Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed

Benchmark Results: Boot, Install, Copy, Compress

So, all of the new features, default apps, and appearances are great, but what about the performance? How does the unprecedented number of changes affect the bottom line? Version 9.04 was a marked improvement over both the ill-fated 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” release and the solid 8.04 LTS “Hardy Heron,” But does 9.10 further up the ante? To find out, we stacked 9.10 up against 9.04 in tests of boot time, CPU usage, memory usage, compression time, game performance, and more. Because the 64-bit version was so buggy, I had to benchmark the 32-bit versions instead.

Both the 9.10 and 9.04 installations were benchmarked on freshly installed and updated systems. With the exception of the PeaceKeeper tests, all apps, programs, and libraries were kept at their defaults. Only updates have been applied, not upgrades. Both installations used the Erase and use entire disk option during installation, including their default partitioning schemes and filesystems. Proprietary Nvidia drivers were installed on both 9.10 and 9.04 after the initial system update. I used the recommended versions of the driver in both cases (version 185 for Karmic, and version 180 for Jaunty).

All of the benchmarks in this review are available as free downloads and also happen to be cross-platform. Therefore, we encourage you to benchmark your own systems, regardless of platform, and join in the bragging that will surely follow in the forums. This is the maiden voyage of our cross-platform benchmarks, so if any of you have some suggestions or have other cross-platform benchmarks that you would like to see us use in the future, feel free to let us know in the comments section. Also keep in mind that this is a somewhat limited version of our full cross-platform benchmarking suite, especially in the area of games and video, due to the use of integrated graphics.

The benchmarks on this page utilize a stopwatch to get their times. Several tests were done for each (between ten and five), the highest and lowest times were discarded and the remaining times were averaged to achieve a final result.

Boot Time

To test boot times, I used a completely powered-down system. I began timing on a stopwatch at the same time that I pressed the system's power button. After seven tests, I removed the highest and lowest results, then averaged the remaining five.

Karmic improved the boot time over Jaunty by a good five seconds.

App Install Time (Blender Only)

If this chart looks a little off to you, that's because it is. Normally, I use several different applications to compare installation times, but my patience is not limitless and Karmic's performance in this area broke my limits. I usually like to install the software I will need for other benchmarks along with a handful of other popular apps. Typically this means Blender, openArena, VLC Media Player, VirtualBox, and Miro. After Blender took an absurd fifteen minutes to install in 9.10, I moved on to openArena. An hour and a half into the installation, openArena was still only at seventeen percent complete. At this point, I halted the remainder of the tests and posted the Blender results by themselves.

File Copy Time

For this test, I used the i386 ISO for 9.10 as the file being transferred.

These trials provided the most interesting results in the entire suite. Jaunty and the older ext3 filesystem actually ended up ahead of Karmic and its default, the newer ext4 filesystem. This surprising result spawns the question, “would Jaunty further dominate Karmic with ext4, or would Karmic close the gap by sporting the older ext3?” Perhaps a closer look at all Linux filesystems is in order.

File Compression/Decompression Time

Due to popular demand by you, the Tom's Hardware readers, we've decided to include 7zip along with the usual zip files. The test files used here are 15 benchmarking tools that together add up to 334.6MB when left uncompressed.

9.10 was able to shave a few seconds off of compression and decompression using both zip and 7zip. It should be noted that 7zip took an average of six times longer to archive and unarchive than did zip. Though 7zip compressed the files to 313.7MB, a compression of 20.9MB, while zip shrunk them to 332.6MB, a compression of only 2MB. That means 7zip compressed more than ten times the capacity of zip.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • burnley14
    The new Upstart feature sounds terrific. Windows needs to take notes, I hate the awkward limbo of seeing your desktop but not being able to do anything.
  • Other Comments
  • burnley14
    The new Upstart feature sounds terrific. Windows needs to take notes, I hate the awkward limbo of seeing your desktop but not being able to do anything.
  • Anonymous

    I was a bit surprised to read your slaughter of Ubuntu 9.10, because that does not reflect my experience with it. My first thoughts when reading this were related to the (possible lack of) integrity and technical skills of the author (sorry about that). Then I remembered that I experience a few minor issues when upgrading from 9.04 to 9.10 as well and that I read about people which were unhappy with it. However, none of these would IMHO deserve the label "epic fail".

    Spending four days for installing 9.10 and reinstalling 9.04 seems like way more time than you should need. I upgraded my computers running Ubunutu in less than an hour. I have not tried a clean install but it would surprise me that this would be any harder. My parents have also been using Ubuntu for more than a year now without any complaints (this includes an upgrade to 9.10). Maybe I have been lucky?

    I have been using Ubuntu at work and at home for the last 3-4 years and I am pretty happy with it. I am also happy with the fact that you (Tomshardware) have been writing about Linux a bit more frequently. Keep it up, but don't be so harsh :)
  • jj463rd
    I tried it on one PC.Had constant problems with the Mouse not working,system locking up etc.I went back to installing rock solid older 8.04 LTS on it which worked without problems (except for the time consuming (about) 450 updates).
  • rsmith13
    I also got the Kernel problem error messages after installing Xubuntu 9.10 on an AMD 64 system. They went away after doing an update. I now have Xubuntu 9.10 on 5 single and dual core AMD 64 systems. with no problems.

    Do the update!
  • cyberkuberiah
    hardware driver support from the hardware makers themselves is lacking , i installed ubuntu , could not connect to belkin wifi even after using the prop drivers , and then uninstalled it . patience over .
  • haplo602
    nice article ... I mostly skimmed through it :-) anyway can you include a windows 7/vista benchmark base for the same hardware ?

    I know some of the test will be irrelevant (like the timed installation) but most should work.
  • DGriffin
    I had 9.04 and upgraded to 9.10 with out any problems at all... I have a AMD 64 processor and had no problems with the 64bit vir... ..idk maybe I got lucky, but I sorta doubt it..
  • MaxTesla
    The screensaver starts after 5 min so when you install Ubuntu the screen saver will start and the screen will go black you need to move your mouse too see the instalation again, this could of course be mistaken for a crash
  • MaxTesla
    The screen saver starts after 5 min so when you install Ubuntu the screen saver will start and the screen will go black you need to move your mouse too see the installation again, this could of course be mistaken for a crash
  • Anonymous
    I tried installing Ubuntu 9.10 via Wubi, immediately after rebooting from Windows and seeing the Ubuntu bootscreen it gave me a black screen, with my monitor reporting that there was no signal. Back to Windows I go, I suppose. :/
  • techguy378
    Windows is the most advanced desktop OS ever created. Unless you have a really, really old computer that can't run anything past Windows 98 there is never a reason not to run Windows on a PC. Don't waste your time with this Linux crap. Free isn't always better.
  • Anonymous
    Oh! Please!

    All these installation crashes sound like memory failures. Did you run memtest before installing?
  • ibnsina
    Simplicity + smooth Graphics UI = Great Linux

    Great Linux + industry support (drivers+gaming) = Great Operating System
  • Anonymous
    Techguy378- Depends what you want it for. I use both OSes extensively. I quite enjoy not having to run an antivirus on my Ubuntu machine for instance. The responsiveness of Ubuntu is much better on the same machine when compared to windows, It's just unfortunate that some hardware isn't fully supported. That situation has improved a lot over the last few years but it's still there- my laptop would run ubuntu but the ACPI code in the bios is buggy (this is a hardware issue NOT a software issue- Microsoft just hasn't implemented the layer correctly which, oddly, circumvented the issue. Lucky! That said, i'd like to question what a proper implementation is if the one done incorrectly is the one that works....)

    I use Vista for my audio stuff, mainly because Fruityloops lags in Ubuntu. I also use Vista on my laptop for the ACPI issue, but I use ubuntu on my Desktop and server, because it's just less of a monster and requires less aftermarket tools to keep running. (Antivirus.)
  • Anonymous
    I just spent the entire night trying to get Ubuntu 9.10 to get my USB devices to work in high speed mode. And I still haven't got it to work yet. Looks like there are a LOT of issues with Ubuntu. I only need to copy some stuff out of my ext4 partitions and using Ubuntu seems to be the wrong choice.
  • rean24
    I had no problem with 9.10 .
    Installed it through "Wubi" Not sure should i make the major change with a clean install.

    But soo far I havnt had any complains , all the effects are working , oline , workwise its Top-Notch.

    And Yes i am a Unbutu N00d..But Windows PRO...And if after a month of no problem will make the major change in OS.

    Only Complain I had was with my Logitic wireless mouse , but a quick change to the Microsoft one solved it all...
  • dimitrik
    Good review. The fact is that about half the reviews of 9.10 are either negative or neutral due to problems encountered. Compared to the near universal positive reception of 9.04 this does warrant the words Epic Fail, especially since it squanders much of the goodwill built up by the success of 9.04.

    Based on all the reviews, I'm not even going to bother trying to run 9.10.
    I will give Linux Mint 8 a try instead which is based on 9.10 but has been customized for even more user-friendly operation and stability.
    The previous release Mint 7 was a nice improvement on 9.04 (which was great too) so I hope the Mint guys can pull the rabbit out of the hat again.

    Either way, I'll dual boot the new OS with my old one before even thinking of making it my main desktop.
  • tvel
    I had no problems installing my 9.10 64 bit and I was surprised to read all the trouble you had.
    I'm using it for a month now with no problems at all.
  • JimmiG
    Well, I've tried Ubuntu 9.04 previously, and it installed without a hitch on both my desktop and laptop systems.

    9.10 however just gives me a black screen when trying to use the bootable CD on my laptop. On my desktop system it installs fine, but doesn't detect my wireless adapter. 9.04 detected it automatically.

    I could probably fix both issues with patience, but it proves that Linux still isn't ready for desktop/laptop use, even though Linuxtremists have been claiming that for a decade.
  • nevertell
    I've been using it since it went beta, and I haven't experienced any issues with the out-of-the box stuff. I do hate, the new media manager, I just want a tool to switch from alsa to PA when I want either gaming with wine or regular day-to-day use.