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Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat Benchmarked And Reviewed

Test System Specs And Methodolgy

From the beginning of our Linux coverage almost 18 months ago, the feedback section has always hosted at least one “Athlon 64 X2, are you kidding?” type of comment. At the time, I never really noticed lackluster performance. After all, simply switching to Linux can give older systems a more noticeable speed-up than nearly any no-cost overclock on an XP-based PC. Besides, Linux doesn't really do gaming.

But times have changed. Along with making Microsoft shareholders very happy, Windows 7 raised the bar for UI snappiness, while at the same time easing system requirements.

Our beloved Tom's Hardware audience also typically owns higher-end hardware compared to most mainstream publications (especially those with mostly Linux-oriented coverage). Well you asked, and you shall receive. This article debuts a completely new test system for our software coverage. Gone is the trusty old Athlon 64 X2 box, in its place we bring you a much more Tom's Hardware-suitable rig.

64-bit Desktop Test System Specs

Operating System 1Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
Operating System 2Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
Operating System 3Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750 @ 2.66 GHz (quad-core)
MotherboardGigabyte GA-P55A-UD7 (F7 BIOS)
Memory8 GB Crucial DDR3 @ 1333MHz (2 x 4 GB)
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5, PCIe 2.0
StorageSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
OpticalAsus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Power SupplyCorsair TX750W (750 W max)
ChassisZalman MS1000-HS2
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Revision B

Netbook Test System Specs

ModelDell Inspiron Mini 10v (1st Generation)
Operating System 1Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Netbook Edition
Operating System 2Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
ProcessorIntel Atom N270 @ 1.6 GHz
Memory1 GB DDR2-533
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
Storage120 GB 2.5-inch 5400 RPM SATA HD

Secondary Desktop Test System

Operating SystemUbuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (64-bit)
ProcessorAMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ @ 2.5 GHz (dual core)
MotherboardBiostar NF61S-M2 TE
Memory4 GB DDR2 800 @ 533MHz (2 x 2 GB)
GraphicsEVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (896 MB GDDR5), PCIe 1.0
StorageSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
OpticalAsus DVD-RW 1814-BLT-BULK-BG
Power SupplyAntec Neo Eco 520 (520 W max)

Live USB Test System

Operating SystemUbuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
ModelSanDisk Cruzer
Capacity4 GB
Persistence File Size1.5 GB


Whenever we had to rely on a stopwatch to get time trial results, we ran the test for additional iterations. The smaller the amount of time a test needs to complete, the more iterations we run, since those differences are amplified when a test doesn't take long to complete.

We use clean and updated installations. This means that we do a full install (not upgrade) of the operating systems onto a complete hard drive using the default partitioning scheme. While we use Virtual Machines (VMs) to capture some of our screenshots and to quickly reference features, no testing is done on and no negative experiences are related to a VM.

We like to run our operating system benchmarks using the default settings of that OS. This means that we leave preference settings the way they are immediately after a clean installation. Other than disabling screen saver/power management and installing updates and proprietary drivers, everything is left stock. Sometimes changes have to be made for various tests to work properly. All such instances are documented on the page containing the test in question.

Before testing, we updated each OS with all of the available updates as of 10/10/10. We also activated the latest proprietary graphics drivers available to each OS via the Hardware Drivers (now known as Additional Drivers) tool in System/Administration.

  • "With the appearance of Windows 7 on slate devices in perpetual limbo"

    How is that Limbo? You can buy one right now.
  • adamovera
    I didn't know they were taking pre-orders yet, though HP Slate doesn't ship until the middle of November. Unfortunately, the HP Slate looks like a really half-hearted attempt. Business product? That pretty much means not to get your hopes up. It should have been out much closer to the iPad, but got pushed back repeatedly. Ever since they bought Palm it seems like their Windows efforts in this form factor will take a backseat until they try to make WebOS work - can't blame them really, WebOS is pretty slick and they paid a lot for it. But I still do want to get my hands on the Slate, but look forward to seeing what they do with WebOS more now.
  • arkadi
    If we "put all the issues aside", i love allot of things.....Don't get me wrong, i love to play with Linux at home, but at the moment I prefer to use it at work, in the server room ware it belongs (at the moment). Using it at home it just to much of an effort, to many issues, hardware compatibility etc...Hopefully one day...
    Any way Ubuntu came a long way to make it happen....But still few days ago i tried it and few others on a net book, with via chip set and CPU with no luck...
  • TomSah
    "Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition is also a mess. As a netbook operating system intended for actual people to use in a production environment, I have to say that UNE 10.10 should be avoided. From our experience on the Dell Mini 10v, UNE Meerkat is in no way ready for general consumption. Its many bugs and poor performance are just not acceptable or at all realistic for the average end-user. Loading almost anything on UNE 10.10 was clearly sluggish"

    Wow. Im running 32-bit Maverick UNE on my Asus eee 1000HA and i have to say that i fell in love as soon as it installed! As soon as i disabled the unity interface to get the desktop interface I was away laughing! I havnt had any of the problems you mention, app startup has been great, no crashes/bugs - And this is my first serious attempt at using a Linux distro. I had a lot of fun tweaking everything to my liking and i now feel like I have the perfect OS for me. Its really strange you had bad experiences like that, must be the dell mini haha.
  • adamovera
    As soon as i disabled the unity interface to get the desktop interface I was away laughing!
    Well there you go, you got rid of Unity. I don't doubt it works fine now, LOL. I'm using the 10v with 10.10 32-bit Desktop Edition right now and it's absolutely fantastic, one of the best OSes on this thing by far. The track pad is a nightmare, and there's no fixing that, but in 10.10 it's much better than earlier versions. Tap to click is the best in Windows 7, but drag and drop in Ubuntu is much less maddening than Win7.
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    How come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?
  • randomizer
    Just moving the cursor up and down the launcher shows how slow Unity is. The delay between when the cursor moves over an application to when the application's name pops up gives the impression of playing a game at very low framerates.

    The Ubuntu font looks ok but it's really only usable in menus and window titles (which I think is all it is used for, fortunately). There's no way such a stylised font could be readable for long periods in a document.

    Adam, you should see if any updates fixed the consistently inconsistent HDD to HDD file copy performance.

    9503393 said:
    How come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?

    Because Windows is not a Linux distro, and this review is for a Linux distro?
  • adamovera
    Adam, you should see if any updates fixed the consistently inconsistent HDD to HDD file copy performance.
    As of 10/22/10, when I re-tested the HDD to USB times, they had not.

    pinkfloydminnesotaHow come you don't compare the benchmarks to Windows?Workin' on it, stayed tuned. But randomizer is right, this is a review of the new Ubuntu release. As a review of the new version of a software product, this type of article isn't the appropriate forum for that comparison.
  • 64 bit vs. 32 bit? 32 seems much better all round, stability, compatibility etc.. Is there that much speed difference to be worth using 64 bit?
  • dEAne
    I guess there are lots of things to do to make it good.