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Posted on November 17th, 2010 by Darien Graham-Smith

The best netbook OS: XP, Windows 7 or Ubuntu?

Samsung NF210 netbook

With the arrival last month of Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, it’s time to revisit a familiar question: which operating system is best for a netbook? Linux-based systems may seem well-suited to lightweight devices (the original Asus Eee PC ran Xandros Linux), but there are advantages to the familiar interface and applications of Windows.

Indeed, if you buy a netbook today it will probably come with Windows 7 Starter, while older models are likely to be running Windows XP. Still, it’s easy to move from either to Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and of course it’s free. If you want to upgrade an older netbook to Windows 7 you’ll have to shell out £65 for the Home Premium edition, as Starter isn’t sold separately.

Each of these four operating systems has its attractions, but the key question is how each one performs on low-powered netbook hardware. To find the answer, I’ve spent the past few days installing them all – Windows XP Home, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Premium and Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, with all available updates – on an Asus Eee PC 1008HA, and timing a series of typical netbook tasks to discover which OS makes the most of lightweight hardware.

Test 1: Starting up and suspending

Nobody wants to wait around for their netbook to start up, or to wake from sleep. Happily, suspend and resume worked perfectly on all four operating systems, so I was able to time how many seconds each took to sleep and resume from an idle desktop, along with boot times from cold.


As you can see, I tested Windows 7 Home Premium with both the Basic theme and the standard Aero theme. For this exercise it doesn’t make much difference, but I suspected it might on later tests.

Result: Windows 7 is slower to boot than XP or Ubuntu, and the Home Premium edition, with its full complement of services and features, is the slowest OS. However, most of the time we expect you’ll be resuming a netbook from sleep, and here it’s effectively a three-way tie, with XP only a few seconds slower than the rest.

Test 2: Opening applications

For this test I used the latest version of OpenOffice.Org on all platforms (with the “Quickstarter” disabled) and opened the applications by double-clicking on a .DOC file and a .XLS file that had been copied to the local desktop. I opened each file twice, to get a measure of how quickly the applications were able to launch both from cold and once cached.


Result: Windows XP was clearly the fastest OS at opening and reopening applications, while Windows 7 Home Premium did poorly, especially with Aero screen composition disabled. Interestingly, Windows 7 Starter scored a consistent second place, while Ubuntu failed to distinguish itself.

Test 3: Web performance

For this test I loaded a variety of JavaScript- and CSS-heavy web pages into the latest version of Google Chrome and used the browser’s built-in monitoring tool to time how long each one took to render.


Result: Given the timescales we’re dealing with (that Y axis is in seconds), this is essentially a draw, though enabling Aero seems to have a deleterious effect on Windows 7 Home Premium — strangely, the opposite to the effect observed in the applications test.

Test 4: Flash benchmark

To test Flash performance I used the free Flash Benchmark 2008 by Snails Animation, using the latest version of Flash available within Chrome. None of the platforms was able to get further than the medium-detail test. This graph measures frames per second, so taller bars are better.


Result: Aero seems to knock a few per cent off Flash performance, but it’s clearly Ubuntu that fares worst. Linux users have long grumbled about second-class Flash support, and these scores illustrate their point.

Test 5: Video performance

WMV and MPEG4 video files at resolutions up to 720p played perfectly well “out of the box” under all operating systems. However, none of the operating systems could cope with HD files from either YouTube or BBC iPlayer — in all cases the framerate dropped to only a few frames per second, making videos wholly unwatchable.


Result: Ubuntu’s poor Flash performance seems to drag it down in iPlayer: in windowed mode, video was slightly jerky, and in full screen mode it was too juddery to enjoy. The YouTube player seems to suit Ubuntu, though, while visiting the same site in Windows 7 caused videos to stutter too much for comfort.


There’s no reason not to give Ubuntu’s latest Netbook Edition a try — after all, it’s free, and it’ll run direct from a USB flash drive or coexist with your existing OS. The simple Unity interface is arguably better-suited to a basic netbook role than either the dated XP interface or the feature-rich Windows 7 front end.

For basic web and productivity tasks, Ubuntu’s performance appears no better than Windows, and for online video and games it’s distinctly worse. So while Ubuntu gains marks for openness and simplicity, there are still good reasons to hang on to Windows, at least until Adobe gets Flash up to speed.

If you’re currently running XP, though, it’s probably not worth paying for an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium: that OS isn’t designed for low-power devices, and it gave wayward performance in several of our tests. XP proved a stronger performer overall, and was the only OS to give a good experience across the iPlayer and YouTube tests. The interface is showing its age, but if that bothers you you can dual-boot Ubuntu and get the best of both worlds.

If, on the other hand, you’re shopping for a new netbook, Windows 7 Starter isn’t a bad deal. It’s not very customisable (for example, you can’t change the desktop wallpaper) and it doesn’t include any goodies such as Media Center or encryption tools; but its comparatively light weight lets it boot and open applications more quickly than Home Premium. Nor is Windows 7 as nippy as XP, but from an overall performance perspective the Starter edition’s as good as Ubuntu, and better with Flash content. By all means test-drive Ubuntu, but the truth is that no OS will magically turbo-charge your netbook.

Update: For those interested in battery life and more general comparisons of Windows and Ubuntu, also check out Barry Collins’ comparison of Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.4.

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87 Responses to “ The best netbook OS: XP, Windows 7 or Ubuntu? ”

  1. Jonathan Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Any observations that aren’t from the stopwatch?

  2. Paul Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Ubuntu Rocks! I am one satisfied Ubuntu user.

    Why can’t BBC make its iPlayer run as good as YouTube on Ubuntu??!?

  3. Ryan Thomas Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Excellent blog, Darien. I’m on my 5th netbook OS: it came with Linpus Lite (meh), then I tried the eval version of Windows 7 (not bad, but eventually timed out), then Moblin (okay – slightly confusing interface but I dropped it when it started becoming Meego), then Jolicloud (hmm, not sure about the interface or available ‘apps’) and finally, yesterday, Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook (still early days, but it’s a good start and I’ll probably stick with it).

  4. Darien Graham-Smith Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Jonathan: A fair question. I chose to focus on performance because I think most of us know what Windows XP and 7 are like from a usability standpoint, whereas performance data is harder to come by.
    But for what it’s worth, I personally think the new Ubuntu interface works well on a netbook, and I’d encourage anyone who’s curious to give it a try. For the reasons given above, I wouldn’t advocate ditching Windows today, but I’m happy spending most of my time in Ubuntu and only dropping into Windows to use a few specific applications and websites.

  5. Jonathan Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks Darien, will certainly give it a try on my NC10. Other than that it was a v good blog.

    Was surprised how bad the Ubuntu iplayer scores were especially.

  6. David Staples Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Ubuntu runs like an Olympic sprinter on my Samsung Q33 when compared to the doddery, half-dead Windows XP that came with it.

    You must have screwed up the installation somehow.

  7. David Staples Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Sorry, meant Q35.

  8. Dan Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Very interesting to see some empirical results.
    Just from my own my own anecdotal observations, I recently bought an Asus 1001p which came pre-installed with XP. Wanting the latest-and-greatest I did a clean install of Windows 7 Home premium. The trouble was, due to the length of time it took to actually do anything useful from resume, login, open a browser (chrome) and view a web page, I just stopped using the thing.
    Looking to breathe some new life into it, I decided to install Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook edition – and boy what a turn around! Again, the results above seem to conflict a little with what I have experienced, but resuming from sleep to actually opening and using a browser session seems a lot quicker, and I am actually using my netbook again on a daily basis…
    I also like the fact that Ubuntu NE has the unity interface as it means I no longer mentally think of the netbook as just-a-small-laptop, but is now more of a peripheral device that sits somewhere between a smartphone and a full-blown laptop or desktop (which is why I continue to use Windows 7 on my main laptop and desktop)

  9. Richard Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    An interesting article. For me the choices hinges on MS Office vs OpenOffice. If OpenOffice is ‘good enough’ then Ubuntu is an option, if you need real Office then forget Ubuntu you might as well stick with XP or Win 7.

  10. Alan Graham Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Did you test booting with an antivirus programme for Windows.

    Maybe Ubuntu would streak ahead in the boot time!!

  11. Craig Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    A much better article. This is much more like the PCPro we used to love. Just the right amount of geekiness and real world facts.

  12. Enn Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I think future MEEGO can do better. lol

  13. Nick T. Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    You can use Wine or Crossover to run Word,etc. if you can’t work with OpenOffice’s limitations.

  14. mt10 Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Ubuntu sucks. Just install CP/M!

  15. W. Anderson Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I have made timing test on Asus eeePC with Ubuntu 10.10 netbook version against pre-installed Windows XP.
    My results were different, resulting in Ubuntu boot times significantly faster, and applications startup equally faster on Ubuntu.
    I used AbiWord instead of OpenOffice, and Google Chrome for browser, both of which are more suited to low power computer.

    What does this mean for these small, individual test?

    Everyone consumer tester I used concluded that Ubuntu was aesthetically cleaner, and “appeared” to them to be more responsive.

  16. rogerdugans Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Interesting results.

    I have only used Win7 once (on a desktop), and was happy to see vast improvement over Vista.

    I HAVE messed with netbooks quite a bit however, and eventually had to replace my 70 year old mothers original netbook OS (XP) with Mepis Linux because the wildlife videos she watches WOULD NOT PLAY WITH XP.

    Funny thing, that, because with linux not only do they play but she can have two running quite well, simultaneously, even when using an evdo cell connection.

  17. Gerry M. Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve been running Ubuntu on my Toshiba netbook for over a year now. Installation was straightforward and I’m very pleased with the performance. This machine is primarily a business tool for me so I mostly use Thunderbird email, Firefox and OpenOffice.

  18. vladi Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    You run the tests on fresh install, but Your results will be much, much different if you run it when you install ms office, acro reader, winamps and other userland stuff on the windowses. Ubuntu will always boot up with the same speed (if you don’t start mail/web/db daemons). It is absolutely irrelevant how fast OS boots after fresh install. It’s much more important how fast will it boot after month, year and so.

  19. MalFal Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    It’ll be interesting how Ubuntu fares after the new scheduling patch is in. It’s supposed to give an incredible performance boost. I hope testing is redone with the updated kernel when it’s available.

  20. trey Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    How about a quick test on memory usage?

  21. arnaud Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t know where you got some of those stats but on my netbook, an out of the box install of ubuntu takes less than 20secs to boot up. In 30secs like seen here, I have the wifi conected, and firefox started on the google page.
    And my Xp takes much longer than 27 secs to boot and be usable. actually, almost twice that time…

  22. Jordan Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    No mention of battery life?

  23. Jake Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I have Ubuntu 10.04 installed on my Dell Mini Inspiron 1012. It’s great, except for battery life, which is much worse than Windows 7 Starter. In Windows, I can get up to 8 hours, whereas in Ubuntu, I get at most 5. This is a big deal for netbooks.

  24. Iain Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Ubuntu works very well on my 1201N.1080p playback via XMBC is very sweet. The first thing I did when I bought it was get rid of Windows.

  25. Erwin M. Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Did you included the needed and always in the background running anti virus software in your benchmarks?

  26. worm Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    i could also agree that ubuntu is much better than windows, since the one i was also using had difficulties on loading windows..but no problems was there when i changed to ubuntu..ubuntu totally rocks.

  27. JustMe Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Typically, when I install Ubuntu, the next step is to disable desktop effects, install proprietary drivers, etc. Was any of this done to the test rig?

  28. Lars Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Hi – nice to see the comparison. Just want to mention: You should include MeeGo. I installed it on an EEE 901 and it runs VERY fast – including smooth 3D graphics. I don’t know how Intel managed to get such good performance out of it – but it just works. Startup/shutdown in seconds and usability is excellent.

  29. Bill Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Conspicuously missing is any testing of perhaps the most important issue, battery life. I don’t think a second here or there in apps will make much of a difference, but the whole purpose of a netbook is battery life.

  30. tam Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I don’t know how you can measure Windows 7 boot time, unless you disabled Superfetch. Otherwise the boot time changes wildly on each turn.

  31. Karthikeyan A K Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    What you have left is the security risks. XP is very vulnerable to virus and network attacks. Windows 7 is not so but vulnerable enough, but Ubuntu is almost entirely safe.

  32. GrueMaster Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Installing Ubuntu 10.10 without any tweaking is fairly comparable to the Windows 7 with Aero enabled, as desktop effects are enabled by default. Disabling them can actually speed up Ubuntu usage, depending on the system. Also, it would be nice to have the specs for the system being tested (processor model/speed, graphics, memory, hard drive).

    Last summer, I bought a new Acer Aspire One 532H, and other than the non-functional SD card reader, everything on it works in Ubuntu (card reader is currently not supported in the kernel – not Ubuntu’s fault). It came preloaded with Windows 7, and the boot time was around 1 minute. Ubuntu takes 15 seconds. It is quick enough to not even bother with suspend/resume. After swapping the drive with an ssd, it is even quicker.

  33. Stas Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    This blog answers the question of which boots faster and which is the faster web-user, but what about measuring the performance with multiple applications running? 5-10 is reasonable to demand. Sample of my taskbar:
    Audio Player
    E-Mail Client
    Internet Browser
    PDF Reader

    At any time I may wish to add: Office Applications, another browser window, video player, video chat…

    My suspicion is that Ubuntu should begin to be differentiated positively here. Things like loading documents quickly, handling flash/javascript – those are processor duties, and here Atom is going to do more or less reasonably well (up to implementation) on either OS. On the other hand, memory/priority management goes to the OS, and this is where Linux fairs better, and that is where multitasking abilities come in.

  34. Ciphersson Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    He for got critical test. I 6 months come back to the same installs and redo all the test. I would bet 100.00 bucks ubuntu is still the same and any of the windows machines haves slowed to a crawl.

  35. Sean Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I too would be interested to see the same tests run after 6 months of regular use. I dual boot Ubuntu 10.10 (standard desktop) and Windows 7 on an Aspire One 532h and Windows has slowed down considerably.

    However Pulseaudio is still broken for the Aspire and there’s no Linux driver for the card reader but it was a simple bit of scripting to flip the screen between portrait and landscape or create a scrollable virtual desktop in Ubuntu…..something that requires money in Windows (if it’s to be usable).

  36. SJ Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I have an Asus1000HE which came with XP pre-installed. I upgraded it to 2gb of RAM. It was very slow coming out of hibernate and very slow powering up. I have since installed (dual boot) 10.04 Ubuntu and upgrade to 10.10 Ubuntu. Ubuntu boots in 35 seconds and shuts down in 5 seconds whereas XP was usable around 2 minutes. I have found that XP reigns in battery life. However, as a device I use primarily for web surfing, Ubuntu is the way to go.

  37. talishte Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    No body say some thing about Antivirus software, hardisk deframentation, and batery life. I think if you compare the same test benchmark with 2 weeks old of standard use, we will get the real test. GNU/Linux rulz and maybe you should test against Meego

  38. Brian Redfern Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Well you can turbo charge ubuntu in various ways. You can compile a custom kernel or install the unofficial realtime kernel. You can turn off extra services. But a ordinary user won’t have the skills to do that themselves.

  39. JoeB Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    ok so now lets load up all the anti-virus crap you will need to run with windows and run the tests again… (or wait a week of unprotected browsing an retest)

  40. Me Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Well… what this says is that you believe that web, flash, startup/shutdown times, and time to open Microsoft generated documents are what you believe are the most important things to netbook owners… Hm…

    Firstly, WRT results of your benchmarks… My observation is that except for flash benchmarks, Ubuntu is really looking rather nice as an alternative to Windows! If I’m not interested in BBC… and I trans-code my videos to something more palatable to the OS… then I can have quite a nice experience.

    Secondly, WRT what you left out of your benchmarks… Will you post the results using gnash as the flash player on Ubuntu as well? Will you also post results of opening the documents that have been saved in /native/ ODF format in Open Office? One more thing… _The_ killer Netbook application is actually none of your examples — it’s Skype. You need to have this in your lineup.

    There is one other killer application on Windows — Netflix. You can’t watch Netflix videos on your Netbook on Linux because it’s just not supported… But, my question is — even if I could use it, would the quality be even passable on a Netbook? For now, I’m just copying my videos from DVD to pen-drives, and that works fine with great quality, albiet a bit cumbersome. Wonder what quality I would get doing the same with a Blue-Ray… I’ll have to try that.

    Lastly, WRT to what I was really hoping to see from this… I was hoping to see a more qualitative analysis… I wanted to see a comparison of usable screen space. How quickly and easily I could find an application and run it. I wanted to see your opinion on interactive “feel” switching between Web application and office application. I wanted your impression on raw power… compiling (make -j4) of some application that can be used on both platforms. I wanted your impression of interactivity of other applications (web and office) while that cpu hog (make -j4) is running. I wanted your impression about how skype performs while you do all this.

  41. Metagi Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    This is pure MS marketing. I have been running ultimately optimized XP Home, yet finally got upset. lubuntu with lxde is some 3-10 times faster and literally flies instead og lagging windows.

  42. Ryan Thomas Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    @Me – flippin’ heck, you don’t want much, do you? Have you ever thought of doing all your tests yourself? And as for Netflix being a killer application… so ‘killer’ is it that I don’t know a single person who has used it, the main reason being that it’s not available in the UK. Go figure why it wasn’t included in the test.

  43. Robert Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I assume that these were all fresh installs. My experience with Windows in general is that it can slow down significantly over time and sometimes requires a reboot. In my experience, Linux does not seem to slow down like Windows does and generally requires no reboots.

  44. jim Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Windows XP is not supported by Microsoft anymore, “”" it’s a DEAD OS “”" So why use a the slower Windows 7 on a Netbook can someone tell me why?? The first thing I did with my Netbook was a Ubuntu install. I never booted $$$Windows.

  45. WilliamW Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    ‘talishte’ is right:
    XP when new can seem great. The trouble is that it gets too easily bogged down, and not just with AV software. Do the tests in 6 months and I predict the results will be quite different.

    My personal favourite system for speed in booting up is a recent flavour of Puppy, running in RAM – it’s blazingly fast on very modest hardware.

  46. Vishnu Rao Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:29 am

    This analysis is flawed. Try this test on netbooks that have had the OS installed for a few months (or atleast few weeks). The XP and Win 7 OS performance degrades with time, with all the junk accumulating from various applications being installed( and removed).

    Compare with Ubuntu performance. It has the same boot time a few months after installation as it had when you first installed it.

    And performance is not the only criteria. Battery life is the biggest one. Any stats?

  47. Peter Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 2:02 am

    What video drivers were used in these tests? Did any of them offload video decoding to the GPU? I specifically bought my daughter an ASUS 1201N because it had an Nvidia card that supported VDPAU.

    What player software did you use? If you want a level playing field use smplayer which has Windows and Linux versions.

  48. cc Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Wow! I really happy with XP! I saw Windows 7 is horrific and slow than other OS! I refuse to buy Windows 7 due to bloat made by Microsoft!!!

  49. CFGR Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Interesting – my observations with SuSe 11.3, on 2 laptops, a desktop and a CULV mini-netbook, have produced almost exactly a mirror-image of the reported test results.
    Is it because the Samsung firmware is heavily biassed to Win, or Ubuntu is one of the less effective Linux distros or that a loyal MS user carried out the tests?
    In all cases Linux was fastest.

    PS Win 7 is Home Premium version

  50. CFGR Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 6:12 am

    Oh! I was involved in beta testing Win7 and think it’s, overall, the best Win offering yet – providing you have >2Gb RAM.

  51. keithrider Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I run XP and Ubuntu netbook on a 10 year old IBM Thinkpad. 95% of the time I run it with Ubuntu as it works fine.

  52. Thomas Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 7:44 am

    I have made a small article about how some configuration of Windows 7 can make the operating system work better with a Netbook. Both considering speed and the small screen. Take a look at my blog for more info :

  53. EndsofInvention Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Excellent review. I sincerely think that Windows 7 Starter is the best O/S around. No frills, nothing extraneous, just a stable fast O/S. Up until starter edition Ubuntu ruled the netbook roost IMO but now the lack of good graphics support is showing.

  54. 2Bfair Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Actually the comment you made regarding: “but the truth is that no OS will magically turbo-charge your net-book.” is not at all correct, nor accurate!

    There are in fact several ‘Unix based’ Operating Systems that will make a Net-book or Laptop run at vastly improved speeds! However, many Windows users may find they have to learn some new terms and applications to get the most out of them!

    One example of this, as mentioned, would be ‘Puppy Linux’ ( which will run on most desktop PC’s as well as portable computers and is very fast indeed, since it runs entirely from the RAM. Personally, I like this OS a lot and use it on one of my old x486 PC’s for surfing the Internet, but others may not find it all they wish for!

    There are several other OS’s that are also fast on old PC’s or Net-books/Laptops that those who wish to experiment with may like to try. ~ They are: Lubuntu (, Vector Linux (, WattOS ( and AntiX Linux ( to name but a few!

    There are literally hundreds of other Operating Systems that the vast majority of people are not aware of and even some of those who write articles in popular magazines may never have heard of, let alone tested!

    But one thing is certain, if you want everything to be at the ‘KISS’ standard for average or new users, or, you desire bells and whistles on everything you do, then an ‘OS’ may well need to get much more bloated and correspondingly slower!

    But to compare just a handful of OS’s and make such a bold statement is simply absurd!

    So please don’t make such coments based on such limited information and knowledge as some people may think you are an expert, whereas others may think you totally naive!


  55. Graham Atherton Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Performance in Windows XP pro over the last year of normal work use on both laptop and desktop, wireless and wired internet connections has got very slow & flaky – browsers seem to just stop working. Takes a good 5-10mins to startup – no doubt because of all the programs that have to startup.

    Have tried Ubuntu before & uninstalled after a week or two. The latest version 10 is a different story, installs beuatifully simply as a dual boot system and is up and running in seconds with all the software I need ready to go. No worries about viruses though still trcky to install programs ater a few weeks learning. I now use Ubuntu routinely on my laptop because it is better for that purpose, recommend it to my ‘leisure’ users as it requires very little maintenance and no antivirus – they just need a browser & messenger.
    If I can find a decent alternative for Dreamweaver I will rarely have to go back to Windows. If I stop using Windows I will uninstall it eventually.
    The warmth of the sun is far more powerful that the force of the wind.

  56. MadaboutDana Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Yes, I must say I don’t recognise the Windows XP boot-up time you’ve achieved – it’s much, much quicker than I’ve ever managed! True, if you leave your Asus in “superfast boot” mode (or whatever they call it) – which is a cunning BIOS setting – the machine will APPEAR to boot up much faster into XP. But in practice, you’ll find lots of modules are still being loaded in the background, even after your desktop appears, which means you can’t actually start working on the machine until it’s settled down and released some RAM. Ubuntu, by contrast, boots up and there you are, wham! in a full working environment.

  57. Sercul Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Where’s the graph that compares performance to cost?

    Ubuntu = Free
    Win7 = £(waay more than free)

    Considering the performance of Win7 (or even the old XP) wouldn’t even get off the X-axis for £0, I’m absolutely blown away with Ubuntu (and all it’s variations).

    There are some other good comments here – basically this review is comparing Ubuntu to a Windows world viewpoint, which is probably where most consumers would come from, but after 6-12 months of *buntu / Linux exposure, I’m sure there would be another test that isn’t shown here:

    Smile factor :o )

    (And that’s free too..)

    Good review. Let’s revisit it in a few months…

  58. A3000 Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Very good job. I was thinking that whether it’s possible that someday we can find the OS which combines all the advantages of the XP, Windows 7 and Ubuntu? Haha, it seems to long way to go

  59. Bill Gates Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Someone should think about branching development of XP and tidying up the Interface a just a little, stripping out more of the OS lagware and adding back in useful stuff like CCleaner, VLC and Defraggler. Throw in a decent SSD and a BAT file to run the housekeeping and you have something sweeter than honey.

  60. Dave Smith Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    They didn,t mention what anti virus they used for the two Microsoft OS so the startup times are meaningless

  61. James Griffin Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Other people have already commented, but I’ll just back it up. A good test of the systems should take into account system slowdown over time. I’ve had my netbook for nearly a year now and have mainly used Ubuntu, switching to Windows 7 when watching BBC iPlayer. Even with light use Windows 7 has slowed considerably, whereas Ubuntu is still pretty quick, especially to boot.

    The one downside of Ubuntu is the battery life, for whatever reason it just isn’t as long.

  62. foo Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    You should test the “out of box” experience of Ubuntu and Windows.

    Ubuntu has Firefox, Windows uses Internet Explorer. That would probably give advantage to Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu has OpenOffice, Windows has Wordpad and a simple calculator. Again, Ubuntu is the winner.

  63. Stu Capon Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Wow the comments are not the usual puerile “Windows is the best thing since sliced bread and everything else smells!” that I am used to seeing on these sort of things. to repeat what many other have said this is the antithesis of my experience. Ubuntu for me just works and has worked for so long now booting up windows feels like taking a step back in time. If windows was better at multitasking the need to run AntiVirus 24/7 would not impact so much but it’s not good at multitasking so unless these were done with AV enabled they are skewed in favour of an unrealistic use of Windows. Un-patched un-updated XP is pretty fast but only a fool would run it like that. Windows runs like molasses while the corporate- specified weekly scan is run, leave it on over night you say? Why I say? The challenge is down run the tests after Windows has filled it’s boots with the standard ordure then see that it just isn’t as the results seek to portray. And one question for the MS fans, Was it you who begged them to move the “Show desktop” button to the far right corner? Seriously who was that?

  64. Dave Roberts Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    There are utilities to improve battery life such as eee-control or Jupiter for Asus/netbooks.
    Installation of these on linux improves greatly battery.
    Using a base linux distro install against a base windows install is not a real world comparison.
    Windows user have to add things to the system to keep them safe and useable which slows the system down.
    Linux users add tweaks to speed up and enhance thier systems the distro is a one size fits all system that can be improved easily on specific hardware.

  65. Rambo Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Comapring anything with XP that was built on single processing architecture and released nearly 10 years ago is pretty pointless.

    Now, I can run Windows 7 (Aero turned off) with 512MB RAM and it is fast, just as fast as XP. This is due to the improved memory management amongst other factors.

    Lets remember that ubuntu netbook with unity has a highrer system specification requirements than Windows 7 – too me it is bloated and the slowest of all the mainstream distro’s.

    Simply removing non essential start up programs and process will ensure continued fast boot. It’s become somewhat ‘cool’ to bash windows and praise idiot proof Ubuntu but it’s usually the ex windows users that never had any clue in the first place.

  66. hoblap Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Windows has ALL the software I want freely.

    This don’t happen with Ubuntu. You need WINE, which not always works.

  67. Andrew Fletcher Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    These comparisons would be worth everyone’s time if PC Pro bothered to do them properly. The data is completely meaningless for the following reasons:

    Are the Windows tests done whilst running security software, a necessity for browsing the web? This would adversely affect the performance of the OS if applied.
    Ubuntu comes with open-source implementations of Flash & Java – these generally perform worse than the commercial products and there is no mention of them being changed (can be done in a couple of clicks).
    Ubuntu also comes with open source drivers for most of the hardware – the vendor supplied drivers will result in increased performance if installed (which Ubuntu prompts you to do) – no mention of this.
    Are these tests performed pre or post software updates – could be a very old Windows configuration otherwise.
    Are these new Windows installs – if so performance will only degrade over time due to the registry, need to defrag, lots of startup crap, malware etc… which it wont on Ubuntu.
    ext4 is the default filesystem for Linux but ext2 would likely be faster as it is not a journalling FS – there is no mention that this has been changed.
    The article is also misleading on the following points:

    Fails to mention that Ubuntu can be tweaked endlessly resulting in big performance gains – Windows cannot.
    XP no longer viable as its about to be decommissioned.
    Win7 Starter can only run 3 applications consecutively.
    Ubuntu will not run efficiently run applications that most people are interested in, i.e. iTunes.
    Windows requires a licence at cost.
    Ubuntu is a cutting edge distribution and hence often includes much untested software – Debian would be a more suitable choice to compare against established Microsoft OS’s.
    Ubuntu and Debian use the GNOME environment which isnt really ideal for netbooks, Fluxbox would result in greater performance without loss of functionality.
    Software is all free for Ubuntu; conversely less commercial polish.

  68. Orionds Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    I tried the netbook edition of Ubuntu on my netbook and found it actually slower than the normal desktop version of Ubuntu.

    After a couple of weeks, I switched back to 10.10 desktop. Luckily, I did a Clonezilla backup that allowed me to restore in 5 minutes.

    There is one thing that this review did not test and that is – time. With age, XP degrades rapidly. As a teacher, my students tell me it takes XP 4 and some say 5 minutes to boot up.

    Not only this but also performance takes a huge hit with “age” in XP. Very few of my students use Win 7 as most have not upgraded but I assume that Win 7 is prone to the same aging problems.

    Those of my students who have installed Ubuntu have never complained that Ubuntu is booting slower or performing slower. For over a year, they still maintain that Ubuntu is fast and so they have abandoned XP except when they want to play Windows games.

    The only complaints I get from my students about Ubuntu are teachers who insist on Office 2007 format and e-mail systems maintained by course providers that support only IE.

  69. Ed Reames Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I went through several versions of Linux on my eeePC900 after upgrading the SSD to 32Gig and the RAM to 2Gig.

    I cannot stand an OS that does not let me have multiple windows open thus do not like the Unity interface or any of its variations.

    Currently running Win 7 Pro on the eeePC 900 which seems to run well especially after optimizing for an SSD.

    I have Ubuntu 10.10 dual booted with XP on a 10 year old Thinkpad and 10.10 by itself on a 5 year old Gateway laptop and Win7 running on an ACER nettop so I use several OSs.

  70. handsomeInked Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    @hoblap please elaborate on all the s/w for windows that isn’t readily available for Linux? I will admit that there there are apps that are only available for Windows but penny to a pound there is a perfectly good alternative both free and paid for Linux.

  71. Sandman Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    C’mon BBC player sucks !! Who on earth uses it ?

  72. Rebecca Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Testing against a Windows XP unpatched and without an antivirus, not revealing that Microsoft Office does not come preloaded on a netbook, not mentioning explicitly that Windows XP is not going to be supported anymore by Microsoft, not including information about the plethora of free software that can be easily installed on Ubuntu, not specifying what kind of a netbook and which specs this test is being performed in (keeping in mind that it was because of Microsoft that most Hardware manufacturers had to cripple their netbook offerings), seems to me as a bias towards Microsoft products.
    Rerun this tests, and you shall find a surprise. Rerun this tests after 3 months of normal usage and you’ll find more surprises.
    Users should keep this in mind: Windows 7 starter will not let you connect to your other computer, list network resources, configure a lot of settings, run more than 3 applications at any given time (so the “let’s hear music in winamp while working on a Word document, research some stuff around the web and collaborate using messenger” will not happen, because it’s 4 apps). There’s a lot of disadvantages to Windows 7 Starter that do not happen when using Ubuntu.

  73. Susie Day Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Interestingly, I find that the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10 is slower than the main edition on my netbook. I would have liked to see it added to the list of comparisons, as none of the other OSs (other than 7 starter, perhaps) were built to run on a netbook.

  74. Orionds Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    “Installing and using Ubuntu Netbook Edition
    Or how I learnt to stop worrying and love Linux” – blog by Matt Egan, PC Advisor UK
    November 18, 2010 12:53 PM ET

    I would like to put a couple of quotes here:

    “To fully experience the Ubuntu way of computing, I jettisoned all other digitalia, and went on a business trip armed only with my freshly Linuxed laptop. First impressions: it’s fast. Fast, fast, fast. Clearly, Windows XP was not written for Atom-powered netbooks, but the difference is breath-taking.

    It’s also a stable OS – not once in a day or so of active use did the Eee PC freeze or crash. And the user learning curve is non-existent.”

    “There’s no way I’d revert to XP now, because Ubuntu does everything I need my netbook to do in roughly half the time. It’s quick, as stable as any OS I’ve used, and incredibly simple to use. In fact, it may even be too simple.”

    His foray into Linux was prompted by the fact that, in his words, XP on his Asus eeePC had become a “notbook”.

    It’s obvious that using a netbook is not just about booting up with a brand new machine and a new, clean OS.

    Ubuntu is new on his netbook. It will be interesting to see what he will say 6 months or more later. My experience with Ubuntu and those of my students should show that he will continue to be happy using Ubuntu.

  75. Mark Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Having suffered windows long enough on 3 different computers running in the same house, i tried ubuntu when windos just did not know who i was again! Ubuntu absolutely rocks. Same laptop that had xp then vista and now Ubuntu, so I know the performance well. Its like having a new, much faster machine and as fast as a friends mac book pro.Everything in the house is changing over now.Just had enough of Windows lying to me. Its crap after a month and just gets worse.

  76. PvK Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    One aspect is not mentioned at all – particularly important to anyone who uses a netbook as a business tool:

    Ubuntu has a encrypted home partition on default install. If your netbook is stolen or lost, the thief might have a fun time with the netbook, but certainly not with your data.

    And that is at least for me the crunch point.

  77. phil Says:
    November 20th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I would recommend OpenSUSE 11.3. It uses less memory than Ubuntu and works flawlessly, and overall quicker than Ubuntu 10.10 in my experience.

  78. Ian Says:
    November 21st, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Another vote for Puppy/Puppeee (Puppy specially adapted for the Eee) as lightning fast, delightfully portable, and with the option to encrypt saved sessions (especially useful when using a USB stick).

    Puppee does not have anywhere like as many packages available as Ubuntu, and so I have both on my Eee’s for when I want to do more than browse / watch / do text editing.

    I have only seen Windows on other people’s netbooks and they’re either suffering the ‘we own you’ restrictions of Win7 Slave, erm, Starter ed or running XP and reinstalling every few months.

    Nice to see so many people commenting on this one: this is clearly a niche that people where Linux shines.

  79. Ian Says:
    November 21st, 2010 at 10:53 pm


    Sadly, Adobe in particular seem to make an effort to ensure their software doesn’t work under WINE, so it either doesn’t or you have to settle for an older version.

    Not that you’d use most Adobe software on a netbook, but this (and very few games) is the only reason my desktop is still dual-boot.

  80. Paul Says:
    November 22nd, 2010 at 3:27 am

    To Graham Atherton
    How much ram do you use?
    Helped a friend last weekend with his laptop, boot time 5 min plus, 256mb ram running Vista.
    Increased ram to 1GB (2×512mb) Boot time dropped to 160 seconds.
    He had suffered for 3 years, because he did not know any better.
    As for the OS test, I have an Elonex Webbook, 1.6 risc processor with WinXP Home, Win 7 does not support the risc processor. It was a factory rework from Linux to XP, because they forgot to attach the COA, Had to post it out separately.

  81. Paul Says:
    November 22nd, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Puppy Linux
    This is my choice OS for data recovery when I need to do a re-install repair, when friends crash their systems & don’t have a backup. Totally bypasses any password protection.

  82. jim Says:
    November 25th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    “”" Windows XP is not supported by Microsoft anymore, “”” it’s a DEAD OS “”” So why use a the slower Windows 7 on a Netbook? Can someone tell me why?? “”"
    No answer…
    For years I use Windows and before Windows I use MSdos. — I just don’t see any value in Windows.

  83. Mack Says:
    January 4th, 2011 at 11:18 am

    My dad has had no end of problems with Windows machines. Mostly because he is not that computer literate, forgot to keep things up to date etc. I installed Ubuntu 7 and recently upgraded to 10.04. The only problem he has had since then is with going into offline mode in Evolution. It does what he needs and is probably the case for a lot of computer users. People think that they need MS because it’s constantly pushed down threir throats whilst Linux isn’t. I’ve used Linux zince Suse V9, which had a great desktop picture as default. The main problem with Linux is that there is too much choice!!

  84. Anti Elitist Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    lol if all you care about is boot time, and how a video plays, buy an Iphone, or Ipad, and chuck your pc in the garbage. After all, using Youtube hd videos to test anything depends more on the speed of your connection and the amount of traffic on that site, than it does your OS specs. You have to consider the amount of traffic that website is receiving at the time of testing or your data will be inaccurate. Also, the ability to play hd videos at all depend on the type of hardware you have on your machine as well as the drivers your using. Again it has little if anything to do with the OS your using. The cause for the variance in performance between OS’s could be from a number of things. For example, how many programs are running in the background?. What’s booting up with your system besides the OS? Lets not forget that Ubuntu is not security suite dependant like Windows is. Security suites eat up resources. So, in a sense it too has to be considered when testing an OS like Windows against other OS’s. Anybody that’s been around a Windows based pc for more than a week knows you would be an idiot to run it without some sort of protection, so it’s highly doubtful that you ran that test with anti-virus software, and firewall disabled. That will hinder performance for any test, guaranteed. That is just a small example of how misleading these so called tests can be when your trying to compare OS’s. What it really boils down to is matter of taste and opinion. I don’t need a test for that.

  85. Anti Elitist Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    One more thing, trying to run windows 7 on an old pc or laptop is like trying to fit an engine meant for a maserati into a yugo and expecting the same luxury, speed, and elegance to fall out. It isn’t happening. It kind of makes your whole test a fallacy if that is in fact what your trying to accomplish here.

  86. emmanu Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I have been using win 7 starter for a few months then a few day ago i installed Ubuntu 10.10 alongside windows and I have jst discovers hoe windows sucks A’m getting rid of windows .

  87. placido fernandes Says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I would buy the netbook if it is in very good codition whit webcamp an fast thank you


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