Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Roger Strukhoff, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Is Windows 2003 Server really faster than Linux/Samba?

Here comes Windows 2003 Server! And it's faster than Linux, because Microsoft cheated with the benchmarks!

(LinuxWorld) — Microsoft funded and released a new set of benchmarks to follow the debut of its often-renamed Windows 2003 Server. The boys in Redmond are proud as punch of their new baby, whatever its name. They would have the world believe that Windows 2003 Server is twice as fast as Linux, at least when it's used for file serving.

Microsoft hired VeriTest to conduct benchmarks using hardware and software configurations provided by Microsoft. VeriTest shares Microsoft's penchant for name changes. VeriTest used to be known as ZD Labs, and has also been known as eTesting Labs. The benchmark results VeriTest produced for Microsoft showed Windows Server 2003 to be faster than Red Hat Linux/Samba on both uniprocessor and SMP HP servers — a stunning 66-to-95 percent faster, at that. Given the many configuration options for Linux, Samba, and Windows, I had questions about the validity of VeriTest's results.

Reactions from the Samba team

I spoke to Jeremy Allison, head of the Samba team, to get his reaction to the benchmarks. Allison provided a few insights into the test configurations that don't leap out at me because they are hidden away in appendixes to the benchmark document. Allison feels the hardware configuration Microsoft chose is substantially responsible for the outcome.

Benchmarks aside, I asked Allison what he would tell someone who approached him about wanting to save money by moving from Microsoft servers to a Linux/Samba solution, but was also interested in how they compared in performance. Would he say, for example, that the performance of the two were comparable? Or that Linux was slightly slower? That it was slightly faster?

Allison minced no words about it. "I would say that actually we are faster." But then he added this caveat, "In all the earlier benchmarks, we have been. Before I would say that against (Windows Server) 2003, I would want to have the chance to repeat this benchmark. I'm hoping that we do get the chance."

If you look through the various benchmark results listed on Dan Kegel's NT-vs.-Linux benchmarks page (the URL is provided in Resources below), you'll see what Allison means. In September of last year, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server 2.1 bested Windows 2000 Advanced Server in both performance and price/performance in a TPC/C comparison.

In June of 2001, Ziff-Davis/eWeek compared Web-serving on Windows 2000/IIS and Red Hat/Apache, Red Hat Apache with TUX, and Red Hat/TUX. Windows 2000 just barely nosed out Red Hat/Apache, but against TUX, Red Hat's Web server for SMP machines, it was hopelessly outclassed. TUX scaled to more than twice as many clients as the Windows machine.

For those benchmarks, by the way, technicians from Dell, Microsoft, and Red Hat were present and assisted in setting up and tuning the systems. That's definitely not the case in the VeriTest benchmarks. As Allison put it, referring to the most-infamous benchmarks of the past, "It's Mindcraft all over again."

RAID 0, Windows 1

Allison pointed out the heart of the problem in the most-recent benchmarks immediately, though it was hidden away in Appendix B of the 21-page document.

"Note that they used RAID 0, not RAID 5," he said. "Linux RAID 0 performance isn't terribly good for software RAID; (it's) much better with software RAID 5. On Windows, performance with RAID zero is very good."

(Editor's note: The PDF file states VeriTrust used hardware RAID on both systems.)

He strengthened that argument by pointing out the throughput-performance graphs that are part of the benchmark results. "If you look at the curves in the benchmarks, what is really really obvious is that Samba, or the kernel, isn't running out of steam," Allison said. "What's running out of steam is the disk subsystem."

The graph below, taken from the VeriTest benchmark, illustrates the problem.

Throughput comparison

RAID 0 wasn't the only poor choice for Linux in the tests. "They used ext3, which is one of the slowest filesystems on Linux," Allison said. "In a real comparative test, you would use XFS, you would stripe it appropriately, doing exactly the same thing for the Windows system, of course. Then you would put the journal log on a separate device."

Allison believes those two changes alone — changing from RAID 0 to RAID 5 and from ext3 to XFS — would end the I/O bottleneck that flattened Linux's performance-curve very early in the VeriTest benchmarks.

More tweaks

Allison's analysis does not end there. He also pointed out ways in which the Windows system had been tweaked to make it perform at its best. As the benchmark document clearly states on page 7: "For the File server performance testing using Windows Server 2003, we performed a series of operating system and testbed client tunings as specified by documentation provided from Microsoft."

Part of the tuning that Microsoft provided VeriTest, for example, was a registry setting that turns off the standard Windows 8.3 file-naming convention. Another tweak was made to TCP stack on the client machines. Yet another tweak was made to the buffer-cache pool on the server. Obviously, Microsoft invested considerable time and effort in finding the best possible configuration. On the Linux side of the table, VeriTest relied only upon their own in-house expertise, bolstered by a couple of books and Internet searches.

Allison concluded our brief visit by stating, "I'm not saying that we, the Samba team, could have produced the same benchmark going in the opposite direction." Allison clearly wants to do his own benchmarks to straighten the record. Maybe Red Hat or another Linux vendor will step up and provide the hardware and software required to do just that.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (4)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...