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Comparing Windows and Ubuntu On Netbooks 317

Barence writes "With the arrival last month of Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, PC Pro has revisited a familiar question: which operating system is best for a netbook?. The magazine has run a series of benchmarks on a Asus Eee PC 1008HA running Windows XP Home, two versions of Windows 7 (with and without Aero switched on) and Ubuntu Netbook Edition. The operating systems are tested for start-up performance, Flash handling and video, among other tests. The results are closer than you might think."
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Comparing Windows and Ubuntu On Netbooks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:33AM (#34253964)

    Newegg use to have Asus Eee netbooks preloaded with Linux but those are long since deactivated.

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:35AM (#34253988)
    Testing wasn't done very fairly in my opinion. On my netbook, Ubuntu works faster, probably because Windows is bogged down by a bunch of programs which open at startup.

    For a start, its not always the underlying operating system which makes the difference.

    They compared -

    1. Bootup (which is mostly fair)
    2. Opening using OpenOffice. I'm pretty sure that the Windows version of this program is not the exact same one as the Ubuntu version. So you're comparing two different programs on two different operating systems.
    3. Web performance - again, he used Google Chrome for one, and Chromium for the other. See above - the windows version is not the exact same one as the linux version.
    4. Flash performance - this part was very funny. Anyone who's used flash on linux knows how crap it is. When adobe start supporting it properly...

    So the testing wasn't very fair. It does not answer "but the key question is how each one performs on low-powered netbook hardware". If they wanted to answer that, they could have written a pair of programs in C to benchmark it - exact same code, exact same program.
  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:36AM (#34254020)
    Dell used to offer them, but they stopped.

    I saw some for sale in Europe, but its usually a brand-made operating system based on Linux .

    You could always install your own if you really want it.
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:47AM (#34254176)
    Not so much any more. When netbooks were new, they all had linux - largely because they were low-spec enough that even XP wouldn't run, back in the pre-atom days. Once the hardware improved, manufacturers switched mostly to windows. Many (including me) suspect that Microsoft is making OEM licences for netbooks available at a next-to-free discount in order to prevent linux becoming established in the sector and possibly spreading from there into low-budget desktops.
  • Re:In Other News (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_arrow ( 171557 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:50AM (#34254208) Homepage

    Which is indeed possible. Not only possible, it turns out they have some similar properties [].

  • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @11:49AM (#34254880) Homepage Journal

    Windows and Linux bootup tests are rarely fair. They typically test the time to display the desktop from the time you press power. In Windows they display the desktop well before the computer is done booting, where as in Linux, displaying the desktop is all but the final task.

    If you're using a netbook with limited memory (most ship with 1GB or less) I'd like to see how much memory is consumed by the base OS.

  • Re:Eh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by devent ( 1627873 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @11:51AM (#34254914) Homepage

    Strange how the manufacturers don't reflect that in their pricing / OS availability any more.

    What a surprise, there is no open market in the operation systems anymore. It all locked down with MS dictating the prices and the hardware [].

  • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:07PM (#34255144)

    I think you're right to say they're basically all the same. These margins are pretty darn close.

    But on the issue of relative speeds, it would also be accurate to say that Ubuntu lost on nearly every test. Was not fastest in Boot, slow on suspend and wake up, much slower opening office docs, average on web performance, very poor on flash performance and poor on other video performance.

    As you mentioned, that's not a good indication of overall value, but useful for keeping everyones feet on the ground when it comes to espousing their favorite OS's. Ubuntu (my personal fav) is not always best at everything, and it's worth pointing out when it's not.

  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:29PM (#34255542) Homepage Journal
    Well, here in the states you pretty much have to bite the bullet and pay Microsoft's ransom and get your netbook pre-loaded. Some manufacturers used to install a little application that asked you to agree to Microsoft's EULA before the starting the desktop, which you could then deny and have a chance at getting your license money back, but I've purchased three netbooks from various manufacturers in the last few years and none of them had the app. I just grit my teeth and blow Microsoft away. Anyone who says Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly is blind.

    A few years ago I stumbled upon a web site that sold ultra-light laptops that specialized in linux on their machines but were still much more expensive than I could afford, I think they were in the realm of $800-1000 so I never purchased and I've forgotten their url, some kind of letter-number combination, like or something. I wish I still had that url so I could see what they are charging for those machine today.
  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:33PM (#34255592)

    there's no such thing as "an eePC". There have been 30+ models, from 7" to 12. Strangely, keyboard sizes vary accordingly, from maddeningly small to normal size or quasi-normal (98% IIRC)

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:50PM (#34255852)

    The same is true in Canada.

    I just bought a new Samsumg NF-210 and it came with Win7 Starter. The manufacturer has a splash screen to start up either normally or with recovery mode, and with Ubuntu installed it still has that screen. It can't be disabled.

    Ubuntu Netbook doesn't work right. There are some great features, like taking advantage of virtualization to keep it at four cores all the time. (It's a dual-core N550 processor with hyperthreading).

    Out of the box, the Fn keys don't work. If you download an add-on from a different repository and tweak some config files, they can be fixed but it's a deal-breaker for anyone who's a casual computer user. (Which would, of course, be 95% of the netbook market, [citation needed]) That's because the keys don't send a release, they expect a release from the OS. That OS is MS... and it's BS. It is workable but it's not very easy to do.

    Networking Manager does not recover from sleep or hibernate. There are two ways to get it to work afterwards: reboot or ctrl-alt-t; sudo rmmod ath9k [pw]; sudo modprobe ath9k. Don't answer "just edit acpi-support" because that's deprecated and power is handled now by a daemon that doesn't read the acpi configuration.

    Multitouch is also not supported in ubuntu nor is the edge scrolling. That's another thing that works great in Win7 but doesn't work at all in U:NR 10.10. Yes, I've read the link on how to create a new file and hal restart and enjoy mutlitouch BUT there's no HAL in U:NR or if there is it's not in a documented location.

    If it doesn't work for me, good luck getting the rest of netbook users to even bother trying it.

    One interesting thing to note is that the performance in U:NR is about the same even though there's 500 MB more RAM free. (Win7 had 750MB used sitting at the desktop; U:NR has about 256 used.)

    I'm still keeping U:NR because it's a nicer looking OS with a better interface and works better with the way I want to use my computer. I also cut a lot of slack because there's a good chance there's a dozen or less of these books with U:NR.

  • by John Betonschaar ( 178617 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:52PM (#34255906)

    I have atom based machines that can play 1080p video without a hiccup but try to make a 320p youtube video full screen and watch it stutter and spurt...

    Yes that really cracks me up with my Atom Ion-based HTPC as well. Watch a 1080p movie in XBMC with silk-smooth framerates, then open an SD Youtube Flash video in Firefox and the whole thing grinds to a halt. The best part of it is when you go back to XBMC and open the same video using the Youtube plugin, and all of a sudden everything is silk-smooth again, apparently the YouTube XBMC plugin rips the video out of the flv or uses the HTML5 source and pipes it through its own codec. Which goes to show how much Flash actually sucks for delivering web video.

  • by callmetheraven ( 711291 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:25PM (#34256376)
    my dual-boot Acer Aspire runs 3.5 hours of XP, or 2.0 hours of Ubuntu netbook edition. Linux power management sucks. The laptop is now the "desktop," so until Linux gets serious about power it's going to be relegated to a beige/black box under your desk/in your server closet.
  • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:44PM (#34256682)

    If people are going to write comparison articles and start the Windows vs Linux battle please compare them on fair grounds.

    That bloatware is what allows the Windows netbooks to reach the pricepoint they do and push out the Linux netbooks.

    They made the bed, they have to lay in it.

  • by phantomcircuit ( 938963 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @02:06PM (#34257084) Homepage

    That is not a netbook and you know it.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray