Is Ubuntu Jaunty quick enough to beat Windows 7?
When Mark Shuttleworth first announced plans for Ubuntu 9.04 his primary objective was to make the operating system boot faster. With a battle with Microsoft’s Windows 7 looming, the speed of startup – and shutdown – of a laptop PC has become a critical battleground. But while Ubuntu developers have been working feverishly to speed up boot times, so too has the Windows 7 team over at Redmond.
Announcing Jaunty, Shuttleworth said: “There are some specific goals that we need to meet in Jaunty,” Shuttleworth said. “One of them is boot time. We want Ubuntu to boot as fast as possible – both in the standard case, and especially when it is being tailored to a specific device. The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it’s extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes. Let’s see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick.”
And so far the Ubuntu team appears to be doing just this. According to a recent Phoronix study, early Ubuntu 9.04 releases boot almost 30% quicker on an Atom processor than Ubuntu 8.10 does. The difference in seconds is 21 seconds versus 29 seconds. Which is neither overwhelmingly impressive nor completely insignificant.
What is important is that these tests were performed on an Atom processor, Intel’s product which is quickly coming to dominate the netbook market. So with most netbooks likely to be released with an Atom processor in the foreseeable future Ubuntu is looking like it is positioning itself right.
But beating an older version of Ubuntu in a boot-up is not as important as beating Windows 7 at the same job. Initial reports of Windows 7 on netbooks suggests that Microsoft may still have the lead here.
Anecdotal reports from users suggest that Windows 7 returns very impressive boot times on netbooks, often around the 20 second mark. From personal experience, a beta version running on a dual-core 2.53GHz desktop with 2GB of memory, however, takes a lot more than 20 seconds to boot up. But then, it does beat a relatively clean Ubuntu Intrepid install on the same machine.
In the laboratory Microsoft is looking at optimal times of around 15 seconds.
The difference may well be in the fact that Windows is near completion and in beta form while Ubuntu is still in a pre-beta state. Either way, boot up times – from power-on to a workable desktop – of under 20 seconds look likely to be the target for the coming year.