New NTFS Driver in Kernel 5.15

Linux kernel release 5.15 introduced a new NTFS file system driver named NTFS3. This kernel driver has originally been developed as a commercial solution by Paragon Software (more about the ntfs3 driver can be found on their FAQ page).

NTFS3 is not to be confused with NTFS-3G, a user space driver that employs the FUSE or “file system in user space” approach. There is a 3rd driver available – simply NTFS – that was shipped as the standard NTFS driver on Linux, but it lacked support for many of the Microsoft NTFS features (like writing to disk). Most of us dealing with NTFS drives have installed and use the NTFS-3G driver.

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Upgrading my PC to an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X System – Benchmarks

It wasn’t easy this time. Don’t get me wrong – the VFIO passthrough part, though challenging in some ways, went quite well. All in all I’m pleased now with the results. Here the Passmark 9.0 benchmark as uploaded onto their database (for more details, click the frame below):

PassMark Rating
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Impact of Spectre and Meltdown Protection on Virtual Machine Performance

A year ago I wrote about the 2D graphics performance impact of the Windows 10 (1803) update inside a virtual machine. As it turned out, the performance impact was related to the Spectre vulnerability patch that Microsoft had introduced. However, the same patch had practically no performance impact on a Windows 10 bare-metal installation.

Time has passed and I wanted to see if there has been any progress. Right now I’m running Windows 10 (1903) with Nvidia driver release 431.36. Windows 10 is up-to-date, Nvidia however already offers a newer version (431.60).

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Tuning VM Disk Performance

Qemu/kvm provides you with a plethora of ways to configure your storage devices. Yet no other type of device shows such a variance in its performance, with disk I/O throughput anywhere from stellar to abysmal using the very same hardware.

In this post I like to show some configuration options that can help improve VM disk performance. For an in-depth presentation on the latest developments and features, with hands-on examples, see Storage Performance Tuning for FAST! Virtual Machines.

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Creating a Windows 10 Virtual Machine Using the Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager)

March 29. 2020 edit: Recently I published a tutorial using Virtual Machine Manager. You can find it here: Creating a Windows 10 VM on the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X using Qemu 4.0 and VGA Passthrough.

Before you get your hopes high, this post is not (yet?) a tutorial on creating a Windows 10 virtual machine using the Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager) GUI. It should have been, though. I spent the better part of a week trying to configure and install a Windows 10 VM that delivers the performance that I’m used to.

As it turns out, it was a failure. Don’t get me wrong, I did manage to configure and run Windows using virt-manager and virsh. I even installed it multiple times, changing the configuration to what I hoped would improve performance. But whatever I tried, I never got even near the speed and snappiness that I achieve by following my tutorial using a start script.

Many users – myself included – rather prefer the comfort of a graphical user interface with check boxes and pull-down menus to select the various options. I’ve listed some tutorials using the virt-manager at the end, for those who came to find a solution.

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Windows 10 Virtual Machine Benchmarks

Benchmarking Performance of a Virtual Machine

I have run  a number of benchmarks to document the performance of Windows 10 running as a virtual machine on Linux, in the hope other PC users will dive into the fascinating world of virtualization (VFIO).

Benchmarks are helpful in comparing one system with another, and one configuration with another. I use them to optimize my Windows 10 performance and to make sure that updates/upgrades haven’t produced unwanted side effects.

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Low 2D Graphics Benchmark with Windows 10 (1803) KVM VM

Problem: bad 2D performance in Windows VM versus Windows on bare metal

For the past few months I noticed sluggish 2D graphics in my Windows 10 VM, something that hadn’t happened before. Below are the Passmark 8 results and comparisons between different configurations/releases:

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Upgrade to Linux Mint 19 – Windows 10 VM Benchmark

I just upgraded my Linux Mint Mate 18.3 installation to Linux Mint Mate 19, using the mintupgrade utility. It required some manual fixes, but all in all it went smooth.

Below the first UserBenchmark using Linux Mint 19 with updated qemu/kvm packages:

UserBenchmarks: Game 60%, Desk 76%, Work 67%
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K – 86.8%
GPU: Nvidia GTX 970 – 58.5%
SSD: Red Hat VirtIO 140GB – 72.1%
HDD: Red Hat VirtIO 2.5TB – 87.1%
HDD: Red Hat VirtIO 2TB – 51.7%
RAM: QEMU 1x16GB – 77.3%
MBD: QEMU Standard PC (Q35 + ICH9, 2009)

Prime95 Benchmark: Linux Host versus Windows VM

This is yet another benchmark of my Windows 10 VM. This time I used the free Mersenne Prime Search software Prime95 (mprime under Linux) available at www.mersenne.org. I wanted to see if there is a significant difference between running the benchmark on the Linux host, versus the Windows virtual machine.

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Windows 10 Benchmarks (Virtual Machine)

Benchmarks help us compare the performance of different hardware configurations as well as drivers and operating systems. With regard to virtualization, benchmarks can be particularly useful in quantifying performance differences between an operating system running on a virtual machine versus the same OS running directly on the underlying hardware.

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