Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Review: Very Stable & Improved, Buggy Software Center, Though

Ubuntu 16.04 is the 6th Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu. In a certain sense, the LTS release is the flagship version of Ubuntu that sees a new release in every 2 years, and each release is backed by 5 years of support, opposed to the 9 month support of the normal Ubuntu release that sees a new face in every 6 months. In simple terms, the LTS pledges more stability at the cost of not having the most up-to-date versions of the software packages it comes with.

When Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was first released, I immediately downloaded it and installed it on the partition that I’ve preserved on my laptop computer which I have used to install the operating systems that I’ve reviewed so far on this website. I’ve used it for the past 4 days now, as my main operating system. I usually use my laptop computer for about 10-12 hours (pretty much continuously) daily. Most of my work is associated with the web browser, but I also use VLC (installed manually) and the file manager (of course) quite extensively. And for creating the graphs for the performance comparisons, I used the LibreOffice Calc.

Ubuntu in general runs quite well on my Dell V131 laptop. Here and there it throws a ‘crash report’ saying something crashed etc. It’s nothing major and these crashes have never affected the OS or the applications that I use on most cases. But, after using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for the past 4 days I must say that I’m really impressed with the performance (which I’ll explain with numbers -- boot times, memory usage etc) and especially the stability of this LTS release. For these four days, I haven’t seen a single application crash report! And a subtle security-wise important issue concerning the screen-lock (which again, I shall explain when I come to it) that has been there for at least 2 older Ubuntu releases (15.10 & 15.04) has also been finally fixed it seems. All in all, it’s a very stable release. So far I’m loving it!

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Unity Desktop

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS comes with the Kernel 4.4 which mainly adds better support for Intel’s new processor micro-architecture, Skylake, that has been causing many problems for GNU/Linux users. Xorg version is 1.18.3 and Unity desktop version is 7.4.0, mainly. This version of the Unity desktop now finally allows the users to change its position to the bottom of the screen, a long Terminal showing the Unity desktop version (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)requested feature that was ignored (well, to be fair, Ubuntu had its reasons). Unity uses the GNOME application set and this release features the GNOME 3.20 applications, although not all the applications are updated to that release. Unity (including many other desktops) does not scale that well in high pixel density (4K, 5K) small screens (13.3″-15.6″) yet, but few small improvements have also landed in that regard (better HiDPI support for the login screen & the cursor).

Ubuntu usually doesn’t introduce major new changes in the LTS releases which is understandable since lots of changes can reduce the stability, but this time there are some noticeable changes. The disc image size has grown by about 300 MB that’s about 25% more compared to the size of Ubuntu 15.10. I can’t possibly point out all the changes that add up to this size difference, but the release notes does provide few insights.

Empathy and Brasero (disc burner) have been removed from the default application set, although, they’re both available through the online repositories (sudo apt-get install empathy brasero, that should do it). GNOME Calendar is now included by default. Language support has also been further expanded as well. Another major change, although not apparently visible to the end-user is Ubuntu’s new package management system which is called Snappy. Snappy takes a different approach on how to pack an application, how they’re installed, and managed. The default set of applications (web browser, office suite etc) have also been updated, and I’ll discuss all these in more detail as this Ubuntu 16.04 LTS review progresses.

So just as usual, I’ll start off with the Installer, then talk about the desktop and its subtle changes that have landed, then I’ll talk about what’s new with user applications and then finish off the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS review with the performance related data that I’ve gathered. Before I begin, here’s some technical details of the laptop computer that I used to test Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (this is the same laptop that I’ve used to test all the other GNU/Linux operating systems as well):

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.

The Installer

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Installer

I have always loved the Ubuntu installer (‘Ubiquity’) for its easy of use and simplicity. There were no visible changes compared to Ubuntu 15.10. I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS alongside Ubuntu 15.10 that I use as the main operating system. The installer recognized the Ubuntu 15.10 installation (and added entries in GRUB for it) and the rest of the installation was carried out without any issues whatsoever. The installation time was slightly longer compared to Ubuntu 15.10, but that’s because of the change in the disc image size, presumably.

Oh I almost forgot. Inside the ‘Examples’ folder you’ll find a video called ‘Ubuntu Through The Years’ (by Nathan Haines) that shows the evolution of Ubuntu from the very beginning to its current state. It’s pretty cool actually, don’t forget to enjoy it while the installer does its thing.

Totem playing 'Ubuntu Through the Years' (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

The GRUB theme and the boot logo are also virtually unchanged. I’m sure you all are familiar with how they look so I won’t add screenshots here (it’s rather difficult to take screenshots of them actually, otherwise I would’ve added them nonetheless).

That said, I do have something that I think is important to bring into the surface, although, this is not directed entirely on Ubuntu because all the other distributions carry the traces of this flaw as well. So yes, I do have a complaint and it’s about the boot-logo.

I just don’t understand why after all these years ‘Linux’ can’t create a boot logo that consistently gets displayed the moment you hit Enter on the GRUB menu till the login window appears. Windows have been doing it, well it has been doing it as far as in Windows 95! Mac OS too does it. And yet, virtually in every GNU/Linux distribution (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS included) the boot logo appears with a 3-4 seconds delay, after hitting the Enter key in GRUB. And in between that delay some ‘text’ appear that’s usually related with the boot-time disk check log. And worse, sometime when a change occurs in the boot process, it somehow manages to completely disable the boot logo and display the ugly boot log into the display screen. I’ve convinced some of my friends to use ‘Linux’, and it’s actually embarrassing to see the beautiful boot logo gets destroyed by non critical changes in the boot-up process.

I think major distributions like Ubuntu should work on these small but important issues because it shows dedication and attention to detail (Apple is the perfect example). These unseeingly unimportant issues play a major role as a deciding factor for most end-users because most people, whether they fully understand them or not, instinctively react to it negatively (at least in my opinion). For instance, if I see an operating system doing something ugly like that, then it gives me the impression that it’s not a carefully designed software, even though the rest of it maybe. First impressions matter. End of message 😉 .

The Desktop

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Unity Desktop

Except for the slightly changed wallpaper, there aren’t any visible major changes in the Unity desktop shell as far as appearance is concerned. Why is that? Well because there aren’t any! 😉 .

When you open the ‘Dash’ however, there are few changes. First of all, even though starting with 15.10 Ubuntu GNOME3 scroll-bars used in Dash (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)replaced overlay scroll-bars with GNOME3’s scroll-bars, Dash in Ubuntu 15.10 still used those because the transition was not yet completed back then. But the Dash in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS have now fully endorsed (‘Trump effect’ in action 😀 , love that guy!. Instinctive politician, a nationalist. Great man!) the GNOME3 scroll-bars as well.

Dash now comes with online searches disabled by default. This was a feature for which Ubuntu has been criticized a lot.

Dash with Online searching Disabled (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

If you like that feature, then you can easily enable it by going over to ‘System Settings’ -> ‘Security & Privacy’ -> ‘Search’.

Shortcuts to ‘Sessions’ have also being added to Dash. Now you can Logout, Reboot & Shutdown, directly through Dash.

'Sessions' shortcuts added to Dash (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

But as mentioned earlier, the major change is the ability to change the location of the Application Launcher to the bottom of the screen. Honestly, I like it where it is because it ‘preserves’ space efficiently, although, in the beginning I used to quite dislike it.

Application Launcher moved to the Bottom (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

Currently, by default, you cannot do it using a GUI and you’ll have to use the command-line. But it’s quite simple. All you need to do is to open up a terminal window and enter the below command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

If you want to undo the change, enter the below one instead:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

As I mentioned in the beginning, few of the subtle issues have also been addressed in this LTS release. And one of it isEmptying the Trash, bug fixed (Unity 7.4.0) related to ‘Trash’. Unity had this bug which automatically opened the file manager when one just tries to empty its content by simply right clicking on its icon. I think this issue was there in the two previous releases, at least. But not anymore, it has now been fixed.

Now whenever you plug-in the audio output jack to the sound card, Unity displays the volume level set for that device which I find very useful because I frequently switch between my headphone and the sub-woofer system, so knowing the audio level of the each output device is handy.

Automatic audio level notification (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

Ubuntu 15.10 had an issue with the screen locking mechanism (LightDM) which for a fraction of second revealed the content of your screen when waking up from sleep. As far as the privacy & security is concerned, this was a serious issue. But I tested it many times, in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, this issue is no longer there. It’s been taken care of. Excellent.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Lock Screen

I’m sure there are many other subtle improvements added to the Unity desktop, but these are the ones that was visible to my eyes. As far as the user applications are concerned, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS includes Firefox 45, Thunderbird 38.7.2, LibreOffice 5.1 which includes few major improvements & features, Rhythmbox 3.3, Files (Nautilus) 3.14.3, Document Viewer 3.18.2, Shotwel 0.22.0 and GNOME3 Calendar 3.20.1, as mentioned in the beginning. These are of course just few of the applications that are included. GNOME3 Calendar having problems with Ubuntu theme (16.04 LTS)

Speaking of the Calendar app, the Ubuntu theme isn’t quite well integrated into it. As you can see, the edges of the application window is having some issues and the Close, Maximize and Minimize buttons are also seem to be zoomed in too much and thus don’t look that sharp either.

This is certainly not a big issue, but it kind of takes away the ‘polishness’ of the whole LTS release, only just a little bit though 😉 .

But that’s not the biggest issue. As mentioned in the beginning, Ubuntu now has chosen the GNOME3’s software manager as the Software Center. And while I really liked it because it feels lightweight and very responsive, I couldn’t install any ‘.deb’ files using it! I tried to install three of the ‘.deb’ files that I had, but nothing happened when I clicked the ‘Install’ button.

GNOME Software Center failing to install deb file in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Except for this once, this new Software Center didn’t even ask for my sudo password. Even in the instance where it did ask for it, nothing happened. Now of course you can always install the ‘.deb’ files using the dpkg (command-line deb package manager of Debian: ‘sudo dpkg -i /path/your-package.deb‘) command, but from the average end-users point of view, this is extremely frustrating. It’s really embarrassing actually. I tried the latest updates, but the issue is still there. I don’t think they should’ve added all these changes with a LTS release.

What is a Snappy Package?

When you open an application, the main executable calls upon many other components that it requires in order for it toSnappy package manager excuted in Terminal (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) run (they’re called ‘dependencies’). And different applications share a lot of such files between each other. These files are called the ‘shared libraries’. The main advantage of having shared libraries is that it saves disk space.

For instance, rather than having 20 copies of a single file that 20 different programs require when running, you can have just 1 copy and let it be shared by the 20 programs thus saving 20 times the disk space. Considering this hypothetical file that’s shared by 20 applications, the biggest problem with this centralization however is that if this shared file gets its state changed (an update for instance), and if the newly updated file is not compatible with large number of programs that it is associated with, then you run the risk of breaking those programs.

But what if we had kept the shared file that each of those 20 programs need, inside each individual program’s installed folder? When nothing is no longer shared between multiple programs, then we do not run the risk of breaking anything because now we have no shared libraries (files). The downside is that this increases disk space. It might not sound like much for a single shared file, but there are hundreds of thousands of shared files used by installed applications in an operating system.

So anyhow, this is the basic idea behind Ubuntu’s Snappy package. The installed folder of each program is actually a small Eco-system, in the sense that all that the program requires (all of its dependencies, not just previously shared libraries) in order for it to run can be found within its installed folder. Now we can update each program (and its files) individually with it only affecting that program only. And also, since the developers now have to pack all the dependencies when they release an application, this also increases its downloadable size.

'tmux' installation size using Snappy (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

'tmux' installation size using the traditional apt-get (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

For instance, the program ‘tmux’ (a terminal that let you run several instances of terminals inside a single window) only takes about 223 kB when installing using the traditional method (sudo apt-get…).

But when installing it using Snappy’s approach, the downloadable size is 64.64 MB! It’s roughly 29,000% higher compared to the 223 kB file size! But the size difference is not always this severe. Nonetheless, this approach has its advantages & disadvantages. Only time will tell if it’s useful. That said, major open-source application developers such as Mozilla has announced that they’ll be releasing Firefox web browser as a Snappy package in the near future.

P.S: All the programs that are installed using ‘snap’ (that’s the name of the actual command) are kept in separate folders under the /snap system folder. Below is video that I found on YouTube that explains what Snappy packages are and how to use the ‘snap’ utility to install/remove them.

Performance Comparison

I have measured the boot-up times, memory usage, system responsiveness and shutdown delay (mainly) of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. And I have compared these readings with the readings from Ubuntu 15.10 & 15.04. And as always, these were the first things I did after finishing installing the OS. Before measuring, I boot into the newly installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS 5-6 times for letting things settle down. And the only change I made to the system was adding System Monitor to the Application Launcher. I did that because if I opened it from the Dash for measuring the memory usage it would’ve increased the memory usage by a lot and that would’ve dramatically reduced the accuracy of the reading. Otherwise, it’s an almost ‘untouched’ freshly installed system. As always, I took five samples of each of these readings for obtaining the average readings.

Boot-up Speed

Please remember that boot-up speed means from the time I hit the Enter key on the GRUB menu till the desktop is loaded (yes I had enabled the user auto-login feature from the installer).

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS vs 15.10 vs 15.04 - Booting Times (Graph)

As you can see, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was the slowest to boot compared to 15.10 (11%) and 15.04 (15.8%). I’m not hugely worried, but by each release, Ubuntu gets more and more slow to boot compared its predecessor. That’s somewhat troubling because we have other operating systems such as MS Windows that boots faster with each new release, under the same hardware.

So anyhow, you’ll see why Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was slow to boot when you look at the memory usage graph below.

Memory Usage Upon Desktop Loading

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS vs 15.10 vs 15.04 - Memory Usage (Graph)

There has been a massive increase in the memory usage of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. It’s 48.1% (205 MiB) compared to Ubuntu 15.10 and 66.7% compared to Ubuntu 15.04. Now, I can’t point out all the reasons behind this massive increase in memory usage, but I used the system monitor to list processes by their memory usage on a freshly installed Ubuntu 15.10 (yes I went through the trouble of installing it on the partition where Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was installed just for taking a screenshot of it) and compared it with one that was taken on a freshly installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Increased memory usage means more data has to be read from the main storage device (that’s your HDD or the SSD) and that most of the time slows down the booting.

GNOME3 Evolution processes memory usage (Ubuntu 15.10)
Ubuntu 15.10
GNOME3 Evolution processes memory usage (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

To make a long story short, I identified 6 processes that were related to GNOME3’s Evolution Calendar and in Ubuntu 15.10 they consumed about 60.1 MiB altogether. The same processes in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS consumed about twice as much (120.7 MiB). So altogether they’ve helped increasing the memory usage in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS by about 60 MiB. For some unknown reason, the new Software Center also gets opened with the desktop and it consumes about 18 MiB (you can disable this easily through the ‘Startup Applications’ utility).

It all adds up to 78 MiB but there’s still about a 127 MiB difference between the memory usage of Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04 LTS. I have no idea where it’s coming from. I know that for the average user going into all these details isn’t important at all, but I just thought it would be nice to at least point out few of the things that I found 🙂 .

Note: Next I usually add the power usage readings. But my laptop battery is officially dead (this is the second one) and, well, that’s that. Sorry about that.

CPU Usage at Idle

CPU Usage at Idle (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

At idle, except for the system monitor itself, the rest of the processes did not interrupt the CPU at all. No complains here.

Why is having low CPU usages at idle important? Simple. High CPU usage on idle (meaning when the user is not running any applications) consumes more power from the computer. It increases the power usage and unnecessary CPU consumption also wastes the CPU’s processing power.

Compiz and FPS Readings

Just like in a video file where a ‘movement’ is created using a number of still images being played within a certain time-frame (called Frames Per Seconds -- FPS), when you move or minimize an application window on your computer (or when you literally do anything on the screen), that ‘animation’ is also created by using the same concept. And things on your display screen is displayed using the GPU (Graphical Processing Unit). And just like the CPU usage should be set around zero at idle, when the screen is at idle, meaning nothing is happening on it, the frame rate should also set around zero which takes away the GPU processing. Unnecessarily higher frame-rate increases the power consumption of the GPU. Just like with the CPU, it’s simply wasted energy.

The reason I became interested in this ‘test’ was because in the past, on one occasion, after opening the Dash and leaving it to idle (unintentionally), after a couple of seconds, my laptop’s fans kicked in with some heavy noise and I knew something is using the GPU somewhat heavily.

So I searched for a solution to figure out what is going on and that’s how I came across this handy Compiz plugin (Compiz is the window manager of Ubuntu. To put it into a simpler context: The ‘window manager’ is the utility that provides your application windows with Minimize, Maximize… buttons and it’s also the one that lets you move those windows around). The same thing happened when I opened HUD and let it idle. So out of this habit, when reviewing Ubuntu releases, I just run this plugin and see if such issues are there.

So in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS I measured the FPS:

  1. When the desktop was idle,
  2. With Dash open in full-screen and let it to idle,
  3. With Dash open but in unmaximized and let it to idle (because weirdly enough, Dash when unmaximized had a tendency to ‘abuse’ the GPU for some unknown reason in some Ubuntu versions),
  4. With HUD opened and let it to idle.

Then I compared the results with Ubuntu 15.10. Ubuntu 15.10 was able to maintain a very low FPS at idle, except with Dash opened in unmaximized where it kept consuming 15.16 frames per second, at idle. But I’m happy to say that in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS everything worked perfectly well and on all these four occasions the frame rate was below 3 (when the desktop was idle it was 0.49 fps). All in all I was really pleased with the fps readings.

At desktop idle

Compiz FPS at desktop idle (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

At Dash opened in full-screen (idle)

Compiz FPS at Dash opened and idle, full-screen (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

At Dash opened and unmaximized (idle)

Compiz FPS at Dash opened and idle, unmaximized (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

At HUD opened (idle)

Compiz FPS at HUD idle (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)

Hardware Recognition and ACPI

Except for the fingerprint reader (it’s has never really worked in GNU/Linux), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was able to correctly recognize and configure the rest of the hardware devices. Ubuntu is able to things like correctly restore the previously set screen brightness upon desktop login, but here and there the Bluetooth gets turned ON, even though I had it turned OFF.

Suspending also works like a charm. I also immediately replaced Firefox with Google Chrome (shame on me! 😛 ) and so far the Adobe Flash player has worked without any issues as well. So all in all, I’m very happy with how things are configured by Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

There was a very disastrous bug in Ubuntu 15.10 which forcefully logged me out of the desktop sometimes (you never know when it’s going to happen) and anything I was working on also gets lost! But there were no such issues in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. In fact, as I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve never seen a single ‘clash report’ in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS so far! So all in all, I’m really, I mean really, impressed with the stability.

System Responsiveness

System Responsiveness test (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS)
This is only an illustration…

The hard disk drive is the primary storage of a computer. But unfortunately, it’s also one of the most slowest (whether it’s a rotational disk or a solid state drive) component of a computer. If all the reads and writes that occur in it is not properly handled, your operating system can get very slow and unresponsive. And I’ve been using a very simple test to find out how responsive an operating system is when the hard disk is put under stress.

What I do is simple. First I copy a file (which is usually about 1.5 GB) within two locations in the Home folder of the currently logged in user. And as soon as the OS starts to copy it, I immediately try to open a multimedia file. Then as soon as I’m done double clicking on the multimedia file, then I use the Application Launcher and the Dash (if it’s Ubuntu that I’m testing) to search and open a few programs. And while the OS is busy handling all that, I try to navigate to a folder that contains somewhat large number of files through the file manager.

If the OS was able to open most of the programs that I tried to open, if the file manager responds well and all the while if the multimedia playback didn’t get interrupted too much (because after all, all this puts a lot of pressure on the OS), and also, if the mouse pointer didn’t lose its sensitivity too much, then I consider the operating system to a responsive one.

So how did it go in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS?

Horrible! VLC (yes I manually installed it) was only able to play the multimedia file after the file copy finished, and except for one or two lightweight programs (I tried to open the Terminal emulator, LibreOffice Calc, Firefox, System Monitor, Software Center, System Settings, Document Viewer), all the other programs were also only opened after the file copy was finished, although, the mouse pointer didn’t lose its sensitivity.

But I knew what the cause was. Because this happened in both Ubuntu 15.04 and 15.10. And on both of those occasions I was able to fix the situation completely by changing what is called the I/O scheduler (t’s the piece of software of an OS that manages the read and write requests sent to the hard disk drive). Ubuntu 16.04 LTS by default uses the one called ‘deadline’ which is more suited for SSDs. But since I have a SATA drive, I switched over to what is called ‘CFQ’ (Completely Fair Queuing. Ubuntu includes three I/O schedulers) rebooted the computer ran the test again.

How did it go this time?

It was awesome! File manager lost its responsiveness for about 2-3 seconds but I think that was because as I later got to know, I had opened LibreOffice Calc twice and that should’ve further increased the load on the disk. But even when that happened, the mouse pointer did not lose its sensitivity nor did the whole system got stuck (everything else was working perfectly well), and the multimedia playback was not interrupted, not even once! If you want me to put a number on it, then I’d give it 9/10.

Shutdown Delay

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS vs 15.10 vs 15.04 - Shutdown Delay (Graph)

Both Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04 LTS took the same amount of seconds for shutting down, although Ubuntu 15.04 is the winner taking 44% less time. But a 3.6 seconds of shutting down delay is quite fast for an operating system. No complains here.

Final Words

In almost all the occasions that I tested Ubuntu LTS releases, quite rightly so, they’ve always worked better than the non-LTS releases. And this Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the 6th of such release is no exception. This one actually is even more impressive than the others because it has addressed some security related issues and even although not critical, subtle issues that I mentioned in the review.

As far as the performance was concerned, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was only largely outperformed by the memory usage where there is a large increase in memory usage. Other than that, those numbers look pretty good to me. That ‘.deb’ file issues with the Software Center is the only major concern that I can come up with. But I’m sure it’ll be fixed very soon.

So all in all, for its superior stability (at least on my hardware which have more ‘Linux’ compatible hardware items to be fair) & performance, I definitely recommend it over its predecessors! If interested, get it from here and thank you for reading.

68 thoughts on “Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Review: Very Stable & Improved, Buggy Software Center, Though

  1. Could you define what you mean by ‘manually installing’ vlc? Does that mean you downloaded the source code and compiled it, or did you go to the vlc website and install a binary *.deb file, or does it mean you did ‘apt-get install vlc’?

    • Hi David,

      Sorry about the confusion. No, I just used apt-get to install it (only after collecting the performance related data).

  2. I hope that one day Ubuntu competes with Apple OS X – with dedicated and supported hardware that is designed for Ubuntu.

  3. @Gayan
    Thanks for your useful and informative review.
    Would you please have a look at Ubuntu Gnome 16.04 and provide another nice comparative review with Ubuntu 16.04?

    • Hi Hosein,

      Absolutely! I’m actually planning of comparing Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with Kubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu GNOME 16.04, although it might take me a couple of days. Oh and, you’re welcome too 🙂 .

  4. Hi Gayan,
    can you tell us on which file system did you install Ubuntu 16.04 and is it on the begining of your HD or not. Recently I found out that OS’s that are installed in the begining of the HD boot faster. Thanks for your review!

    • Hi Tony,

      Good observation, and you’re right. My main operating system is Ubuntu 15.10 (haven’t upgraded yet) and it’s on the very beginning of the HDD and it does boot slightly faster. The test partition is located at the end of the platter (because it’s the last partition) and it’s relatively slower. So the best measurement is to compare the ‘relative speed’ of the distribution compared to another.

      I’ll receive a new laptop very soon and I’ll make sure the test partition is created somewhere in the beginning of its hard disk (it has a Hybrid Drive).

      Oh and you’re welcome also 🙂 .

    • Hi,

      Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for these problems. Sorry about that.

      P.S: The memory usage rises up to about 950-970 MiB mark from 631 MiB as soon as I start to use Dash. That’s precisely why I added the system monitor icon to Application Launcher because the initial memory consumption is far less. After loading the desktop, when you click on Dash it always increases the memory usage because it has to load its lenses and whatnot, but it didn’t use to be this severe.

      My guess is that this is mostly because Dash now seem to include a lot of additional lenses and scopes. I maybe wrong about this assumption because I’m not an expert on Unity scopes and lenses, but I just seem to instinctively see large number of scopes and lenses compared to Ubuntu 15.10.

    • Thank you Luke B. I actually wanted say that you can’t do this by default, I updated the post to make it clear. Thanks again.

  5. Ah, a fellow nationalist AND a techy. These findings are very rare, bookmarking you right now. Thanks for the review!

    • You know nothing about me. And yet, without reason and careful reflection (because there’s nothing wrong with reasonable anger), you cursed me and disrespected my mother who had nothing to do with any of this. Let me guess, you must be a ‘free thinking democrat’!

      • Trump is a racist, however. And given that it seems your first language isn’t English, it seems bizarre that you’d even want to support him.

        • With respect,

          First of all, I honestly don’t know why you call the guy a racist. Secondly, your very ability to not understand why I support him even when I’m not an American (I’ve no desire to be one, believe me), or at least listen to that specific part of the video I’ve linked and comprehend its subtle meaning, shows the type of the ignorance of the average voter. It’s sad really.

          • I am a democrat, and while I listen objectively, I can not vote for trump because of my Christian morals; I was raised presybeterian and I see no reason to betray it, ymmv, welcome to your own non violent version of faith.

            Anyone who insults the disabled, and I don’t care why, but he did it, has no ethical or moral integrity to run for any office in our proud country; faults and all and we have too many to count, we are still the best democracy that I know of, all things considered.

            I was taught morals by two incredible parents, and if trump can’t handle not being rude to the disabled, how on earth can anyone support him, not to mention his insults to the gold tier muslim family and h is fathers outrage, and tons of republicans leaving him quick due to his poll #’s .

            Its not rocket science. Maybe we need more rocket science and less #passion and we’d always get the right person in the WH ? #justice4all should #ruleourbehaviors shouldn’t it ?

            Insult the disabled, for whom my brother is , and my vote is toast, and apparently given his horrible poll #’s, his are as well ( atm).

            TO reiterate, I am objective, and he ruined any chance of my vote for many reasons, but that stung the most, and he doesn’t even seem to realize it or care. I’m not sure I could get past it even if he apologized, because the deed is done and as a ‘professional ‘ ? man, I’m surprised something that crass ever came out from his lips.

            Many misspeak, but that was on purpose, obviously, and my vote is also.

          • First of all, your country is not a Democracy, it was founded by your founding fathers as a Republic. No need to take my word for it, here’s link to the constitution of the United States of America and this URL points directly to the Official Publishing Office of US. Once it’s opened by your Web browser, simply search for “Democracy”, “Democratic” or for any other word resembling Democracy. Then you will see that Democracy is never mentioned in your constitution (which is the supreme law of any country), not even ONCE.

            So first of all, what does that mean? It means that any official governing body that tries to legitimize a political governing structure (Democracy in this instance) that is never even mentioned in that country’s constitution is an act of treason! So what does that tell you about the legality of the Democratic party? Think. There is a reason why some of the founding fathers (because I don’t want to whitewash anyone, and I certainly do not trust all of them) did not trust Democracy. I’m not going to give you a political lesson, but I will give you a point of observation. Whenever Democracy is established in a country, it absolutely guarantees that it will (especially) break up the main culture and those that belong to it, into, at least, two political parties. This act alone is more than enough to weaken a country. And this is precisely why a certain group of people want to introduce Democracy to other countries, even by force which totally ignores international law (all that matters is power because ‘right’ lies in might) because once a country is governed by Democracy it’s so easy to divide and control. It’s that simple. The so called “experts” can come up with as much abstract opinions (things that cannot be proven by direct experiences) as they like, but the simple point of the matter is that in every country where Democracy is established, the masses are divided. Division – this fundamental element within the social structure of the country where this political structure is practiced, can almost always be seen. A country that is divided, a country that is not UNITED through a SINGLE IDEOLOGY, can never posses the power of self-determination. It is remarkable how then the founding fathers achieved this idea of a UNIFIED country where freedom of expression is allowed (I’m not going to touch on that here).

            I’m not going to go into all the details, but there is very practical and easy to see (if you are an instinctive person) reason why the Democratic party especially want to take away your guns – the second amendment, a big discussion in this presidential race. I’m not going to say what it is, but let me ask another question back from you. You Americans boasts about “Freedom” (Freedom is just another abstract opinion, this is never validated by direct experiences) and Liberty (now Liberty is a different ideology and I’m quite fond of it). But tell me, who is more Free, the man who is being governed by the state who’s opinion is being treated as a mere opinion nothing more, or the man who is willing to take the immense responsibility for his life and the life of his loved ones and and the choices he’s going to make, and thus, willing to take the necessary means of defending them, if threatened?, thus his opinions and the voice carry a far more powerful energy (can you see why they want to take away your guns now?). It is this idea of self-governance that has made the American constitution so appealing. But this whole idea of taking away the guns from the public is merely based on the fundamental principle that the individual is not capable of governing his/her life. This is not the original American values upon which your country is founded, but the Democrats carefully make sure not to present it in this manner. They always tries to implement the idea that “it’s for your own safety”.

            It is so sad to see how, literally, stupid the younger generation is. They think they are free thinkers and their ideas are progressive (every new generation thinks like this) and they think the constitution is too old to suit the “new world”. Sadly, what they don’t realize is that their ‘free & progressive’ thinking is in absolute control of the information that is given to them. Whoever is in control of this flow of information can absolutely influence the so called ‘choices’. And the only way to get yourself out of this self rendered prison is to develop instinct (again, I could write a book on the subject. Thus I’ll stop here). All I wanted show to you is this. This whole idea that America is a Democracy, is an idea, like many others in the world, was made to accept as the norm by propaganda. So tell me, why would you want to vote for officials who have committed treason?

            Secondly, I’m not going to defend Trump on that Reporter incident. He really needs to find a way to channel his emotions more cunningly. But on the Khan incident, well, you really have to research who and what this man really is. So again, don’t stop after learning or hearing, what has been taught or given to you, because that can easily misguide you. Learn to learn more by your own research that is fundamentally based on your instinct as the guiding point (that way, like a dog who’s so confident of his sens of smell, it will be so difficult to misguide you). Good luck.

            P.S: Not that long ago, I too was a democrat and a globalist.

  6. Good observation about the twitchy Plymouth bootsplash, this has also bugged me for years. There was a movement to improve this about 5 years ago, but everyone has since given up and moved on to other more interesting things. :-/

  7. Hi Gayan,

    Thanks for the excellent review! However, wouldn’t a review between LTS releases been more appropriate? I’m very happy with your (increased) memory usage findings though. I landed in your page looking for a potential cause for the longer boot times and decreased response of my upgraded, old (nostalgia toybox 😉 Acer Aspire One ZG5, which I took from Xubuntu 14.04 to Xubuntu 16.04 LTS. This slowed this (very) low spec box down quite considerably, and now the geek in me wants to beat the odds 😉
    Did you consider systemd in your slower boot/ higher memory usage considerations?

    • Hi,

      ‘…wouldn’t a review between LTS releases been more appropriate?’

      You’re right. I should’ve had included data from the previous LTS release. Will do that in the future. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

      P.S: ‘Did you consider systemd in your slower boot/ higher memory usage considerations?’

      What did you mean? If you’re were asking about the absence of ‘systemd-readahead’, then Ubuntu always had a replacement of its own. It’s called ‘ureadahead’ and yes it’s been ported to support systemd and is present in this LTS release.

      P.P.S: Adi (comments) clarified what you meant. You were asking if the switch from upstart to systemd may have improved the boot-up times. In my experience, the simple answer is NO! Although that said, I’m sure there are scenarios where systemd comes in handy because there are few fundamental changes in its design compared to upstart.

      • “P.S: ‘Did you consider systemd in your slower boot/ higher memory usage considerations?’

        What did you mean? If you’re were asking about the absence of ‘systemd-readahead’, then Ubuntu always had a replacement of its own. It’s called ‘ureadahead’ and yes it’s been ported to support systemd and is present in this LTS release.”

        I think he is referring to systemd vs upstart.

    • Hi Luke,

      I didn’t test that out. And now I’m back with Ubuntu 15.10 (haven’t switched to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS yet) which is my main OS, and the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installation on the test partition is wiped out.

  8. Unfortunately I had crash from the first 30 mins after I installed Ubuntu 16.04 (I think nautilus and software center crashed) so I uninstalled apport after a 3-4 crashes, I changed the scheduler to cfq like I always do because deadline works like hell.

    I see an increase in power consumption(at least for me) because my battery last week (with 14.04) lasted 3:20-3:30 hours and today it lasted 2:30 hours, strange as I barely used the laptop on battery and I keep it without battery inserted most of the time, another thing of note is that I didn’t used the laptop on battery since last week so I wonder if the battery is at fault, but just in case I will try to find out.(note: I had the same apps running like last time not more, not less)

    Another thing to point out I had issues with installing software from the “new” software center and hell I was frustrated, from apps not installing to apps temporarily installing on the launcher (if I unlocked the app it was just gone, I had to reinstall it…happened to unity tweak tool),apps not uninstalling(like totem player), another thing which bothered me about the software center was that I couldn’t find packages containing only libraries, so I was forced to install all my applications and development libraries through apt-get which is sad.

    And like always plymouth is a trashy piece of software which never works correctly. It sadness me that the devs at Ubuntu are not capable to find a solution to the loading screen looking like it will blow up your computer.
    I lost my faith that they will even make a decent-modern loading screen, all I want is a smooth transition from start to up and viceversa and not like (since I started using Ubuntu as main OS)….loading screen/black screen/boot command lines/loading screen/boot command lines/black screen/and process repeated until it booted.

    Last but not least appearently the tooltip in nautilus has black-background corners, similary to gnome calendar tool (but on black :P).

    Cheers for your review.

  9. Hi Gayan ,

    How long does it take for ubuntu 16.04 to complete it’s boot . Because I’m a bit freaked after installing the latest version . I had 12.04 earlier , it used to boot super quick like 10 -15 max . But after installing the 16.04 version it takes close to 55 – 60 secs (even more). I checked systemd-analyse and dmesg . But it is conflicting in time .

    shafeeq@shafeeq-Satellite-C850:~$ systemd-analyze
    Startup finished in 4.156s (kernel) + 31.634s (userspace) = 35.790s

    dmesg log , just last few lines to show the time : –
    [ 70.449123] wlp2s0: associated
    [ 70.449134] IPv6: ADDRCONF(NETDEV_CHANGE): wlp2s0: link becomes ready

    • Hi Shafeeq,

      I’m not sure what’s causing the delay to tell you the truth. That said, to clarify something, the ‘systemd-analyze’ only reports the time-frame from when you hit Enter on GRUB menu, till the login manager shows up. Anything after that is not reported by it (as far as I know), which is why there’s a big difference between the time it says too ‘boot’ compared to the full boot-up time observed by you.

      • How long does it take for your system to boot , I mean the exact time from switching the power button to getting the screen after logging into the system ? for me it takes close to 55- 65 secs . Just want to compare

        • Hi Shafeeq,

          That’s what I’ve shown in the graph in the boot-up comparison section. So to say it again, from the moment I hit Enter from the GRUB menu till the desktop is loaded (I always keep the user-auto-login feature enabled in the installer so I don’t get a login prompt) in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, it takes about 32.2 seconds.

          • After working with a fresh, complete 16.04 LTS install (so no VM, but Xubuntu I must admit) for some time now on a non-production box, I too notice a consistent “sluggishness” compared to 14.04 LTS, which would be in line with your findings. For Xubuntu this would be extra remarkable, especially since its devs are resource conscious, and it is considered one of the “lighter, non-fat” flavours. Boot is very obvious for me too, but it is also certainly there with normal use, especially for processes which need “more” CPU/ memory. Simple every-day-use examples of this are:
            – Booting programs – even LO, especially with opening up somewhat larger spreadsheets.
            – Simple conversion actions – save PNG as JPG, resize image
            – Playing video which now lags/ stops/ frame drops for the same video file on same system. Playing video with higher resolution than screen size now even stops completely where it didn’t before!
            – Opening the same large(r) PDFs (≥ 10MB).
            – Emptying rubbish bin.
            I think it is probably so obvious for me due to the clear “legacy character” of my tinker-box. For boot, I did prod “systemd-analyze blame” and “systemd-analyze critical-chain”, and did cut out some services I don’t need (systemd does make it less transparent and more of a hassle though, bum/ sysv-rc-conf any one?), but the sluggish feeling remains. Triggered by your findings, I also played around with analysing and de-installing “memory intensive processes” but this too didn’t really changed the 16.04 experience for me significantly. Looking at your findings, I’ve the gut feeling it might well be “flavour” independent, but more connected to what is “under the bonnet”.
            For now, I’ve put it to rest and am heeding the advice of the silver-backs: let’s see what 16.04.1 does before touching my production boxes. Must admit have been eyeing other distros though. Never a dull moment! 😉

  10. My experience with 16.04 after running it 2 months or so on a Lenovo Ideapd Y580 are so sobering, that it is going to be replaced… This Linux-friendly hardware and fedora, debian, even Ubuntu 14.04 et al. used to work on it without problems. Not so with Xenial:
    Wired ethernet is broken (… alx problem…), Standby/resume is broken, not a single day without bluetooth audio issues (…they come and go…). For the first time in my life i’m going to wipe an Ubuntu from the machine to make room for something that works.
    I think Canonical needs to stop starting and start finishing. One would usually expect an *LTS* release to be reasonably well tested and ready for production. But i guess Canonical is so busy with questionable projects like Mir or Ubuntu-Touch that they finally are unable to live up to the promise.
    8 half ready projects (which i’m preety sure get abandoned as the 20 before…) don’t make a single job accomplished.

  11. Landed here on searching for the puzzling results of our 14.04 to 16.04 upgrades, i.e. persisting increased boot and shutdown times (even after systemd tweaking), higher memory use and lost system responsiveness. We’ve multiple systems on various Canonical flavours, which we planned to upgrade in a phased schedule. After results and user feedback for some weeks now we decided to dd essential systems and critical users back to 14.04 and put on hold for a while, to see where this is going. Bug reports seem highlight potential issues (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1572801), although one might question relevance. For now we are happy with the runtime of 14.04 till 2019…

  12. Nice write up.
    Once thing I don’t see a lot of is, write ups on Compiz and using 3+ monitors. Managing windows across multiple monitors is critical to my work, and Compiz will crash your system if you click the wrong setting. Any information on the stability of that would be welcome.

    Extra points for the Trump shout-out.

    • You’re welcome Stephen. As per your request, unfortunately I don’t have a multiple monitor setup to test your suggestion.

  13. hi,

    it’s funny that you ended up recommending 16.04 after the negative things you said about its boot time, greedy memory usage, slow (default) i/o scheduling, and slow shutdown time (if i didn’t forget anything else). that’s roughly what people look at in an os from one release to another, in terms of performance.

    i came here via google after searching for the difference in performance between 15.04 and 16.04 since i’ve upgraded from the former in the last 2 days, first going to 15.10 for one day (which i already miss).

    15.10 was noticeably fast, and i actually wanted to stay on it. i would have even stayed on 15.04 because my system is highly cutomised and, anyway, i didn’t want to risk facing boot problems (since i’ve never done a “dirty” upgrade) or some other issue like i have in the past.

    i only upgraded because a lot of the software that i had and needed/wanted to upgrade was no longer being supported and in some cases, compiling from source just proved intractable even after seeking help from experts.

    if there’s one thing that i’d like to see an improvement on in the linux ecosystem, it would be the availability of binaries for applications for recent distributions of gnu/linux. i always see binaries for windows and osx for software that i want, and in most cases, they exist for linux as well, but some don’t. in my case, in order to use octave 4, i had to upgrade the operating system, even though 15.04 (which only supported up to 3.x) is a very recent release. not cool.

    but back to the discussion at hand, i’m not currently impressed with 16.04; the performance degradation was noticeable and you’ve confirmed it for me with your much-appreciated analysis. i just don’t know how you concluded that it’s better (performance-wise) when you yourself had to tweak some things like the i/o scheduler setting to get the performance out. not everyone knows that the os ships with 3 schedulers and that you can change them (assuming they even know what that is).

    while the gnu/linux community is generally technical, i’m assuming articles like these are assuming a more general audience, since technical gurus can maybe grapple with a gentoo or slack build.

    maybe it is better with respect to hardware support and other things (i have yet to test on stability) but in my case, since that was already not an issue, i guess it can be said that i’ve downgraded, much as the users who went from xp to vista or 98 to me.

    and thanks for ‘warning’ us about snap. npm already causes plenty of bloat on a system and a burden on the nwtowrk. we don’t need the default package manager of an os doing the same, especially for those of us without gigabit connections.

    thanks

    • like a previous commenter, i should mention that i’m using xubuntu and these performance issues are also there. so, like they said, it’s something deeper in the core.

      i don’t have crashes or hardware issues thus far and the system is otherwise doing what it was capable of doing…just much slower.

    • You’re welcome. But answering your question concerning why I recommended Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, I recommended it even though according to the comparison it’s somewhat slow, as far as my system (laptop’s hardware is concerned) is concerned, these readings are not alarming. Yes in comparison there are some worrisome issues (I’m more worried about the delay in boot-up and not extremely cautious about the memory usage reading because sometimes even a system with high memory usage can be quite fast), but it’s still a very polished & Stable.

  14. I’m quite happy on 14.04. Why should I upgrade? For slower boot times and more memory usage?

    Ubuntu needs to show me added functionality or better performance before I risk screwing up a perfectly good 14.04 system.

  15. I agree with Stafan above. Just about any distro based on Ubuntu 16.04 has problems, some of which are serious. I have installed Linux Mint 18 MATE and Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and both of them have issues which I have never seen before going all the way back to Ubuntu 5.10. A new release every 6 months simply doesn’t work anymore. My advice? Find a good distro with NO issues and stick with it!

  16. I am slightly worried about putting a comment on here, simply because I know little about what happens underneath the hood of Linux. Sad to say, I am only a user of this cool OS. Found it when Knoppix first did the live cd, and became totally fascinated with it since then.
    So my experience of upgrading (not clean install) was it just went flawlessly. I was using 14.04.
    Nothing got lost, eg, bookmarks, thunderbird addresses etc.
    And (please do not shoot me) I like 16.04 a lot.
    My two cents worth, nothing else.

  17. Gayan,
    I upgraded two identical laptops from 14.04 to 16.04. Both have the same loaded programs and neither had and problems with crashing. Both were loaded with OpenOffice 4 and previously had LibreOffice removed prior to loading OpenOffice. LIbreOffice is built into the upgrade and since I knew it was not compatible with openoffice within the same OS it came as a surprise that it actually works on one of the laptops. However it crashes upon opening on the other laptop. Any ideas as to why the program would crash on one machine while working well on the other when both are set up identically?

  18. Thank you for all the great information. I have been using 16.04 for only a few days after upgrading from 12.04 (using do-release-upgrade to 14.04 and then to 16.04). I had been using 12.04 with Gnome Classic with great satisfaction for several years and finally decided to take the leap to 16.04. Very sad. Already found these problems:
    1. nedit crashes (best editor yet, in my humble opinion)
    2. gedit doesn’t run properly (cannot resize window; installed Pluma instead)
    3. octave: cannot type into command window (but commands show up in the command history!)
    So I’m not sure whether I really want to proceed further with 16.04; might go back to 14.4 instead.

    • Sorry to hear that George. If it’s possible, try a fresh Ubuntu 16.04 LTS install instead of the Upgrade (I’m not a huge fan of OS upgrades).

  19. I have one of those Dell Mini 3050 desktop boxes. About the size of a stack of CD’s. Has a J1800 Celeron and 8 GB RAM I upgraded along with adding a 64 GB SSD. Now it came with Windows 10 home and actually ran pretty well although Octane 2.0 was like 8500 or so which is cheap Chromebook speed. Not surprised given the CPU. I decided to try Ubuntu 16.04 and to my surprise the OS ran significantly slower than what I was expecting. Everything sort of pauses, Firefox takes probably 6 or 7 seconds to open. Guess I was expecting a little better performance over Win 10. But after reading this review I guess Ubuntu is getting a bit bloated too and is not so great on weaker systems. Maybe I will have to try Xubuntu or of lower resource desktop UI.

  20. “And worse, sometime when a change occurs in the boot process, it somehow manages to completely disable the boot logo and display the ugly boot log into the display screen. I’ve convinced some of my friends to use ‘Linux’, and it’s actually embarrassing to see the beautiful boot logo gets destroyed by non critical changes in the boot-up process.”

    If this is a problem, you and your friends should stick with MacOS/Windows.

    “These files are called the ‘shared libraries’. The main advantage of having shared libraries is that it saves disk space.

    For instance, rather than having 20 copies of a single file that 20 different programs require when running, you can have just 1 copy and let it be shared by the 20 programs thus saving 20 times the disk space. ”

    No. The point of shared libraries is that when a CRITICAL BUG in the library is found and patched THAT LIBRARY gets updated and all the applications which depend on it immediately have that flaw resolved.

    With statically compiled binaries every maintainer of the 20 different packages using the library would have to go rebuild, repackage and reversion their software. Do you imagine that this would happen in a quick and timely manner?

    Please do not speak about that which you do not know.

    • “…The point of shared libraries is that when a CRITICAL BUG in the library is found and patched THAT LIBRARY gets updated and all the applications which depend on it immediately have that flaw resolved…”

      That is just one perspective. I bet that was taught to you in your “computer programming’ class. There are many advantages of using a Shared-library. To put it abstractly, the whole idea is to centralize the management. But when that ‘abstract definition’ is viewed by each individual’s ‘eyes’, such as from the perspective of a computer programmer, he or she may come up with the come up with the conclusion you’ve stated, and that’s quite alright. But there are many other advantages (and disadvantages as well) which are only ‘understood’ when you look at it from those perspective. And thus the reduction of disk space and memory (RAM) requirements are also quite valid assumptions. But here I just wanted to explain why the Snappy packages would consume lot of disk space compared to their ‘old-school’ counterparts.

      I’m not even going to touch the first question.

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