January 19, 2009, 12:21 PM — Last Thursday I reported Ubuntu Faster on My Internet than Windows XP, and the post got posted on Slashdot. If you don't know Slashdot.com, it's the self-proclaimed “news for nerds” site that generates a ton of traffic. Getting mentioned on SlashDot is like seeing your story become a pinata and watching everyone grab a stick and start swinging at your story. Unlike with real pinatas, the stick wielders try and hit you, too. People who take it seriously get their feelings hurt. I just laugh and watch the uproar for what it really is: a circus.
I always come away with two big impressions about a Slashdot storm. First, too many geeks have too much time on their hands. How else could they post so many insults back and forth on Slashdot so quickly?
Second, I come away saddened because so few geeks can, or care to, read carefully. Posts asked why I didn't tell them which browser I used (I did, Firefox 3 on both machines). How could I call this a real test? (I didn't, I just noticed how much faster Ubuntu was than Windows XP, ran the test seven times on each system, back and forth, and reported what I saw). How could I call this a serious lab test? (I didn't, and in fact my first words were “this isn't a rigorous benchmarked lab test yet”).
Windows fanatics always accuse anyone who disputes their claim that Windows Rulz to be brainwashed acolytes of either Linux or Mac, depending. Windows apologists always say that if I would go into the Registry and tweak these 12 settings, Windows will work much better. Mac fanatics will say they knew it first and the Mac does it better anyway.
The fun really came from the few responders who read my post carefully, tested it themselves, and confirmed my quick and dirty test. Several Slashdot members have dual boot machines that run Windows XP and Ubuntu and did the same quick test. Using a dual-boot machine takes out all the hardware variables, like RAM and hard disk speed and the like. In those few reports, they found the same thing I did: untweaked Ubuntu runs faster than untweaked Windows XP.
Want to know what I found really funny? No one questioned that Ubuntu on an old Pentium 4 machine with 768MB of RAM performed better than Vista running on a brand new Intel Core 2 Duo system running at 3.0GHz with 3GB of RAM. How's that for a slap at Vista?
The funniest responses? Those who started a conversation about how much more acceptance Linux would get if the word got out it downloads porn faster. And they're probably right.