Phoronix: AMD Catalyst: Ubuntu 12.10 vs. Windows 7
For those wondering about the performance of Ubuntu Linux 12.10 versus Microsoft Windows 7 when using the same system and the Catalyst graphics driver, here are new Phoronix benchmarks of an AMD Radeon HD 6870 graphics card when running a variety of OpenGL workloads from Ubuntu 12.10, Kubuntu 12.10 (the KDE desktop version of Ubuntu 12.10 to avoid the Unity desktop overhead), and Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64.
I couldn't have said it better. Binary blobs need to die.
Open-source video drivers are even less good, so please keep the binary blobs alive as long as they are better. (personally I really need the binary blobs for gaming/Blendering, there is nothing at the moment that could replace it.)
with binary blobs of NVIDIA:
what I like:
- gaming just works
- desktop feels smooth
- I get a control panel for my graphics card
- Blender works faster on Linux than on Windows
- 3D performance seems to be equally to Windows
what I don't like:
- plymouth looks weird
- some weird bugs
The open-source drivers:
what I don't like:
- games don't "just run" (missing OGL plugins/slow)
- desktop doesn't feel smooth
- No GUI control panel for my graphics card
- Blender doesn't work AT ALL with Cycles renderer (CUDA)
- 3D performance is just lower than on Windows
- a LOT of bugs/crashes in software
What I like:
- plymouth looks good
So why would you wish the binary blobs dead when there is nothing to replace it AT THE MOMENT?
Just using the graphics card with binary blobs makes a reasenable user experience.
Using the same hardware with Open-source drivers (nouveau) makes a BAD user experience.
PS> Ok, Optimus doesn't work with the binary drivers. Neither does it OOTB with the opensource drivers. That's why I don't buy hardware with optimus UNTIL it is properly supported by the binary drivers.
These test results clearly show that Intel is the future for Linux GPU-tasks.
It might sound a bit unreflected to state this directly, but the current performance-backlog of integrated Intel Graphics will be recovered in the future and companies like Nvidia and ATI, who still offer currently slightly faster binary-blobs, overtaken.
Now, the reason for that is the property of Open Source- and especially Kernel-development, that companies and individuals have a hard time to maintain and nurture their "commits", when they are not directly implemented into the actual infrastructure and source code of an OSS-project.
Just imagine the huge manpower required to make sure that the Nvidia and ATI Kernel-modules actually work with the most recent versions of the Kernel. Some of us, including myself, have already experienced how much of a pain it causes to find out, that the proprietary Nvidia-driver doesn't work with the current Kernel version installed. To be fair, these issues lessened over the last few years, and Nvidia has a great way of dealing with that.
I am not that much of a Gentoo-enthusiast to state that binary-blobs might have a speed disadvantage in comparison to natively-compiled open source alternatives.
Keeping at the back of your minds, that in case of binary-blobs, the companies' support is endemic for them to work with a dynamically changing project like the Linux Kernel, one might ask what would happen if this support was seized one day.
In case of open drivers, the case is rather clear. Contrary to that, it would just be a question of time when the actual Nvidia-modules stopped working with the ongoingly changing Kernel.
Moreover, Linux is not a system one might install for gaming. Windows is great for that, out of question.
When it comes to choosing between Intel or ATI/Nvidia on your next hardware-purchase, you have to conclude, in which way you want to affect the future of Linux graphics. Binary-blobs work fine, they are faster, they are technically more advanced, even I am using one currently. But in the Linux-world, we also have to look at the ethical properties of this discussion: Which solution is more suitable for a "free" future we all struggle for by using GNU/Linux?