Performance Benchmark: FreeBSD vs Ubuntu vs OS X, which one is better?

If you cannot decide whether you should go with FreeBSD or Ubuntu (or Linux), check out this article: FreeBSD or Linux in 6 Simple Questions

Recently I am working on building a web farm which is formed by three ancient time computers (The sum of their ages is older than me). Therefore, I need to pick an operating system to make them running efficient enough. Basically here are my criterias:

  • It must be secure. (Sorry, Microsoft Windows, I tried installing Windows Server and the OS got infected by virus in 20 minutes after connecting to Web.)
  • It must be stable and require no reboot. (I have a very good experience with FreeBSD. My longest record of uptime is 6 months so far.)
  • It must be efficient and effective on performance.

So after trying different operating systems, I ran down to three choices: FreeBSD 8, Ubuntu 10 and OS X.

And I finally go with FreeBSD 8. Before I talked about why I kick the Ubuntu and OS X away, let me discuss what methodology I used.

First Test: Extreme Computation

I write a program to calculate the value of pi using Monte-Carlo simulations. For those who are not familiar with this simulation method, basically it try to repeat a calculation for n times and try to determine the value of pi based on the results of calculations. This calculation will use all available CPU resources.

Here is the result from a computer: Pentium II 400MHz + 160MB

  • FreeBSD 8.1 ~ 5 seconds
  • FreeBSD 4.11~ 10 seconds
  • Ubuntu 10.04 ~ 8 seconds
  • OS X 10.3.9 ~ 11 seconds

The result is very obvious, FreeBSD 8.1 is the best candidate in this test. However, the result of my program only gives a very small portion of the picture. So I decide to run another test:

Second Test: Apache Benchmark

No test is better than the real world test drive. Since my primary purpose is for web server, so I decide to test the performance on how Apache perform on different operating systems. My test is pretty simple, I basically ask the Apache Benchmark client to download a page from the test server. The page does three things:

  1. Display a picture
  2. Insert a record into MySQL database
  3. Retrieve the current count from MySQL database

This way I can test the overall performance on how the system handles the file I/O, database I/O and computations.

So the result is pretty interesting (1000 total requests and 100 concurrent requests)

  • FreeBSD 8.1 ~ 200 requests/sec, no failure
  • FreeBSD 4.11~ 150 requests/sec, approx. 20% failure.
  • Ubuntu 10.04 ~ 180 requests/sec, no failure
  • OS X 10.3.9 ~ 160 requests/sec, approx. 50% failure.

I am not surprised with the result because FreeBSD 8 really does a very good job in kernel optimization. Since kernel is the heart(or brain) of all computations, an OS with good kernel is expected to give good results always.

So, I finally pick FreeBSD 8 as the core OS of my web farm, and I am loving it.

Our sponsors:

3 Replies to “Performance Benchmark: FreeBSD vs Ubuntu vs OS X, which one is better?”

  1. Savannah Presby

    I am a frequent reader of your blog posts. I liked the recent one and other posts on your blog so much that I have subscribed to the blog’s RSS feed in Thunderbird. Even thinking of stealing some ideas and put them to work. Keep all the good work going by posting more informative posts. Thank you. Time well spent on this post.

  2. Pedro Guiga

    hey I like this submit. I determined it from doing a google research. Ive been trying to find this sort of thing for a while. This info will come in handy to me. I’ll check back again quickly to look for the rest of your web site. many thanks


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *