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Conclusion

Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat Benchmarked And Reviewed
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Benchmark Analysis

Of the 32 benchmarks we ran, Maverick Meerkat beat Lucid Lynx in 16, while Lucid beat Maverick in 14. The HandBrake and tar.gz decompression scores are identical in both OSes. Going by the numbers, Ubuntu 10.10 is the winner. However, Maverick Meerkat is not without issues. We managed to narrow down the hibernate/wake problem to a combination of our test system motherboard and the 64-bit version of UDE. The fact that our old test system hibernates/wakes just fine with 10.10 UDE (64-bit), as does our new test system with 10.04 LTS UDE (64-bit), indicates that a regression exists from Lucid to Maverick. But this is specific to one piece of hardware, and is most likely not widespread. It's also entirely reasonable that this issue could be fixed in a future upgrade.

Maverick Meerkat also had a problem with the file operations status bar when copying to a USB device. While Maverick's original actual time is faster than that of Lucid, the status bar was way off. After updates, the 10.10 times are much slower than 10.04 LTS. The more troubling result is the HDD to HDD copy time. Ubuntu 10.10 takes a very long time to copy files from one location on an HDD to another versus Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, consistently.

These issues essentially negate the wins Maverick holds over Lucid, and the rest of the scores are very, very close. In this case, the benchmarks alone do not indicate which release is the definitive winner.

Experience: Ubuntu Desktop Edition 64-bit

Test system issues aside, Maverick Meerkat provides a snappy and polished experience. In fact, the 64-bit version of UDE 10.10 exceeds our expectations as an October release, and as a 64-bit Linux OS. Some of the benchmarking tools that require lib dependencies gave us no hassle in this release, games in particular. 10.10 was a dream on the older Athlon 64 test system, having none of the issues experienced on the newer model.

Experience: Ubuntu Desktop Edition 32-bit

While the 64-bit version of UDE received most of our attention, we spent some time getting to know the 32-bit version as well. UDE 32-bit gave us no problems whatsoever on either the modern desktop machine or netbook. The installations were a breeze and no serious kernel errors were reported. There were no lockups, random restarts, or any other wonky behavior indicating instability during our time with it. All and all, a pretty solid OS.

Experience: UDE Live 32-bit

We also ran the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 10.10 as a live USB. This was a disaster. The initial boot time, as well as the time between selecting Try Ubuntu and getting to a usable desktop was pretty extreme. While running either Lucid or Jaunty live takes much longer than an actual installation, it's a reasonable couple of minutes. Maverick is painfully slow. Time to make a sandwich and start a load of laundry slow. And although the persistent file system seemed to work for files and such, proprietary Wi-Fi drivers failed to install. This makes running Maverick Meerkat as a live USB essentially useless on systems without wired Internet access.

The live experience provided by Lucid Lynx is a world apart from the newer Maverick Meerkat. If you want to run Ubuntu live, stick with the LTS. However, other Linux distros like Puppy are much better suited for a live environment than any Ubuntu offering.

Experience: Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition is also a mess. As a netbook operating system intended for actual people to use in a production environment, I have to say that UNE 10.10 should be avoided. From our experience on the Dell Mini 10v, UNE Meerkat is in no way ready for general consumption. Its many bugs and poor performance are just not acceptable or at all realistic for the average end-user. Loading almost anything on UNE 10.10 was clearly sluggish. While the first-generation Dell Mini 10v might not be the best-performing piece of hardware in the world, wait times in Jaunty UDE, Lucid UDE, Lucid UNE and even Windows 7 aren't anywhere near this irritating. If you like netbook-tailored OSes, UNE 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx is probably still the best bet. If you've come to your senses and opted for a regular desktop OS on your netbook, than UDE 10.10 may just be the best Linux distro for that purpose.

Potential: Unity

Besides still being in the teething stage, Unity was released in a very awkward position. It's essentially a desktop OS that has undergone massive UI customizations with slates in mind, but is marketed for netbooks. Despite debuting on Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, make no mistake, Unity has slate written all over it.

Canonical is really onto something here. Unity is possibly the best concept of a mobile touchscreen UI on top of a traditional PC desktop OS we've seen thus far. Anyone interested in taking a look at how full PC operating systems will one day work with touch-based tablets, needs to download UNE 10.10. When taken strictly as a preview of the Unity interface, it's not to be missed. Just keep in mind that the experience is far from flawless. There is still a lot of work left to do in order for Unity to be a viable option in a production environment. But even as a developing platform, Unity is certainly more useful and usable than current builds of Moblin or ChomeOS.

With the appearance of Windows 7 on slate devices in perpetual limbo, Canonical still has a chance to beat Microsoft in releasing a PC operating system on this new form factor--just as it did with netbooks two years ago. As a full PC OS, Unity by default also has the foundation and potential to hit the iPad where it hurts: content creation. We can't wait until Ubuntu 11.04 to see how Unity progresses. Hopefully, there will be a decent slate on the market to install it on. Fortunately, there is also a desktop version of Unity in the works for Ubuntu 11.04 as well.

The Straight Dope

We were beginning to wonder when we'd see Canonical pull off a successful .10 release; the past few Octobers have been pretty rough. When looking solely at the Desktop Editions, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat is a mild success. Instead of using this October to experiment with half-baked software components, Canonical concentrated on refining the experience introduced in 10.04 LTS. On the other hand, this also means there aren't any killer reasons to upgrade to 10.10 if you're already happy with 10.04 LTS.

This really is a tough call. After all of the benchmarks and hands-on experience with Maverick Meerkat, we expected a concise thumbs up or thumbs down versus Lucid Lynx. Instead, what we have here is a mixed bag. Ubuntu 10.10 excels and falls short in an equal number of areas as 10.04 LTS. Therefore, our recommendation must also be a mixed bag.

If you're currently using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx and everything works, it might be a good idea to leave your install alone. After running it for six months, we can tell you that Lucid is rock-solid. Only time will tell if 10.10 is as good, and we only had a week with it. So, if reliability is ranked highly on your OS wish list, go with the LTS. But if you're experienced with Linux, or just the type who must have the very latest, there is nothing wrong with choosing Ubuntu 10.10, either. It all comes down to the type of user you are.

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  • -3 Hide
    stm1185 , October 28, 2010 6:07 AM
    "With the appearance of Windows 7 on slate devices in perpetual limbo"

    http://www.dailytech.com/HP+Slate+Powered+by+Windows+7+Launches+at+799+is+Business+up+Front/article19953.htm

    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06a/321957-321957-64295-3841267-3955550-4332585.html

    How is that Limbo? You can buy one right now.
  • 1 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 6:34 AM
    I didn't know they were taking pre-orders yet, though HP Slate doesn't ship until the middle of November. Unfortunately, the HP Slate looks like a really half-hearted attempt. Business product? That pretty much means not to get your hopes up. It should have been out much closer to the iPad, but got pushed back repeatedly. Ever since they bought Palm it seems like their Windows efforts in this form factor will take a backseat until they try to make WebOS work - can't blame them really, WebOS is pretty slick and they paid a lot for it. But I still do want to get my hands on the Slate, but look forward to seeing what they do with WebOS more now.
  • -7 Hide
    arkadi , October 28, 2010 7:43 AM
    If we "put all the issues aside", i love allot of things.....Don't get me wrong, i love to play with Linux at home, but at the moment I prefer to use it at work, in the server room ware it belongs (at the moment). Using it at home it just to much of an effort, to many issues, hardware compatibility etc...Hopefully one day...
    Any way Ubuntu came a long way to make it happen....But still few days ago i tried it and few others on a net book, with via chip set and CPU with no luck...
  • 4 Hide
    TomSah , October 28, 2010 7:48 AM
    "Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition is also a mess. As a netbook operating system intended for actual people to use in a production environment, I have to say that UNE 10.10 should be avoided. From our experience on the Dell Mini 10v, UNE Meerkat is in no way ready for general consumption. Its many bugs and poor performance are just not acceptable or at all realistic for the average end-user. Loading almost anything on UNE 10.10 was clearly sluggish"

    Wow. Im running 32-bit Maverick UNE on my Asus eee 1000HA and i have to say that i fell in love as soon as it installed! As soon as i disabled the unity interface to get the desktop interface I was away laughing! I havnt had any of the problems you mention, app startup has been great, no crashes/bugs - And this is my first serious attempt at using a Linux distro. I had a lot of fun tweaking everything to my liking and i now feel like I have the perfect OS for me. Its really strange you had bad experiences like that, must be the dell mini haha.
  • 1 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 8:03 AM
    TomSah:
    Quote:
    As soon as i disabled the unity interface to get the desktop interface I was away laughing!

    Well there you go, you got rid of Unity. I don't doubt it works fine now, LOL. I'm using the 10v with 10.10 32-bit Desktop Edition right now and it's absolutely fantastic, one of the best OSes on this thing by far. The track pad is a nightmare, and there's no fixing that, but in 10.10 it's much better than earlier versions. Tap to click is the best in Windows 7, but drag and drop in Ubuntu is much less maddening than Win7.
  • 1 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , October 28, 2010 8:32 AM
    How come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?
  • 9 Hide
    randomizer , October 28, 2010 8:35 AM
    Just moving the cursor up and down the launcher shows how slow Unity is. The delay between when the cursor moves over an application to when the application's name pops up gives the impression of playing a game at very low framerates.

    The Ubuntu font looks ok but it's really only usable in menus and window titles (which I think is all it is used for, fortunately). There's no way such a stylised font could be readable for long periods in a document.

    Adam, you should see if any updates fixed the consistently inconsistent HDD to HDD file copy performance.

    Quote:
    How come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?


    Because Windows is not a Linux distro, and this review is for a Linux distro?
  • 4 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 8:59 AM
    randomizer:
    Quote:
    Adam, you should see if any updates fixed the consistently inconsistent HDD to HDD file copy performance.

    As of 10/22/10, when I re-tested the HDD to USB times, they had not.

    pinkfloydminnesotaHow come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?

    Workin' on it, stayed tuned. But randomizer is right, this is a review of the new Ubuntu release. As a review of the new version of a software product, this type of article isn't the appropriate forum for that comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2010 10:33 AM
    64 bit vs. 32 bit? 32 seems much better all round, stability, compatibility etc.. Is there that much speed difference to be worth using 64 bit?
    gvnmcknz
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , October 28, 2010 10:37 AM
    I guess there are lots of things to do to make it good.
  • 0 Hide
    Nesto1000 , October 28, 2010 12:18 PM
    I installed 10.10 on my laptop... but the dang mouse pad didn't want to work the right way...
    On 10.04 I had no problems what so ever...
  • 0 Hide
    loftie , October 28, 2010 12:25 PM
    I installed maverick yesterday on an old laptop . I found it slow and unresponsive in all honesty, but looking online, it looks like I'm not the only one. A number of users are having problems, even those with i7 desktops. Hopefully it'll get sorted out soon. You can switch the window commands to the righthand side by the way.
  • -6 Hide
    Wheat_Thins , October 28, 2010 12:32 PM
    Why does Tom's always use 'old' hardware when it comes to linux reviews but when it comes to anything else they always have the latest and greatest CPU / GPU combo? A Radeon 4870? Really?
  • 3 Hide
    Yuka , October 28, 2010 1:10 PM
    I just installed Lucid on an old Celeron M 1.4Ghz and 1GB RAM wich had XP before... Darn it, for productivity is kickin' alive and well. I had to install MSO2007 over WINE and it was flawless on the first try.

    I'm glad the route Canonical is taking Ubuntu is the right one for all of us. Improved experience all the way. It's a very responsive OS from every angle, even with all the bling bling you want.

    On my main rig I'm still stuck with Win7 because of my gaming needs, but that's all that's actually giving me the no-go for Ubuntu in a full time basis.

    Also, try installing XBMC for your HTPCs. One hell of a Media Center software.

    Cheers!
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 1:27 PM
    loftieI installed maverick yesterday on an old laptop . I found it slow and unresponsive in all honesty, but looking online, it looks like I'm not the only one. A number of users are having problems, even those with i7 desktops. Hopefully it'll get sorted out soon. You can switch the window commands to the righthand side by the way.

    How old is the laptop, specs? Did Lucid work well on that system, does Windows? Is this the Desktop Edition you're using?
  • 0 Hide
    LLJones , October 28, 2010 1:33 PM
    I'll have to give this some deep thought before I try it.
  • 2 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 1:40 PM
    Yuka:
    Yeah, gaming is an issue, but then again it is on Mac as well. I game so infrequently these days that I just install Windows on one of the test HDDs when I play one (2-3 times per year). Have you considered a dual boot, maybe with a separate hard disk? If Windows is for gaming only, using Linux for everything else will help keep Windows pristine and running smooth for games. Although right now I think Netflix is an even bigger problem that needs to be addressed. It's what keeps my HTPC unhappily with XP, and from my experience it's a deal-breaker for many more everyday users than games.
  • 1 Hide
    coldmast , October 28, 2010 1:42 PM
    I wish AMD would support my older computers' Radeon 9550; I miss having those better compiz effects and the ability to play youtube without chops. Maybe I'll downgrade...
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , October 28, 2010 1:46 PM
    Wheat_ThinsWhy does Tom's always use 'old' hardware when it comes to linux reviews but when it comes to anything else they always have the latest and greatest CPU / GPU combo? A Radeon 4870? Really?

    Well, ET:QW is the latest native commercial FPS, so...
    There's actually two 4870's, but I can currently only use one for another project, so it's not in right now.
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