Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed

Test Systems And, Uh Oh, Problems Already

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
4GB DDR2 @ 800 MHz (2 x 2GB)
Nvidia GeForce 6100, integrated graphics processor, 128MB (shared system memory)
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
512MB DDR @ 333 MHz (2 x 256MB)
Asus V8170 Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440, AGP, 128MB
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)
Nvidia GeForce 6100, integrated graphics processor, 128MB (shared system memory)
Western Digital Caviar WD400, 40GB EIDE, 7,200 RPM
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
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
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
120GB 2.5 inch, 5,400 RPM, SATA HDD
Dell 1397 WLAN 802.11g
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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    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.