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Ubuntu 9.10: The Karmic Koala Benchmarked And Reviewed

Software Updates And Upgrades

Mozilla FireFox

Mozilla FireFox is still the default Web browser in Karmic Koala, though its performance has been greatly sped up by including the cutting-edge version 3.5 over Jaunty's 3.0. Check out the FutureMark PeaceKeeper scores on the Synthetic Benchmarks page to really see what an improvement 3.5 is over 3.0.


The GRUB boot loader has received a nice update, finally hitting version 2.0 after many years with 1.xx. GRUB 2 is actually a complete rewrite, and not simply an upgrade. Pre-2.0 GRUB is now known as GRUB Legacy. The new boot loader has the ability to boot directly from ISO files and use graphical selection screens, though neither feature is yet utilized by Ubuntu 9.10. The updated GRUB, along with the updated ext4 filesystem, will not be available to users performing an upgrade from an older version of Ubuntu.


The latest version of Ubuntu's default Graphical User Interface (GUI), GNOME is included in the Karmic Koala. Ubuntu does six month releases to stay in sync with the release cycle of GNOME, and this release is actually following the lead of the GUI developer closer than usual. Both Empathy and some of the graphical tweaks were GNOME decisions that Canonical decided to keep.

Linux Kernel

As usual, the new version of Ubuntu has a newer version of the Linux Kernel than the last. With the kernel being perpetually updated, it's no surprise that Karmic ships with the latest version as of its launch date, version 2.6.31.

Intel Drivers

One of the most exciting updates brings major graphical improvements to users running the most mainstream graphics processors. With the new architecture of Intel graphics drivers, non-Ion netbooks can now run the ultra-popular Compiz Fusion desktop effects. The performance on these drivers is amazing in comparison to what they replace. I loaded down Dell's Mini 10v with the same eye-candy as my desktop PC, and the little notebook didn't even flinch.

Even though these are the same effects you've probably already seen many times before, try to keep in mind that this is running on an Atom with 1GB of RAM and Intel's unpopular integrated graphics processor.

  • 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.
  • 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 :)
  • 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
  • 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. :/