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Is Ubuntu Jaunty quick enough to beat Windows 7?

By   |  February 20, 2009

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.

Windows 7
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.

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10 Responses to “Is Ubuntu Jaunty quick enough to beat Windows 7?”

  1. Dwayne Bailey
    February 20th, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    Fedora 11 is specifically targeting a 20 second bootup:

    There was also a focused test day for this:

    With Intel showing a 5 second bootup, Ubuntu targeting startup time and Windows 7 doing 15s I’m getting excited. I’m hoping that we can see some of the network community effect shown in Linux power management and tools like powertop help Linux push bootup times down in more then a laboratory fashion.

  2. Kyle
    February 20th, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

    “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”
    Dude, wake up, stop drinking luser poison.

  3. Alastair Otter
    February 21st, 2009 @ 6:55 am

    Not sure exactly how to respond … I don’t think being blind to what either Ubuntu or Microsoft is doing (depends on your point of view) is a useful attitude.

  4. ArtInvent
    February 21st, 2009 @ 12:49 am

    You seem to think that because Ubuntu Jaunty is still in ‘pre-beta’, that it is further away from release than Win 7. The opposite is quite clearly true. Jaunty will have just one beta in about a month, and the final will be released by the end April, guaranteed.

    Win 7? Be lucky to see that by the end of ’09.

    But by then of course there will be YET ANOTHER release of Ubuntu, release 9.10 (October). They are trying to speed that release up even further. Maybe you should be comparing Win 7 to the Karmic Koala.

  5. Alastair Otter
    February 21st, 2009 @ 6:52 am

    Maybe you’re right, but until Karmic Koala appears I can’t do much about it.

    Given Ubuntu’s rapid release schedule, a lot more can still be added/change in 9.04. Windows 7 won’t change a great deal between now and the final release, even if that is further away than Ubuntu’s 0.04 release.

  6. richard
    February 21st, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

    I am wondering, does this time include waiting for the antivirus to run or doesn’t windows 7 require any antivirus or antispyware.

  7. Alastair Otter
    February 21st, 2009 @ 4:22 pm


    No, this is without an anti-virus. And yes, Windows 7 does require anti-virus software.

  8. Chris Wyatt
    February 24th, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

    Let’s hope when Ubuntu gets to S it won’t become a Sluggish Sloth.

  9. Waldir Leôncio
    March 1st, 2009 @ 2:29 am

    I really don’t care if my OS boots in 15 or 21 seconds. That’s just a tiny fraction of the time I spend in front of a computer daily, so I’m really concerned about how it behaves *after* logon.

  10. Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope · Archive ·Terminus a Quo
    April 30th, 2009 @ 7:47 am

    […] be prepared for the next release due out this October. I have read a couple of articles, here and here. The first one seems to be all worked up about about aesthetics saying Ubuntu is “now as […]

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