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Test Systems And, Uh Oh, Problems Already

Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed
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For anyone keeping track, this is where I usually insert a table listing the components of my trusty old Athlon 64 X2-based box. However, as I stated before, I wanted to install 9.10 onto my secondary Pentium 4 machine as well. I also added a netbook to the line-up for the Netbook Edition, and because 9.10 incorporates the Ubuntu One cloud computing service.

It's a good thing I was already planning on multiple test systems this time around, because I sure did need them. Due to various issues across these systems I eventually had to use the 32-bit version on the Athlon 64 X2 box with a different hard drive for the benchmarks (32-bit Desktop Test System #2). The Netbook Test System worked out just fine.

64-bit Desktop Test System
Operating SystemUbuntu 9.10 Desktop Edition “Karmic Koala” (64-bit)
CPUAMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ @ 2.0 GHz
MotherboardBiostar NF61S-M2 TE
Memory
4GB DDR2 @ 800 MHz (2 x 2GB)
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce 6100, integrated graphics processor, 128MB (shared system memory)
Storage
Western Digital WD2500KS 250GB SATA 3 Gb/s, 7,200 RPM, 16MB Cache
OpticalAsus DVD-RW 1814-BLT-BULK-BG
Power SupplyOKIA 450ATX (450W Max)


This test system setup failed miserably. Installation stalled and halted on a few occasions. After going through several attempts and multiple CDs (from different ISO downloads), the installation finally took. However, serious kernel error messages began to appear in my notification area.

At first, these errors seemed to be benign. But as I began to use applications, it became apparent that they were quite serious after all. Mozilla Firefox exhibited minor crashes, darkening the screen to gray for a few moments and then returning to normal for a few minutes. After being online for a while, these mini-crashes would last for a couple minutes with a few seconds of usability, and then back to a few minutes of grayed-out windows. Eventually the system would completely freeze-up, with no mouse or keyboard input. In fact, while trying to get the 64-bit test system to work, I had to hard-reset more times than I had in the entire year and a half since leaving Windows!

After a day or so of futzing about with this installation, I realized that I had made a horrible mistake by using my production system for this review. Needless to say, I moved on, concentrating my efforts on the 32-bit machine.

32-bit Desktop Test System #1
Operating SystemUbuntu 9.10 Desktop Edition “Karmic Koala” (32-bit)
CPUIntel Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHz
MotherboardBiostar P4M80-M4
Memory
512MB DDR @ 333 MHz (2 x 256MB)
Graphics
Asus V8170 Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440, AGP, 128MB
Storage
Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJD, 160GB EIDE, 7,200 RPM
Optical #1
Hitachi-LG DVD GDR-8163B
Optical #2
Hitachi-LG CD-RW GCE-8483B
Power SupplyEnlight HPC-300-101 (300W Max)


This installation was not as much of a pain as the 64-bit test system was, but the process did hang twice. After getting the OS installed, the freezes began to happen here, too, though the system did come back to life after five minutes or so. It quickly became clear that this installation was going to be an unsuitable vessel for the maiden voyage of our new cross-platform benchmarking suite. Before giving up and writing a one-sentence review of the Karmic Koala: Avoid at all costs, I decided to give it one more shot.

32-bit Desktop Test System #2
Operating System #1
Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop Edition “Karmic Koala” (32-bit)
Operating System #2
Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition “Jaunty Jackalope” (32-bit)
CPUAMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ @ 2.0 GHz
MotherboardBiostar NF61S-M2 TE
Memory4GB DDR2 @ 800 MHz (2x 2GB)
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce 6100, integrated graphics processor, 128MB (shared system memory)
Storage
Western Digital Caviar WD400, 40GB EIDE, 7,200 RPM
Optical
Asus DVD-RW 1814-BLT-BULK-BG
Power Supply
OKIA 450ATX (450W Max)


On this final test system, I went back to the hardware in my production machine, using a different hard drive. Since the 64-bit version already proved to be total wash-out on this system, and the 32-bit version wasn't quite as bad on the 32-bit Desktop Test System #1, I decided to go with the 32-bit edition once more. Thankfully, this setup proved to be stable enough for testing. Hooray.

Netbook Test System
Model
Dell Inspiron Mini 10v
Operating System
Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 “Karmic Koala” (32-bit )
CPUIntel Atom N270, 1.6 GHz
Memory1GB DDR2 @ 533 MHz
Graphics
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
Storage
120GB 2.5 inch, 5,400 RPM, SATA HDD
WiFi
Dell 1397 WLAN 802.11g
Battery
6-cell 56 WHr Lithium-Ion


Strangely, the Ubuntu Netbook Remix of Karmic Koala gave me no flak whatsoever on the Dell Mini 10v, and my Netbook Test System was a go.

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