You know, I remember when Linux was touted as the small, fast operating system — able to turn even an old slow machine into a useful computer again. That’s what got me to try it a long time ago. That and, of course, some Windows versions of old that left a lot to be desired.
But while this new Linux seems to be pretty capable, it doesn’t seem to be either small or fast. It comes on a DVD, versus a CD for XP. Actually, Suse 9.2 Professional, the box edition, comes with two DVD’s and 5 CD’s (they duplicate each other). To be fair, it does come with an office suite and quite a lot of other software that XP doesn’t come with. My Sony laptop’s recovery disks, which include both Works and Office (trial edition) total 8 disks to create the image. Ok, maybe isn’t so big. They claim it can live in 2.5GB for a “standard install”, my Windows directory is just about 2.5GB. Not much of a comparison I guess.
I did finally get the suspend to disk feature working. It does bring the boot times down to something close to reasonable. Still not as fast as XP, though. In order to get it to work I had to reinstall the software, although that’s how *I* knew how to fix it, so it’s not fair to say it was the only way. For whatever reason, the first time I installed the OS a swap partition wasn’t created. This is necessary for suspend. So I created one, and although I could suspend I couldn’t resume. I ended up wiping the drive, restoring both XP and Linux in a different partition arrangment. Not terribly difficult, but time consuming.
I did some checking with a stopwatch, not exactly scientific, but more than guessing. Linux suspends in about 25s, with about 70s to come back versus 12s and 20s for Windows XP on the same computer. Boot & shutdown are 120s & 40s for Linux, and 85s and 12s for Windows. However, I haven’t tuned Linux at all to speed things up, where Windows XP has received some attention in that area. Still, those are some pretty big differences – not just fumble fingering the start or stop on the watch.
In spite of this, I sitll think about switching over to Linux – I mean actually switching, where I wouldn’t even have windows on my laptop anymore. The number of applications I would have to live without is pretty small, and I’m sure I would gain a few, yet to be discovered. but I’m starting to have doubts about performance. Plus, my touch pad doesn’t work very well – the movement is sluggish, and tapping and scrolling don’t work. I haven’t yet dug into the configuration of it, perhaps there is a fix.
Last but not least, web performance doesn’t seem to be too speedy. Again, this is something that can vary quite a bit from one day or time to the next, so it will take some time to be sure, but it just seems to take a lot longer to bring up a page in Linux than Windows. I didn’t do any timing here, as we just got a new ‘g’ router ($20 after rebate at Best Buy) and either it or the net was a bit funky last night. And again, I’m sure there are settings or configs somewhere to play with.