darktable Linux vs macOS performance

I’ve been using darktable 3.6 on my personal maxed out 2015 11" MacBook Air, but I’ve also tried it on my work computer, a 2019 16" Macbook Pro with 64 GB of RAM and pretty much maxed out CPU and GPU wise (I promise, I didn’t pay for it).

Today I visited my dads place and installed DT 3.6 on his 7 year old i5 low end laptop running Manjaro. I was kind of blown away by the performance. Even though it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card for OpenCL acceleration it a lot faster than my work MacBook Pro. Turning modules off and on gave an almost instant feedback.

I know darktable’s “first OS” is Linux. But I wonder, is this performance difference between macOS and Linux a well established fact or am I doing something wrong on my Macs? :grinning:

Anyway, it made me even more tempted to dedicate a machine to Manjaro… I have to say KDE feels mature these days.

Mac OS is causing increasing annoyance regarding FLOSS libs support, including Gtk and OpenMP (which is responsible for parallelization and vectorization of the code). See macOS packaging: document libomp crash workaround · darktable-org/darktable@7375153 · GitHub

So, nothing surprising.

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Thanks @aurelienpierre. I think I’ve got myself (yet) another project for this summer vacation. :slight_smile: The machine I can dedicate it to is in Nvidia land though (GTX 970M). From what I’ve read, Nvidia isn’t exactly the choice for Linux enthusiasts in 2021.

Nvidia proprietary drivers work perfectly fine, specially if you use official repositories from the distribution. I’m using them since several years in Kubuntu and I don’t remember having any problem for the last year at least.

You do want to avoid version 470 and up for the time being, as there is some problem with the OpenCL compilation, but it will probably be resolved by the time it hits the Ubuntu repo as default.

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Sounds promising. I will probably go for Manjaro KDE as that is what my support staffer is running :wink:

Anyone know how the Linux performance is compared to on Windows? Windows vs. MacOS? Assuming similar hardware, of course.

Yes and no. I have an AMD card in my desktop and a laptop with a slightly more recent nVidia card. AMD is better for the display drivers IMO, so if you’re looking to get 3D acceleration and just play some games they are the way to go. AMD’s drivers are typically signed with the kernel and makes SecureBoot easier to setup, plus they play nicer with Wayland. Personally I prefer supporting the company putting out upstream Linux drivers. But if you’re looking to do GPUGPU tasks (like darktable’s OpenCL support) things get muddier.

AMD’s OpenCL/GPGPU support is still really spotty along with their video decoder/encoder support on Linux. I get much better performance out of NVEC on my laptop than VAAPI on my desktop with OBS and Kdenlive and the cards aren’t that far apart in that respect. ROCm is still hit or miss with different applications, AMDGPU Pro (AMD’s proprietary driver, not to be confused with the amdgpu open source kernel driver) support is really very distribution specific and requires legwork on non-REHL/Ubuntu distros to get working. I’m using the AMDGPU Pro OpenCL drivers right now and there are bugs with the latest mesa versions on Fedora because it’s unsupported.

If you’re using a distro that has the nVidia drivers available in a repo, don’t need Wayland right now (aka don’t have a convertible/tablet or something with multitouch) and want the most trouble free GPGPU support nVidia is the way to go still.

That being said right now it seems the best graphics card is the one that you have already. I don’t envy anyone trying to buy one in 2021.

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I have a 2015 iMac, with a 27 inch screen. As far as the screen is small (1200x1200px max-ish), Darktable is relatively fast to display, move the image in the darkroom. Even the interface is more responsive.
Full screen (5120 × 2880), redrawing and “working…” takes several second for exposure compensation for example. Button highlights areless responsive and often stays “on”, forgetting be switch to off (the function is off, only the button stays on).
On an M1 macbook pro (using rosetta 2), Darktable is a bit better, but I guess it’s because the screen is quite small (13 inch)

On a more global note, I noticed GTK based applications are slower than Qt based applications. There is definitely a big difference of support on macos (who ever is in charge).

Thanks for a very helpful reply!

Very helpful. I’ll see this as further confirmation that I will need to give Linux, running natively, a try sooner than later.