posted by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Wed 13th May 2009 01:18 UTC
IconPhoronix, known for their various speed tests and reviews, compared the latest in Ubuntu and what, until recently, used to be the lastest in Mac OS X with 29 different benchmarking tests. Some of the results were rather interesting.

The machines in question were, for OS X, the Apple Mac Mini with an Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.83GHz, integrated graphics, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and an 80GB hard drive. The reviewers failed to mention the Ubuntu system's hardware specifications, sadly, so we're a bit out of luck on those details. It was pointed out to me that Ubuntu 9.04 was actually tested on the same machine using BootCamp-- my mistake.

On the other hand, both operating systems in question were described in much detail: on the Mac, kernel 9.6.0 i386, X Server 1.3.0-apple22, OpenGL 1.2 APPLE-1.5.36, GCC 4.2.1, and Journaled HFS+ were used. Ubuntu 9.04 used the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, X Server 1.6.0, xf86-video-intel 2.6.3, OpenGL 1.4 Mesa 7.4, GCC 4.3.3, and the EXT3 file system.

Before giving some detailed results of some of the specific tests, the overall testing showed that Ubuntu was faster than Mac OS X in 18 of the 29 tests. Some were landslides while others were only ahead with marginal differences for both systems.

The first tests that were reported were more 3D game-centric. Since it's no secret that Mac OS X and Linux alike aren't the best systems for gaming and one doesn't often read about them being compared in such circumstances, I was anxious to see the results on these particular tests. Mac OS X dominated this field with FPS measurements of 17, 18.2, and 16.2 on the respective resolutions of 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024. Ubuntu only achieved FPS rates of 10.5, 7.15, and 4.4, respectively-- a far cry from OS X's performance. The game used to test was "Urban Terror" 4.1.

Mac OS X also dominated the Java 2D Microbenchmark, achieving 275% faster than Ubuntu in text rendering; the Byte UNIX Benchmark (conducting floating point arithmetic); the SQLite v3.6.13 test, performing 12,500 SQL insertions in just over 25 seconds while Ubuntu took over 111; Crafty (a chess program), being six times faster in operations than Ubuntu; and PostgreSQL, with 1028 TPC-B transactions per second while Ubuntu only had 389.

Ubuntu's dominating areas were in the OpenSSL test, with 21 signs per second whereas OS X only got seven signs per second; and two of the Java SciMark tests, having about three times as many Mflops each as OS X's 91.05 and 20.14. Though Ubuntu was faster than OS X in just over half of the tests, many of them were only marginal differences and not landslides as a good many more of OS X's were.

In essence, Mac OS X 10.5.6 seems to be the better operating system according to these benchmarks, at least in the area of Mac Mini-esque hardware.

In other news, the website that conducted these tests could definitely use less obtrusive ads. This was murder to write.

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