The DistRogue

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Life on the bleeding edge: Linux Kernel 2.6.23-rc2

By now, everyone's heard that the next release of the Linux kernel, 2.6.23, will feature the CFS (Completely Fair Scheduler), which will, in theory, make everything run faster. Phoronix already did some research into how fast the CFS will be, but to really appreciate it, you have to try the kernel for yourself.
If you're using Ubuntu or Debian (or any other Debian-based distro with apt), you can install previews of the kernel without having to compile anything. For starters, add this line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file:
deb trunk main
Then, use the following commands to install a copy of the Linux 2.6.23-rc2 kernel, optimized for a 686 processor:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linux-image-2.6.23-rc2-686
Then, reboot and try it out yourself.
I did this, using my Ubuntu 7.10-testing partition. I took 12 FPS reports from GLXGears and averaged them, excluding the highest and lowest numbers.
Here are the results (again, with the highest and lowest numbers removed):

Kernel 2.6.22, with generic optimizations (equivalent to 686-optimized) and SMP:

5201 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1040.198 FPS
5229 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1045.667 FPS
5236 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1047.181 FPS
5196 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1039.119 FPS
5235 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1046.802 FPS
5069 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1013.631 FPS
5122 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1024.397 FPS
5231 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1046.159 FPS
5201 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1039.999 FPS
5237 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1047.369 FPS

***Average is 1039.0522***

Kernel 2.6.23-rc2, with 686 optimizations and SMP:

6185 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1236.758 FPS
6213 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1242.434 FPS
6227 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1245.223 FPS
6248 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1249.584 FPS
6306 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1261.119 FPS
6204 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1240.687 FPS
6238 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1247.495 FPS
6304 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1260.742 FPS
6334 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1266.636 FPS
6267 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1253.311 FPS

***Average is 1250.3989***

That's roughly a 20% increase.
I then ran Sauerbraten with -a0 and -f0 options on each kernel, after a fresh restart. In the exact same scene, kernel 2.6.23-rc2 gave roughly 25% more FPS.
Overall, I was impressed with the results of adding the Completely Fair Scheduler. It will certainly help gaming on Linux, an area that desperately needs some enormous attention, and it's still being improved- this is only the second release candidate. The only bad thing about the CFS that I can see is that it won't be included with Ubuntu until the release after Gutsy, which is staying with 2.6.22.
From Ubuntu 7.10,
The DistRogue.

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Anonymous Nicolach said...

I just updated my debian/ubuntu/mint to this kernel, whoa...

My old Compaq Evo n800, who really, really doesn't like beryl is at least twice as fast at everything.
File management, 3-d cube animation, internet access & graphics rendeering.


5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review...Really want that new kernel released immediately ;p
However, except using GLXGears solely maybe you can do more (and different kinds of) benchmarking? How does the system benefits from the new kernel except an increase in FPS?

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I install the kernel headers and restricted moduals?

By the wat the kernel is awesome! Also, it is rc5 now.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The kernel headers installed fine but do the linux-restricted-moduals exist yet?

2:55 AM  

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