In Windows 7 there is a tool that calculates some kind of index of your machine: the performance index. I am not sure how it is done, but it is nice to know, to be able to compare machines.
Does anybody know of anything similar for ubuntu?
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Phoronix Test Suite is a complete benchmark facility that works on any Linux distribution, Windows and MacOSX systems.
Here are its features:
You can download it from: http://www.phoronix-test-suite.com/
Hardinfo can gather information about your system's hardware and operating system, perform benchmarks, and generate printable reports either in HTML or in plain text formats.
sudo apt-get install hardinfo
Monitoring Your System Performance in Ubuntu
You can have better system performance if you are monitoring your system properly. Every operating system has the tools and techniques to monitor the system performance , ubuntu too has tools to monitor.You can monitor your Ubuntu system in one of the following ways.
Use System Monitor
System Monitor is a default installed utility to monitor the system. It can be loaded from Applications > System Tools > System Monitor.
You can use the saidar tool to monitor your system. It is a tool which shows system performance in terminal. So to use saidar, you must be familiar with terminal. To install it, simply run following command in terminal.
sudo apt-get install saidar
Once installation is complete, open your terminal and type saidar
You will get information about your CPU and memory in terminal.
Also see the following links,it may help you