A Quick Bit about the Operating Systems

The only truly free operating systems that we are running for these benchmarks are the two Fedora Core 2 distributions. Linux savvy readers may criticize our lack of Gentoo or some other non-RPM based distribution. Unfortunately, we had difficulties running our new hardware platform on Gentoo and Debian. Undoubtedly, when we revisit 64-bit operating systems in two or three months, we will have better luck.

Fedora Core 2 has a funny name, but we formerly knew it as RedHat. RedHat used to be the Linux choice of novice and experts alike, but has since faded into more of a server OS than a home user solution. Fedora, Red Hat's "free" attempt to recapture their market from Mandrake, tends to have excellent support, since RedHat is still the goliath in the Linux community as far as driver support is concerned (inventing RPM had something to do with this). For this reason, we have high expectations for Fedora.

SuSE, on the other hand, feels like it has been around forever. The German RPM based distribution was the first to have full blown AMD64 support, although we should be warned that this support does not come free. The Professional version of SuSE 9.1 (which we used in this analysis) carries a $90 price tag. Unfortunately, you can't even try the Personal version of SuSE 9.1 without forking the $90 because the Personal edition does not ship with a x86-64 kernel. Update Apparently, you can find Free ISOs for the x86-64 Pro version, but the Pro version we used direct from the SuSE website retails for $89.95.

Index Encoding Tests
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  • Gatak - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Why do you not test Gentoo Linux. Sure, it needs to be compiled from scratch, but gives execptionally good performance.

    I realize it doesn't give a single equal platform to test over different hardware if you recompile all the time. However, you can make your installation to a A64 machine and then save the diskimage and use the same image on each machine you will use.

    Good attempt to a 64bit Linux test =). There aren't many out there!
  • sprockkets - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure how you are saying that you used RPMs for Lame that came with each distro. I use SuSE versions 8.1 - 9.1 and it has NEVER come with LAME by default. Neither is Mplayer bundled with SuSE 9.1, but I'm usually forced to use an RPM install of Mplayer since for some stupid reason it keeps complaining on configuring that I don't have the dev files of gtk installed, which I do. At least it would configure and install sometimes in SuSE 8.2.

    The only thing also I could at is with an Asue nForce 220 board SuSE worked ok with the drivers from nVidia installed by YaST in 8.2 (ver 9.0 would give me a nice blinking light on my monitor with the LiveEVAL cd), but with version 9.1 and the drivers for the 2.6 kernal, when I installed the drivers the whole computer would freeze seconds after just starting an 3d OpenGL screen saver. Couldn't kill X, only could hit the reset button.

    Could you say how you installed the nVidia drivers, at least for SuSE 9.1?
  • roostercrows - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    imo, linux needs a reality kick in the a**. there are millions of us that would like to use this "os" but over the last two years i have started and stopped repeatedly, it's just not ready for the masses of regular users. ie:
    # 2 "support fixes it USUALLY within a week or so". i agree, it's such a wasted opportunity for linux! just ask yourself what percentage of windows users are going to "recompile all of their source"?
  • OddTSi - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    You guys conclude that "encoding, database, and rendering tests" show a distinct advantage with Linux over Windows after running a couple of tests that used programs that are more optimized for Linux. Wow, I'm speechless.
  • jacob0401 - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Error on page 5? the second graph shows 2 fedor core labels, i tihnk one whouls be suse.
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    ViRGE: Ill get back to you on that answer when i can make a more informed decision as to why the numbers were different.

    jiulemoigt: I was not blasting linux. i simply wanted to run benchmarks that we could all replicate. I would love to do an "AT Optimized" linux review, but i have a feeling it would be outdated quickly with the volitility of the OS.

  • jiulemoigt - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I'm confused by one thing that stands out more than anything else... I thought the whole point of Linux is you can recompile all of your source, yet the whole review blasts linux for not being perfect out of the box? I run both w2k and redhat (yes the expensive version) and most of the software works out of the box or support fixes it usually with in a week or so, but I have recompiled all and all source I had because you write an optimised complier once and use that on everything and makes things much more uniform. When I consider this takes less work that buildeing an image with all of the patches MS requires to function, is this not apples and oranges or at least bias toward windows? Yes I realize I'm not a normal user but how many hardcore gamers do NOT know how to install their own OS at least?
  • ViRGE - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Kris, how(if at all) can you explain the differences in LAME performance between this set of benchmarks, and Anand's initial A64 benchmarks from the A64 launch(http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?... Anand's numbers show a 30%+ boost in performance in LAME, so why aren't we seeing any such boost here?
  • tribble - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    The nVidia graphics driver incompatibility with Fedora Core 2 has been fixed with the latest driver (1.0-6106) released on June 30. The Fedora Core 2 kernel uses a 4K stack size (as opposed to the usual 8K stack).

    From the release highlights of the latest driver:
    # Added support for 4k stack kernels.

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