Waiting for CloudBook Apps to Load is Hardest Part

Add / Remove on CloudBook“The waiting is the hardest part,” Tom Petty sang in 1981. Little did he know he was actually referring to the CloudBook that’s sitting on my dining room table. Some applications load with relative speed, but others seem to take forever. For example, the other day I was trying to use the Add/Remove applications feature to see if I could install more programs. You see, unlike Microsoft Windows’ Add/Remove Programs tool which exists primarily to help you uninstall apps you no longer want, the Add/Remove in gOS / Ubuntu gives you a very extensive list of available applications you don’t have yet, but could download and install. It’s even searchable. That’s a good thing, because unless you’re a hardcore Linux user, you may not know where to find all the latest Ubuntu-compatible applications. Unfortunately, what happens when I select Add/Remove from the applications menu is not pleasant. I took a video to show you the ugly results. It’s really blurry (hard to take screen video like this), but let me explain what you see above.

  • I selected Add/Remove from the Applications menu
  • The hourglass icon (a spinning paw) appeared for 15 seconds
  • The pointer returned, but the Add/Remove applications tool hadn’t loaded. At this point, a typical user who didn’t know any better would probably try selecting Add/Remove again or give up and say “I guess something is broken here because this feature just doesn’t load.” However, because I’d done this before, I knew something was going to happen so I waited . . . and waited!
  • The Add/Remove tool appeared on-screen after another 1:16.
  • The tool checks for “Installed and Available Applications” for 11 seconds.

I can forgive a few seconds of loading and few more seconds for the application to connect to the Internet and download a fresh list of available applications. What is truly unforgivable is that, after the hourglass appears for 15 seconds, the user has no indication at all that the program is still loading. To be fair, this is the only app that loads this slowly, but others aren’t exactly quick.

  • Firefox: 11 – 15 seconds (Editor-in-Chief Mark Spoonauer counted 11 seconds for Firefox in his first-look on Friday. I counted 15 today. By contrast, Firefox took about 10 seconds on the Eee PC.
  • GIMP: 14 seconds (pretty good for an image editor, actually). My Eee PC doesn’t have GIMP installed.
  • Open Office Word Processor: 23 seconds. I got 16 seconds on the Eee PC.

All times were taken from the first load of a session. These programs open a lot more quickly if you’ve opened them earlier in your session.

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Bri Says:

    Hmmm, the applications load times aren’t terrible. Like you said people that are use to linux would just use ape-get to install the program they wanted which is much faster as long as you know the name like you said, but for most applications you do know the name. Keep up the good work

  2. pagesix1536 Says:

    Is there disk activity the entire time that’s sitting there doing nothing? I’m curious to find out if it’s actually loading something…I have a hard time believing the package manager is that large of an application. The GIMP, Firefox, and Open Office are far more complicated apps.

  3. Baz Says:

    As installed by me on my eeePC –

    GIMP: 10 seconds

    Oh, and –

    Google Earth (to Earth static shot): 28 seconds.
    Celtx (scriptwriting WP): 4 seconds.

  4. Mike Cane Says:

    @Baz: Is that EeePC with the stock OS or did you put a different OS on it?

  5. Baz Says:

    @ Mike –

    Default OS, running in ‘Advanced Desktop’ (KDE – as per kicker and ksmserver) Mode – so that config is dragging on the processor as it is.

    Still faster than Cloudbook, it seems – and faster in most cases than on my Vista notebook, if it comes to that….

    (Oh, and I haven’t had a freeze-up or crash in the 3 months I’ve owned the eee…)

  6. John Bailey Says:

    It is an annoying aspect with several Linux distros I’ve tried. My Fedora 8 add and remove takes anything from 7 seconds to several minutes to get the information. Although I have had occasions where it took way longer with earlier versions of Fedora due to IPV6 not being handled by my router. It depends on how fast the repositories are that day in part, and how long since the most recent refresh of the package list. With the gOS repositories, I have no idea how fast they usually are, so couldn’t hazard a guess if this is normal or not.

    On the flip side,think how long it would take for your virus scanner, your Java VM, and all your software to check for updates at once, and you have a more objective view of what is going on, as the Add and remove menu entry is just a front end for the package management system used by the distro, so it also handles software installation, updates and removal too. There is no Windows counterpart for this.

    The program isn’t that big, but it sometimes has a lot of internet side stuff to rely on, so it isn’t the speed of the computer or the size of the program, but the speed of your internet connection and the responsiveness of the servers at the other end. If it has to go through several mirrors to get at the information it needs, it will take longer obviously.

  7. Gord Says:

    I’ll admit that the delay illustrated is longer than it should be, but lets not forget that it’s indexing 21000+ files (I assume it’s using the Ubuntu repositories).

    Still.. I’m happy with my 3epc and don’t really have an interest in the cloud book,

    G

  8. Darrell Says:

    The add remove programs thing takes a long time even on my quad processor 16gib ram Red hat server.

    It takes a long time on my Ubuntu box also.

  9. mahjongg Says:

    Then why does add/remove typically start up in less than a second on my 1.7 GHz P4 system?

    Or should I presume it only need this much time the -first- time you start it up?

    If that is the case the programmers should add an “indexing” message with a progress bar if this action can take this long.

    I also think that double clicking on an application icon, should give an immediate response from the OS that the choice has registered, like an icon “blowing up” animation. Now in this case the program was launched from a menu, and that gives enough optical feedback that the user made a choice, so I can’t tell if the new gOS gives an optical feedback if you double-click an icon, but it -should-!

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