Comparing Apples to Unicorns

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2014 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: osx, ubuntu 14.10, linux, apple, OS

Over at Phoronix you can see a comparison between the new Apple OS X 10.10 and the newest release of Ubuntu 14.10.  This offers an interesting comparison in performance as both OSes were tested on the same system, a 2013 Macbook Air with a Haswell i5-4250U with onboard HD 5000, 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz and the Apple branded SSD.  For content creators and those with no interest in running Windows it highlights the contrasts you can expect between the two operating systems in data transfer and graphics applications.  Right from the start you can see that the contest is somewhat one sided, the first benchmark, PostMark, showed the disk with Ubuntu installed performing three times as fast as with OSX.  The results get a little closer in some benchmarks but overall Linux outpaces OSX significantly.

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"While I delivered some OS X 10.10 Yosemite preview benchmarks back in August, here's my first tests of the official release of Apple OS X 10.10.1 compared to Ubuntu 14.10 Linux. Tests were done of OS X 10.9.5 and OS X 10.10.1 against Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn when running the benchmarks under both GCC and LLVM Clang compilers."

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Source: Phoronix

SSDs, Linux and alternate file systems

Subject: Storage | November 14, 2014 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: btrfs, EXT4, XFS, F2FS, 530 series, Intel, raid, unix humour, linux

When you use Linux you have a choice as to which file system you wish to use, a choice that never occurs to most Windows users but can spark an argument every bit as vicious as the eternal debate over EMACS versus VIM versus whichever text editor you prefer.  There has not been much SSD benchmarking done on alternate files systems until now, Phoronix has benchmarked the Intel 530 series SSD in numerous configurations on Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, and F2FS. With four of the 120GB model available they were able to test the speed of the drives in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 1+0.  There is obviously still some compatibility issues as some tests failed to run in certain configurations but overall these drives performed as expected.  While the results did not vary widely it is worth reading through their article if you plan on building a high speed storage machine which will run Linux.

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"Following the recent Btrfs RAID: Native vs. Mdadm comparison, the dual-HDD Btrfs RAID benchmarks, and four-SSD RAID 0/1/5/6/10 Btrfs benchmarks are RAID Linux benchmarks on these four Intel SATA 3.0 solid state drives using other file-systems -- including EXT4, XFS, and Btrfs with Linux 3.18."

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Source: Phoronix

CS:GO and TF2 on Linux and Radeon

Subject: General Tech | November 12, 2014 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: linux, amd, radeon, CS:GO, tf2

With the new driver from AMD and a long list of cards to test, from an R9290 all the way back to an HD4650, Phoronix has put together a rather definitive list of the current performance you can expect from CS:GO and TF2.  CS:GO was tested at 2560x1600 and showed many performance changes from the previous driver, including some great news for 290 owners.  TF2 was tested at the same resolution and many of the GPUs were capable of providing 60FPS or higher, again with the 290 taking the lead.  Phoronix also did testing on the efficiency of these cards, detailing the number of frames per second, per watt used, this may not be pertinent to many users but does offer an interesting look at the efficiency of the GPUs.  If you are gaming on a Radeon on Linux now is a good time to upgrade your drivers and associated programs.

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"The latest massive set of Linux test data we have to share with Linux gamers and enthusiasts is a look at Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 when using the very newest open-source Radeon graphics driver code. The very latest open-source Radeon driver code tested with these popular Valve Linux games were the Linux 3.18 Git kernel, Mesa 10.4-devel, LLVM 3.6 SVN, and xf86-video-ati 7.5.99."

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Source: Phoronix

AMD will be cracking the Linux Catalyst wide open over the next year

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, unified driver, pirate islands

AMD had some news at the 2014 X.Org Developer's Conference that concerns their strategy when it comes to providing open source drivers for Linux.  To start off with the bad news, the new unified driver was prototyped on a not yet released Linux kernel and Sea Islands GPUs and will only work on the next generation of graphics cards, the Pirate Islands.  That is not a terrible thing as backwards compatibility can be a Kong sized monkey on the back of a driver and a fresh start allows the incorporation of features that might be skipped if legacy support is a main focus.  Only a small portion of the driver blob will be proprietary, the majority will be based on Catalyst but will be fully open source and editable.  This means users of the X.Org Server or even just those playing with new versions of the Linux kernel will no longer have to wait for a new Catalyst to be released nor will those playing with OpenGL.  Dive in deeper at Phoronix.

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"Alex Deucher of AMD has taken the floor at XDC2014, which got underway today in France to provide an update on the company's new unified open-source driver strategy. Compared to what I originally reported earlier in the year when breaking the news, there's some notable changes but overall this is an exciting endeavor for AMD Linux customers with the open and closed source AMD GPU drivers going to share the same (open-source) Linux kernel driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux loves Haswell-E

Subject: Processors | September 25, 2014 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, X99, core i7-5960x, Haswell-E

After the smoke from their previous attempt at testing the i7 5960X CPU Phoronix picked up a Gigabyte X99-UD4-CF and have now had a chance to test Haswell-E performance on Linux.  The new processor is compared to over a dozen others on machines running Ubuntu and really showed up the competition on benchmarks that took advantage of the 8 cores.  Single threaded applications that depended on a higher clock speed proved to be a weakness as the 4790K's higher frequency allowed it to outperform the new Haswell-E processor.  Check out the very impressive results of Phoronix's testing right here.

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"With the X99 burned-up motherboard problem of last week appearing to be behind us with no further issues when using a completely different X99 motherboard, here's the first extensive look at the Core i7 5960X Haswell-E processor running on Ubuntu Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

The highs and lows of doing motherboard reviews

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2014 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: magic smoke, linux, Intel X99, MSI X99S SLI Plus

It is inevitable that one will eventually come across hardware with a defect, either a flaw during its manufacture or because of shipping or user damage and when you do reviews the increased sample size pits the odds against you.  This is why Phoronix has not been able to publish results of the i7 5960X on an MSI X99S SLI Plus motherboard as magic smoke was released upon initial boot up.  The board has been RMA'd to NewEgg and MSI has contacted Phoronix directly to let them know they will be sending it off for analysis; a new motherboard and review should be up shortly.  It just goes to show you that this sort of thing can happen to anyone but if you keep your temper in check all it is is a small hurdle not a huge obstruction and you will get to where you wanted to go eventually.  Similar events involving mysterious smells and old UPSes have never occurred here at PC Perspective; especially not today.

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I feel fine!

"This weekend I was planning to publish the first Linux benchmarks for Intel's incredibly powerful Core i7 5960X Haswell-E processor with X99 motherboard and DDR4 system memory. Unfortunately, all I can tell you now is that it's smoking, quite literally!"

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Source: Phoronix

Trade Windows for Linux on your HTPC without losing Netflix

Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2014 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: linux, wine, htpc, Netflix, ubuntu 14.04

As with all things Linux, nothing is impossible but that doesn't mean it will be easy but compared to many projects the steps at Linux.com to set up Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Deepin  to run Netflix are not overly onerous.  By following the steps in the article you can get Wine, Mono, msttcorefonts and Gecko installed and then continue on to install Netflix and in very little time you will be streaming videos.  There is another way for the more experimental and seasoned Linux user, with the latest beta or dev build of Chrome an updated libnss3 and a little tweaking of your browsers user agent string you can also launch the latest version of Netflix.  Enjoy your streaming.

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"This is Linux, though, so as always the adage ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ very much applies. With just a few quick steps, you can have a Netflix client on your desktop. This client does require the installation of the following extras:"

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Source: Linux.com

That Linux thing that nobody uses

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: linux

For many Linux is a mysterious thing that is either dead or about to die because no one uses it.  Linux.com has put together an overview of what Linux is and where to find it being used.  Much of what they describe in the beginning applies to all operating systems as they share similar features, it is only in the details that they differ.  If you have only thought about Linux as that OS that you can't game on then it is worth taking a look through the descriptions of the distributions and why people choose to use Linux.  You may never build a box which runs Linux but if you are considering buying a Steambox when they arrive on the market you will find yourself using a type of Linux and having a basic understanding of the parts of the OS for troubleshooting and optimization.   If you already use Linux then fire up Steam and take a break.

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"For those in the know, you understand that Linux is actually everywhere. It's in your phones, in your cars, in your refrigerators, your Roku devices. It runs most of the Internet, the supercomputers making scientific breakthroughs, and the world's stock exchanges."

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Source: Linux.com

Kaveri on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 11, 2014 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: A10-7800, A6-7400K, linux, amd, ubuntu 14.04, Kaveri

Linux support for AMD's GPUs has not been progressing at the pace many users would like, though it is improving over time but that is not the same with their APUs.  Phoronix just tested the A10-7800 and A6-7400K on Ubuntu 14.04 with kernel 3.13 and the latest Catalyst 14.6 Beta.  This preview just covers the raw performance, you can expect to see more published in the near future that will cover new features such as the configurable TDP which exists on these chips.  The tests show that the new 7800 can keep pace with the previous 7850K and while the A6-7400K is certainly slower it will be able to handle a Linux machine with relatively light duties.  You can see the numbers here.

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"At the end of July AMD launched new Kaveri APU models: the A10-7800, A8-7600, and A6-7400K. AMD graciously sent over review samples on their A10-7800 and A6-7400K Kaveri APUs, which we've been benchmarking and have some of the initial Linux performance results to share today."

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Source: Phoronix

Time to update your Gallium3D

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 6, 2014 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: radeon, Gallium3D, catalyst 14.6 Beta, linux, ubuntu 14.04

The new Gallium3D is up against the open source Catalyst 14.6 Beta, running under Ubuntu 14.04 and both the 3.14 and 3.16 Linux kernels, giving Phoronix quite a bit of testing to do.  They have numerous cards in their test ranging from an HD 6770 to an R9 290 though unfortunately there are no Gallium3D results for the R9 290 as it will not function until the release of the Linux 3.17 kernel.  Overall the gap is closing, the 14.6 Beta still remains the best performer but the open source alternative is quickly closing the gap.

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"After last week running new Nouveau vs. NVIDIA proprietary Linux graphics benchmarks, here's the results when putting AMD's hardware on the test bench and running both their latest open and closed-source drivers. Up today are the results of using the latest Radeon Gallium3D graphics code and Linux kernel against the latest beta of the binary-only Catalyst driver."

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Source: Phoronix