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Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed

Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed
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Canonical releases a new version of its Linux distribution, Ubuntu, every six months. Sometimes new versions, like 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” are definitely worth the time investment, while others, like 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” should be avoided. So, where does version 9.10 stand? Is the free download worth your time and bandwidth, or should you stick with the (still) cutting-edge 9.04, or even the rock-solid 8.04 LTS release? We've had a month to really get to know the Karmic Koala. We've put it through the paces and now have our final verdict.

Going against all prior experience and common sense, I decided to install Ubuntu 9.10 onto my main production machine, as well as my secondary desktop. Normally, I would use a tertiary box to test a new distro, but Ubuntu is my current OS of choice, so chances are good that I'm going to want the latest version. First, I backed up all my data because I wanted to do a fresh installation. I would have been stuck with the ext3 filesystem and the legacy version of the GRUB bootloader had I opted to simply upgrade my current 9.04 installations.

Along with the standard review of the latest Ubuntu, this article debuts the Tom's Hardware cross-platform benchmarks. The suite is made up of a few time-based tests, some application-based benchmarks, as well as two popular synthetics. Besides being cross-platform, these benchmarks are all free (as in gratis) to download, so there is nothing stopping you from testing out your own boxes.

The Desktop Edition of Ubuntu is the main focus of this review. While I do include a section on Ubuntu Netbook Remix, only the Desktop Edition is benchmarked and covered in detail. Variants, like Kubuntu and Ubuntu Studio, aren't covered here either.

It seems that Ubuntu Moblin Remix (UMR) has not yet reached a final release, and therefore will not be reviewed. UMR is available from Ubuntu's Web site, but only as a daily development build. If you want to give it a whirl, head on over here. Just don't expect too much from it at this point in time.

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  • 10 Hide
    burnley14 , December 3, 2009 5:20 AM
    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
  • 10 Hide
    burnley14 , December 3, 2009 5:20 AM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2009 5:38 AM
    Hi,

    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 :) 
  • 4 Hide
    jj463rd , December 3, 2009 5:44 AM
    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).
  • 5 Hide
    rsmith13 , December 3, 2009 5:56 AM
    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!
  • 1 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , December 3, 2009 6:07 AM
    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 .
  • 2 Hide
    haplo602 , December 3, 2009 6:14 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    DGriffin , December 3, 2009 6:17 AM
    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..
  • 0 Hide
    MaxTesla , December 3, 2009 6:39 AM
    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
  • -6 Hide
    MaxTesla , December 3, 2009 6:42 AM
    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
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2009 6:49 AM
    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. :/ 
  • -9 Hide
    techguy378 , December 3, 2009 7:03 AM
    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.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2009 7:09 AM
    Oh! Please!

    All these installation crashes sound like memory failures. Did you run memtest before installing?
  • 6 Hide
    ibnsina , December 3, 2009 7:24 AM
    Simplicity + smooth Graphics UI = Great Linux

    Great Linux + industry support (drivers+gaming) = Great Operating System

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2009 7:27 AM
    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.)
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2009 8:23 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    rean24 , December 3, 2009 8:32 AM
    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...
  • 5 Hide
    dimitrik , December 3, 2009 8:44 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    tvel , December 3, 2009 9:21 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    JimmiG , December 3, 2009 9:28 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    nevertell , December 3, 2009 9:29 AM
    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.
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