Whether the topic is cars or computers, energy guzzlers are unpopular these days. So we wondered how Windows Server 2008 stacked up against Linux in power consumption. But as it turned out, finding an answer isn't so easy.
Arjan van de Ven, the lead developer for Intel Corp.'s LessWatts.org energy-reduction project and a kernel engineer, was button-lipped, saying, "Intel is officially neutral."
Corporate considerations aside, van de Ven said valid comparisons are difficult because results could vary depending on the configurations of a particular machine.
Justin Steinman, Novell's director of marketing in the Open Platform Solutions division, said an energy comparison between SUSE Linux and Windows Server 2008 hadn't been done. He speculated, however, that the low-power champ might always be the platform with the latest release.
Similarly, Red Hat spokeswoman Caroline Kazmierski said Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server 2008 have "dramatically different capabilities and services," making a meaningful comparison difficult.Windows: 1, Ubuntu: 0
But Michael Larabel, a Linux software developer who performs Linux hardware tests for the Phoronix website, tested Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 as well as Windows Vista Ultimate last weekend and gave Windows a slight, 2-watt edge.
Larabel tested the two operating systems in idle mode using stock configurations on an Advanced Micro Devices Inc. server. The results showed that Windows consumed 174 watts and Ubuntu 176 watts.
While that gives Microsoft the win, Larabel notes that variations between the operating systems make precise comparisons difficult. Ubuntu's power efficiency continues to improve due to energy efficiencies such as PowerTop and Tickless Idle developed through Intel's LessWatts initiative, he said.
"These tests were basically the same," Larabel said. "With tweaking, you could make them come out in favor of one or the other.