Cache partitioning and sharing is critical to the effective utilization of multicore processors. However, almost all existing studies have been evaluated by simulation that often has several limitations, such as excessive simulation time, absence of OS activities and proneness to simulation inaccuracy. To address these issues, we have taken an efficient software approach to supporting both static and dynamic cache partitioning in OS through memory address mapping. We have comprehensively evaluated several representative cache partitioning schemes with different optimization objectives, including performance, fairness, and quality of service (QoS). Our software approach makes it possible to run the SPEC CPU2006 benchmark suite to completion. Besides confirming important conclusions from previous work, we are able to gain several insights from whole-program executions, which are infeasible from simulation. For example, giving up some cache space in one program to help another one may improve the performance of both programs for certain workloads due to reduced contention for memory bandwidth. Our evaluation of previously proposed fairness metrics is also significantly different from a simulation-based study. The contributions of this study are threefold. (1) To the best of our knowledge, this is a highly comprehensive execution- and measurement-based study on multicore cache partitioning. This paper not only confirms important conclusions from simulation-based studies, but also provides new insights into dynamic behaviors and interaction effects. (2) Our approach provides a unique and efficient option for evaluating multicore cache partitioning. The implemented software layer can be used as a tool in multicore performance evaluation and hardware design. (3) The proposed schemes can be further refined for OS kernels to improve performance.