System76's Pop!_OS Is Exploring Intel's Clear Linux Performance/Power Optimizations
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 13 April 2018 at 06:06 AM EDT. 11 Comments
OPERATING SYSTEMS --
When Ubuntu-loaded laptop and desktop vendor System76 announced their new Ubuntu downstream last year as "Pop!_OS" it began as mostly cosmetic changes to the desktop shell and other minor improvements. Over time they've been investing more into it with work items like a better installation process, but it looks like they will be diving deeper as they begin exploring performance and power optimizations.

A few months ago System76 hired Sriram Ramkrishna who formerly worked for Intel's Open-Source Technology Center on their Clear Linux distribution but was unfortunately let go during the mass layoffs in 2016. Sriram is now back in touch with the Clear Linux developers as he is exploring "power and performance in association with System76 and Pop!_OS."

Sriram added, "Improving power and performance is fairly important to us as it furthers the viability of laptops and desktops with Linux pre-installed."


He posted this to the Clear mailing list. He's going to be exploring performance/power optimizations achieved by Clear Linux, including a look at possibly getting the Clear Linux kernel running on Pop!_OS as well as what else could be cherry-picked, but at this stage it's a research and development effort.

This is certainly exciting to hear rather than Pop!_OS being just yet another Linux distribution with topical changes. As you can see from our many Linux distribution performance benchmarks, Clear Linux tends to lead hands-down for out-of-the-box Linux performance not only on Intel hardware but even AMD x86_64 systems too as well as systems going back a decent number of years. So anything System76 can do to offer more compelling performance compared to a stock Ubuntu installation will be a big win for their customers.

As Intel developers uncover areas to improve Linux performance, they upstream most of their patches where accepted back into the Linux kernel, Binutils, Glibc, etc. But they also tune their kernel extensively, ship with optimized CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS, and a number of other optimizations that are carried by the distribution. Hopefully more Linux distributions will begin look at better tuning for out-of-the-box power efficiency and performance on modern hardware in a manner like Clear.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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