It's mostly the SSD. Linux is great but the disk is a real choke point for a lot of system performance.
On Windows 10 it's definitely worse for sure. I don't know what they did since Win7 but it's pretty much unusable without an SSD now whereas a Debian would still run quite okay although slower.
* Modern windows has a really hard time on spinning rust, they'd have seen extreme performance improvements going to windows on an SSD
* Linux deals better with spinning rust, they'd have seen performance improvements going to linux on spinning rust
The SSD is still going to be most of the performance improvements. The gap between a 5400 HDD and an SSD (even more so NVMe) is just ridiculous on every single metric, there's orders of magnitude differences in throughput (especially on random reads or writes) and even more so latency and concurrency.
The problem is that since the majority of machines have SSDs now developers no longer optimise the number of IOPS or care about it; or notice it at all - as SSDs have orders of magnitude more IOPS performance than a HDD. Combine that with many people having quite a few background programs that will spew IOPS randomly you'd be surprised how fast the disk gets slow.
Even MacOS which until recently (and maybe even now) sells machines with a HDD as standard; with pretty much no extra software installed is unbearably unusable on a HDD.
SSDs are basically required at this point.
For sequential transfers, yes. But that's hardly ever the relevant figure for whether your system feels fast. You should be looking at the random read performance, where your hard drive is good for ~120 IOs per second and your SSD is good for several thousand at a minimum.
what? it works fine
I run a dual boot Win10/Fedora30 system (UEFI on a SATA3 SSD), it's pretty good, both Windows and Fedora.
About 1/2 an hour later the screen went black and the machine stopped responding to key presses. Eventually I resurrected by flipping to a text console and back, (Ctrl-Alt-F1, Crtl-Alt-F7).
It turned out it was putting itself to sleep. After a few minutes. While on AC. And my fart arsing about wasn't fixing the problem - it was just soaking up time while X took its own sweet time to wake up (the text consoles were available immediately).
And then this happened on other laptops I installed it on. Fixing it by disabling suspend when on AC is a nightmare. Every program + it's dog seems to have had a go at setting it - xscrensaver, window managers, display managers, X itself and systemd. Which one wins (ie the one you have to use to fix it, because it set it last) is a lottery.
Maybe they can put fixing that mess on the list for bullseye.
Personally if i had that configuration I would stop what i was doing and go get one, unless of course it means not feeding your family.
this sounds dubious if one has, say, a web browser installed or other consumer-type software. you almost surely want the latest security updates (which are for better or worse often packaged alongside cosmetic or other performance updates) for a piece of software like this.
for this reason i've moved to a releaseless distro. the idea that i can't get the latest firefox without upgrading my "operating system" version to a new release seems harmful for most types of software:
- imagine updating an app required you to upgrade your iOS/android version
- imagine updating a plugin requires updating your browser
etc. it's anti-modular and so i can't support it.
Obviously you don't get the new features and functionality that may be introduced in an upstream major release, but security patches are covered.
Hehehe, that's exactly what "releaseless" distros like Arch do, you have to update everything to have the latest of anything (unless you want breakage).
Even now prices have apparently come down but larger drives often only come with high end SKU's. Looking at the MS Surface page (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/store/config/Surface-Laptop-...) 512GB is only available if I also get 16GB of RAM and a core i7 model, which is well beyond my needs and desire to pay for. 1TB is only comes with the silver model.
So even my next laptop might feature spinning rust, if any exist. On the plus side HDD's add a level of chunkiness I like in laptops.
Upgrading myself is probably the best option, but there's a minefields of things I'm not confident with when it comes to mobile hardware.
IME running linux, especially a lightweight distro, makes more of a performance difference than an SSD anyway, at least with my usage.
Edit -also at $170 it would just about be doubling the price of an otherwise acceptable laptop, so hardly a huge win.
There's very little that can go wrong when cloning a 2TB or less drive and it requires $10 of extra hardware.
If you're happy with installing your OS from scratch, like you would when switching to linux, then there is basically zero reason to hesitate on putting in a new drive. Drive bays are designed for easy access.
"Chunky" laptops will have replaceable parts (which really is not the case of the surface laptop). Getting an aftermarket TB SSD (whether m.2 or SATA) costs 100~200 and takes a few minutes to swap in. You do not want to BTO this sort of upgrades unless you know aftermarket upgrade is not an option (because everything is soldered as in the surface laptop or most modern MBPs), manufacturers way overprice RAM and storage.
Obviously M.2 or NVME or PCIE would be a lot better. But even old SATA still made a huge difference.
As an application drive, or a drive in a device where the only other moving parts are input keys and fans, SSDs are completely the way to go. Even if dropped weirdly at least the data is probably recoverable.
Unless it's cheep bulk or high-write turn over spinning rust makes less and less sense. Though the cost for bulk storage still favors it. (Given the write endurance, I'd also prefer SSDs to be at least half as expensive.)
Also, I'm not aware (offhand) of any M.2 form factor spinning rust, which brings us more to the topic of types of flash memory.
By the way, I don't think anything can help android studio. It has improved but gradle is still slow.
edit: I too run debian buster.
With 8GB RAM I'd check if you're not reaching into swap already. Android Studio alone uses a good chunk of that. Then add an emulator, and a memory hungry browser, and you're swapping.
I think I might as well get a decent Ryzen 3/5 desktop just for Android Studio.
I don't know what M$ did, but every time that I used Windows 10, I see it hitting very hard the hard disk without doing nothing.
I don't think the Debian 10 DVD itself fits on a 1GB DVD
Also, the Debian 10 netinstall ISO is 334MB, and is all I have ever used.