Why Dell Should Upgrade Past Ubuntu 8.04 LTS
Earlier this week we looked at the Inspiron Mini 9, which was Dell's inaugural Atom-powered netbook. The hardware to the device was fine and it even shipped with Ubuntu Linux, albeit with a few modifications. In that article though we said we would have Ubuntu benchmarks coming from this 8.9" Intel device and today we have those numbers to share. We are looking at the performance of Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS, Ubuntu 8.10, and Ubuntu 9.04 from the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook. Since Ubuntu 8.04.2, Intel's Atom performance has improved tremendously and Dell should begin thinking about upgrading past the Long-Term Support release.
The Dell Mini 9 netbook was loaded with an Intel Atom N270 processor, an Intel 945GM Express + ICH-7M based motherboard, 512MB of DDR2 system memory, an 8GB solid-state drive, and Intel 945 integrated graphics. To recap the key package versions, Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS ships with the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, GNOME 2.22.3, X Server 18.104.22.168, xf86-video-intel 2.2.1, Mesa 7.0.3-rc2, and GCC 4.2.4. Ubuntu 8.10 was introduced with the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, GNOME 2.24.1, X Server 1.5.2, xf86-video-intel 2.4.1, Mesa 7.2, and GCC 4.3.2. For our Ubuntu 9.04 testing we used a development snapshot from 2009-04-10 that included the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, GNOME 2.26.0, X Server 1.6.0, xf86-video-intel 2.6.3, Mesa 7.4, and GCC 4.3.3. All three Ubuntu releases were using the i386 architecture, formatted to an EXT3 file-system occupying the entire disk, and were running at the native 1024 x 600 resolution. All three Ubuntu releases were left in their stock configuration, including Compiz being enabled by default.
For looking at the Linux desktop performance with the past three Ubuntu releases on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook we used the Phoronix Test Suite, of course. The test profiles used were LAME MP3 encoding, Ogg encoding, FFmpeg, timed ImageMagick compilation, 7-Zip compression, LZMA compression, SciMark, IOzone, OpenSSL, GnuPG, C-Ray, RAMspeed, GtkPerf, and QGears2. Beyond looking at the desktop performance, we also looked at the boot performance as measured by Bootchart. On the next page are our boot performance results.