Valve: Left 4 Dead 2 Runs Faster on Linux than Windows 7

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News Posted: Thu, Aug 2 2012 3:59 PM
One of the prevailing theories as to why Linux isn't more widely adopted is because of games support. Sure, you can play games on Linux systems, and a good many of them when you factor in WINE and the such, but Windows is still more widely supported. Regardless of that being the case, Valve says it's able to get Left 4 Dead 2 to run faster on Ubuntu than on a Windows 7 system.

We won't get into Valve's crazy talk that Windows 8 will utterly destroy PC gaming as we know it, but suffice to say, the developer is currently hard at work porting its Steam platform over to Linux. Valve has been testing Left 4 Dead 2 on a system running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04, and at first, it was only able to pull 6 frames per second. You read that right -- a measly SIX. Frames. Per. Second.

Valve said this type of performance was typical of an initial successful port to a new platform, and after a bit of tweaking, L4D2 managed 315 FPS on the Linux test bed. That's far more encouraging, and it's even faster than what Valve benchmarked on a 64-bit Windows 7 system, which managed 270.6 FPS.

Left 4 Dead 2

While that seems "counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time" Valve has spent on Windows, "it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration," Valve said.

The underlying reason why this is happening has to do with overhead, or so Valve theorizes.

"We have been doing some fairly close analysis and it comes down to a few additional microseconds overhead per batch in Direct3D which does not affect OpenGL on Windows," Valve explains. "Now that we know the hardware is capable of more performance, we will go back and figure out how to mitigate this effect under Direct3D."

In any event, what Valve is doing is great for the Linux community, and it's having positive side effects for Windows, too, even if Valve's reason for doing this in the first place is severely flawed.
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Too bad there's 1) no proof of this and 2) no test specs. For all we know that linux system could've been running a far more beasty GPU and CPU.

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Im sure being OpenGL over DirectX certainly helped. I hope they do find a way to have both offerings, it would be nice to have the option for everyone.

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fat78 replied on Thu, Aug 2 2012 4:53 PM

I am pretty sure they used the same system to test this JvanHummel.

According to techspot.com , "Valve's testbed specs: an Intel Core i7 3930k, 32GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 680. The Linux testbed is running Ubuntu 12.04 (32-bit) while Windows relies on Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit)."

link to article http://www.techspot.com/news/49630-valve-l4d2-runs-20-faster-on-ubuntu-than-windows-7.html

Now hurry up valve and get tf2 on linux, then i will be very happy.

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Thanks :) It's not that I don't want this to run on Linux; I like linux, but I was just not expecting this so soon.

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Aug 2 2012 10:27 PM

I would imagine most anything would run faster on Linux than Windows really unless of course it was Microsoft software, certified, or software that did not use a lot of resources in general. Whereas on Linux the OS is more streamlined not to use so many resources and not to have as much running in the background. Of course you pay for that in initial general off the shelf compatibility. I am glad to see current Games on Linux actually.

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rrplay replied on Thu, Aug 2 2012 10:56 PM

yeah no surprise there. Still have some native games running on Linux like Doom3 and Prey on an older AMD Athlon 2200+ rig and noticed they ran noticeably faster in comparison to playing the same game on the same hardware in Windows.

Easy to see another way too by checking out the Frictional Games Penumbra series of rather decent demos with both the installers available  at http://www.penumbragame.com/demo.php and see while waiting to hear more about Valve on Linux.

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Linux has been renowned for its speed and efficiency, the unix based os has impressive stats and with the upcoming release of windows 8 and the new tablets being produced by microsoft, i wouldnt be suprised if more companies make the switch. The apple vs microsoft days are coming to a close, with apple as the victor, can linux be a possible new threat?

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This is good news for die hard Left 4 Dead fans like me, i loved the original and won the campaign in 2 days after getting the game. i was a little disappointed in the sequel but a faster fps makes me feel a little better.

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I'm no gamer and cannot address this issue directly, but I can say that generally speaking, identical applications that can run on both platforms run faster and more smoothly on 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04 on my dualboot machine with Ubuntu and (64-bit) Windows 7 Pro. So I'm not particularly surprised that this should be the case for this particular game....

Henri

PS : «Valve has been testing Left 4 Dead 2 on a system running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu 32-bit, ...» in the article should, of course, be «Valve has been testing Left 4 Dead 2 on a system running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04, ...»

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mhenriday:
I can say that generally speaking, identical applications that can run on both platforms run faster and more smoothly on 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04

This is true with my experiences too.

It's for sure that Linux requires less resources to install and run.  If enough people are interested in seeing Linux run their favorite games, maybe it will happen. I'm all for it too.

I've squeezed new life out of old PCs just by installing Ubuntu or Zorin onto them.

My wife's school gave me 12 XP Pentium PCs with Intel boards and Seasonic PSUs in them. They had Kingston RAM and Seagate HDDs too.

I combined the RAM into 6 of them (doubling it) and installed free Zorin Linux onto them. Then I donated them to a shelter for battered women so they could search for jobs and contact relatives. I kept some of the parts that were left over for any needed repairs, and put what was left in the ~come and get it~ shack at the dump.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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eunoia replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 4:28 PM

.

...pending.

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This is great! Now when I'm working on the Linux sides of my triple boot, I won't have to turn my computer off and hop on Windows 7 to game, I can get right into L4D! I hope more developers plan to make their games compatible.

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 5:05 PM

>> "Too bad there's 1) no proof of this and 2) no test specs. For all we know that linux system could've been running a far more beasty GPU and CPU."

The benchmarking was conducted by Valve themselves using the same system for both tests. If that's not good enough for you, then there's no convincing you.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 5:09 PM

fat78:
Now hurry up valve and get tf2 on linux, then i will be very happy.

TF2 will be coming.  They're going to be refreshing the underlying engine to the latest Source version soon, which is the same version as in this L4D2 update.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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 «Too bad there's 1) no proof of this and 2) no test specs. For all we know that linux system could've been running a far more beasty GPU and CPU.» 1) depends, JvanHummel, upon what one is willing to accept as proof. As regards 2), there are indeed specs, available here  : http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/. For those who can't be arsed to paste the URL into their browsers, the reported  test specs were as follows :

Hardware

    Intel Core i7 3930k
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
    32 GB RAM

Software

    Windows 7 Service Pack 1 64-bit
    Left 4 Dead 2
    Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit

The surprising thing here is that even running on a 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04, which means that no more than 12 % of the massive 32 GB RAM could be used, the game still ran some 16 % faster on Ubuntu than on Windows 7. Valve says it will run the game on a 64-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04 «later» ; it will be interesting to see the results....

Henri

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mhenriday:
For those who can't be arsed to paste the URL into their browsers

ROFLMAO!

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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We aims to please ! By the way, kudos for the great work you did with the old school computers....

Henri

PS : Do you think, realneil, that it might be possible to convince the OP to correct that minor error I described in the PS to my first posting to the present thread ? I know I shouldn't let small things like that bother me, but for some reason it grates....

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realneil replied on Sat, Aug 4 2012 10:29 AM

Email sent,....thanks Henri

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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JWong1 replied on Mon, Aug 6 2012 1:02 PM

I find the most interesting part is that Valve is using 64 bit Windows vs 32 bit Ubuntu. 32 bit greatly limits available RAM that can be used by Ubuntu by Windows at 64 bit can take advatnage of much more if not all of the memory without limits placed by teh operating system.

But of course, Linux is highly regarded as powerful in customization and efficency in computing. Afterall, the worlds fastest supercomputers run Linux of some sort. With gaming performance, Linux jsut needs developer support and it'll be much better for the user.

I can't wait for TF2 for Linux natively.

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