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Ubuntu 11.10 Review: Benchmarked Against Windows 7

Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot', Reviewed

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 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' 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.

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:

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.

  • compton
    The best part of 11.10 is the renewed appreciation it gave me for Windows 7.
    Reply
  • Gamer Dude
    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.
    Reply
  • jasonpwns
    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.
    Reply
  • indian-art
    Happy with the benchmarks. I feel Ubuntu 12.04 will be even better.

    Just around a couple of months for its launch!
    Reply
  • malimbar
    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.
    Reply
  • Lol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.
    Reply
  • rmpumper
    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.
    If 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?
    Reply
  • Gamer Dude
    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.
    Reply
  • nekromobo
    Linux is only free if your time has no value.
    Reply
  • 4870, gtx260, doom 3, did i time travel to 2008?
    Reply