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I, and many other previous Windows users notice that the computer seems to get progressively slower over time. I bought a leapfrog crammer only to find it installed process that sat there waiting for me to plug the crammer in so it could run the software. It took up three percent of the CPU twenty-four seven, seven day a week! This is one of the main reasons I left Windows. But, Ubuntu doesn't seem to slow down over time at all. Does Ubuntu allow programs to install background programs like the leapfrog crammer did to sit there like a leech and suck away at resources? Could someone explain why Windows tends to get slower over time, and is Ubuntu vulnrable to this too? Thanks for any help, this is puzzling me.

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Windows never got "slower" on my PC, i kept cleaning the registry and doin defrag every week.Also i disabled whatever software had a start up entry. –  Uri Herrera Nov 30 '11 at 17:17
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Windows needs maintenance, ubuntu does too but not as exaggerated as Windows. –  Uri Herrera Nov 30 '11 at 17:20
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Yeah, but unless someone tends Windows a lot by cleaning the registry, removing unwanted software and cleaning out old files and such, Windows will slow down. One also has to watch out for unwanted applications installed either maliciously or inadvertantly. Most computer geeks don't mind keeping everything neat and clean, but more typical users aren't going to spend time and effort doing so. –  Kelley Nov 30 '11 at 17:24
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For an average user, Windows slows down over time. –  William Nov 30 '11 at 17:31
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Posted it here, for anyone who's interested: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1889072 –  William Nov 30 '11 at 20:08

4 Answers 4

up vote 17 down vote accepted

In my opinion most important reason is that most of the programs on Windows are registry dependent. Registry is arguably a well organized storage, however it is not known to be a very efficient one. When you first install Windows, registry size is small and look up operations are inexpensive; however as you install more and more programs registry gets larger and harder to manage.

Another factor is disk fragmentation. NTFS and FAT are very notorious for their inability to prevent fragmentation. On the other hand Linux file systems, especially ext3 (I do not have any experience in reiserFS or other alternatives) is quite resilient to fragmentation.

A short primer on fragmentation

What is fragmentation? This article does a good job explaining it, but the gist of it is this: Windows clumps all of its files together in one place on the disk, while Linux spreads them all over the place. That means that, when a file grows on Windows, it runs the risk of being so big that it overlaps the next file's hard disk allocation, and therefore must either be moved or (more likely) fragmented, with the new fragment being stored on a different place on the hard drive. The next time that file is accessed, Windows actually has to make two disk accesses, one for the initial file and a second for the newly created fragment. When a file grows in Linux, on the other hand, there is ofter more than enough space for it, and the OS proceeds happily along. Linux's method does have a small downside on mechanical hard disks, and that is, because the files are spread all over the place, there is a small delay in accessing them over a series of "clumped" files. The e4rat project works rather well for eliminating or reducing some of these delays (ext4 filesystems only), and the incurred overhead is never worse then what Windows experiences from file fragmentation.

Another factor is a small trick that Windows pulls: A Windows installation is never up when it's up. Windows starts a lot of processes after you log in. The distinction between system processes and user processes is a little vague for Windows, especially for the old versions before XP. And a lot of Windows applications are very eager to start background processes and place tray icons. In time a Windows installation begins starting more and more processes at start up. However Linux strictly starts all system processes before you log in. After you log in, only a minimal number of processes are started. Linux also never encouraged using background services related to specific tasks of a specific user, or using tray icons. Last version of the Gnome denies all applications to place tray icons, except a very narrow white-list. So in time a Linux installation still starts only a limited number of processes after the start up.

I'm sure there are other numerous factors that contribute to this phenomenon, these are the major ones that comes to my mind.

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"Last version of the Gnome denies all applications to place tray icons..." - that just means the tray icons aren't displayed. The process is still eating up resources. –  Nathan Osman Nov 30 '11 at 19:37
    
That's a bit disappointing for Linux. I thought that they would cleverly block the execution of the process somehow. But on second thought, maybe it is not possible at all. At least this would discourage the creation of redundant tray icons. –  utkuerd Nov 30 '11 at 21:32
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"Tray indicators" are being replaced with AppIndicators which are not whitelisted and can be created by any application. –  Nathan Osman Nov 30 '11 at 21:38
    
I should point out that Ubuntu has also moved the login screen earlier in the boot process. Plus, there are plenty of things that run on startup on a machine if you've used it for a while. Ubuntu most certainly slows down, but not to the extent that Windows does. –  Scott Severance Dec 26 '11 at 15:44

I actually brought this up once to a Microsoft employee who was giving a special presentation on touchscreen technology and how Microsoft planned to approach it, and the best response she could give me was along the lines of "the slowdown in Windows is due to operating system fragmentation, and we're still heavily researching why this occurs and how to resolve it."

I somehow think the difference may be due to how Ubuntu handles package management and configuration versus Windows' methods, though I wouldn't be able to explain that any further. We may never know completely if we don't have access to Windows' source code to explain why it behaves the way it does.

That, and with a new Ubuntu release every 6 months, there may not be enough time in between releases to notice any potential slowdown if you install a fresh copy every time. Or it could also be due to Ubuntu having less bloat, and thus fewer things to go wrong.

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Ubuntu fixes this through the ext4 filesystem. –  William Nov 30 '11 at 17:32
    
You Mean Linux* fixes this through the btrs filesystem. –  Uri Herrera Nov 30 '11 at 18:31
    
Yes, but you knew what I mean. Don't correct people just for the sake of correcting them. –  William Nov 30 '11 at 18:58
    
@William Wait, are you sure that is what you mean? I'm not aware of any "btrs" filesystem; I presume Uri Herrera meant to say btrfs. btrfs is very different from ext4 and not nearly as commonly used. –  Eliah Kagan Feb 10 '13 at 17:03

Windows gets slower because every application comes with an installer that is not controlled very well. For instance the person writing the install script really doesn't care what their program will leave behind when you remove it, because once you've removed it you're no longer a customer. A more pessimistic person would say they do it on purpose to make you upgrade more often, probably not 100% false.

Also the registry is a huge issue, hopefully this should get a lot better with SSD's but it's a very centralized point of failure and bottleneck. Every time the system needs hardware info it goes to the registry, every time you launch an application it needs to get info from the registry. When it's first installed the registry is as it should be, as Microsoft expects it to remain. But since anything installing is given nearly free reign over what it does to the registry, and there's no mechanism to remove useless entries the entire thing gets crowded really fast.

Ubuntu is certainly vulnerable to slowing down too, although most applications utilize their own .conf files, with the exception of the gnome configuration file shared by some. However, the way a .deb is structured means whatever goes on the hard drive, can be taken off with the right command. And even IF you don't issue "apt-get remove --purge ..." to remove the configuration files, you're just left with a text file in your user directory that doesn't eat up any resources save a few hundred kilobytes of hard drive space. Startup time on Ubuntu can be impacted if you start more services but it employs some tricks, like optimizing where crucial startup components are to minimize hard drive bottleneck. Also, once you're up with Linux, you're up. No waiting for more tray icons to launch.

Essentially the problem is the registry because it introduces a very real-time bottleneck to many aspects of windows.

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I actually think that the virus protection software is the biggest cause of Windows slowdown. At work I have to use a Windows based computer. If you disable the virus software for a day, the computer will run significantly quicker, but it is not an alternative for us. We had an 'infestation' on the network awhile ago and all hell broke loose. There are fewer malware programs that affect Linux, though I have read they are rampant in the Android world.

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I'm going to argue otherwise. I run Kaspersky Internet Security on my Windows systems, and in comparison to Norton, its extraordinarily fast. Virus protection does slow down the computer, yes, but in a far lesser capacity than windows registry disrepair and fragmentation of the filesystem. –  Thomas W. Nov 30 '11 at 18:13
    
Rampant?, well when an application is asking permissions for god knows what and yet the user still taps, install , well said user deserves malware, it isn't so hard to figure that out... –  Uri Herrera Nov 30 '11 at 18:33

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