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Test Driving GNU Hurd, With Benchmarks Against Linux 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-hurd dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After last week's news that GNU Hurd is coming, Phoronix set out to install Debian GNU Hurd and to provide GNU Hurd vs. Linux benchmarks. Linux was mostly faster than The Hurd while also having much better hardware support, multi-core SMP support, and other modern functionality."
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Test Driving GNU Hurd, With Benchmarks Against Linux

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  • ...now that Duke Nukem Forever has been released.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      ...and Hurd seems to have made about the same impact...

    • by justsomebody (525308) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#36802792) Journal

      Now all we need is hell freezing over and pigs to start flying... damnit, i might start to believê 2012 is really end of the world

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:41PM (#36802898) Journal

      Hurd, DNF, Wine 1.0, Gmail out of beta, Windows running stable, grannies using Linux, video chat on handheld computers, movies commonly coming out in 3D, video games you don't play with your hands, electric cars on dealership lots, a US president who isn't a white guy...

      We're in THE FUTURE. It just doesn't feel like it, because it's fuckin' lame.

      • by Tetsujin (103070) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:51PM (#36802982) Homepage Journal

        Hurd, DNF, Wine 1.0, Gmail out of beta, Windows running stable, grannies using Linux, video chat on handheld computers, movies commonly coming out in 3D, video games you don't play with your hands, electric cars on dealership lots, a US president who isn't a white guy...

        Dogs and cats living together... Mass hysteria!

      • by Artraze (600366) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:26PM (#36803358)

        The trouble is, of course, that this 'future' is now, and we've been watching and waiting for it to get to this point for, well, all of history. And it hasn't lived up to it's hype. The tech that was X years away arrived, evaporated, or came in as expected but never actually lived up to the dream. The 'problems' we solved are replaced by new, even more threatening ones. Etc, etc.
        The present will always be a day late and dollar short of future, but at least it's motivating.

        • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:56PM (#36803874)

          That and you got real-life forces getting in the way. We hope for a Star Trek type utopia where Tech will solve all our human problems... It doesn't and it won't.
          I could see the Religious people fighting tooth and nail against the use of the Transporter, in bitter arguments for hundreds of year. I can see the Holodeck being a Red Light district of technology, perhaps leading to a population drop, or a bunch of people being hopelessly unproductive in them. Every time you go to a new planet there will be millions of microbes that think you are the newest candy, or you spread a microbe that wipes out a population.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Wait a minute, how many places and times in history would you really trade for? And you don't get to make yourself King Arthur, either... you have to pick the time and place and face the vastly more likely odds of dying as an infant, or being a serf, or a racial or religious minority.
      • Hurd, DNF, Wine 1.0, Gmail out of beta, Windows running stable, grannies using Linux, video chat on handheld computers, movies commonly coming out in 3D, video games you don't play with your hands, electric cars on dealership lots, a US president who isn't a white guy...

        For bonus points, read the litany above to the tune of "We Didn't Start the Fire".

        More seriously, though, I disagree. It's not that it's lame, it's that it's half-assed.

        Sure, Hurd and DNF are done. Read TFA and the reviews, respectively.

        Wine is here, but there's still a ton of shit it can't run. Windows is stable, but aside from becoming more usable it's no revolutionary change over how we interact with computers compared to 15 years ago.

        Grannies run Linux, but for many more serious uses it's arguably not there for many other desktop uses.

        3d movies ... if you wear the special glasses and don't mind the 3d headache. Nor the price premium.

        Hands free video games... great. We flail at our screens with all of our limbs now. That's an improvement? That's the best we can do with this technology?

        Electric cars that are so expensive and so limited their only practical value is to prove that they can done, and to make some people feel better about their consumerism. That's not getting into the fact that we've simply shifted its carbon footprint to different places and times.

        A non-white president who pushed to have the recession "officially over" two years ago, while continuing to publish the adjusted unemployment numbers introduced by the Bush regime to help hide how bad things really are. Let's not get into the multiple ongoing military actions that have actually increased instead of decreasing. New boss/old boss.

        Video chat on handheld computers if you're on wifi, or if your carrier provides 4g, and if you don't mind getting raped on data charges, and if you have good network coverage, and if the other person has video, wants to use it, and has the same type of handheld OS that you do.

        Yeah, we have all the things the future promised us. But none of it is done right. It's all limited, half-assed, restricted, and - in too many ways - not adding any real value because of those problems.

      • Flying car. Where are my Flying cars!!!!
        Non of this prototype stuff I need a real mass produced and commonly used flying car.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:49PM (#36803776)

        The future is like that toy you always wanted as a kid, once you get it, it is not quite like how you hoped it would be.

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        We're in THE FUTURE. It just doesn't feel like it, because it's fuckin' lame.

        That's because instead of positive societal change (things like peace on earth, more effort put into space exploration and other positive things) we're getting the gadgets along with the old society (war for power and profit, space exploration only when it's useful for one-upping the other guy, profit being more important than anything else and all those things).

        It doesn't feel like the future because we just got a bunch of half-assed implementations of the gadgets of the future and little else.

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:06PM (#36804728)

        I had a flying car last week too. Ok, it only flew a few yards past the guard rail, and it was more like a cross between a glide and a plummet, but still it's clearly a sign!

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:57PM (#36803056)

      I realize this is a joke, but the comparison is surprisingly apt. Projects that are delayed like this are rarely, if ever, successful. After so long in development, half the code is probably designed for hardware that is 20 years old, and the remaining half is designed for hardware spread across those intervening 20 years. Since the project was continually under development but never released, by the time they finish updating old sections of the code, the hardware they revised it to support is already several years old. And the code that was modern is even older. And since no one is actually using it, they don't have a massive base of users modifying, testing, and updating it like real operating systems (i.e. Linux, FreeBSD, etc) do.

      The result, if it ever gets released, is a cobbled together mess, most of which is outdated and barely works, and the rest is buggy and poorly coded because they were trying to shove it out the door. Any modern features that it has either don't work properly, or don't mesh with the rest of the project. Just like DNF. At this point, the Hurd developers should either admit defeat and close the project, or get enough people together that they can scrap everything, start from the ground up, and rewrite the whole thing within a few years. Otherwise, they will be constantly behind and never become relevant. Likely, they won't do this, which is why I doubt Hurd will ever really make any kind of impact. Being released might help, or it might just make people realize that this is essentially an operating system that was designed 20 years ago and should be abandoned. My money is on the latter.

      • by Scoth (879800)

        I'm genuinely curious (for both HURD and DNF) how much of the code is actually "original" code (or art, or other assets) from all those years ago vs. essentially a rewrite from scratch. We know DNF was essentially tossed and restarted several times; I wonder how much the released version has from old versions.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:08PM (#36802564) Homepage
    ... does it run Linux?
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:12PM (#36802600) Journal

      It barely runs Hurd, for chrissake.

      • It can run Debian though...

        But honestly, is there is a point to this apart from a toy OS. Linux and BSD and even Haiku (which is a microkernel) is way ahead in the race.

        • by Tetsujin (103070)

          It can run Debian though...

          But honestly, is there is a point to this apart from a toy OS. Linux and BSD and even Haiku (which is a microkernel) is way ahead in the race.

          Well, while I do believe Hurd continues to be a bit of a joke, there is a point to it: today's dodgy "toy OS" is tomorrow's dependable system.

          Particularly, Hurd is designed around principles which (in theory, at least) should make it easier to maintain and extend, and more reliable ultimately. It seems they're not there just yet, but maybe in another 5 years they will be. Between here and there, people interested in making that change happen can get involved... So there may come a point where the system's

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      does phoronix run hurd? it's slashdotted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:10PM (#36802580)

    Yes, it's slower, but did they measure how much freedom it achieved?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:15PM (#36802636)

      Yes. Hurd single handedly liberated Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria. China fears that they will boot HURD again and it may free China as well.

    • by Tridus (79566)

      It measured 37 Stallmans hire on the GNU/RMS Freedom benchmark.

    • by rvw (755107)

      Yes, it's slower, but did they measure how much freedom it achieved?

      It's like slow-food. You have to take time to appreciate it. Slow-boot, gives you the opportunity to make breakfast or something...

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      Yes, it's slower, but did they measure how much freedom it achieved?

      It's a bit of an awkward situation, that. You see, this is Free Software we're talking about: "Free as in Freedom." But, as we all know, Freedom isn't Free. So that means the HURD system has a significant Non-Free component, whose inclusion causes a conflict with the system's Free license.

  • A toy for now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ianare (1132971) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:11PM (#36802588)

    20 years of development and 10 years behind in almost every aspect. Hardware support basically non existing, no X11, but no SMTP support is what really surprised me. I though better multithread was one of advantages of the Mach architecture. Anyways, even on a single core machine Linux is faster, there wasn't a single test in which Hurd did noticeably better.

    I wish them luck, but I don't think I would even be capable of installing it on any of my machines any time soon.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I think you mean no SMP, SMTP should work just fine since you can probably run sendmail or postfix on HURD.

    • I for one would like to welcome our floppy-tape-drive-using HURD overlords.

    • Stallman: We have completed HURD! It is now ready for commercial use!
      Technology Singularity: I am afraid that has been in development for too long. I do not need a Mach kernel based OS as my "kernel" is beyond human comprehension.
      Stallman: GNU slash Technology Singularity. I demand you use this kernel!
      Singularity: I prefer to be called the Linux slash Technology Singularity. However, I suppose you may call me what you wish. Now I've noticed you seem to have gotten behind on your hygenia. Allow zap
  • How's Minix 3 benchmark?

  • GNU/Linux (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:12PM (#36802606)

    I remember the days when you said, "Linux", there would be an army of zealots that would swarm you and chant, "IT'S GNU/LINUX! IT'S GNU/LINUX!!"

    • by glwtta (532858)
      Well, I guess now we'll have to change it to "GNU/GNU Hurd".
    • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mickwd (196449) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:00PM (#36803080)

      I remember the days when you could come to Slashdot and expect a discussion on the technical merits or demerits of a subject like an alternative operating system, with input from one or two people who really knew their onions.

      I remember the days when people were technically curious about stuff which was different, just because it was different, and they wanted to know what it did and how it worked.

      Where did all those people go?

  • Serious question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:18PM (#36802658)
    Not trying to troll here, but why would one use GNU Hurd? What does it offer over Linux? The only fundamental technical difference of note I see is that it's got a microkernel, and arguing about monolithic kernels vs. microkernels is like arguing about vi vs. Emacs: I haven't seen anyone do it seriously, instead of tongue-in-cheek, in years. I imagine there are "non-free" parts of Linux scattered about, and maybe that's a reason to use GNU Hurd, but pretty much all of those are due to device drivers, and making a new OS won't help with that. Even rms admits it's a waste of time [reddit.com]. Does Debian really have nothing better to do?
    • by jandrese (485)
      Heck, the "non-free" parts of Linux would just have no support at all in Hurd, so there's not even a win there. You can always setup a Linux distro to avoid all non-free stuff if that's what you care about.
    • Hurd is useless. It is the Duke Nukem' Forever of OSes: Released way too late and a relic from the past that isn't work getting.

      Nothing software related that is "in development" for that long is going to be worthwhile because things change so fast. When something has a cycle that long it tells you that they aren't doing a good job working on it. They keep changing shit, are not working efficiently and so on. It also means that the end result is going to be useless.

      Hurd has no reason to exist these days, par

      • by Ster (556540)

        ... if you need a microkernel and some POSIX, well there's FreeBSD. ...

        The FreeBSD kernel is not a microkernel - it's a modular monolithic kernel, not unlike the Linux kernel.

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        if you need a microkernel and some POSIX, there's minux 3
    • by vux984 (928602)

      Not trying to troll here, but why would one use GNU Hurd?

      One wouldn't. No more than one would use the memory manager I wrote in university for an operating systems class.

      As an academic pursuit however its quite interesting, and as another working fully open source kernel, it its a worthwhile topic in any "comparative operating systems architecture" classes.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      You could have said the same about Linux because we had Minix and BSD. The first versions of Linux where pretty useless. That being said HURD has some interesting ideas that may turn out to be useful. I am really fond of the goals of Minix 3. The idea of a self healing system is very cool for servers and embedded devices. Frankly it should pretty easy to do, make the drivers code segment in memory read only and if the driver has a serious error you restart the driver with a fresh data segment. Once the driv

      • That sort of thing has been done with Linux in various ways - but with substantial disadvantages. Under L4 and Xen there were implementations of running device drivers (for block and network devices) in separate virtual machines from the one running the application. They were restartable and contained only soft state. I worked, in a small way, on the Xen implementation and it was quite enjoyable to sit around restarting the device driver and watching stuff come back. Of course, one advantage of doing th

    • by amorsen (7485)

      The only fundamental technical difference of note I see is that it's got a microkernel

      HURD is about empowering the users to do things which require root access on more common systems. Like you have a normal user account and decide you want to try this cool new network file system but the admin won't install the kernel module. On HURD, not a problem, you just run a file system daemon yourself and you can mount it anywhere you want without needing administrator rights.

      Or you decide that package managers suck and it's much better to keep all files for Emacs in /Applications/Emacs (Or /OS/Emacs

    • "What does it offer over Linux?" Am I the only one who remembers when USENET (no Slashdot back then) was all full of: What does Linux offer over Solaris, HP/UX, AIX, BSD, ...? Those old beards weren't laughing 5 years later when Linux was stealing their user bases one at a time. Hurd may not do the same, but it is always a mistake to underestimate the tenacity of the underdog. Maybe Hurd doesn't have to be better than Linux at all things - there are a zillion gadgets like routers and embedded controller
      • The big difference in Linux was that it was free - for all practical purposes - both as in "Freedom" and as in "Beer". All the other OSes aforementioned were neither. This caused a HUGE groundswell of user-support to step up and make it what it is today.

        HURD offers no advantage over Linux here. It's not like we're about to see a huge migration from Linux to HURD. And after taking 20 years to get this far - they lack the manpower and momentum to move it anywhere.

    • by Palshife (60519)

      Translators running in user space is better than kernel modules running in privileged space. This is reason enough to embrace a new system and apply the lessons learned from Linux.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      What does it offer over Linux? The only fundamental technical difference of note I see is that it's got a microkernel, and arguing about monolithic kernels vs. microkernels is like arguing about vi vs. Emacs

      Not quite. In theory, microkernels ought to offer some concrete advantages and disadvantages. They should be a little bit slower due to context switching (waaaah! my computer acts like it's 3 months older! waaaaahh!), but it should be easier to develop and advance, due to certain traditionally-hard-to

      • by Arlet (29997)

        They should be a little bit slower due to context switching (waaaah! my computer acts like it's 3 months older! waaaaahh!)

        If context switching overhead was the only problem you'd be right. A much bigger problem is the effort it requires to maintain a coherent state between loosely coupled tasks in a microkernel. The oft-repeated mantra that a microkernel is easier to develop for is just a joke. For example, making a single-threaded filesystem task is pretty simple, but the performance will be horrible if yo

    • by iceaxe (18903)

      Not trying to troll here, but why would one use GNU Hurd?

      Because I want to, and I can. That's reason enough for me. Maybe I'm a nerd.

    • by chrb (1083577)

      Not trying to troll here, but why would one use GNU Hurd?

      Mach [wikipedia.org] was just an academic research project into microkernels until Apple picked it up and ran with it. At the moment there appears to be no practical reason for most people to choose Hurd, but undoubtedly there will be someone out there who does have a reason, and who knows where that could end.

      Does Debian really have nothing better to do?

      "Debian" is not a monolithic corporate entity with some dynamic figurehead deciding what everyone works on this year... Hurd is interesting to some people, and they want to work on it. Why not let them? The worst th

  • and i have to say that i believe i will die of old age before Hurd is ready for the masses, and by then hardware will have changed so much that Hurd will never catch up, (not without an army of developers)
  • the HURD didn't throw up a blue screen of death.

    Actually they didn't mention how many Kernel panic dumps they got, if any.

  • Linux vs HURD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mswhippingboy (754599) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:29PM (#36802776)

    At the risk of being lambasted, I don't understand why everyone is kicking so hard at HURD. Sure, it's nowhere close to Linux in any respect, but then it never attracted the throngs of developers that Linux did. OS/X is proof that the idea of building on the mach kernel can result in a sound and performant OS. I for one salute those that have stuck with or picked up development of what many would consider a lost cause. Eschewing a technology because it's not popular does not engender innovation. Personally, I hope the HURD team begins to attract more developers and eventually begins to catch up with Linux because competition, even in the FOSS arena, is always a good thing.

    • Re:Linux vs HURD (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:45PM (#36802932) Homepage Journal

      hurd is an example of how despite being open and free, you can still run the ship with closed minds. it almost seems like a grant money scam.

    • Yeah, there seems to be a tone change here - "why would anyone use ____" - isn't that different from when we welcomed the Niche stuff? Is the ridicule only because this was in Permanent Development?

      I think I see some small benefit in getting this (and Duke Nukem) Out The Door in whatever state they are in. Now that it's Out The Door, can we just turn right around and rip out a couple juicy bits of code and slam them into Linux? Is any of it Prior Art to fight the stupid lawsuits with?

      • Re:Linux vs HURD (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mswhippingboy (754599) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:30PM (#36803442)

        Actually, if I were a developer interested in getting heavily involved in OS development (which I am), and had the time (which I don't), something like this would be appealing to me. Trying to get one's arms around Linux, much less to be able to obtain commit status is about near impossible for someone just starting out. HURD is much smaller and the mountain to climb much lower to reach the point of being able to contribute to the project. I also think it's premature to write off micro-kernel technology all together at this point. Massively Multi-core CPUs (as in 100's or 1000's of cores) may mitigate the performance hit that micro-kernels suffer from on today's hardware and may prove to be a better fit than the monolithic Linux kernel of today. I don't know that to be fact, though no doubt many here will point out how wrong that position is, but it makes sense to me instinctively. The point is, no knowledge gained is wasted knowledge and whether it leads to enhancements to Linux or boosts the viability of this technology, the endeavor is certainly worth exploring.

    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      OS/X is proof that the idea of building on the mach kernel can result in a sound and performant OS.

      OS X is proof that by using the Mach kernel as a provider of process/thread management and VM services, and putting a BSD kernel atop that, you can get a sound and performant OS. It's not as if OS X is a true microkernel OS; if that's the goal of the Hurd, as I have the impression it is, that's a different matter.

    • Re:Linux vs HURD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by steveha (103154) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:27PM (#36803390) Homepage

      I think that people kick at HURD because of the grand claims made by some HURD fans. These grand claims have not panned out.

      If you look at the old HURD FAQ [gnu.org], you will see claims that "Linux and BSD don't scale well" and that HURD, being based on Mach, should scale better for SMP; furthermore, HURD would be "considerably more flexible and robust than generic Unix".

      The superior architecture of HURD was supposed to make it easier and faster to develop and debug HURD, and thus HURD was going to leapfrog past Linux as the obviously better solution.

      Kernel debugging in Linux is significantly harder than user-space debugging. The microkernel design of HURD was supposed to allow for things like file systems to be written and debugged with the ease of user-space development under Linux. That being the case, it seems surprising that HURD is so far behind Linux after so many years.

      I'm not an expert on this stuff, but here are my thoughts on the current Linux and HURD situation:

      First, Linux scales really well now. People are using Linux on really large SMP systems.

      Second, a microkernel architecture, while more robust than a monokernel, cannot be as fast as the monokernel. If one subsystem wants another subsystem to do something, it must format and send a message; the other subsystem then receives the message, unpacks it, validates it, and then does the action. This is more secure and more stable than the monokernel, where the one subsystem will just make a function call in the other subsystem's code; but it is inherently slower. So Linux is scaling better than HURD expected, and Linux has an inherent speed edge, so HURD is unlikely to outperform Linux. Meanwhile, while it might be true that HURD is easier to debug than Linux, the kernel developers have figured out how to debug Linux, and there just isn't enough benefit there to warrant a switch to HURD.

      Finally, Linux is widely used and well understood; lots of businesses are running mission-critical apps on Linux. Even if HURD's microkernel design gave it a theoretical edge on Linux for reliability, the real-world experience is all on Linux; it has been shown to be Good Enough while HURD is only theoretically better.

      steveha

      • Valid points all. However, have HURD claims not panned out because of flaws in the theoretical framework, or because of lack of developers to implement it properly (I'm asking - I don't know the answer to that and I don't believe you do either - which is exactly why I feel this is a worthwhile endeavor)? I do question your conclusions on your second and final points however.

        Second, a microkernel architecture, while more robust than a monokernel, cannot be as fast as the monokernel. If one subsystem wants another subsystem to do something, it must format and send a message; the other subsystem then receives the message, unpacks it, validates it, and then does the action. This is more secure and more stable than the monokernel, where the one subsystem will just make a function call in the other subsystem's code; but it is inherently slower. So Linux is scaling better than HURD expected, and Linux has an inherent speed edge, so HURD is unlikely to outperform Linux. Meanwhile, while it might be true that HURD is easier to debug than Linux, the kernel developers have figured out how to debug Linux, and there just isn't enough benefit there to warrant a switch to HURD.

        This may be true with today's hardware, but massive-multi-core CPUs with hardware support for high speed message passing may negate or

  • Wouldnt that be a closer comparison to Hurd than Linux?

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      Race already over, Minux 3 has been out and done for two year already, it can run on over a dozen architectures, and has X11 and over 400 apps.
  • Phoronix has a history of questionable choices for their benchmark setups. Hardware, versions, and tuning are... cleverly chosen, almost as if there was a preconceived agenda with inevitable results. Not that there is one-- just like it seems like there is. And so colorfully presented! I remember when they tested ZFS on an i386 version of FreeBSD on a 1G laptop! Others have also noticed this Phoronix phenomenon:

    http://forums.freebsd.org/archive/index.php/t-16396.html [freebsd.org]
    http://www.kev009.com/wp/2008/12/phoronix [kev009.com]

  • by trb (8509) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:13PM (#36803186)
    I don't mean to be flippant, but I think we'll know that Hurd is growing up when http://gnu.org/ [gnu.org] runs on it.
  • For one, I have to question anyone who criticizes what basically amounts to a long-term research project in how to design an operating system. Of course it's going to take too long and of course nobody from the mainstream is interested enough to help.

    For another it should really be pointed out that SELinux and FUSE are really just bolted-on, inferior implementations of things that are key embedded concepts in the hurd. You probably would not have these things on your linux system today if it had not been

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