchmarks were carried out on a system with an Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5 Skylake CPU (3.7GHz base, 4.0GHz turbo), 16GB of RAM, 120GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD, Radeon R9 290 (though no graphics tests were run for this article), and MSI C236A Workstation motherboard. Each of the testing operating systems were with their default settings/packages unless otherwise noted and then obviously with the Windows 10 Pro x64 installation having to enable the Ubuntu Bash developer feature. All of these tests were done in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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