Windows / Linux and Speed

No, no amphetamines 🙂
Windows – meant to be bloated code. Linux – meant to be sleek, shiny not_a_byte_wasted code. But is that true ?

On a given system, is Linux faster – as in more efficient with resources – than Windows ?
Example: I have email open, I have a torrent open, I have an graphics program open. I then click to open Firefox. This takes time. I use XP, so if I had Linux, would things be quicker ?
If I have a lot of apps open, would Linux manage things better so that switching between open apps is smoother and faster ?
If the answer is that it depends on the efficiency of the program code, then where does the need for Linux come in given that a program could be written better when it runs on the Windows variant rather than the Linux ?

We don’t all have the cash to get a gig of RAM, so that leaves machines coping with less. Windows has the pagefile, which I’m led to believe is crap unless you’ve got more than one drive – but the Linux must manage things the same way surely ? (Bit pointless to say “Yay, my OS is FREE !! – but I had to spend £100 on more memory to get it to work as well as XP did..”)

As you can gather, I’m looking at it again but I’m really questioning WHY I would switch – what’s in it for ME ?

5 thoughts on “Windows / Linux and Speed

  1. My laptop is a dualboot system. Windows XP (NTFS) / Storage FAT32 / Ubuntu Linux … I do notice that things load quite a bit faster when running Linux then when running Windows XP. I am not positive about Linux having a pagefile type of thing, but when I installed Ubuntu it created a partition on the drive called ‘swap’ I am guessing (based just on the name) that this is similar to Windows page file. I could be wrong (and most likely am) tho.

    One thing I did notice however is that when running multiple applications, when I go to load another application, the system doesn’t bog down as it does in Windows, rather, it just takes longer to load that application, I can continue using the applications I have open with no decrease in speed it seems.

  2. The swapfile works (iirc) similar to having more RAM in the computer, it’s space to shove data, which takes load of the CPU and frees up RAM. Linux is generally faster, because it’s coding is more efficient. The reason for this, the amount of developers chipping away at it! I’ve found the same as Eric, that things open fast, but if there’s a load of things happening, and you start another app, it just takes a bit longer to open, but you don’t notice a hit on your already open apps.

    I agree it can be a pig to install, but once it’s on there, it is worth it, at least in my experience!

  3. Linux does indeed have a swap system, and I don’t know why but it’s way of doing things just seems better and faster to me than windows ever was.

    The difference I guess is how the kernels make use of task scheduling processes. When you switch between applications, you have to “interrupt” another one. The way the scheduler is written can make a BIG difference to how the system “feels”. For example, on my creaky slow Athlon system I felt a real difference simply switching from Linux kernel 2.4 to 2.6. This was undoubtedly due to the fact that the kernel scheduler had been completely re-written for Linux 2.6. I don’t think Windows has been re-written for at least four (six?) years?

    Also how the system makes use of available memory can have a big impact too. I think it used to be the case in Windows 2000 (maybe still in XP) that windows would, by default, reserve half the available RAM for itself leaving the other half for applications. This would cause large programs to quickly start swapping out to disk even when there should be free RAM available. Of course you can tweak that behavior but not everyone would know how to.

    On a basic level, Linux treats physical RAM and the swap partition (on you hard disk) as one big block of RAM -however it will always use up all the available physical RAM before it starts to use the swap. This keeps thing pretty quick.

    Well that’s my belief on the matter anyway, but I’m no expert.

    All I can tell you is that even on my lowly 700mhz Athlon with 392mb RAM, swapping between open GIMP, Firefox, GAIM etc windows is fast enough, with maybe a a milli-second delay. This isn’t the case with Windows 2000 which I dual boot, but never seem to use because it was always dog-slow. The only bottlenecks I find is it take a while to initially load certain applications but this isn’t helped by my large (and slow) hard drives. KDE also moves fairly well on this system, providing I don’t turn on things like stippled OS-X style menus with drop shadows and transparency (though I still do! 🙂

    The biggest thing I noticed with Linux is how well, and how fast doing anything on the internet is. I guess it was always designed with inter-networking in mind, and it really shows.

    Roll on that Athlon 64 system I plan to build though………

  4. I find that linux performs better on old computers that XP does. Also, you have a range of choices as to the window manager to use. Gnome is resource hungry, so too KDE though a little less, but XFCE is known to be blazing fast.

    I can have more than one desktop, so I have four, and have a LOT more windows (applications) open on my linux boxes that I used to with windows, and they all run perfectly fine. My productivity is higher — I have not shutdown my linux box at school in the last 3 months, and so I have almost forgotten what it’s like to open firefox, for example, since it’s always running in Window4 in my desktop.

    I used to make a fool of myself in my friends group, by asking questions like “What’s the defragmentation tool for Linux called?”. There is no defrag tool, cause there is no need for one. Linux is one efficient and organized system, if anything. I trust it a lot more than I trusted my XP.

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