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Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: Lucid Lynx Benchmarked And Reviewed



Taking into account changes to the OS, new additions, personal observations, and overall end-user experience, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is definitely worth an upgrade. I had limited issues across five very different test systems, none of which were deal-breakers. This is a far cry from the past two pitiful October releases, 9.10 Karmic Koala and 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex." Lucid has also shown itself to not only be a worthy successor to the previous LTS release, 8.04 Hardy Heron, but also an overall improvement to our previous favorite Linux distro, Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope.

Areas that were previously weak on the Linux desktop, such as volume mounting, user account access, video editing, retail music, cloud storage, and WiFi drivers have all been taken care of over the past two years. In Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, these changes have culminated in an absolutely fantastic product. I have personally moved all of the machines that I administer over to Lucid, and have recommended the upgrade to several people still running my tweaked version of 9.04.

If my critiques in this review seems a little lukewarm compared to the thorough bashing that I gave to Karmic, that's because they are. In Lucid Lynx, everything seems to just work- the first time! There's really very little for me to complain about.


While the numbers don't amount to a landslide, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS beat its predecessor, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, in a solid sixteen out of twenty-five benchmarks. Lucid's performance only dropped below that of Hardy in Lame (MP3 encoding), Lightsmark 2008 (3D lighting), hibernate time, Blender (3D render time), 7z (file compression), FutureMark Peacekeeper (Firefox performance), UNiGiNE Tropics, UNiGiNE Sanctuary, and Doom 3. Among these tests, only Lightsmark 2008, Lame, and Blender showed 8.04 with any significant lead over Lucid.

On the other hand, Lucid is faster than Hardy in most of the tests, and by notable margins in several of them. With both operating systems running at their respective default settings, the Hardy Heron can stand on its own against the Lucid Lynx. But when all variables (video drivers and desktop effects) are equal, the bird is absolutely no match for the kitty.

Final Thoughts

The one thing I've noticed about the release of Lucid Lynx is the lack of fanfare. I spoke about the dangers of a failed launch in the conclusion of our last Ubuntu review. I believe the tepid reception for Lucid Lynx is due to the colossal letdown that was Karmic Koala. That release had all the buzz in the world, and when it finally arrived, it sucked big time. I saw the same thing happen to 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope due to the lackluster product that was 8.10 Intrepid Ibex.

Canonical needs to break the cycle of good April release, over-hyped (but poor) October release, under-appreciated April release, over-hyped October release, and so on. When the next installment, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat arrives in October, we'll see how the company handles it. Canonical has already stated that it is switching gears to move toward GNOME 3.0 development, now available in the repos as GNOME Shell.

Unfortunately, I don't hold out that much hope for a change in this pattern. I'm sure that the slow-building momentum of Lucid will just fuel the Maverick hype-machine. And I'm also sure that, ready or not, Canonical will give the upcoming release top billing on its Web site, pushing the LTS download link into a hidden drop-down menu, like always. If my early experience with GNOME-Shell is any indication, Meerkat will probably be the most half-baked release for Ubuntu possibly ever (think KDE 4.0, but buggier). Hopefully, it'll realize that the next release is going to be highly experimental (more so than any previous October releases), label it as such, and stick by the Long Term Support product. Only time will tell.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this operating system installed flawlessly on all five of our test systems. It also performed quite well, showing both significant and incremental improvements in most areas over the previous Long Term Support release. The stacked feature set, unparalleled ease-of-use, rock-solid stability, and heavy coat of polish make Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx the most approachable Linux OS to date.

So, it is without an ounce of trepidation that we are unseating the now one year-old Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope and calling Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx the desktop Linux distro king.

  • My Logitech Wireless Wave keyboard and mouse didn't work with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop x64 on VMWare Workstation 7.01. It works in the beginning with text screen, but once it goes to GUI screen keyboard function is lost. ;_;
  • WheelsOfConfusion
    There's lots of talk on the Phoronix forums about how Ubuntu + nVidia binaries don't play nicely, while some other distros don't have that problem. This was reflected in an Ubuntu vs. Arch bench-off: surprisingly, Arch only really thrashed Ubuntu in the games and everything else was about even. This might be behind those pitiful scores with the game benchmarks.
    Compiz also has a measurable, negative effect on game benches with nVidia, but not so much with ATI hardware/drivers. I'm not surprised that turning off desktop effects changed the game so much.

    What do you think is going on with 7zip, an ext4 issue?
  • jsowoc
    With 10.10 planning btrfs and GnomeShell, it's a sure recepie for tragedy :-). Very nice article.
  • adamovera
    RE: desktop effects - I'll be adding an ATI card to the mix a little earlier than I had intended in order to look at the desktop effects issue. Stay tuned.
    RE: Gaming FPS - The interesting thing is that the actual games didn't have that big of an impact from desktop effects. It was the unigine benchmarks that showed seriously significant drops in frame rates with them enabled.
    RE: 7z - I suppose it could be EXT4, but I believe EXT4 is the reason for the speed gains in all other comp/decomp tests, as well as the copy time tests. Comprehensive filesystem and archiving benchmarks under the same release should tell us whether or not it's an EXT4 issue.
  • apoq
    Why no benchmark against Windows. You yourself said Ubuntu should be aiming to convert Windows users more than Mac users (and I whole heartedly agree with you). I love Ubuntu and I use most of the time, but every time I boot into Windows (7) I am left with the feeling of a way snappier OS. I think this is where Ubuntu is really lacking.
  • killerclick
    Linux still doesn't have the software I need so I can't use it. However I've noticed a sharp decrease in stupid problems in the past three years (prolly thanks to Ubuntu). Currently my favorite distro is Mint but I remain a Windows user mainly because of a lot of software I own and am proficient in.
    As for the latest Ubuntu, why can't they have a bland business-like theme? Are the Phoenix Suns now paying them to use their colors?
  • For your Skype visibility issues, go to Skype settings and change theme to GTK+. Did the trick for me.
  • samspqr
    looks nice, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions, like:
    * will it play 1080p24 H.264 videos smoothly, with GPU acceleration?
    * will it play vimeo/youtube high-res videos smoothly?
    given how good you say it is on the other fronts, I'll give it a try and see for myself (I'm currently on 8.04, so convincing me to spend an afternoon updating my systems is no small feat)
  • zybch
    So, will this year be another "Year of Linux on the Desktop" like its been claiming for the past decade year in year out? Or will it remain a niche OS which people needing to do actual work on 'real' programs can continue to dismiss out of hand?
  • flightmare
    You can set the minimize, close and maximize buttons to the right again in gconf-editor. Browse to apps/metacity/general and edit button_layout to your likings.