Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr + Nvidia graphics laptop


Updated: May 12, 2014

So far, we had one Trusty review on Dedoimedo. Why not another? Different hardware, different conditions. Indeed. Now, I am doing this plethora of reviews because Ubuntu 14.04 is a very important release, and it will send ripples through the Linux world if it does not deliver excellent results. Five years of free success or failure, so it'd better be good.

I won't be repeating all of what we have done so far. Flash is Flash, and LibreOffice is LibreOffice, so all those comments and observations remain. We will focus on the performance and hardware side of things. I guess those matter the most. Indeed, this is the second of three different hardware platforms used for this distro testing. After me, gents.

Teaser

Test platform

So yes, this is the second review. My test box is an LG RD510 machine, which I bought back in 2009, and has always been a decent candidate for testing. It also comes with an Nvidia graphics card, so it will be interesting. So yes, slightly repeating myself, the main focus of today's test will be on the hardware compatibility, because you have seen the rest in the first review.

The third review will follow with testing on a T61 laptop with two SSD and Intel graphics, currently booting four different distros. It's an old, familiar workhorse, so there should be no issues there. But we will see.

Live session & installation

All was well, I had to admit. All the peripherals were properly detected and used. I was able to do Samba sharing, and use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wireless networks. Nouveau behaved well overall. On to the next step.

All right, so nothing new or too exciting. But you've seen it all before. The only difference is that instead of Windows, we are using a different operating system here. I replaced the olden Netrunner instance with this new Ubuntu 14.04 installation. Quick and simple. I go crazy when I hear a cymbal. Ho-ho-ho.

Partitions

Final layout

Using the system

Let's see what gives here. Remember, our processor is an old Core 2 Duo P7450, with two cores clocked at 2.13GHz. This is an ancient model, but so far, it's been doing its work pretty well.

Desktop

Nvidia

Yes, you guessed right. We did that. And it worked fine. No more need for my detailed and scary tutorial on how to grab the Nvidia drivers. The sucky days of Ringtail seem to be gone. Very good overall, I have to admit.

Additional drivers

Speaking of additional drivers, you can fire up the utility on your own through the Dash, and though it takes you to the same place, it's neat and useful, and saves the normal users hassle and confusion.

Utility for drivers

Drivers install, success

Nvidia drivers

Printing

I had similar success like in the original review. The hpcups plugin remains broken, but you can work around it by using the foomatic drivers. There's a dedicated tutorial coming your way soon.

Printer setup with foomatic drivers

Printer work

Suspend & resume

Much like Kubuntu, it didn't work well. Only here, I also got a nice kernel oops, which I then reported to the devs. Damn. I'm so awesome. Nobody does these reviews better, no? In fact, when Carly Simon made the theme song for The Spy Who Loved me, she must have been thinking of me.

Oops on resume

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, baby, you're the best

System resources

Here's an interesting surprise - and we can actually compare to what we had with Kubuntu. Now, the LG laptop is relatively old, the CPU is relatively weak, the disk is slow. The only thing aplenty is the RAM. This came to bear with Kubuntu, which was a little sluggish.

Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr on this box works rather well. The memory consumption is about 650MB, so Unity is quite like KDE, in their recent incarnations. The CPU is not the quietest, with about 7-8% utilization, but there's no perceptible lag. The desktop is smooth, and the objects are rendered quickly.

System usage

In fact, after installing and opening a whole bunch of apps, what we call pimping in technical terms, only then did Ubuntu reach the same reduced level of responsiveness as Kubuntu, both in terms of the CPU activity as well as the notable degradation in interactive performance.

Apps

With Steam, Skype, LyX, VLC, Chromium, and GIMP all running, the memory usage is quite high, at about 1.5GB, but the CPU activity is about 10-11% on average. From the processor perspective, this is identical to what we had with Kubuntu on idle.

Load with all the apps

Battery & heating

A few readers asked me to include additional stuff in my reviews. Games, battery life, additional media codecs and plugins. I am trying, dear fellas, I am listening, but we can't do everything. Still, some new interesting perks here. The Nvidia card is rather cool, even under moderate stress, at 49 degrees Celsius. Battery life stands at about 2 hours 20 min, which is okay for a five-year old battery. In line with what we had long long time ago, so there seems to be some small improvement in power management, I assume.

Nvidia card temp

Battery life

Final tweaks

I did change the Firefox 29 Australis theme to something normal with the Classic Theme Restorer addon, and here's final desktop. Clean, elegant and rather fast when all things are considered.

Running with tweaked Firefox

Final desktop

Conclusion

I have to admit, the second time around, Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr does not disappoint. Different hardware, different conditions, and yet, almost everything was quite dandy. Except the suspend & resume, there were no other problems. I was most pleasantly surprised by the desktop responsiveness and elegance.

Once the suspend & resume bug gets fixed, this will be a very nice, slick laptop, for general use, and all the fun you can think of it. Positive check marks on the aesthetics side, the stability side, the speed side, and just overall well-rounded goodness that is so expected in an LTS release. Well done, friends, well done. 9.8/10.

Cheers.

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