Linux User & Developer, Issue 104

This month sees just two pieces of mine in Linux User & Developer magazine: a review of the Efika MX Smarttop and a group test of popular filesystem-level encryption tools.

It’s always fun doing a hardware review for a change, and the Efika test was no exception. Based on an ARM architecture processor and shipping with a cut-down version of Ubuntu, any benchmarking tools need to be compiled from scratch in order to run.

The encryption group test was a departure from my usual fare: because the software on test has an actual, measurable performance impact on the host system, it’s possible to get an objective – rather than subjective – idea of which is ‘best.’

Building a custom benchmarking script, I created a small volume on a virtual host which was then encrypted using each of the filesystem encryption utilities. Files were then copied to and from the volume – with both sparse and dense files in small and large chunks chosen – with each transaction rated in terms of transfer speed and CPU load.

Between tests, the virtual machine was rolled back to an earlier snapshot – one of the major reasons I do this kind of testing within VirtualBox, rather than on a physical host – to ensure that file caching, fragmentation and the like couldn’t skew the results.

More information is available on the Linux User & Developer website.

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