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Test System Experiences And Observations

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: Lucid Lynx Benchmarked And Reviewed
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64-bit Test System

The 64-bit test system was used mostly for the benchmarks. Setting up and installing the various programs for benchmarking was a breeze in Lucid. I had to use a combination of software from the repos, DEBs, PPAs, shell installers, and compiling from source to get all the benchmarks properly set up. All of these methods have different steps involved, and some are more of a pain than others. But at no point did I hit a major road block that made me devote a significant portion of a day to overcoming issues on Lucid.

On Hardy, things were a little different. Unsatisfiable dependency issues branched out into all-day lib hunts, and several compromises had to be made on certain application version numbers due to incompatibilities. Two areas that really stood out during the process of setting up my benchmarks were root permissions and volume mounting. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was speedy, solid, and error-free on this test system. It was demonstrably more polished and cutting-edge than its LTS predecessor on the same hardware.

32-bit Test System

The 32-bit test system is an older multi-user PC that gets occasional shopping, social networking, research, and casual gaming use. It previously sported Kubuntu 9.10. Though it was a beautiful and feature-rich desktop, the OS was a little too bulky for this system's specs.

The change in performance between Kubuntu 9.10 and Lucid was immediately noticeable. Menus are far more responsive and the boot process is the fastest this rig has ever seen. Everything works out-of-the-box; only system updates were needed after installation.

Notebook Test System

Lucid Lynx installed onto this notebook remarkably easily. Everything, including the WiFi and the trackpad, worked out-of-the-box. This was a first for me. Before this, I had always had to plug a portable PC into a wired connection to get a driver. We did install the Nvidia driver after the system updates, but this was all using WiFi.

Performance was very snappy compared to the Vista installation that came pre-installed on this laptop; menus opened much more quickly. The trackpad was amazing on this system. I had to disable the tap-to-click (because I hate tap-to-click), but there was no need to adjust the acceleration or sensitivity. The vertical scroll was quick, responsive, and didn't drop out due to the margin being too thin.

Netbook Test System

This was the only system to buck the Desktop Edition trend and use Ubuntu Netbook Edtion instead.

I have to start out by saying that I'm not a fan of the “netbook OS user interface." You know, the desktop-less main menu screen with over-sized icons and anorexic taskbars. My reaction to all of these has been to touch the screen to activate an application. But of course, this is a netbook, and it has a keyboard and trackpad just like any laptop (and not a touchscreen). Just what is the point of the menu screen and massive icons? For those who claim that these UI overlays help with vision, I respond that perhaps a 10-inch display isn't the right fit for people with poor vision. I much prefer running the standard Desktop Editions on a netbook. With that said, the Netbook Edition of Lucid Lynx is probably the best-looking out of the bunch. Tons of spin-off distributions are sure to emerge from this release.

As far as experiences are concerned, I felt that the menus weren't as responsive as they were on any of the other test systems, and not nearly as snappy as a fresh Windows 7 installation on the same platform. I also had to plug this into the wired network in order to get WiFi up and running. The trackpad was no fun. Then again, the trackpad on Dell's Mini 10v is a nightmare, and nothing short of replacement can fix that.

However, Lucid does seem to have improved the tap-to-click function. If this is your thing, it is the latest and greatest. But I'd stick with a desktop distro, or even Windows 7 for sub-12-inch screens.

USB Test System

I used the Desktop version instead of the Netbook variant because: first, I don't like netbook inerfaces, and second, this is intended to boot on all of the test computers, while the netbook only accounts for one.

This USB stick had a highly customized version of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope on it before I installed Lucid. I was pretty happy with the performance when it had Jaunty, but it only ran at a very low resolution on the 64-bit machine, I'd seen other distros run faster, and the boot time was terrible. Lucid exhibited none of these problems. Though I'm sure it could boot and run faster, the difference was a clear step in the right direction versus Jaunty.

Observations

Although there were absolutely no errors encountered during the course of my testing and tinkering with Lucid, I noticed a few minor quirks that I'll cover here.

While Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala brought with it the capacity for desktop wallpaper slide shows, there is no easy way to set one up. Lucid is no different; this leaves the user with nothing more than the Cosmos slide show bundled with the OS.

In order to create custom slide shows, you must put all of the pictures in a folder that requires root privileges and edit an XML file with the names, location, and resolution of each picture in the folder. My problem is that both KDE and Windows 7 have a simple way to create custom wallpaper slide shows. Not only that, but I raid INTERfacelift.com on a regular basis, so my slide shows are hundreds of images in length. It would take forever to manually create the XML file for my slide shows.

The new splash screen for Ubuntu 10.04 is fairly attractive--definitely better than either of Karmic's. However, after installing proprietary Nvidia drivers, the splash screen loses a great deal of resolution. The orientation loses center, and sometimes the color gets distorted as well. This was present on all of the test systems, except for the 32-bit Desktop Test System which used the open source video drivers, and the Netbook, which had Intel integrated graphics.

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