Head to Head: Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10

Performance and reliability

Ubuntu 9.10 is meant to offer a performance boost over its predecessor, Jaunty Jackelope. Indeed, Karmic Koala felt pretty light on its feet to us, even though it was installed in the Wubi virtual hard disk mode. Nothing ever felt sluggish or laboured and booting to the desktop was even quicker than Windows 7. Ubuntu would be a great way of reviving or pepping up old hardware, and we'd use it over Windows XP.

We were surprised to find an app freeze up on us in only our second day in though we tried to access a network video file knowing the network was no longer present and the media player froze the system.

Windows 7 is again less demanding that its predecessor, but it still needs beefier hardware than Ubuntu. We compared Windows 7 Starter Edition with Ubuntu netbook remix on an Acer Aspire One D250, and the difference was very marked. Ubuntu is certainly the less demanding OS.


Microsoft has made strides when it comes to improving default security and Windows 7 is inherently more secure than Windows XP. However, you still need to ensure you have your firewall setup, your anti-virus software in place and UAC set to a sensible level.

Bit-locker and App locker are also great new features, especially for the business user.

However, Linux is known for its inherent resistance to attacks and has no open ports installed by default. Viruses are still virtually non-existent for Ubuntu, but there are still scanners available should you need them especially if you're going to be running Windows applications under WINE. And if you need to adjust the Firewall, Ubuntu 9.10 has its Uncomplicated Firewall' which is an ironic name considering you'll need to be a command line whizz.

Clearly though, while we note that Microsoft is improving on the issue, certainly the security plaudits go to Ubuntu.

Winner: Ubuntu 9.10

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even is a twenty-year stalwart of technology journalism who is passionate about all areas of the industry, but telecoms and mobile and home entertainment are among his chief interests. He has written for many of the leading tech publications in the UK, such as PC Pro and Wired, and previously held the position of technology editor at ITPro before regularly contributing as a freelancer.

Known affectionately as a ‘geek’ to his friends, his passion has seen him land opportunities to speak about technology on BBC television broadcasts, as well as a number of speaking engagements at industry events.