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USENIX 2005 Annual Technical Conference, FREENIX Track — Abstract

Pp. 189–198 of the Proceedings

Interactive Performance Measurement with VNCPlay

Nickolai Zeldovich and Ramesh Chandra, Stanford University


Today many system benchmarks use throughput as a measure of performance. While throughput is appropriate for benchmarking server environments, response time is a better metric for evaluating desktop performance. Currently, there is a lack of good tools to measure interactive performance; although several commercial GUI testing tools exist, they are not designed for performance measurement.

This paper presents VNCplay, a cross-platform tool for measuring interactive performance of GUI-based systems. VNCplay records a user's interactive session with a system and replays it multiple times under different system configurations; interactive response time is evaluated by comparing the times at which similar screen updates occur in each of the replayed sessions. Using VNCplay we studied the effect of processor speed and disk load on interactive performance of Microsoft Windows and Linux. These experiments show that the same user session can have widely varying interactive response times in different environments while maintaining the same total running time, illustrating that response time is a better measure of interactive performance than throughput. The experimental results make a case for a response time measurement tool like VNCplay.

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