Summary: In terms of performance, Ubuntu 14.10 is slightly degraded (except for the power consumption) compared to 14.04 LTS, but is still a stable release.
I firmly believe that it is a fundamental mistake to release a new version of any operating system every six months (there should at least be a 10-12 months time-frame). It is such a short period for making an OS that contains major new features but is also stable. Otherwise, new releases will have a tendency of drifting towards extremes (being buggy, or stable but boring…).
The recently released Ubuntu 14.10 is no exception as it does not contain new features (from a desktop user’s perspective) at all, even the default wallpaper is the same. First I thought of not reviewing it at all, but later decided for the sake of my readers that I should at least try to come up with a short review that is based on the performance aspects of the operating system.
I downloaded the 64-bit version (with each release, the ISO disc image size is getting bigger & bigger. Now its about 1.2GB), and this release comes with the Kernel version 3.16.0-23, Unity 7.3.1 (with lots of bug fixes & improved support High-DPI displays), Xorg 1.16, Mesa 10.3, LibreOffice 4.3 & Firefox 33.0, mainly.
Below is a summary of the hardware that I tested it on:
Intel Core i3-2330M CPU, Intel HD 3000 GPU, 4GB RAM (DDR3), Toshiba 7200 RPM (320GB) SATA HDD, Intel N-1030 Wireless adapter, Realtek network adapter ('RTL8168'), LED display with 1366x768 resolution (60Hz/60FPS). It's a Dell Vostro V-131 notebook.
Please note that, after first installing the OS, I boot into it few times for letting things to settle down. I added the ‘system monitor’ to the application launcher for getting more accurate memory usage readings (if I were to open it through ‘Dash’ it would have affected accuracy of the memory usage readings) & turned OFF the Bluetooth adapter. These were the only changes I made. And I used Ubuntu 14.04 LTS for the comparison.
There is a slight change that is easily visible in the installer. When running it says ‘Install as superuser’. Not that it carries any significance, but for the sake of mentioning a new feature, it is one 🙂 .
Ubuntu 14.10, as you can see above, boots somewhat slower compared to 14.04 LTS. It is roughly a 15.8% increase. In fact, my previous data (from Ubuntu 13.04 to 14.10) indicates that the boot-up times of Ubuntu is actually slightly increasing. Ubuntu 12.10 & 13.04 used to boot within 19-20 seconds!, but now it is very close to the range of many KDE based distributions.
Memory Usage Upon Desktop Loading…
Initial memory usage after the desktop was fully loaded in Ubuntu 14.10 is also slightly increased (about 6%). One of course should not worry about such a small change. Plus, RAM consumption below 400MiB is a rare thing for a modern operating system nowadays.
Power Usage it Idle…
I complained a bit about the power consumption under Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, although still not as good as under Ubuntu 13.04 (12.2 Watts), Ubuntu 14.10 has managed to decrease the power usage by 4.6% (=0.6 Watts). I did not bother to install a power usage optimizer like ‘TLP’, but I am sure I could have been able to reduce it further more if I had it installed.
P.S: When measuring, as I always do, I let the laptop computer idle with Wi-Fi turned ON & Bluetooth turned OFF and kept the screen at its maximum brightness level (dimming and screensaver disabled).
CPU Usage at Idle…
Just as usual, ‘system monitor’ itself kept consuming 5-7% CPU cycles (something that is probably never going to be fixed), but other processes did not interfere with the CPU for long periods. It was good.
Compiz FPS readings when Screen is at idle…
‘Compiz’ is the default window manager used in Ubuntu, and it comes with a plugin that lets you see the current frame rate (frames per seconds = fps). Past versions of Ubuntu had this issue where Compiz would increase the frame when the desktop, ‘Dash’ or ‘HUD’, let idle, once got opened.
These issues were fixed in the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and I am happy to report that nothing has changed in Ubuntu 14.10 as well. In all those instances, the OS was able to keep the fps close to zero (except while I had opened ‘HUD’ where the frame rate would rarely go below 2-2.6, but that was how it was under Ubuntu 14.0 LTS, and I think the reason is the blinking cursor).
Hardware Recognition & ACPI…
All my hardware worked well, except the fingerprint reader which is not supported by Linux yet. The OS was also able to remember the powered ON/OFF state of my Bluetooth adapter, but sometimes it got automatically turned ON. As usual, at each login, my previously set screen brightness level also got reset to its maximum (ai yai yai). These are of course not big issues, but after all this time they are still there.
Sleep and Wake up functions worked without any major issues. However, sometimes when waking up from sleep, display brightness got reset to its maximum & the Bluetooth adapter got turned ON. But I have seen this issue in some earlier versions of Ubuntu as well.
My laptop’s fan noise is also extremely low under Ubuntu (14.10 included).
A good operating system is also a one that is capable of being responsive, even under stress (disk I/O stress, specifically). I tried to measure it by what I usually do. While copying a file (about 1.5GB) within the ‘Home’ folder, I tried to open a multimedia file through VLC (yes I manually installed it) and then searched through ‘Dash’ and tried to open ‘LibreOffice Writer’, Terminal window, system monitor, Shotwell, System Settings & desktop background changer (through the desktop right-click context menu). So how did it all go?
I did not go that well at all. Except for the terminal emulator, the OS failed to finish loading any other application (VLC included) before the file copying was finished. One thing that I observed was that, no matter how many application executions I requested from the OS, the file copy speed was kept by the I/O scheduler (the tool which governs the disk’s read/write operations) at a constant (almost) pace. This is the reason why the OS failed to finish loading applications, as the disk’s read/write was intensively used by the file copy process. The priority set by the disk I/O scheduler for the file copy process was too much.
Now, as you probably know, Linux includes three disk I/O schedulers: ‘noop’, ‘deadline’ & ‘cfq’ (default). From somewhat recent times, Ubuntu uses ‘deadline’ as the default I/O scheduler. And from my previous experience too, ‘deadline’ used to be slightly better than ‘cfg’ in terms of making the OS more responsive. But with this version of the Kernel, things seems to have changed (perhaps someone has tuned ‘deadline’ with different parameters). I carried out this test 2-3 times (I rebooted the PC between each attempt), but the result was the same.
So I decided to switch back to ‘CFQ’ to see if it improves things, because ‘CFQ’, which stands for ‘Completely Fair Queueing’, tries to deliver a ‘fair’ disk bandwidth to each process, which actually should be able fix the above scenario, or at least improve things a bit. So after changing the disk I/O scheduler, I rebooted the PC and carried out the same test. So how was it this time?
It was awesome!!. Not only all the applications were opened up quickly, long before the file copying finished, VLC also was able to carry out the audio & video playback (720p) without any interruptions whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, the file copy speed was slower and took a bit more time to finish, because ‘CFQ’ shares the available disk’s I/O bandwidth fairly among the processes. There is no way of achieving that level of OS responsiveness without making such sacrifice, I would not have been more happier 😀 .
So if you too experience similar issues, then my humble advice is that you should try switching to ‘CFQ’ to see if it fixes it (I’ll come up with a separate article on how to do that).
Ubuntu 14.10 was a slow (roughly 29.7%) while shutting down compared to 14.04 LTS. Still, 4.8 seconds is pretty fast though.
Except for the responsiveness related issue, my experience with Ubuntu 14.10 has been so far a good one, though Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is slightly better in terms of performance. Stability-wise, I would say they both are pretty good. What I am trying to say is that, if you are an Ubuntu 14.04 LTS user and quite content with it, then there really is no need to switch to 14.10. After all, it (14.10) is going to be short lived (9 months support only).
But if you want to give it a try nonetheless, then by all means, please do it, it is after all, seems pretty stable to me. You can download it from here. Thank you for reading.