Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Ubuntu 11.10 Review: Benchmarked Against Windows 7

Ubuntu 11.10 Review: Benchmarked Against Windows 7
By

Three months have passed since the latest version of Ubuntu launched. With its classic desktop gone, Oneiric Ocelot is all Unity. The training wheels are off; no turning back now. Is Ubuntu ready for touchscreens? And how does it compare to Windows 7?

Ubuntu 11.10, code-named 'Oneiric Ocelot', launched last October. Although this is the second version of Ubuntu to employ the Unity graphical user interface (GUI), it is the first that does away with the optional GNOME 2 GUI. Unity was developed in-house by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. While we welcomed a change from the aging GNOME 2 desktop, Unity was not without its kinks.

Image courtesy of DeviantArt: Leopardus Pardalis – Ocelot by Justin LavelleImage courtesy of DeviantArt: Leopardus Pardalis – Ocelot by Justin Lavelle

How tepid was the reception? According to DistroWatch's page hit ranking, Linux Mint, a Ubuntu-derivative distribution, has surpassed the popularity of Ubuntu for more than 12 months. This is largely attributed to backlash from users unhappy with Unity.

Merriam-Webster's definition oneiric is “of or relating to dreams”. Today, we see whether the first Unity-only version of Ubuntu is a reimagined dream or a nightmare to be avoided.

The Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot' DesktopThe Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot' Desktop

First, let's get up to speed on the latest Ubuntu-related news.

Between the complaints about Unity and tablet-oriented speculation, Ubuntu has made some serious waves over the past few months. Canonical even had a presence at CES this year, where it announced Ubuntu TV.

Yeah, but can it run Netflix?

More recently, Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, announced yet another extreme departure from standard UI conventions. While we don't care for Unity's Mac OS X-style global menu in place of the standard menu bar, we're not sure this is the solution:

What if I don't know what tool I want?

But all of this is in the future, and some of it may never even happen. Remember Ubuntu Light and “windicators”?

So, we're back to a verdict on where Ubuntu stands today. Is Unity any better than it was in Natty? How is touch input progressing? How does this latest distribution perform? We have another dissection of the user interface, and we also go hands-on with Oneiric using a touchscreen tablet. And while we typically benchmark the previous release and most recent LTS our Ubuntu reviews, this time, we're going to hold Ubuntu 11.10 up against its competition: Microsoft Windows.

All of our Linux benchmarks are also Windows benchmarks. So, for the first time, we get to see how Ubuntu compares to Windows 7. As an added bonus, at the request of our readers, we threw an Nvidia-based graphics card into the gaming tests for comparison to AMD's hardware. Before we get to the benchmarks, though, let's take a look at what makes this version of Ubuntu different from 11.04. We have a lot to cover: Wubi, Unity, the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One, uTouch, and a slew of new default applications all play a part in our review of Ubuntu 11.10.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 165 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    stm1185 , February 13, 2012 4:27 AM
    4870, gtx260, doom 3, did i time travel to 2008?
  • 24 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:25 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    To bad Microsoft has a Monopoly on DX architecture.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2012 4:12 AM
    Lol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    compton , February 13, 2012 3:24 AM
    The best part of 11.10 is the renewed appreciation it gave me for Windows 7.
  • 18 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 3:57 AM
    comptonThe best part of 11.10 is the renewed appreciation it gave me for Windows 7.

    LOL that bad uh well at leased there is an alternative if the Sopa takes awake my ripped Window 8 copy LOL.
  • 21 Hide
    jasonpwns , February 13, 2012 4:01 AM
    That's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.
  • 15 Hide
    indian-art , February 13, 2012 4:05 AM
    Happy with the benchmarks. I feel Ubuntu 12.04 will be even better.

    Just around a couple of months for its launch!
  • 9 Hide
    malimbar , February 13, 2012 4:09 AM
    One major irrelevancy in beginning of the article: while Mint overtook Ubuntu in Distrowatch, it's nowhere near the actual userbase: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/02/stats-show-ubuntu-not-losing-ground-to-linux-mint/

    Interesting article otherwise, and very well done. I particularly like how it highlights major areas that ubuntu developers need to work on, but still gives ubuntu as a OS credit where it deserves it. It's more worthwhile IMO to review LTS releases (and one is coming up soon), but in the meantime it's great to see where Ubuntu is right now.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2012 4:12 AM
    Lol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.
  • 24 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:25 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    To bad Microsoft has a Monopoly on DX architecture.
  • 17 Hide
    nekromobo , February 13, 2012 4:26 AM
    Linux is only free if your time has no value.
  • 27 Hide
    stm1185 , February 13, 2012 4:27 AM
    4870, gtx260, doom 3, did i time travel to 2008?
  • -9 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:31 AM
    rmpumperIf you did not notice, all of the 3 tested games are OpenGL which is barely supported in Win7. How about we see some DirectX9 10 and 11 games before making silly conclusions? And in any case, who gives a rat's ass about Doom3 - 7 year old awful game?

    You know what else Doom3 was a monumental achievement do be dissing John Carmack.
  • 22 Hide
    jimmysmitty , February 13, 2012 4:36 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.


    Sorry but those benchmarks for games are almost pointless. They are old games and the only reason they run on Linux is due to OpenGL. I do wonder though why RAGE was not tested, as its OpenGL. Maybe it didn't work since its a much newer engine using a much newer OGL standard. Or maybe it just didn't show Ubuntu doing very well.

    Windows is still the king of games since the majority of the games out there are DX based, not OGL.

    And from my experience with Ubuntu, 11.04, the 64Bit version is not stable enough and its finicky with ATI GPUs. Had to buld a system for a customer and with 64Bit, it would just flicker as well on 32bit with a HD6450. Had to swap to a nVidia GT210 on 32Bit to get it stable. And then to enable multi monitor support, that was another nightmare. You still have to do everything via a shell prompt with the X (X meaning the GUI) disabled to install the drivers. And thats just the start, If it goes well, you are in business, if not you may just reboot to a shell prompt and no GUI. Or at least thats what happened to me. Had to reinstall Ubuntu over it to get the GUI then reinstall nVidias drivers. Luckilly third time was the charm and it worked.

    Ubuntu has its place, but for the majority of consumers its not the best option as it takes more technical knowledge to operate it efficiently. Windows is for the majority who just need a system to do what they need. Or Android.

    For now I will stick with Windows 7 and enjoy my games.

    I would have liked to see this done on an SSD too.

    Gamer DudeDX11 sucks and its in few games and the ones it is even in mostly run like ass with terrible codding and patch jobs plus The Witcher 2 looks better than any DX11 game.


    I disagree. DX11 is actually faster than DX9, when coded properly. Its been shown. Add in the Tesselation, which DX9 cannot do, and its a great setup. Just wait till the games start doing it more in DX11. It will get better.
  • 7 Hide
    sseyler , February 13, 2012 4:41 AM
    nekromoboLinux is only free if your time has no value.


    Or if you can save a huge amount of money (compilers come to mind) by getting free Linux software, or if you know what you're doing and it doesn't really take that much time, or if what you can do with Linux outweighs the cost in time that it takes to set up and run Linux, or...
  • -3 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:45 AM
    jimmysmittySorry but those benchmarks for games are almost pointless. They are old games and the only reason they run on Linux is due to OpenGL. I do wonder though why RAGE was not tested, as its OpenGL. Maybe it didn't work since its a much newer engine using a much newer OGL standard. Or maybe it just didn't show Ubuntu doing very well.Windows is still the king of games since the majority of the games out there are DX based, not OGL.And from my experience with Ubuntu, 11.04, the 64Bit version is not stable enough and its finicky with ATI GPUs. Had to buld a system for a customer and with 64Bit, it would just flicker as well on 32bit with a HD6450. Had to swap to a nVidia GT210 on 32Bit to get it stable. And then to enable multi monitor support, that was another nightmare. You still have to do everything via a shell prompt with the X (X meaning the GUI) disabled to install the drivers. And thats just the start, If it goes well, you are in business, if not you may just reboot to a shell prompt and no GUI. Or at least thats what happened to me. Had to reinstall Ubuntu over it to get the GUI then reinstall nVidias drivers. Luckilly third time was the charm and it worked.Ubuntu has its place, but for the majority of consumers its not the best option as it takes more technical knowledge to operate it efficiently. Windows is for the majority who just need a system to do what they need. Or Android.For now I will stick with Windows 7 and enjoy my games.I would have liked to see this done on an SSD too.I disagree. DX11 is actually faster than DX9, when coded properly. Its been shown. Add in the Tesselation, which DX9 cannot do, and its a great setup. Just wait till the games start doing it more in DX11. It will get better.

    When coded proper DX11 can be faster if it was implemented for performance enhancements and not graphical enhancements but mostly the devs have botched DX11 up in most circumstances DX9 performed better and can still look the dickens The Witcher 2 case in point. DX 11 will be allot better and come into its own only when the next gen of DX11 enabled console arrive in another 50years.
  • -9 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:45 AM
    Gamer DudeYou know what else Doom3 was a monumental achievement dont be dissing John Carmack.

  • 12 Hide
    adamovera , February 13, 2012 4:53 AM
    hotsacomanLol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.

    That's the best of what runs natively on Linux. OilRush is out, but has no benchmarking tools, so we have the three Ungine benchmarks. Hopefully, Postal 3 (Source engine) and Rage will be available later this year. Amnesia is also available for Linux, but it isn't really a benchmark-type of game.
  • 8 Hide
    adamovera , February 13, 2012 4:55 AM
    rmpumperIf you did not notice, all of the 3 tested games are OpenGL which is barely supported in Win7. How about we see some DirectX9 10 and 11 games before making silly conclusions? And in any case, who gives a rat's ass about Doom3 - 7 year old awful game?

    On Windows we ran the Unigine tests in OpenGL AND DirectX. Linux doesn't do DirectX.
  • 15 Hide
    wildkitten , February 13, 2012 4:56 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    Except which distro do game developers supports?

    A lot of game developers actually tried doing Linux versions a few years ago. The problem they ran into was there was enough variation between each distro, they almost each distro had to be supported, so they gave up shortly after they started supporting it because there simply was not enough customers to be able to do so much support.
Display more comments