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Test System Specs And Methodolgy

Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat Benchmarked And Reviewed
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From the beginning of our Linux coverage almost 18 months ago, the feedback section has always hosted at least one “Athlon 64 X2, are you kidding?” type of comment. At the time, I never really noticed lackluster performance. After all, simply switching to Linux can give older systems a more noticeable speed-up than nearly any no-cost overclock on an XP-based PC. Besides, Linux doesn't really do gaming.

But times have changed. Along with making Microsoft shareholders very happy, Windows 7 raised the bar for UI snappiness, while at the same time easing system requirements.

Our beloved Tom's Hardware audience also typically owns higher-end hardware compared to most mainstream publications (especially those with mostly Linux-oriented coverage). Well you asked, and you shall receive. This article debuts a completely new test system for our software coverage. Gone is the trusty old Athlon 64 X2 box, in its place we bring you a much more Tom's Hardware-suitable rig.

64-bit Desktop Test System Specs

Operating System 1
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
Operating System 2
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
Operating System 3
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
Processor
Intel Core i5-750 @ 2.66 GHz (quad-core)
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD7 (F7 BIOS)
Memory
8 GB Crucial DDR3 @ 1333MHz (2 x 4 GB)
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5, PCIe 2.0
Storage
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Optical
Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Power Supply
Corsair TX750W (750 W max)
Chassis
Zalman MS1000-HS2
CPU Cooler
Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B


Netbook Test System Specs

Model
Dell Inspiron Mini 10v (1st Generation)
Operating System 1
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Netbook Edition
Operating System 2
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
Processor
Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6 GHz
Memory
1 GB DDR2-533
Graphics
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
Storage
120 GB 2.5-inch 5400 RPM SATA HD


Secondary Desktop Test System

Operating System
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
Processor
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ @ 2.5 GHz (dual core)
Motherboard
Biostar NF61S-M2 TE
Memory
4 GB DDR2 800 @ 533MHz (2 x 2 GB)
Graphics
EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (896 MB GDDR5), PCIe 1.0
Storage
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Optical
Asus DVD-RW 1814-BLT-BULK-BG
Power Supply
Antec Neo Eco 520 (520 W max)


Live USB Test System

Operating System
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
Model
SanDisk Cruzer
Capacity
4 GB
Persistence File Size
1.5 GB


Methodology

Whenever we had to rely on a stopwatch to get time trial results, we ran the test for additional iterations. The smaller the amount of time a test needs to complete, the more iterations we run, since those differences are amplified when a test doesn't take long to complete.

We use clean and updated installations. This means that we do a full install (not upgrade) of the operating systems onto a complete hard drive using the default partitioning scheme. While we use Virtual Machines (VMs) to capture some of our screenshots and to quickly reference features, no testing is done on and no negative experiences are related to a VM.

We like to run our operating system benchmarks using the default settings of that OS. This means that we leave preference settings the way they are immediately after a clean installation. Other than disabling screen saver/power management and installing updates and proprietary drivers, everything is left stock. Sometimes changes have to be made for various tests to work properly. All such instances are documented on the page containing the test in question.

Before testing, we updated each OS with all of the available updates as of 10/10/10. We also activated the latest proprietary graphics drivers available to each OS via the Hardware Drivers (now known as Additional Drivers) tool in System/Administration.

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