Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Tale of Three Operating Systems, Part II (Why You Need Bootcamp)

A while ago I put three operating systems on my laptop. With the Mac Pro I've done the same thing - it's a huge win to be able to cover such a wide swath of OS/GPU/CPU combinations with fewer machines. Last time it was OS X 10.4, Windows XP SP2, and Ubuntu 6.06. This time I repeated the process with OS X 10.5.2, Windows Vista RTM, and Ubuntu 8.04. Random observations:
  • Linux really just keeps getting stronger. I've always been a bit skeptical about Linux as a desktop environment, particularly as a Windows/Mac developer (that is to say, I'm spoiled by free high quality IDEs ad debuggers that require no setup to use the platform SDK, comprehensive platform documentation in one location, etc.). But Linux installation is becoming more plug & play and trouble-free each time I make myself a live CD.
  • Windows Vista is a train wreck. I feel a little bit lame blogging this, as taking pot-shots at Vista is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel. But the contrast between Ubuntu, which has become easier to use over a year and a half, and Windows, which has not, is stark.
  • There are some positive things to say about Vista. The partition-aware installer is a real convenience for multi-booters. And once you figure out where everything has been moved to and go back to "classic" views, the OS is tolerable. But you'll still find plenty of things that will make you want to tear your hair out. My recommendation: stick with XP. (Duh.)
Now on to the performance numbers. These numbers are the Xp900 time demo fps tests 1, 2 and 3. Each set of 3 numbers is from the three phases.
      1           2               3
MAC 49/ 60/ 62 38/ 43/ 44 21/ 20/ 21
WIN 121/128/133 114/115/119 77/ 75/ 82
LIN 143/144/157 130/123/132 92/104/113
That's not a typo. Linux is beating out Vista, but both are absolutely killing OS X. What's going on here? I don't know. But there appears to be something that isn't well optimized in the GeForce 8 drivers on OS X.

I suspect Apple will close this gap eventually; don't bother asking me for status information on this because if they ever tell me what's going on, I'll be bound by NDA not to tell you.

For now my recommendation is: consider dual-booting into Linux - it's pretty easy to install Ubuntu and you'll get great X-Plane performance. With good drivers, the Mac Pro and 8800 are just monstrous.

5 comments:

Dan said...

Thats horrendous, Apple really need to step up and do some heavy lifting! Makes you think twice before buying a Mac for X-Plane...

I've seen the same thing om my Hackintosh, running dual boot between Leopard and Vista. My framerates were cut in half switching to OS X with a GF 8800GTX. I can't stand anything Microsoft do so I didn't keep it for long, I'll take poor framerates anyday just to get by without Vista or XP.

Ubuntu though is looking more and more viable for a noob like me...

po said...

It confirms what I've noticed.

I've just buy a brand new Mac Pro, with a 8800 GT, and if it's better than my former G5, it's not a graphic Revolution ...

So I'm interested in installing an Ubuntu ...

THe only problem, is that I don't even know the first word in Linux. I Don't know where to find him, don't know if it's free, don't know if I can install it on an external drive, don't know where to find the good graphical drivers ....

Well, I know nothing about it (exclusive Mac User for the last 20 years ...) Could you help me ? I don't know if you can see my eMail adress in case ...

@lex said...

Ben,

I hope you reported it to Apple ;)) But can we, end users, do the same in order that they take into account such request more carefully?

Regards

Eduardo said...

Great article, just confirmed what I already new ;)

BUT, what about xsquawkbox? No update date in sight...

P.Olivier (former po) said...

And did Mac OS X 10.6 introduce a change (in a better way ?)