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Benchmarking Ubuntu’s lpia Build

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Ubuntu

As the new owner of a Dell Latitude 2100 netbook, I’m eager to get as much performance out of my little machine as possible. One of the most pressing issues in my life over the last week, therefore, has been to decide whether to use the i386 or lpia build of Ubuntu on my new computer.

Unlike Windows, Ubuntu can be easily optimized for different hardware platforms, thanks to the openness of its code. This is theoretically one of Ubuntu’s strengths in a market where consumer-class processors are diversifying again, for the first time in a decade, on new genres of devices like netbooks and MIDs.

For a while, Canonical tried to play on this strength by offering a version of Ubuntu customized for the Atom processor, which is found in many (but not all) netbooks. While the Atom can run the generic i386 build of Ubuntu, compile-time optimizations for lpia (low-power Intel architecture, which includes the Atom) chips can in theory provide some boosts in CPU performance and battery life.

After providing lpia releases of Ubuntu since 7.10, however, Canonical announced last November that it would discontinue the lpia build after Ubuntu 9.10.

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