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Linux 3D Games Run Faster On PC-BSD 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-enough-emulators-we-could-make-the-singularity dept.
koinu writes "Phoronix has published benchmarks comparing 3D game performance on Ubuntu Linux 11.04 with the FreeBSD Linux ABI emulation on the 8.2 release of PC-BSD, which is a desktop variant of FreeBSD. Most results show that the emulated Linux layer on FreeBSD performs better than Linux natively. It's pretty interesting, because most people would expect that an additional abstraction layer would generally slow down the execution of binaries."
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Linux 3D Games Run Faster On PC-BSD

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @06:30AM (#37337830) Homepage

    Linux has lost its way.

    It was once lean and fast but now is an industrialized bloated mess. It will take a lot more to get me to stop using Linux but that doesn't mean I can't see when something is wrong.

    Lately, we have been seeing a lot of Linux's advantages fade away. Among these are its smallness and compatibility with older hardware.

    I think it's just about time to revisit what made Linux great and see if there is a way to get that back while still doing great new things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Kinda disagree with that view. Linux allows you to install things like that, but doesn't force you to do it. It's still compatible with old hardware. You can just not install all the crap that makes it "big". Instead of pressing next next next at the install... There is a possibility to do it, but no requirement.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @07:03AM (#37338020) Journal

      As a FreeBSD user, I can't necessarily agree with you.

      WoW also performs better on FreeBSD/Wine than it does on Windows. The issue here, is the graphics capabilities. If it asks less of the graphics card, it will still run, but run faster. In the case of WoW, it's not trying to do nearly all the fancy GPU stuff that windows would do, so it is faster.

      Now, if this were various server/desktop non-multimedia applications, I might start to find the article relevant.

      • So lack of graphics support is a feature?
        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Actually, the graphics support is really good, but in my example, WoW has a *lot* more graphical features turned on in DirectX than OpenGL, so it would run faster in Linux or FreeBSD because it was using OpenGL (you had to run it in OGL mode in wine).

          I don't think that is the issue in this test, because the FreeBSD nVidia driver is very close to the Linux nVidia driver. However, I cannot discount it as a possibility either.

          No, I wasn't saying it was a feature, I was saying that this test is meaningless.
          In t

          • You should probably point out that there is not a lot of difference to the observer between OpenGL and DX9 rendering in WoW. At least, there wasn't when I was dual booting and running WoW between Windows XP and Lucid Lynx.

            Same hardware, different renderer, faster on Linux, didn't look much different. Shame I play more than just WoW, really.
            • by ArcherB (796902)

              You should probably point out that there is not a lot of difference to the observer between OpenGL and DX9 rendering in WoW. At least, there wasn't when I was dual booting and running WoW between Windows XP and Lucid Lynx.

              Same hardware, different renderer, faster on Linux, didn't look much different. Shame I play more than just WoW, really.

              I don't play WoW, so I can't speak to that. I can tell you, however, that Starcraft 2 is pretty much unplayable on Linux where I can max it out in Windows.

              My system:
              AMD Phenom II 965 (Quad core at 3.4 Ghz)
              AMD/ATI Radeon HD 6000 series video (drivers directly from AMD. The ones that came with Ubuntu didn't seem to work)
              4GB RAM

              It will run if I turn everything off... and I mean everything. I don't even see the units shoot or attack everything is so minimal. I'm sure I could tweak it a bit more, but, how mu

              • by ByOhTek (1181381)

                No. You have an ATI card. 3D ATI drivers for anything less than 4 years old are non existent, and barely work for the older stuff.

                • by ArcherB (796902)

                  No. You have an ATI card. 3D ATI drivers for anything less than 4 years old are non existent, and barely work for the older stuff.

                  I certainly agree that drivers are a problem, but 3D works great in native Linux apps. Or, should I say, it works great with the stuff I've run. I don't think I've taxed it too hard or done any benchmarks.

              • I feel your pain. Unfortunately the windows drivers have the best performance in my experience.

                AMD Phenom II 955
                nVidia GTX 260
                8GB DDR2
                FreeBSD 8.2 AMD64, nVidia 275.28 drivers
          • WoW also runs faster in OpenGL on Linux than in OpenGL on Vista, last time I compared them (about 2.5 years ago).

            Then again, IIRC Vistas OpenGL support is nothing less than "stellar" (for certain values of stellar).

            • by X0563511 (793323)

              I don't think that means what you think it means. You just committed a version of the "could care less" mistake.

              • Nothing less than stellar meaning that it is fully "stellar". In other words, its not partly stellar, 3/4ths stellar, etc.

                Its not a mistake, its both grammatically correct and a common usage of the phrase. Quit trying to be pedantic.

                • by X0563511 (793323)

                  Wait... i'm confused. Yes, that is exactly what you wrote, but why would you mean that? I thought you were saying it wasn't stellar? Am I being stupid in thinking stellar is positive?

          • by Zancarius (414244)

            Actually, the graphics support is really good, but in my example, WoW has a *lot* more graphical features turned on in DirectX than OpenGL, so it would run faster in Linux or FreeBSD because it was using OpenGL (you had to run it in OGL mode in wine).

            TBH, when I played WoW under Gentoo, I never did notice the difference between OpenGL and DirectX. In some cases, the OpenGL UI felt crisper. Although, I have no idea what it's like now; it's been about a year since I've played.

            Of course, this should all be tak

      • by MrHanky (141717) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @07:56AM (#37338326) Homepage Journal

        Shouldn't matter at all here, as both use the same driver. Difference in desktop environment, though, can mean a lot. Then again, Ubuntu seems to suck at 3d [], also when compared to other Linux distros.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Yes, I guess my bigger point was, that there are a lot of things that could affect that particular benchmark, and make one option faster without being better, even if, ostensibly, all controllable variables are normalized between the two systems.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Actually reading TFA

          CPU: Same
          Mobo: Linux: MSI, BSD: (ASUS?) - In my experience MSI is slightly faster and a bit less stable
          Memory: Linux: 4GB, BSD: 3.2GB
          HDD: Doesn't say the brand for BSD, but the size appears right for a 2^10th united 250GB drive. Seagates aren't known for their speed though.
          GPU: Same
          Audio/Network: Different, probably wouldn't provide more than a small variance
          Desktop Manager: Linux: Unity, BSD: KDE4 - Neither is resource friend, so I can't make a call on this.
          X: Linux's is ne

          • by pe1rxq (141710)

            I am wondering why the author of the article couldn't be bothered to compare BSD and Linux on the same hardware.

            Looking at that list I get the impression that he spent a lot of time making sure he compared apples and oranges.
            This benchmark is pretty much worthless

            • by glassware (195317)

              I agree. Since I hate reading six page articles in tiny chunks I forwarded to the end and missed this. I will remember to be more skeptical of Phoronix in the future. Comparisons of operating systems without identical hardware just aren't appropriate.

              Next time, find the greatest common denominator hardware and do a real test.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      linux hasn't lost it's way. You're conflating linux and ubuntu. Ubuntu is bloated to shit, centos, fedora, other flavors of linux are not at all as stupidly bloated.

    • I guess it's the graphics-card using 3D compositing window manager Ubuntu uses (or did they switch that off? I didn't read the article). I switched that off on all my computers in part for exactly that reason: It hurts performance of 3D games.

      • by Creepy (93888)

        They say they used the latest nVidia driver, so I'd assume they are using the actual hardware driver. Compositing can still cause a hit to performance, but if the game is run in full screen mode it should not be doing any compositing (it is hard to tell if they were in full screen or not).

        And yes, they were using an nVidia card, and nVidia with Ubuntu always makes me cringe (and I am a huge fan of nVidia) because most people don't know they need to install the hardware driver and that it won't install on it

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Compatibility with older hardware requires someone who has the hardware and free time to actually maintain the drivers. There's no magic to linux. If there's no one interested in maintaining a driver, then the driver eventually gets dropped. You're free to step in if you have the hardware, instead of just, you know, whining.

    • Ubuntu is known to be particularly slow. There was a long standing bug "Firefox takes 17 seconds to load; Firefox binary downloaded from official site takes 3" but I switched to Chromium last year.
    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      A lot of that "bloat" is useful to one user or another. Not all of the bloat is useful to any one person, but combine it all for everyone and there's bloat.

      Which is exactly what's wrong with other OSes (and apps), especially Windows. The scale economy of billions of users means giving them everything that the largest collection of them wants, even if none of them wants it all.

      The difference with Linux is that you do not have to install anything you don't want. You can select what you want, at any level. Hel

    • by rgviza (1303161)
      Linux hasn't lost it's way. It's kernel is still configurable. You can turn off the stuff you don't want in there and recompile it.

      Try using Gentoo, which makes this very easy, compared to redhat, Ubuntu etc. which have dependencies on the bloat in their packages. Ever tried to recompile a red hat kernel? It's not pretty.

      Ubuntu is the problem, not linux.

      The article (as is often the case) has a misleading title. It should be "Linux 3D Games Run Faster On PC-BSD than they do on the Ubuntu distribution of linu
      • by armanox (826486)

        Personally I miss the days of simpler Linux.

        Also, I have been compiling custom kernels on Red Hat since Red Hat Linux 6.1 (both from RH's source and the vanilla kernel). Not had the issues that most people have.

      • by bonch (38532)

        I strongly suggest that if you want to get the most performance out of linux, use a compiled-from-source distro like gentoo. It makes a HUGE difference. It takes a lot longer to set up your system (since you compile the entire thing from source) but the end result is worth it if performance is your #1 goal.

        A compile-from-source zealot? [] What is this, 2003?

    • Uhhh - that "compatibility with older hardware" is NOT one of the things that made any *nix "great". Back in the day, when Torvalds and others were creating Linux and other *nixes, they were operating on (then) modern hardware, or even bleeding edge hardware.

      Face it - Linux wasn't primarily designed to be run on mainframes, 8086 processors, or the myriad of other antiquated gadgets from history. Linux was meant to be cross-platform from the start. The platforms were rather limited, 20 years ago, but the

    • by lahvak (69490) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @01:05PM (#37341864) Homepage Journal

      It's not really Linux that has become this bloated mess. It is what they call "modern" desktop environments.

      I used to run a fairly minimal setup, with fvwm2, xdm for login manager and rxvt for terminal emulator. I had that same setup on wide array of computers, from an old 486 with 512MB of memory up to a powerful SparcStation, and it ran reasonably fast on all of them. Over many years I developed a configuration that I liked, so it was very easy to use for me.

      Several years ago I got a dual core laptop with 4GB of memory at work. Since it was a work laptop, I had to use SUSE Linux, as that was at that time officially supported by our IT staff. I had no experience with SUSE, before I always used Debian, so I just installed the default distro with Gnome, and I was surprised how slow that was. Later I got fed up with SUSE, and was allowed to switch to Ubuntu, which turned out to be even slower. I got fed up with that too, installed Debian, which I know pretty well, and started stripping everything I don't need.

      I am now back to my original setup with fvwm2. I use slim for login manager, replaced rxvt by urxvt so I can display Chinese characters in the terminal and can have nicer fonts. I now throw in few things that I never used before, such as stalonetray for system tray, and gkrellm for system monitoring and volume control. I manually purged everything that says gnome or kde that I don't actually use (very little is left). I now have a nice fast system again. The thing that slows me down now is firefox. I tried Chrome, which is faster, but last time I checked, its vi keybinding extensions are nowhere near as capable as vimperator or pentadactyl for firefox.

      One thing that drives me nuts though is how the desktop environments took over lot of things that really belong to the core system, and changed the way lot of core functionality is now configured. Lot of things, like networking, mounting of drives, etc, that really should have nothing to do with desktop environments, are now configured in some sort of weird gnomish way, which, in addition, completely changed at least 5 times during the last 4 years, and when you try to find out how to do it, you get at least 10 totally conflicting guides and advices. Most of all classical howtos are hopelessly outdated, and were replaced by number of mutually contradictory posts on Ubuntu forums. The result is that figuring out how to configure something without using some sort of default annoying Windows like clicky Gnome or KDE thingy is a huge pain in the ass.

    • by skids (119237)

      Considering the small machines I can boot Linux on, I think you might be confusing "Linux" with distributions. If you want a leaner distribution, choose one. About the only "bloat" that has made it as far as the kernel is the udev/sysfs, and while that could use a little trimming, it's arguably a better system than the alternatives once you get above a 16M memory profile and want modularity.

    • What's funny is that people are finding any reason they can to dismiss the benchmarks (my favorite is claiming the hardware is different, when it's not).

      Meanwhile, nobody seemed to have a problem with Phoronix's previous benchmark showing Wine/Cedega games running faster on Linux than on Windows []. The difference now is that Linux is on the losing end of the benchmark, so it simply must be incorrect in some way.

      OS bias is a funny and bizarre thing.

  • It's just a bunch of benchmarks with commentary and no conclusion.

    Could we possibly get ANY information on WHY?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      Something to do with the benchmarks comparing OSes on two different systems?
    • by macshit (157376)

      It's just a bunch of benchmarks with commentary and no conclusion.

      Could we possibly get ANY information on WHY?

      Phoronix has a lonnnnng history of really crappy benchmarking...

  • Compiz (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonsmirl (114798) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @06:46AM (#37337914) Homepage

    This is likely caused by Compiz interacting with the game engine on Ubuntu. Turn Compiz off and re-run the benchmarks.

    • I'm not saying that these benchmarks are bunk, I'd just like to see these same benchmarks with Gentoo/Fedora/etc.
      It's been my experience that while the user experience of Ubuntu is generally good, they turn on every bell/whistle.

      Give me a cut down box running xfce any day.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        Unless Ubuntu uses some screwy scheduler, or has some nasty process in the background stealing CPU, it's likely that any performance issues are nothing with the kernel in the first place. It seems more likely that it would be display related, especially window manager / X11 related. That would be especially true if the window manager is compositing surfaces and therefore taking chunks of the GPU's memory, or other resources.
    • by renoX (11677)

      > This is likely caused by Compiz interacting with the game engine on Ubuntu. Turn Compiz off and re-run the benchmarks.

      True, but if you do this, you couldn't have the outrageous tittle, which would mean fewer ads served and less money: cannot have this on Phoronix!

  • Not a good test. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Junta (36770) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @07:13AM (#37338068)

    The test was insufficient to actually conclude anything of value. They used two *different* systems instead of reinstalling (specs looked *close*, but they weren't the same). They used KDE vs. Unity (this by itself explains the discrepancy, it's widely been shown unity degrades full screen 3d performance). It compared only one version of one distribution to one version of one variant of BSD. It only compared the nVidia driver, though there is no choice on that front.

    "Unity slower than KDE" is a more likely conclusion, but again, you'd need a more controlled test to say anything. Phoronix should be ashamed...

  • Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @07:34AM (#37338182) Homepage Journal

    FreeBSD had always ran Linux binaries faster than Linux. Interesting that this may still be the case.

    Point, though, that the 'Linux Emulator' in FreeBSD isn't really an Emulator. FreeBSD runs Linux binaries natively. The so called 'Linux Emulator' just provides Linux syscall capabilities to the FreeBSD kernel.

    And of course, Linux libc and other libraries need to be provided (which the linux binary was linked against), and probably linux's /proc is also needed to satisfy various linux binaries. But its by no means an 'emulator', is just provides the services a Linux executable expects.

  • I wonder what the results would have been on something like debian or arch or fedora? It is well known that Canonical's implementation of linux in Ubuntu is one of the slowest commercial distributions out there. They trade speed for features (or bloat depending on your perspective).

    While Ubuntu is probably the most popular distro, which would make it valid to test, that doesn't mean it is representative of linux in general and therefore, the article should be about how 3D gaming is faster on BSD than on U

    • So comparing the same game running natively on two differently speced systems one running the slowest version of Linux, the other running a fast version of BSD one runs faster than the other ...What a surprise!

  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:16AM (#37339082) Journal

    some 10 years ago, when even the slightest hiccup could make a game running in linux slow to a crawl (not linux's fault. more like greedy games on average hardware), i ran several tests to find the best settings for performance. here's what i found:

    - even a lightwheight window manager like windowmaker, fluxbox or xfce impacts negatively (specially if you're short on RAM)
    - any cute widget, dockapp or systray app can take a hit. a simple opengl cpu meter, displaynig a spinning cube, running inside a 64x64 dockapp had a 10% hit on glxgears' frame rate
    - daemons started from init.d scripts steal memory, and if they trigger a backgroud process, bye-bye performance. so make sure anything than trigger lots of disk I/O operations are off. specially if they run from cron
    - get used to the command line. shut down GDM/KDM/XDM or any other graphical login. log on the console, quickly create an .Xsession file with nothing more than "xterm" on it. as soon as X starts with a windowless xterm, run the game from the CLI.

    now, optimize BOTh PC-BSD and linux this way, THEN run a benchmark. otherwise, is the same as trying to compare a default ubuntu with openBSD on which one is more secure. or the other way on which is more usefull as a desktop. it's not right to ebnchmark different OSes by leaving the defaults just like that.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:06AM (#37339628)

    What's needed is more games on linux, not faster ones.

  • All this article proves is that KDE is better at turning its OpenGL compositing off before entering a 3D app. This seems like a fairly inflammatory conclusion, based on comparing apples and oranges. Set Linux and BSD up with a lightweight openbox setup, and then benchmark it.... At least have them both using the same DE...
  • I'd like to know which games were in the experiment. Did they use both of them?

  • The big question would be, "Does FreeBSD's environment have Compiz or similar running?"

    If you've got that running there's performance concerns, etc. that you have to deal with that make overall performance slower. My guess would be that it's not there- which means you're not making apples to apples comparisons between the OSes. If so, it's not that it's's that Phoronix didn't do the testing right.

    • He tested this with Ubuntu 11.04 under Unity and FreeBSD with KDE. It's a known that the configuration in Ubuntu there is a fairly massive performance sink on top of the already bad one Compiz can introduce with OpenGL stuff. As some pointed out in Phoronix' forums...all they did was benchmark Compiz/Unity versus KDE for all intents and purposes.

      All things being equal, the results should be very similar if you're doing apples-to-apples comparisons since the OSes in question are similar in nature in this s

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