OS Mobility Explored

by Jarred Walton on 9/21/2009 6:00 PM EST
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  • nortexoid - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    I'd like to see a test done using "regular" office apps (openoffice, acrobat reader, etc.) and NO internet browsing. (Yes, that's how I use my computer off the plug usually.) It would weed out the performance usage hit taken by Ubuntu when flash is running.

    It might also be interesting to do a test with tweaked systems, e.g. by tuning Jaunty with PowerTop or similar apps. How does each OS perform when FULLY optimized for battery life (without sacrificing features or much performance, of course)?
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    I know there are users (Jarred apparently you are one of them) that run a system without antivirus/spyware, but you are (or at least should be) in the minority. Linux distro's apparently can get away without it, but on ANY Windows box it's a MUST HAVE. Also disabling those other services (while good at reducing variables) again undermines the system's protection and comparisons to a general usage scenario.

    In your article I do not think you mentioned what you tweaked (but I could have overlooked this). From my initial impression when reading the article you took both OS' as they were default installed and then tested from there. I think you skewed the results badly in the favor of the Windows platforms by doing this, and I say this as a Windows-only user (never used Linux in any flavor). The first thing I do after a fresh install (still on Vista) is turn off all of those programs you did, along with a host of other services/eye candy using BlackViper's Vista Tweaks. This significantly speeds up the OS in all aspects but can hardly be considered most users configs.

    At first reading these comments I was firmly on the "sour grapes" to all of the Linux users complaining about what distro was used, or why X wasn't tweaked by going to a website and reading a tech article, but now I kind of agree with them. Your experience with Windows and lack of experience with Ubuntu had you setting up one for failure before the first test was even run.

    Either you test both OS' as they are default installed (driver incompatibilities aside), or you need to have a Linux semi-guru set up your Ubuntu box. My recommendation is the former, as the latter has so many variables it's probably not worth testing in the first place.

    Aside from the Ubuntu portion I enjoyed the article. It was very interesting to see how the different power profiles jockeyed for position. I would like to second an earlier commment that asked for idle time to shutdown numbers. Let's be honest, most of us are not going to surf continuously from 100% to dead battery. Rather we are more likely to use the laptop for a bit and then walk away, and come back later. It also will give a good indication of those background tasks impact on battery life (if you don't disable them in your config). I have a sneaky suspicion XP might look very good as it seems to be quite a bit more bare-bones than Vista/7.

    Thanks again.
    Reply
  • code65536 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    An Intel engineer explained it some years ago in a blog posting: XP's max battery basically throttles the CPU's frequency down all the time. For example, on my Core2Duo, it'd mean that the CPU will operate at 800MHz all the time, even when it's busy. On the other hand, if Windows gives Speed Step a free hand and lets Speed Step determine the speed, then the CPU will operate at 2GHz when busy, and slow to 800MHz only when it's idling. According to this Intel engineer, it makes no sense to have it always throttled to 800MHz, because that means that tasks will take longer to finish, and the CPU will spend less time idling (which is when the CPU *really* saves power), and he labeled the max battery mode as the "what the hell are you doing?" mode. Reply
  • Drizzt321 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I completely understand your complaints on the length of time required to run the test, plus recharge the battery. Have you considered buying a 2nd or 3rd battery and finding an external charger? Or would that kill the results of the test because the battery would be different? Reply
  • PepperPot2 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I fail to believe you included the default grub time in the boot as this to do so would be unrepresentative of real use. Who would sit there and wait for it to time out rather than just press the enter key triggering the boot process? Anyway a default install of ubuntu (where it is the only OS on the machine) doesn't show the grub menu, only a 2 second alert to allow you to bring it up if you want. I then immediately boots.

    My experience with ubuntu is totally contrary to the conclusions you just posted about speed. We've have ~20 installs of Ubuntu 9.04 at work on old machines (7 yrs old) to a machine I built 1 month ago. In all instances the staff find it it is smoother and quicker to use than the dual boot copy of vista or XP.

    The boot time on XP is clear nonsense, when ubuntu boots to the desktop you can use it almost immediately. XP is typically totally unusable for ~30 seconds while it loads more crap in the background. Vista is worse.

    Reply
  • jasperjones - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    That's true, XP and Vista are pretty unresponsive for a minute or so after boot on your average entry-level laptop. OTOH, Ubuntu is snappy once you see the GNOME desktop. 9.04 is called jaunty ducy ;)

    However, the same can be said of Win 7. It keeps loading stuff after you see the desktop, but that doesn't make the system feel sluggish--not at all
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    The Windows boot times are stopped when I see the default system try icons appear (WiFi connectivity, volume, etc.) so the system is pretty much usable at that point. As for GRUB, it's a 2 second timeout, which I could bypass by pressing enter twice, but that still leaves around 8 seconds from the POST to the point where it looks like Ubuntu is actually loading. What's going on during that time? If we subtract POST times, then Ubuntu would look even worse. I can see about tweaking GRUB to skip straight to loading the OS and see if that helps as well... when I get time. Reply
  • jasperjones - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    FYI--one can simply configure GRUB to not wait for user input by editing /boot/grub/menu.lst and changing the second or third line from "timeout x" to "timeout 0"

    But I generally completely understand the argument not to change too many things from the default installation of Ubuntu, as it's doubtful that the average user would do it.
    Reply
  • maveric7911 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I would love to see a properly installed and setup distribution of linux in this review (not bashing love that you included linux at all). As others stated above Archlinux would be a pretty good choice. All packages come optimized and things like native 64bit flash and other native 64 bit applications are apart of the stable repository "no adding repos necessary". Also as mentioned, not using the hardware accelerated driver of ati or nvidia will take a big hit on power right away. I'm always available to assist with any linux testing and/or questions.

    HP
    Sr Linux Engineer
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    What I would like to see is Jared run all the tests on his version of Ubuntu, then let a linux expert have some ssh love to tweak it all up, and then let Jared run the tests again and see how much difference he finds. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    What I would love is to have a definitive Linux source that I can use that will "just work". But that's probably asking too much. I've now got suggestions to try the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Moblin on the NV58, and Archlinux.

    And hey, if anyone lives near Olympia, WA and wants to come give the Linux install some fine luvin' let me know. LOL
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    quote('What I would love is to have a definitive Linux source that I can use that will "just work".')

    That isn't going to happen. Simply because Linux isn't Windows or OSX. They approach things with different paradigms.

    Reply
  • Per Hansson - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Hi, something I have noted when installing AMD laptops with a clean RTM WinXP disc and not the bundled one that includes all drivers + lotsa more crap you don't want;

    In all cases the systems have not been throttling the CPU speed or CPU voltage, I have had to install the AMD PowerNow! driver and then everything has worked (even though both AMD and Microsoft say this is included with XP!)

    The difficult part is actually finding the driver, since both AMD and MS feels it is not needed it can be a real pita, please verify with CPU-Z or similar if your systems have this issue
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Vista definitely worked properly - I saw CPU speeds of down to 1050MHz (5.25 x 200) on the NV52. Since XP and Win7 both achieve similar results, I think it's working right but would have to check. I'll try to be more careful for the next tests. :) Reply
  • jasperjones - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I assume you ran Ubuntu with the 32-bit Flash plugin (that's available on x86-64 via nspluginwrapper (Netscape plugin wrapper).

    I'd be curious to see how results are with the native x86-64 Flash which is available as an alpha on Adobe Labs.

    For the last two or three years, I've had nothing but problems with 32-bit Flash on a 64-bit OS and those problems finally somewhat subsided after moving to the 64-bit native alpha build.
    Reply
  • clavko - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Actually, graphics card power management with open source ati drivers (xf86-video-radeon and xf86-video-radeonhd alike) is not up to par with custom power management of fglrx proprietary driver. If tests were made using open source drivers, some of the battery time difference should account for that.

    However, I find it quite fair comparing Windows to Ubuntu, given that Ubuntu really is considered vanilla, desktop user distro. Obviously, things are not exactly "there" yet, but I'd be interested in power consumption with newer fglrx drivers, perhaps on OpenSUSE.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    On my laptop (T40, 1.86GHz Pentium M Sonoma) I primarily use Ubuntu, with XP when I need Photoshop or Lightroom. I never measured the battery life exactly, but never felt it was that different, certainly not by a third. Do you have the scripts to run the internet test I could try and see what my results are?

    I also never felt Firefox was notably different between XP and Ubuntu, both misbehave in different ways. The notable exception is flash in 64bit Ubuntu on my desktop, which is of course more hit-or-miss.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Send me an email. Reply
  • gwolfman - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    When I originally purchased my Dell Mini 9, it shipped with Ubuntu. Rather than coming with the standard/original kernel, it came with the Low Power Intel Architecture (LPIA) kernel. I'm not sure what optimizations are done with regards to the kernel, but do you think it's worth looking into with regards to the bad numbers you got from the default kernel bundled with your Ubuntu install? Maybe there are some optimizations for battery life in there that are not included in the standard kernel. Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    As nice as these tests are, I think the reliability/consistency may be overlooked a little bit. I'm not saying it's not reliable/consistent enough, you've already touched on that in the final paragraph, with regards to the websites themselves. What I'm saying is that there are other factors that may be affecting battery life.

    Are you using a multimeter to measure the power consumption, or are you just letting the battery drain and measuring time? I'm guessing that if you just let your computer start up and run it's battery drain naturally (no erroneous applications running), the battery life would also vary in minutes.

    I also am assuming that these devices aren't cooled to the same temperature, before tests begin. Heat not only dissipates the energy stored in the battery, but it also requires more power to the fans for cooling. As I've touched on in another article, processor speeds vary - that's something that is truly hard to keep consistent, since it is irrelevant to BIOS settings. It'd be interesting to see if a processor running at 2.096 vs one running at 2.104 over an extended period of time has enough impact on battery life.

    That being said, it's also known that processors vary in clock speed even after it's started, so I'm not sure if any points I've made can be applied in setting a realistic control at this point.

    My last point is about the battery itself. Manufacturers claim the battery is "good for" a certain period of time, but these batteries are often "cheap" in quality. I think a few uses could impact the natural battery life; this goes back into testing regular start-up/shut-downs, w/o running any tests.
    Reply
  • aahjnnot - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I can't see what software was installed on the laptops. Real-world system performance is affected adversely by the installation of everyday software, and it seems highly probable that this would also affect battery life, startup times and suspend / resume / hibernate performance.

    It would be very interesting to see a real-world test to understand whether different operating systems are more or less affected by the cruft of daily computing. I'd suggest including anti-virus, an internet security suite, an office suite, Skype, Windows Messenger, a couple of games, itunes or equivalent, some printer drivers, some backup software and a camera management application.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    The installs were all "vanilla", though I updated DirectX and installed the tested Futuremark suites on the Windows setups. In all cases, there were no Firewalls or AV software enabled. I disable automatic updates, firewall, Defender, indexing, screen savers, and set a static swap file size of 4GB. I do not try to disable any extra services, but I try to avoid any extra apps loading at start up (i.e. system tray icons that serve no real use).

    For Ubuntu, I just did the basic install and then tried to make it work. Easier said than done for a few areas. LOL. I manually added package repositories for Firefox 3.5, some drivers, and the necessary things to get DVD playback working. Far from a trim and speedy install, I know, but it's what Ubuntu uses by default, which means it's what most Ubuntu users will use.
    Reply
  • aahjnnot - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I can understand why you chose a vanilla installation, but it means that your results are hardly representative of the real world. All Windows laptop users will need anti-virus; most will have a raft of additional software; and few will disable system tray entries.

    I run both XP and Ubuntu 9.04 on my laptop and on a couple of boxes at home. In all cases Ubuntu starts up significantly faster than Windows, and that's because cruft seems to affect Windows more than it does Linux - on my machines, a vanilla Windows installation is fast but unusable as it's insecure and has no applications.
    Reply
  • stmok - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Which guide did you follow? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    This was the guide I found for the ATI platform:
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BinaryDriverHowt...">https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BinaryDriverHowt...

    If their own BinaryDriver guide doesn't work, I don't have much hope for other alternatives!
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Hmmm...I see. Looking through the link you've provided leads to...

    Fix Ubuntu 9.04 ATI Driver Issue
    http://tan-com.com/posts/technology/fix-ubuntu-904...
    (This isn't a fix...Its merely being accommodating to the closed driver's deficiencies.)

    Essentially, you want to stay away from ATI hardware until the open source community completes their work on the open driver for ATI solutions. ie: Waiting for xf86-video-ati driver to support your video solution. (Which will take quite a while! They're making slow progress.)

    Generally, I research/pick my hardware BEFORE I install Linux. Sticking to Intel and Nvidia based solutions work best. Although, certain Intel IGPs like the GMA 500 is poorly supported. (Intel only provided a closed source driver for that particular solution).

    Of course, one also has to understand that Linux is undergoing a major graphics stack re-write. (They are replacing three old components with one)...The initiative is being led by a few Intel employees and Xorg developers. This will affect recent Intel IGPs like the GMA 3xxx, GMA X3xxx and X4xxx series.

    So I guess something like the Intel GMA900/950 IGPs or Nvidia supported solution are the ones to go for.
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Here are the conclusions I draw from this article:

    1. Anand/AnandTech will admit when their testing procedures are inadequate. Always a sign of a good researcher. Thanks, looking forward to updates when you find a more repeatable set of for "internet battery life"

    2. Win 7 drivers may still need tuning for performance and/or battery life.

    3. Win 7 battery life improvements are not likely to be the 30%+ that some vendors are claiming. You might get that much best case, but typical results will be much lower.

    4. Vista sucks. Use XP or Win 7 instead.

    5. Flash sucks. Ok, Flash is actually cool and useful, but it's implementation sucks. Adobe has never been known for small, fast, or efficient code.

    6. Currently, Intel beats AMD in power usage/battery life.

    We already knew #4-#6, and suspected #1-#3. The good news is this confirms what we already knew or suspected. The bad news it that it doesn't give us much new information.
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Well I found a couple things interesting, power profiles matter but not necessarily as much as you'd think.

    And it had never occurred to me that disabling flash would give way better battery life. It makes total sense, but without the article I wouldn't have thought of it.

    Otherwise, I agree with your analysis of 1-6

    I think the actual numbers are pretty questionable, but the author admits that there is a wide variance.

    Otherwise I found the linux results amusing, as well as the comments. We can only hope that people who work for canonical actually read these reviews and work to improve the usability of their products.
    Reply
  • maveric7911 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Of All linux distributions to use, ubuntu has so much bloat its no wonder its eating battery like that. Please use other distributions out there rather then giving the same old ubuntu bloatware benches. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    "The minimum processor state is set to 5% and the maximum processor state is 100%; we don't know how this specifically affects CPU clock speeds"

    It's actually pretty simple, and the feature only works with CPUs that have Powernow or Speedstep. The "Maximum Processor state" is how fast the CPU is allowed to run when the system experiences high-cpu load (which would normally increase CPU speed). For example, if you have the maximum set to 50% and you have a CPU that runs at 2.0ghz, Windows will limit the clock speed scaling to what ever multi gets it closest to 1.0ghz. I have my Toshiba notebook limit my 2.1ghz Turion X2 to 50% (1.0ghz) while unplugged to conserve battery power. Note that these percentages are not an exact science, as it's all dependent on the predefined power states (available multi's) of the CPU you're using. It is, however, a way to improve battery life if you don't mind slowing the system down a little. Personally, I don't need that much power while unplugged, but in the rare occasions that I did, I could always change power plans from the battery icon in the taskbar.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I don't think it works quite like that. If you set it to 0%, I believe that's the minimum CPU speed (i.e. 5.25 x 200MHz on the NV52 and 6 x 200MHz on the NV58), while the higher percentage may try to target a maximum speed. 100% would be the normal CPU speed, but would 50% be half-way between minimum and maximum?

    I'd have to investigate more, but I do remember testing with CPU-Z and seeing CPU clocks go well above the 50% mark. I think at best it's approximate, as you suggest, and how accurate it is likely varies greatly with the CPU - and even BIOS options.
    Reply
  • trochevs - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Looking the starting times (startup and resume) I have the feeling that Ubuntu has some kind of problem on your hardware. I have quite bit experience with Dell and Lenovo and Ubuntu 9.04 is always faster to boot compare to any Windows. It is not only my experience, but I am doing test on one senior citizen and one teenager. They both agree with my observation. You should press Alt-F1 during the boot and check for any errors. Gateways could have some additional peace of hardware that does not work correctly under Ubuntu and the kernel has to wait to time-out.
    In regards out of the box experience you should get hold of the system that is optimized for Linux (Ubuntu) just like the Gateway is optimized for Windows. www.system76.com or Dell http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/u...">http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segt...s=19&... would be good start. Then you don't have to fool with drivers. I would love to see how much optimization has been done by System76 and Dell.
    Reply
  • ekul - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    It's true; ubuntu 9.04 boots very quickly and 9.10 will be even better. On my netbook and my desktop 9.04 boots in a lot less then 30 seconds. I agree something isn't quite right with the boot procedure.

    The other thing to keep in mind for linux boot times is once the desktop is displayed the system is fully up. No background loading, no delayed startups. On Vista and 7 I find after the desktop appears it will take another 30-45 seconds before the HD is done reading and the system is responsive
    Reply
  • oyabun - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Thank you very much for an enlightening article. I am one of the people who indeed care for battery life!

    Regarding your testing methodology where you drain each battery over and over again, wouldn't it be more efficient to take the battery out of the equation (and physically remove it) completely? Just measure the Wh consumed by the power brick during 30 or 60 minute runs and extrapolate to the capacity of the battery. That would greatly reduce your testing times.

    You should of course measure at the DC end of the transformer, otherwise you should factor in it's efficiency.

    You could even calibrate the whole procedure with a single battery powered run. It certainly beats what you are currently subjecting yourself to! :-)

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    My experience is that laptops typically switch to different power states on AC vs. DC power, even if you have all the settings the same. It's possible to estimate battery life, but I do like to do "real world" testing where possible. Anyway, it's not a bad idea and I may do a follow up article at some point looking at just the power numbers. Taking the power transformer efficiency out of the equation isn't something I'm equipped to do right now, unfortunately. I can measure power at the outlet... and that's it. And it's only accurate to ~1W there so I'd need a better device than my current Kill-A-Watt.

    BTW, have you ever stared at a small Kill-A-Watt display while running tests? Frankly, running battery tests where I can walk away and collect the results later is less painful all around! :)
    Reply
  • oyabun - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Of course a Kill-A-Watt won't cut it! You need a datalogger on a separate PC and a power gauge, logging the total energy consumption over any period of time unattended. With such a setup you would be able to measure from the DC side by splicing the wires leading from the transformer to the notebook. And, naturally, a datalogger support more than one gauge, so you could measure in parallel.

    I understand what you mean when you say that power profiles behave differently under AC. It is possible though your (and mine) experience is based on Windows XP. Perhaps Windows 7 are more consistent.
    Reply
  • oyabun - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    I didn't see the comments by Kibbles before. Our posts convey the smae message!
    And I concur, the power supply testing team appears to have the tools for the job.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Yeah, IIRC they're also in Europe, while Jarred is in Seattle or somewhere out west. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    There's more to it than that, but suffice it to say I don't have power testing equipment and it's not high on my list of priorities right now. Rough estimates are sufficient on the power side of the equation, since you get whatever power brick the laptop comes with. It's not like you can upgrade to a more efficient power brick with a Dell laptop. Reply
  • Kibbles - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    "maybe borrow it from the powersupply setting team"

    I meant "powersupply testing team".

    Also for the convenience of being able to walk away. As long as you get a voltmeter with logging capability, you can leave it to do it's thing and just pull up the logs.
    Reply
  • Kibbles - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If all you have is a killawhat meter then that'll be pretty inaccurate. Not just because of the 1W accuracy but also measuing at the outlet you are also including the inefficiency of the powersupply.
    However I do agree that using the battery is throwing an extra variable into your equation. How big is it? I don't know. But I do know they don't always charge to the same capacity, and their capacity changes overtime.
    I don't know if it's possible, but I would think the best option would be to have a DC source modded into the battery connection. Then measure the #W-h used. You would probably need a good variable DC supply and voltmeter to do this (maybe borrow it from the powersupply setting team?). Even then I don't know if you can do that, I think my laptop has like 6 pins on the battery. There's probably some connection for charging, some for battery status, and then the discharge connections.
    The second option I see is putting a voltmeter on the DC-out side of the powersupply going into the laptop. You could run the benchmark without the battery for an equivalent duration and see if the W-h is close.
    Reply
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Power savings in Ubuntu are far from optimal.
    I was more than surprised to see that even very basic features may or may not work.
    For example on my Gentoo box each core frequency scaled separately.
    On Ubuntu some processors are not supported. After all I thought that engineers at Canonical have better kernel understanding than me.
    As for the tests, dim option is helping with battery life.
    I don't remember such difference in battery life from my experience. Both Linux and windows where capable of ~3Hr on my laptop.
    From my very personal point of view, Ubuntu is sluggish. I compared Ubuntu, XP, 7, Debian and Gentoo performance on IBM X31 with 1GB ram.
    It started without Gentoo (It takes a while to setup fully optimized Gentoo box). Ubuntu and 7 where (IMHO only)the slowest. Debian and XP where just fine. But since I wanted more, i did the Gentoo thing. It was more than worth it.
    With Ubuntu it was overall sluggish feeling (some tests will show much better performance under it than in windows). But feeling is important when you use something. Even more important than some numbers.
    7 ... Same sluggish Vista with facelift and few tweaks that can be manually done.
    Watching icons drawn few seconds after menu displayed was more than enough. It is more stable, can work longer without reboots, but nowhere faster than XP.
    Debian with Gnome was nice so was XP. Anyway I'd stay with Linux since it's more customizable and have few useful things that make me feel handicapped in Windows.
    Gentoo once again convinced me that it worth each second (it took more than 2 days on X31. should be much faster on any dual/quad core CPU and/or using distcc). But, not everyone can do it. Even "experienced" Ubuntu/Fedora/Suse (or whatever mainstream distro) may find that his understanding of "how staff works" is not on the required level.
    Anyway it's quiet a change to see Linux participating in review.
    Good job guys :)
    Reply
  • lordmetroid - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I'll be running Arch Linux on my nettop, I tried gentoo 4 years ago from stage 1 and that was a nightmare to get installed. Maybe I should try it again but Arch Linux seems to be more interesting at this point as it had many of the packages I want in its repositories that I couldn't find in gentoo. Reply
  • stmok - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Running Arch Linux here on my ThinkPad T43...Much better than Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu feels bloated. Heck, even Xubuntu feels bloated.
    Reply
  • void2 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    30..40 seconds to boot WinXP on modern CPU? That's sad. I get 7..8 seconds (boot menu to desktop, add your machine POST time yourself) on a comparable CPU (Athlon 64 X2 3800+). Clean OS, no SSD, no messing around with disabling services etc. How? Use Boot Cooler (www.bootcooler.com). It is free. Reply
  • lyeoh - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Why should anyone use bootcooler? The website doesn't even say what the program is _supposed_ to do, and how it achieves it. I don't see much on the web that describes or tests what it _actually_ does (as opposed to just claims), the limitations etc.

    It could be a trojan for all we know.
    Reply
  • void2 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If you haven't noticed, the website is under construction. Detailed explanation of how Boot Cooler works is included in readme.txt (in short - disk reads prefetching). And of course there are no reviews yet - the project is still in beta. Reply
  • orionmgomg - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I love antech - waiting for the radeon hd 5870 info to hit - looking at this artical - something about your battery lasting longer on your lap top...


    WHO CARES!!!

    Give me a brake - you spend so much time on analizing minutes of extra juice it a fly is in the room or not! WHO CARES?

    Plug your lap top in the wall - dont expect it to last any longer than it does when you have a full charge and it runs out of juice.

    Once you know how long it lasts - realize your screwed - or should I say attached to the power cord!

    Oh - did I mention - who cares?

    Thanks for all your other articals!

    Reply
  • orionmgomg - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I love Anandtech*^ Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If you haven't figured it out, I'm the mobile reviewer at AnandTech, and my articles are about mobility. Writing articles about laptops doesn't mean I'm delaying any CPU or GPU reviews -- unless they happen to be mobile CPUs/GPUs. If you don't care about laptops, you don't need to read most of my articles, but please don't make the mistake of assuming no one cares. When people use a laptop on the road and don't have a chance to plug in, articles like this are very useful. If you never use a laptop, great; some people do and that's my target audience. Reply
  • orionmgomg - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    You are right - I did shouldn't have been so brass on saying who cares - it is a very well written artical and I am sure you spent a lot of time puttinmg together very accurate data for the people who actually do care.

    Sorry for being thoughtless to say the least.

    I always love anandtech and I love all the articals and the diversity of reviews and studies.

    I just had a knee reaction to this because every time I buy a lappy - and test the battery for the first time, I realize - yes battery performance gets better and better - even though ever so slightly, but I also realize with great frustration that you really can not rely on battery power for the most part - it will get you out of a jam for sure - but to base any computing time on battery power is futile - that has been my expreiance and so I made those comments more out of my own frustration than anything...

    Thank you for all the hard work, good articals and being the very best tech web site!
    Reply
  • Fox5 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Ubuntu may be released on a 6 month time frame, but by the time a version comes out, the software in it is 6 months out of date. Since Linux is finally getting some real development attention, it's advancing very quickly, and being 6 months to a year out of date represents a large change in features.

    Hold off on any future Ubuntu comparisons until Ubuntu 9.10 (fresh install only). It switches to the ext4 file system which fixes some firefox performance issues and should decrease boot times as well and should have more up to date drivers. It's also the next long-term release I believe, which is kind of scary considering how much new stuff they're adopting in that version.

    I'm surprised you couldn't get the latest ATI proprietary driver installed though. I've used both ATI and nvidia cards in linux, and ati by far had the easier install process. If I recall, it was as simple as sudo ./atiinstaller and then hitting enter a few times. Then again, I've also heard ati integrated chipsets have horrible driver support under linux, so they may not be supported, though I'd think the hd3200 igp would be since it's still fairly recent.

    The intel drivers may also get a big boost in ubuntu 9.10. There's some new video driver (or just 3d?) framework being introduced and the older Intel drivers have all but been abandoned to work on the new framework, so a lot of issues that need fixing aren't even being considered for the current drivers in use.
    Reply
  • themissinglint - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    This reads like you guys don't know your way around GNU Linux systems well enough to get what you could out of them. It reads like you did the minimum to get it running, which is, from a perspective, fair, since that was probably more work than you put into the Windows OSs.

    It's also a small sample because you're only using one/two set ups. Laptops like these are optimized up and down for Windows. Of course that is also true for most computers people buy.

    Overall, I am glad to see Ubuntu included at all-- it's usually absent from these sorts of tests. The more you include it, the more experience AnandTech will have running Ubuntu (and other Linux systems), and the more you'll be able to get from it. Also, Ubuntu in particular is quickly becoming more out-of-the-box (as more and more people contribute to development on more and more machines). In the next couple years you'll be testing Linux systems that will blow Windows away in some places.

    But: Kudos on including Ubuntu... where's OS X? Couldn't you get it to run on a Gateway machine?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Not going to try OS X on a hackintosh... at least not yet. As for the ATI drivers, I went through the manual install procedure multiple times and was greeted with a failed driver message. It was so bad that I couldn't even get back to the original Ubuntu ATI fglxr driver and ended up just going back to my previous Ubuntu image. I did it three times following various instructions and it failed each time. :(

    If someone has specific experience with getting an optimized driver for the HD 3200 working, point me at some instructions. The experience right now unfortunately was horrible. All the DVD playback programs I tried on Ubuntu crashed when using the latest "stable Ubuntu Jaunty" driver package, sometimes after five minutes, sometimes after 60 minutes. If you weren't at the PC when the DVD playback froze up, the system would eventually enter a completely locked up state (a la the lovely BSOD, but with no error message).

    I still have the laptops and will test out other options if any of you want to point me to guides that are of reasonable quality. I got just a brief glimpse of what Ryan experienced over the past year with Ubuntu, though, and I didn't want to get sucked in any further. I have plenty of other reviews I need to get done!
    Reply
  • smitty3268 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I think that crash during video playback is fixed by turning off redirected rendering when full screen apps are active (it's an option in Compiz somewhere). Or you could just turn off desktop compositing completely. It seems like the newer drivers have fixed that, but I'm not running fglrx and I don't remember for sure. Reply
  • Fox5 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Agreed, the desktop effects, besides wasting battery life, interfere with the ATI's drivers video acceleration and should have been off during the test.
    Of course, you could then ask why Ubuntu enables something buggy by default.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I did disable Visual FX on both systems - is that the same thing? The ATI setup was pretty much a complete no-show with DVD playback before I did that. It would stutter and fail withing seconds. Sorry I didn't mention that. Reply
  • nofumble62 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Intel battery life at least 1 hour longer.

    AMD boot up time 50% longer.

    Those are the two most important things for me.
    Reply
  • jodomcfatty - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If you look at the specs, he's comparing a Intel 4500 graphics chip with an AMD 3200HD(which while integrated, will seriously destroy the 4500 in gaming tests) but that will ALSO completely affect battery life since it can't just be turned down to 4500 usage levels. This thing alone eats up significant battery power while expelling a lot more heat.

    He did this before and I completely lose respect for him for talking battery life while using totally different setups.

    I would agree that equal systems the Intel will most likely be better, but no where near by this much.

    This article is more about the OS but even there he knows little about linux but I will say he's willing to do more testing....just seems crazy to me that he couldn't just get a AMD with a 4500(harder to find but not impossible)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    What's a better IGP for AMD than the HD 3200? You're being completely obstinate to suggest that it's not a fair comparison.

    The fact is, AMD can't do any better power-wise than what I've got in the Gateway, can it? An X1270 IGP is similar in performance to the 4500MHD, and power draw is similar to the HD 3200 (because it's on an older process).

    As for finding an AMD setup with a 4500, either you're talking about an AMD HD 4500, which would be even WORSE on power draw than the HD 3200, or you're suggesting it's possible to run an AMD CPU with an Intel chipset. It's not, as HyperTransport isn't an Intel feature and that's what AMD CPUs use.
    Reply
  • ascl - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I was reading this thinking that it was an unusually bad review from anand.... then I reached the conclusion 2 + 3 and my complaint was answered! Using randomised web testing is terrible if you want repeatable results. Use an internal server with a fixed set of pages (and ads).

    Kudos!
    Reply
  • vailr - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Maybe compare battery life on a MacBook Pro running OSX Snow leopard vs. Windows 7 64-bit/Win XP 32-bit (in Boot Camp) vs. Ubuntu(?). Using VLC Media Player sequenced to play a series of several DIVX movies, for finding the running time under each OS. Reply
  • gstrickler - Saturday, September 26, 2009 - link

    Anand has already done that with a MBP and OS X vs XP (and maybe Vista). Anyway, it would be good to see it repeated with Win7 in a couple months when they've had time to produce some reasonably power efficient Win7 drivers.

    In any case, a MBP is a great platform for the task, it will run all those OSs, the Nvidia chipset is well supported in all of them and it's pretty power efficient. Of course, with it's battery life, the tests might take a while.
    Reply
  • Gamingphreek - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Battery life in Linux, as it is a *nix based OS, needs configuring. You claimed that you couldn't find it, but honestly you need to find someone who has *nix experience then because it is honestly the most customizable of the OS's.

    Additionally, while you did a good job in following that website for advice, staying with the 'Safe' configuration is a grave error. All that merely does is use an old version of MESA (OpenGL driver) and an old Intel driver. I would honestly like to see you try out the 2.6.30.5 or the 2.6.31rc kernel along with the most up to date drivers from the XorgEdgers repository. Performance with those optimizations is honestly quite remarkable.

    Furthermore, I would suggest looking over lesswatts.org as well as running the PowerTOP application to see what is unnecessary. For instance, I have a script that disables my PCMCIA slot given that I do not use it. I also have my RJ11 based modem disabled. I have LaptopMode enable automatically when I unplug A/C power and disable when I plug in A/C power.

    Additionally, why did you turn off auto dimming?? That is a great feature that severely crippled the performance of Ubuntu yet again.

    As for Firefox/Shiretoko (Shiretoko is the codename for Firefox 3.5) that is a known issue with lazy programming. Downloading the Noscript or Adblock extension helps immensely with performance. Additionally Shiretoko/FF3.5 has a vastly improved engine when compared to FF3.0.

    Additionally, I don't believe you stated what file system you were using. EXT4 is vastly superior to EXT3 (While it isn't the default, among Linux users, it is rare for someone to choose EXT3 over EXT4) - especially when boot times are involved. Even still, it sounds like there was a broken script or something - Ubuntu 9.04 has the fastest startup/shutdown I have ever experienced.

    Honestly, Ubuntu seemed to draw the short end of the stick here. It takes time to configure the OS - I honestly expect more time to be given to configuring it like the other ones.
    Reply
  • smitty3268 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    While I agree with most of your points (you can definitely tweak linux down to the bare bones much more than something like XP to save power), I think it is perfectly acceptable to use a default distro that is commonly used. After all, he didn't go through the Windows registry, disabling services and hacking stuff there either.

    But in the end, let's face it. Firefox and Flash are horribly optimized for Linux. It's not exactly a surprise that they suck down more juice, given that they usually take about 5 times more CPU power than under windows.
    Reply
  • Gamingphreek - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Well that is the inherent difference between Linux and Windows.

    Thats like saying you aren't going to download and install drivers for Windows - Linux comes with all of them...

    And as a slight correction, Firefox isn't really the problem and Flash is horrible for any/everything BUT Windows.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    As stated, it wasn't intended to be a Linux review. This is a well-known Linux distro that is supposed to be "easy". I don't have the time nor inclination -- just like 99.9% of users -- to go into detailed steps for hacking and modding Linux. I fully understand that it is highly customizable, but so is a car if you're inclined to go that route. I drive a stock vehicle, and I use a stock OS.

    Downloading drivers isn't the same thing as downloading the latest kernels, creating your own conf files, and manually entering all sorts of settings that help enable/disable items to provide better power saving. My conclusion pretty much sums up my feelings: the out-of-box experience for Ubuntu is nothing special for a laptop, and if you are expecting it to "just work" you'll be disappointed.

    Given how much is available for tweaking in the Linux community, I'm frankly surprised that no one has apparently spent the time to make the default configuration far more sensible and easier to live with. I know how much fun it is to download and compile programs and edit configuration files, but I'd rather just have an easy interface that works without a ton of effort.

    I also fully recognize the inherent problems with Flash, so I put in numbers with Firefox and FlashBlock. It helps, but it doesn't help enough to equal the default Windows setup. There are other browser options of course, and if/when I get time I'll see about looking at some of them.
    Reply
  • ekul - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Ubuntu is a poor distro for battery life out of the box as many of its default settings belong on a desktop or even server system. With a bit of tweaking though it can easily get better battery life then windows. My netbook struggled to get 2 hours in XP, in ubuntu I can easily see 2:45 or more.

    As has been mentioned by at least one other commenter use the powertop tool (sudo apt-get install powertop && sudo powertop). This was written by intel to help find applications and drivers that were waking up the cpu too much and hurting battery life even if they didn't appear to be using very many system resources. The tool itself looks for many settings that are not optimal for battery life and offers to correct them for you so you don't have to go on a treasure hunt at all. I'd love to see what kind of improvement could be made with that tool alone.

    As an aside, a major oversight is idle battery life. All of your tests feature the OS as the minor player in the war against power consumption. In each test you have an application eating the majority of the resources. You should fully charge the battery and let the laptop idle at the desktop until it dies, testing each OS's ability to sleep long running processes and services. Perhaps leave an office suite, browser idling on a page and wifi connected to stop the runtime for taking too long.

    Finally using flash heavy websites heavily skews the results for both OS and browser battery life tests since you are sending both into battle missing limbs. It is well known flash is poorly written software at the best of times, causing well over 60% of all firefox and IE crashes. It has rudimentary 64 bit support, doesn't support hardware acceleration on anything but windows and if it isn't playing video (covered by the dvd test) is almost certainly on the page to serve an ad. No browser has any sort of control over flash (though chrome does its best to reign it in) so your browser tests amount to little more then a test of flash. Flash sucks even in windows but in linux it is truly awful (as is almost all closed source code for linux).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    The second batch of sites was hardly Flash-heavy. Yahoo and MSN have one Flash ad, YouTube has none, and the Facebook login page is just text and images.

    FWIW, I did run an "idle at desktop" test on Ubuntu on the NV52 and got a time of 204 minutes. That compares to 242 minutes under Vista, or a 18.6%. There are a LOT of other things I still need to look at, however -- including different power schemes, tweaked profiles, etc.

    If I'm going to try to improve the Linux results in every way possible, it's only fair to do the same for Windows.
    Reply
  • ekul - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Because the linux and windows philosophy is so different a different approach has to be taken to setting them up and running them. With windows initial setup is very simple and has vendor support for things like drivers. Over time problems begin to appear and cleanup/formatting becomes necessary. Most linux distros integrate all possible hardware support and target lowest common denominator hardware to ensure broad compatibility at the expensive of performance. Once they have been tweaked they will continue to run indefinitely at that level.

    With windows you have ease now for pain later. With linux you have pain now for ease later. This means running things like powertop and changing the init options to run in parallel would be the same as cleaning a registry in windows rather than something like disabling services in windows. I spent one afternoon tweaking my netbook and now it runs much smoother and faster then it ever did with windows plus the battery life is longer. Changing config options and customizing for your hardware is the reality with linux the same way random problems cropping over time is the reality with windows. If linux distros are to be punished for ease of setup issues then windows must be punished for altered performance 6 months from now. Linux is getting better however, and different distros ship with very different defaults. Ubuntu is really debian unstable repackaged for the server/desktop which means at its very heart it is a server distro. For future tests opensuse may be the best choice to represent laptop/desktop defaults.

    FWIW if you want to find the real options in linux for power management you should look in /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/. The options in the gnome power management panel only really deal with monitors. But again 3 minutes with powertop and I'm certain you will see an improvement.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I'll look into powertop in a while. The issues with Windows really have a lot more to do with users than with the platform as a whole. My work PC has been running without any problems and without reinstalling the OS for over three years. My gaming system is in a similar state, and both have been through a few hardware upgrades, plus various driver and software installations.

    I don't run any "internet security suite" - be it McAfee, Norton, AVG, or anyone else. No AV, not even anti-malware (though I have scanned with Spybot S&D, Ad-Aware, and HiJackThis on occasion just to make sure). Why am I problem free? Because I know what I'm doing.

    I think the same could be said of Linux users: they're mostly problem free because they know what they're doing, and they could be problem free in Windows if they wanted to put in a small amount of effort.

    Put your average user in front of a Ubuntu installation -- or any Linux installation -- and they're going to be lost as soon as they want to do more than run email, OpenOffice, and surf the Internet. "But that's all you need!" Exactly: all you need and all you want are not the same. Windows makes it perhaps too easy for people that haven't got a clue to install programs and screw things up. LOL
    Reply
  • Gamingphreek - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Honestly, all the configuration I suggested takes a few minutes at most. There is no compiling from source and no generating makefiles.

    As someone said earlier, Linux and Windows have different philosophies in terms of setup. Linux is an OS that depends on customization, at least SOME time needs to be put in configuring it.

    Running powertop and writing a bash script takes a mere 5 minutes and can save >30 minutes of battery life in some cases. Enabling laptop mode is literally as simple as opening a file and changing the value from 0 to 1.

    Updating the kernel, mesa, and graphics is literally 6 (2 for each -- 1 to add the repository and 1 to add the key) commands long and takes <5 minutes.

    I understand this isn't an article on Linux, but these are not in depth tweaks and are things that anyone running Linux on a laptop will typically do.

    Finally, you state that an average user would be lost in Linux. Honestly this is Anandtech - a very well known and reputable Tech based website. "Average users" typically do not venture here. Should you guys stop talking about Processor Architecture since people wont know what it means?
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    My father needed to move suddenly due to a job change, so I hooked him up with a computer I scavenged out of the trash at work. It had a XP license key on it, but thanks to their wonderful restrictions on what what disc can install what version I had no working installer for that key. So I threw Ubuntu on there, which does indeed do everything he needs (allow him to play with his investments and watch Hulu). He called last weekend asking where to find a driver for a printer that was not included by default, as the solution involved several lines of code he decided to just wait until I can walk him through setting up Remote Desktop and do it from here. Reply
  • Mattus27 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    I can't believe you tested using live dynamic websites, instead of just downloading a page and all its resources and running the test from disk. The drawbacks of that should have been fairly obvious. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    The problem is, there is a ton of JavaScript involved with any current website, and getting all of the content for an offline version isn't quite that simple. Go try it: download everything for www.AnandTech.com to your PC and then look at that file and compare it to how the site actually looks. Try that with Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, MSN, CNN, HardOCP, FiringSquad, SlashDot, TechReport, etc. and you will find they all need tweaking to look anything approaching correct. (Well, maybe not every single one of them, but most will still end up with JavaScript files that load content from dynamic web servers.)

    Anyway, I wanted to test with "real" content and not some bogus artificial test that doesn't have anything to do with what real Internet sites are like (i.e. some of the MobileMark stuff has very questionable testing procedures). I wanted something I had control of that would still tax PCs like a real website. I've got some downloaded sites and I've been going through the HTML and modifying it to hopefully create a "static" page that I can host on our server and still have it work more or less correctly. That of course means another batch of testing, but so far it's looking good.

    I debated scrapping the current article, but figured some would enjoy the read and the joys of testing multiple different OSes. Besides, this way I can get feedback on what other tests you might like to see.
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    How about setting up a local caching web proxy and having all the machines connect via the proxy? It won't completely eliminate the variances of internet routing/throughput and connecting to live sites, but it should minimize them.

    As for Wi-Fi (and interference from your 2.4GHz phone), leave the Wi-Fi enabled and connected, but go ahead and connect the machines using Ethernet. The difference is drain of a modern Wi-Fi transceiver when transmitting/receiving vs "idle" is fairly small, so simply having it on and connected to the Wi-Fi access point (which will occasionally "talk" to each connected client") should be sufficient from a power draw standpoint while using Ethernet for the active network connection will be more reliable and won't be subject to the interference. You can put the Wi-Fi on a subnet that does not route to your proxy/firewall and/or give it no default gateway, which will ensure that all the real traffic in on Ethernet. You could add in an occasional Ping from each client to the WAP to ensure that the Wi-Fi card/connection stays active.


    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Well I certainly agree that testing dynamic websites at different times is not the way to go.

    I can also understand what you are saying about trying to download a site and all the related resources, I've tried in the past and the browser method doesn't work.

    You'll probably need an external tool to download the site and all it's resources. A quick google search came up with this tool, http://www.surfoffline.com/">http://www.surfoffline.com/, I've never used it but it has a trial and it sounds like you can download entire websites and export them. Worth a shot anyways, there's probably a bunch of tools like this that "hopefully" work as advertised :-)

    Reply
  • Lowly Worm - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    ".. we ran the same test under Windows Vista and a cheat significantly better battery life. "

    Heh.. DragonSpeak "a-cheating" on you? Makes for interesting phonetic typos.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Yup. Thanks for the correction - was supposed to be "achieved", naturally. :) Reply
  • lordmetroid - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    The Linux distribution you tested while mainstream, maybe not as tailored to mobility as say the Moblin distribution by intel, though still in Beta, I would loved to have seen that distribution tested considering it is specially built with focus on mobile platforms. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Links please? I'm not a Linux guru by any stretch of the imagination, so if there's a "better" Linux option out there for testing I'm willing to give it a look. Ideally, I need something similar for the AMD platform. Reply
  • prince34 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    You could always look a UNR(Ubuntu Netbook Remix) as a netbook distro. It's what I use on mine. I've done some comparisons to XP on it, and it seems to follow the trends you are seeing, but not with as much disparity.

    http://www.ubuntu.com/GetUbuntu/download-netbook">http://www.ubuntu.com/GetUbuntu/download-netbook
    Reply
  • smitty3268 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure Moblin is really a "mainstream" linux option at this point, it's more of an Intel "look at what we can do on netbooks" research project. It does supposedly have 5 second boot times. I suspect your tests here are almost completely dependent on the browser and Flash anyway, and the video drivers. All areas that Linux does not excel at - battery and performance testing of Linux + Apache or file serving would no doubt be much better.

    http://moblin.org/downloads">http://moblin.org/downloads, if you really want to try it.
    Reply
  • smitty3268 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Or the LiveCD version: http://moblin.org/documentation/test-drive-moblin">http://moblin.org/documentation/test-drive-moblin Reply
  • smitty3268 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Firefox for Linux is well known to be terribly slow and unoptimized compared to the Windows version. It would be interesting to see the battery results from running the Windows version through WINE on Ubuntu, just to see how that compares - I know it blows the Linux native version away as far as javascript performance is concerned, and I'm sure Flash is the same. You could also try Chrome, since I've heard it works quite fast, even though it's still in beta. Reply
  • Chlorus - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    But how could that happen? I thought Linux was the most awesome OS ever? All the people on slashdot said so! Are you saying they lied? M$ SHILL!!! Reply
  • smitty3268 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If you read what I was saying, it doesn't have anything to do with linux, it's a Firefox problem. They've got performance bug reports that say, "fixed, for windows. we could do this for linux but not worth the effort." They don't even enable profiled compilation, which is good for a 10-15% boost on windows. Reply
  • smitty3268 - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Also, Ubuntu 9.04 (and other distros released last spring) had a terrible, terrible regression with Intel video driver performance. I'm not sure how much that really affects battery life, but it definitely could. Something to keep in mind, anyway, as you compare the differences between the two laptops. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    It's true about the intel driver, but let's be honest, if it wasn't the graphics driver it'd be pulse audio, or using 64 bit instead of 32 bit firefox, ext4 whatever... Seems linux get's alot of excuses for it's problems.

    I'm pretty tired of ubuntu and fedora. Releasing half-finished, barely tested, OS's to the masses is not doing linux a favour, but as the answer to everything is it's fixed in svn... you're kinda stuck.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    I followed a guide on fixing Intel GPU performance in Ubuntu... I don't know if it really worked or not, but here's the reference:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1130582">Jaunty with Intel Performance Guide. I stayed with the default kernel and the "Safe" configuration, which may be partly to blame for suboptimal results. Then again, the ATI platform fared worse under Jaunty.
    Reply
  • Veerappan - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure if it's possible at this point, but if you can, would it be possible to try out a copy of the 9.10 Alphas that are available? They should hopefully fix some of the intel driver regressions.

    Also, as an FYI/diagnostic, there's a CPU speed applet that is available in Gnome. Right click the top panel, select 'add to panel', and then somewhere there's a cpu speed monitor. That can be used to see if SpeedStep/Cool'n'Quiet are working correctly. You can even take it a step further, and change the permissions of the applet to allow you to change which CPU speed governor is active if you find that the CPU is running at full speed constantly.
    Reply
  • lyeoh - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    By the way, you should not use external sites during your test. The fact that you said "perhaps a Flash ad server was temporarily down" means you are doing it wrong.

    Different flash ads could be very different in CPU usage.

    What you should do is snapshot/save the complete pages loaded from the websites you want, put them on a standardized webserver under your control, and then get the browsers to load the pages from that webserver. Disconnect the test network from the internet to prove that the page loads up fine without requiring external connections (css etc). You may need to include a test DNS server that fakes the replies, or stick to using IP addresses to access the test pages e.g. http://10.5.5.1/site1/testpage1.html">http://10.5.5.1/site1/testpage1.html http://10.5.5.1/site2/testpage1.html">http://10.5.5.1/site2/testpage1.html http://10.5.5.1/site3/testpage1.html">http://10.5.5.1/site3/testpage1.html

    Once you have standardized on a set of pages, this means you don't have to redo the tests on all computers weeks/months later when you have another laptop to test. You only need to test the new device - since the pages are the same. Don't change the webserver too much either (but given the low loads it's unlikely to affect things much - unless it's really really slow).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Already in progress, after my round two Internet testing still proved too variable. As noted elsewhere, though, I want the content to be as close to realistic as possible. Law of averages says that most of the ads will balance out. It's also possible my home wireless phone knocked out my home WiFi a few times, which would mean several minutes (more?) of non-traffic. Many times I'm not around while letting the battery drain, since that's a bit of a waste of time.

    I need a new home phone for sure, though. The 2.4GHz model I bought several years back wreaks havoc on my 802.11n network.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    You need a home phone at all? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Babysitters might need something to call us, yeah. Could leave a cell with them I suppose, but I also use it for business/fax. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    I highly recommend the Uniden DECT6.0 models. The kit I got about 6 months ago to replace crappy old units was ~$110 for 3 units. Additional units (if your manion requires :) can be added easily to the setup for another $30-40. No wireless issues whatsoever. And it's the first phone I've been able to use out to my curb without issues (brick exterior with plaster walls = bad signal). The only gripe I have is there doesn't appear to be a way to change the caller ID name when it comes in. You can program your own numbers in, but when you receive a call it always shows only how caller ID recognizes it.

    Got mine from the egg.
    Reply
  • mschira - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    on my Atom based laptop. Flash is mostly used for annoying advertising. And it eats CPU, makes the budy slow.
    Booo to flash...
    M.
    Reply
  • dnd728 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    If Adobe merely added a button to freeze all Flash animations or even just freeze all Flash in non-active tabs, then like a hundred power plants could have been scraped… Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Which is what FlashBlock does. :) Of course, Linux browsers by default don't normally auto-play Flash I don't think. I enabled that with Firefox and then used FlashBlock to stop it, just for an "apples-to-unoptimized-apples" comparison to Vista. Reply
  • bigboxes - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    Whatever. I use adblock plus and see few ads. Flash, however, is a part of how we view the internet. It's a part of our experience. If you want a text only internet please feel free to step back in the wayback machine to 1988. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    When surfing on my iTouch, I find that the vast majority of websites display almost the same (complete with images) despite the lack of Flash, and Java as well for that matter (it does at least support JS). There are just the odd undisplayed areas which in most cases are where I know ads would be normally. A very few websites use Flash for navigation and content display without any alternative version of the site available, but the overwhelming majority of sites display fine.

    That being said, I would prefer to have the option to enable Flash and/or Java if I wished, but would probably leave Flash off most of the time given the likely impact it would have on battery-life and overall responsiveness.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Is there a way to force a mobile version of ESPN that still displays all the links that are flash on the main site? Reply
  • emboss - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    For day-to-day browsing I have flash turned off. Even on Windows it speeds things up, and as a bonus kills most of the ads that try and get around ad blocking. Excluding YouTube videos, I maybe have to enable it once a month or so to use a site that's broken enough to require it.

    Then again, I use the internet for information rather than entertainment, and things like MSDN don't require flash :)
    Reply
  • sc3252 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    Flash isnt really a part, you can view most sites without it. The only sites that really need it are those crapy sites you really dont want to be at.
    Another nice point to make is how poorly optimized flash is for GNU/Linux. I am not surprised when using firefox without blocking flash you get such lower battery life since there is almost no acceleration on GNU/Linux. With a 3.2ghz core 2 I can't watch fullscreen flash without skipping and jerking on Debian testing.
    Reply
  • pcfxer - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    With my 2.9GHz Athlon X2 5000+ BE, 4GB RAM on PC-BSD 64-bit (with the stock nvidia drivers), I am able to view full screen HD flash without a hint of trouble. This is handled via binary emulation of Linux running Firefox linux with linux flash plugins.

    Perhaps, anand could test a REAL Unix-like OS and try out PC-BSD. It is MORE "free" than Linux (GPL).
    Reply
  • pcfxer - Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - link

    I realize that some people may mistake this "REAL Unix-like" for seriousness, it is a joke btw. That said, I am serious about testing PC-BSD - I am a tester for them anyhow ;). Reply

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