Thursday, January 17, 2008

Does OpenOffice have an unfair notoriety as a performance hog?

The OpenOffice.org Suite is an adequate office suite for many people. However, it has been dogged by the accusations of performance bloat. Some studies have found that it was slower and had a worse performance than MS Office. However, some of these studies have been done on a spreadsheet of unnaturally large size. Comparisons of the Word processing components also have been missing. I have shown in my previous articles that Writer (the Word Processor of Open Office) is faster at loading files than Microsoft Word2007. Calc (the spreadsheet component of OpenOffice) is also faster than Microsoft Excel2007 in opening files in certain conditions. In the light of these findings, is it fair to consider Open Office a performance hog?

To further study the relative performance of MS Office 2007 and OpenOffice 2.3, I used Sysinternals Process Explorer and made a detailed analysis of how much processor and memory resources the Office applications were using in opening equivalent files in their own native format. For opening documents, was found that Writer was uniformly more resource efficient than Microsoft Word 2007.

For opening spreadsheets, at the initial startup and for large files, Microsoft Excel 2007 was more resource efficient than Open Office Calc. For small to moderately large files (at sizes having most real world use), the resource consumption of both OpenOffice.org Calc and Microsoft Excel were very close, with Calc having the slight upper hand in processor and memory resources. For extremely large files like those provided by George Ou, Excel substantially outperforms Calc in all respects(total time 23 vs 68secs, and memory consumption, Page faults 24.8K vs 42.8 K).

For handling presentations, while Microsoft Office had the better performance in initial startup of blank presentations, when actual presentations were being loaded, OpenOffice.org Impress had the upper hand over Microsoft Powerpoint. The results are given in the chart below. Further details are given at the bottom.

Therefore, if the Word processing, spreadsheet and presentation components are all considered, OpenOffice.org Office suite actually enjoys a slight performance advantage over Microsoft Office(much better in Word processing, slightly lesser in Spreadsheets, better in presentations). It is therefore surprising as to why OpenOffice is seen as bloated and a performance hog, while Microsoft Office is not. In fact, both are quite efficient programs in most real world situations, and the choice between them has to be made on a price/Feature comparison. While it is true that Open Office Calc is slow at loading gigornomous spreadsheets, Microsoft Word also has issues with large documents. In fact, I think Microsoft Word in handling large documents is a worse resource hog than OpenOffice Calc is in handling enormous spreadsheets, but I will leave that for a separate post. Therefore, do not fall for the statement that OpenOffice.org is more bloated. Those statements either stem from ignorance or are FUD. Both are dangerous.




Kernel Time

User Time

Total Time

writer startup

1.98

1.16

3.14

word startup

1.31

2.23

3.55

writer small file

0.5

2.67

3.17

word small file

0.58

3.5

4.08

writer large file

1.09

58.2

59.3

word large file

9.23

33min18.7s

33min27.9s





Calc Startup

1.09

1.09

2.19

Excel Startup

0.23

0.3

0.53

Calc Small File

0.5

2.02

2.52

Excel small file

0.72

3

3.72

Calc Large File

0.55

4.86

5.41

Excel Large File

0.69

3.53

4.22





Impress Startup

1.44

1.34

2.78

Powerpoint startup

0.39

0.56

0.95

Impress file

0.7

2.58

3.28

Powerpoint file

0.88

3.53

4.41

Impress Large file

0.86

5.75

6.61

Powerpoint Large File

1.81

13.72

15.53

Table 1: Showing the time taken by OOo and MSOffice completely open the test files. For details of the different files, see below Table 2.



Pr M (K)

Peak Pr M (K)

Page faults

Ph M (K)

Peak Ph M (K)

writer startup

24788

24792

16918

46468

47424

word startup

53196

55404

27860

63668

65864

writer small file

31148

31184

16445

54480

54480

word small file

56312

56324

21518

81100

81100

writer large file

51588

51620

23822

74720

74728

word large file

65040

69812

50830

92952

94704







Calc Startup

23228

23236

12408

44084

44084

Excel Startup

9472

9472

3903

14576

14576

Calc Small File

31542

31550

16367

53908

53912

Excel small file

52608

52608

16593

62452

62452

Calc Large File

35500

35508

18060

57984

57988

Excel Large File

52944

53020

17985

64288

64288







Impress Startup

30488

30496

17412

51960

52684

Powerpoint startup

8676

10468

7135

17180

18728

Impress file

35228

35900

22366

61196

61516

Powerpoint file

59372

60908

21533

74260

75656

Impress Large file

39496

40064

24439

70064

70352

Powerpoint Large File

90120

90120

34888

104984

104984

Table 2: Showing Memory performance of OOo and MS Office



Explanation and details:

Startup: Initial Startup after boot

Word and Writer Small File: A 30 pg document in .docx and .odt formats.

Word and Writer Large File: A 1200 pg document in .docx and .odt formats.

Excel and Calc Small File: This was a workbook having three sheets, each sheet having 256 rows and 13 columns written. (in .xlsx and .ods formats)

Excel and Calc Large file: A workbook having three sheets, but having 4096 rows and 13 columns written on each spreadsheet. The first 256 rows of the small file were copied and pasted 16 times in succession.(in .xlsx and .ods formats)

Impress and Powerpoint File: A 37 slide presentation taken from the internet http://depts.washington.edu/pccm/DIC.ppt

Impress and Powerpoint Large File: The 37 slides from the above presentation copied and pasted 3 times in the same file to make it a 148 slide presentation. (The presentation file was changed to .odp and .pptx)

Abbreviation: Pr M: Private Memory; Ph M : Physical memory; K: 1000 (the figures for the memory are bytes x 1000)




4 comments:

Pedro said...

My college thesis was around 1000 pages with lots of images, graphs and math formulas.

I started writing it using Microsoft Office 2007 and at start it was working great. As the document got larger Microsoft Office 2007 started to become sluggish and moving around in the document was getting noticeably slower. It got to the point that it was painful to work.

The load times where growing to many minutes and since Microsoft Office 2007 was also a bit unstable, the restart and reload times after a crash/stall where a serious pain.

I divided the document in three in an effort to work around these problems but I needed all the three document loaded most of the time and with all three smaller documents loaded instead of only one large document the performance was even worse.

The computer had lost of memory and swap space. The memory was not the problem. The problem was the CPU that reached 100% usage too often and for too long, especially when moving around the document or pasting larger portions of text.

It reached the point that I had to search for alternatives. OpenOffice was at the top of the list of alternatives and being free I quickly downloaded it and gave it a trial run.

It loaded the complete document in record time (a few minutes) and browsing the pages was fast, very fast when compared to MSO7. I was very impressed by it's speed but did it do all I needed and did it import the document correctly?

After some checking the imported document, I noticed some minor formatting differences that where quickly corrected and, after a few more checks, I confirmed that I could do all I needed to do.

I was back in business!

The OpenOffice interface took a bit of time to get used to but I was quickly being more productive.

The final document was a bit over 1000 pages with hundreds of images (some big), hundreds of vector graphs (few where complex), and many hundreds of math formulas. OpenOffice loaded it in less than 4 minutes and it allowed me to browse the pages at an acceptable speed, not fast but very usable.

OpenOffice was a life saver and at an incredible cost, FREE. Have used it since and does everything I ask of it.

After this, I have one lingering question: Why did my college spend several million euros on Microsoft Office 2007?! Are there any features in Microsoft Office 2007 not present in OpenOffice that justify the cost?

Nilotpal Chowdhury said...

Exactly, Pedro, and that is also my question. There has been too much FUD or misconceptions about Open Office or other Open Source products. It is high time they ended.

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