In a previous article I compared the performance of Ruby on Windows, built through Microsoft Visual C++ and GCC. The numbers for the MinGW version were very impressive. So the question now becomes, how does its performance compare to that of Ruby on Linux? To quote one person (Alex) who commented on the aforementioned post:
With the new mingw32 substantial speed improvements, think it makes sense now to also test at least the baseline (MRI) on Mac/Linux on the same battery of tests, so we Windows folks could get a better idea of how far behind are we yet and what the different Windows interpreters speed target shall be.
Any sort of performance improvement for something that is notoriously slow on Windows is more than welcome, but would this be enough to fill the gap between Ruby’s performance on Windows and on Linux? How much faster is Ruby on Linux? Let’s find out.
As a reminder, the operating systems used were Windows XP SP3 32bit and Ubuntu 9.04 32 bit.
The Ruby implementations tested were ruby 1.8.6 (2009-03-31 patchlevel 368) [i386-mingw32], ruby 1.9.1p129 (2009-05-12 revision 23412) [i386-mingw32], Ruby 1.8.6 (built from source on Linux) and Ruby 1.9.1 (built from source on Linux as well). The same identical versions of Ruby were used for both operating systems. I’m aware that these are not the latest available versions for Linux, but we are trying to compare apples to apples.
I used the Ruby Benchmark Suite; the times reported are the best out of five runs, with a timeout of 300 seconds per each iteration.
The following table/image compares the performance of Ruby 1.8.6 on Windows and Linux. A light green background indicates which of the two was faster. The total times exclude tests that raised an error or were not available (N/A) for any of the four implementations, but includes timeouts (they are counted as 300 seconds to provide a lower bound). The ratio column indicates how many times faster Ruby on Linux was:
The second table/image below compares Ruby 1.9.1 on Windows and on Linux, using the same criteria as above.
Note: The totals shown are different from the ones seen in other posts since the subset of benchmarks included in the totals is different.
According to the geometric mean of the ratios for these tests, it appears that on average Ruby 1.8.6 on Linux is about twice as fast as Ruby 1.8.6 on Windows. Conversely, Ruby 1.9.1 on Linux is about 70% faster than the Windows version.
The Windows implementations use GCC 3.4.5 (a four year old compiler) at the moment, while I built the implementations on Ubuntu with GCC 4.3.3 (which is available by default). This helps, at least in part, to justify the performance gap. Luis Lavena, leader of the Windows port, confirmed to me that a switch to GCC 4.4.x is planned for the future. This should significantly increase performance on Windows yet again, and bump Ruby’s speed on Windows a bit closer to the speed that’s obtainable on Linux.
For the time being, switching to Ruby 1.9.1 on Windows will give you a performance that is better than what’s obtained by those who are still using Ruby 1.8.x on Linux. If it’s possible, switch.
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and AI Evangelist at IBM. He authored Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers (Wrox, 2009) and Technical Blogging ( The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2012, 2019). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to over 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.