Doom3 was a turning point for a lot of us as it marked an important milestone in next generation game engines. We have been keeping a very close eye on id's Linux adventure, and at the core of id's Linux development is Timothee Besset, the Linux port maintainer.

"I'm getting surprisingly good performance compared to the Windows version."

Timothee Besset, [1]

This sounds like the premise of a wonderful opportunity to put Doom3 through its paces. We crafted this entire analysis around Timothee's expectations.

Our goals for this analysis are twofold. We want to take the newest working video cards that we can find and test their performance on Linux using Doom3. This is slightly a continuation of last week's GPU roundup as the Doom3 engine will ultimately become the next cornerstone for Linux first-person shooter games. This includes exhaustive image quality (IQ) testing. Secondly, we wish to run comparative analysis on how Doom3 performs and looks on Linux versus Windows.

Let's talk about Drivers
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  • Roots - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    I predict that for a "normal" WinXP user, the spyware/adware/viruses will bog the performance down enough to make Linux look like the undisputed king of modern gaming. :D
  • lapierrem - Monday, December 13, 2004 - link

    Just wondering why you are doing this from X at all?
    I know pretty much any app that can be run from command line takes a bit of a hit run on X.
    I have no idea and maybe i'm missing something but is it not possible to run from the command line, or is it a driver issue?
    SuSE is not an dist I would ever use, I had it installed but I didn't really like it.
    I wouldn't mind seeing this done - best case linux scenario vs. best case windows
    on the same hardware.
  • aaime - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Is there any change to see a 2D performance comparison? Yes, you're read properly: 2D.
    I ask about it because 2D acceleration of some propietary drivers is ridicolously low, and people should know about it _before_ buying a graphics card.

    For an example of such a comparison, see:
  • mikebabcock - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    From a different angle than some people suggested, it would be very helpful if you'd use the *same scale* on all graphs on a page. That way we can compare the FPS numbers between tests, instead of having to compute them mentally.

    One graph ends at 80fps, one at 150fps ... the bars are at the same points, how do you notice easily that one test is so much faster than another?

    This is a standard graphing concept -- use the same scale for all charts for comparisons.
  • yokem55 - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Another thing effecting this review is that Doom3 provides its own and libs, which when replaced with symlinks against the system's own built in libs results in a decent performance boost. This is probably a bit more noticable on a distro like Gentoo which has optimized these libs more specifically to the architecture provided. Also, the kernel being used can have a big impact. The vanilla 2.6 kernel has a rather (IMHO) ugly scheduler that allows programs like Doom3 to get run over a bit more than it should. With the ck patchset, this is improved a good amount. As for how well gcc has optimized the doom3 code, an interesting comparison would be to see the performance of the windows version of doom3 running under wine. Granted, the overhead of wine might affect some things, but you would be able to figure out better where exactly the performance losses are coming into play.
  • nyda - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    You compared Windows vs Linux performance on a 6800 with the 5950 driver for Linux (only)?

    As far as I'm concerned, that makes this benchmark pretty much useless. The latest driver, as of release of this article supports the 6800 perfectly fine here. Since it doesn't seem to be the case on your system, did you ever consider that there might be other issues with the system?

    Furthermore the whole point is pretty much moot seeing this test was performed on a "kernel 2.6.8-14-default". A Linux System is NOT to be used with a default kernel. You can use those to boot from a liveCD but thats about it. They are supposed to give you something to start with, not something to live with. Even Suse ships with automated tools to generate a kernel for your system.

    If you are serious about comparing Linux vs Windows, use a distribution or system that supports your hardware 100% and don't stick with a non-optimized kernel.

    If you were really serious, you would also talk about the various possible optimizations on an open source system (compiling code for your specific system *will* make it *a lot* faster), mention high performance distributions like Gentoo and use an optimized glibc2 which already gives you another 9-11% performance over the one provided with doom3 (which seems to be compiled without any optimization flags for whatever reason).

    You left a lot of Linux potential uncovered and wonder why it turns out to be slower. Hopefully the next article will be more representative. Sadly, this one is just pretty pictures without any meaning. :/

    My own results are similar to poster #18 's results: On an AMD64 3200+, FX6800, Gentoo (-O3 -march=athlon-xp) it's 25% faster than on WinXP. About 30-35% after replacing the provived crappy glibc with a symlink to the one my Gentoo system normally uses.
  • nongamer1 - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    I have to second #28.

    This review may have been written by someone who spent decades in Windows, applied all the latest tweaks and tuning tools to it, yet on the Linux side, things probably don't look that bright yet.

    Unfortunately the article doesn't mention whether it was the 32bit or 64bit SuSE distro that it tested.
    64bit has been reported to be able to make a difference of up to 30% or 40% CPU performance wise *sometimes*, so in exchange for much worse Linux graphics driver optimization, why not bring the much worse 64bit CPU "optimization" of Windows into the game? ;-)
    (64bit Linux drivers for Nvidia have been available for a few weeks/months, right?)

    As has been said by #28, there are also enormous speed differences between various distros, e.g. Yoper or Gentoo should be blindingly fast compared to a rather slow "standard" Red Hat, and I'd guess that SuSE isn't totally on the fast side either.

    I'd be willing to bet that with the fastest Linux distro and the fastest currently available kernel (e.g. a Con Kolivas kernel), Linux could actually beat Windows hands down, especially with a rather "slight" 25% performance difference as it stands now, despite less optimized graphics drivers...
    And then let them enable SSE2 in the Linux binary and use gcc 3.4.x for compilation and let them have a well-optimized Nvidia driver etc., and the speed advantage should be very obvious.

    Main point: a bog-standard off-the-shelf distro isn't necessarily what you'd want to use for very fast gaming.
    (but OTOH you perhaps didn't tune Windows in a special way for this review either, so the comparison of currently available "standard" components should have been fair after all, I guess...)
  • solidliq - Monday, October 18, 2004 - link

    Perhaps you guys should learn a little more about linux before you continue with these comparisons. Don't get me wrong, I think it's _great_ that you're doing linux comparisons, but a little more knowledge would be helpful.

    First, you're using the 2.6.8 kernel for this test, which is known to be buggy. The major problem: the scheduler. How does this affect game and graphics performance? Greatly. This is why I'm using the 2.6.7 kernel, compiled from source from

    Secondly, since the port has been under development for a while, it was probably done with a 2.4.x series kernel. That series of kernel would have been my first choice for testing.

    Third, why have a full desktop environment loaded up to play a fullscreen game (KDE)? You _want_ overhead introduced into the testing?

    Fourth, you always should test multiple distros. As is, this is _not_ a Windows versus Linux comparison. It is a SUSE versus Windows comparison. At a minimum, try SUSE, Mandrake, Fedora, Gentoo, and possibly Slackware (my distro of choice). Each one has its own quirks. Slackware is truly linux, because the vendor does not modify any of the source. However, it is much more difficult to configure correctly. Gentoo is a great distrobution because it is designed for being compiled specifically for the machine it is installed on. Using the straight source packages rather than vendor modified packages also goes a long way towards creating a fair test.

    Finally, learn to do the configuration from a shell, rather than from a gui. This is the way it is done by a vast majority of the linux community. This will allow you to see exactly what's going on, rather than scratching your heads over questions such as, "We're not sure why the reboot was required...". This is linux, not windows. If you know what you're doing, you should never have to scratch your heads over these types of questions. If you did it from a shell, a reboot should not have been necessary. Most likely, the reboot was required because you use a graphical login, and the X Server had to be restarted, _not_ the whole operating system.

    Otherwise, thanks for finally taking linux seriously. Just please to the comparisons right. As I'm sure it took some time to learn the ins and outs of windows, it will also take some time to learn the ins and outs of linux, as it is a very different operating system. Hiring a linux guru would give you a good head start.
  • sprockkets - Saturday, October 16, 2004 - link

    I took someones advice or suggestion here and used cedaga to play starcraft, works much better and faster on Linux, though bnet has issues...

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