Is bloat causing Ubuntu to become slower with each passing version? One study onto the performance of the open source Linux distro seems to suggest that it does.
Phoronix ran a suite of benchmarks on Ubuntu 7.04, 7.10, 8.04, 8.10 running on a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 and found that Ubuntu became slower with each release:
We had also repeated many of these tests to confirm we were not experiencing a performance fluke or other issue (even though the Phoronix Test Suite carries out each test in a completely automated and repeatable fashion) but nothing had changed. Ubuntu 7.04 was certainly the Feisty Fawn for performance, but based upon these results perhaps it would be better to call Ubuntu 7.10 the Gooey Gibbon, 8.04 the Hungover Heron, and 8.10 the Idling Ibex.
Now here's my dilemma. I've been through Phoronix's numbers and everything seems to check out. But in the past when I've benchmarked different versions of Ubuntu against each other, I really didn't see much in the way of difference between the versions. [UPDATE: In fact, I just ran some preliminary benchmarks on Ubuntu 7.04 and Ubuntu 8.04 and the numbers matched up very closely ...] Admittedly I carried out my tests on desktop systems as opposed to a notebook, but overall I felt that the results were too close for me to say that there was any difference.
If there's enough interest in this topic I might be willing to invest the time in doing my own set of benchmarks across a variety of platforms and using a range of distros, but this takes a lot of time. The author of the Phoronix results claims that the process took well over 100 hours, and I can well believe it. Throw in a few different distros and two or three hardware platforms and the job could take a week easily.
I know that there are a lot of Linux users reading this blog, so I'm interested to hear from you whether you feel that Linux is getting more bloated and slower as a result, or are the Phoronix results down to a particular combination of hardware/drivers?