… and I had to try it out! I still have an almost obsolete netbook (an Acer Aspire One 751h), which is rarely used nowadays since I got myself the Turbo-X Windows tablet). Due to its limited capabilities, the netbook has hosted a high number of Linux distributions over the last years, always aiming at the perfect balance between performance and usability. In this context, two distributions have made it for a rather long time: Peppermint OS and Manjaro Openbox edition. Both of them are fully-featured and easy to use, as well as responsive enough on my netbook. The latter made it for about a year but with only limited use of the netbook.
I was informed that my beloved Peppermint OS (which I really love and went along pretty well with) was upgraded to version 6 – so I instantly downloaded the ISO and created a bootable flash drive; in a couple of hours everything was setup and ready to go.
I still haven’t found the chance to test drive it in terms of performance – especially compared to the previous version; however, the looks are great, as usual 🙂
At last I have managed to find the perfect OS for my low-end netbook; an Acer Aspire One 751h with 1GB RAM, Intel Atom Z520 CPU @1,33 GHz and a GMA500 GPU. Throughout the years I have tested several operating systems on my netbook, trying to find a responsive one; moving from the initial Windows XP to Windows 7 & 8, and then trying countless lightweight Linux distributions including (but not limited to) PeppermintOS (probably my favorite), Lubuntu, LXLE, Zorin OS, Manjaro Netbook edition, Bodhi, Crunchbang, Archbang, WattOS, Linux Mint etc.
I always tried to find one that would be functional for basic use (e.g. web browsing and basic office usage e.g. document editing) and maybe some YouTube video browsing. However, due to the specificities of my netbook (mostly the GMA500), the overall performance was usually poor while YouTube videos were barely watchable. Some distributions performed better than the others (mostly Lubuntu but Peppermint OS as well), while others had serious problems (e.g. cursor disappearing, sound not available, difficulty to install languages and change other options etc.). After I gave up on the previous distros, I decided to focus on lighter Window Managers (e.g. Openbox, FluxBox, Enlightenment etc.).
It was then that I found out about the Manjaro Openbox community edition; when I first installed it, I could not believe how responsive it was and how low on resources (RAM and CPU) it was running! Then, I also realized that even YouTube performance was much better that the one of other distros. Despite the fact that Openbox is really lightweight, it does not luck features and functionalities; it is only that sometimes manual intervention is needed (e.g. installation of GUI for some functionalities if you are not a Linux power user – I am not!). Installation was really user friendly and all hardware was automatically recognized. On top of that, you get a nice Conky panel automatically placed on the desktop!
Some of the things that I needed to set up in order to bring the installation closer to my needs were the following:
Even though I was thinking of going back to Peppermint OS for a while (I was pretty pleased with v5 and now the v6 is in the works), it seems that I am going to give Manjaro Openbox a try and keep it as long as possible.
To make a long story short: I got tired of my netbook being so slow with Windows 7… in the meantime I have tried some Linux distros which did not treat my GMA500 really well or were not as responsive as I would like. On the other hand, Windows 8 were also malfunctioning in my netbook (GMA500 also being the cause of the Blue Screens of Death that I kept seeing every once in a while.
In the end, I decided to give Zorin OS another try. I created a live USB of Zorin OS 7 Lite using Unebootin and installed it on the second partition of my netbook’s HD (the one acting as storage and back up space for the machine – I didn’t realize that until I booted into Zorin) and I liked it quite a lot – it also identified and set up my GMA500 correctly. Since I was so pleased with the new OS, I decided to uninstall it and use the primary partition, so that it would boot along my Windows 7 Home Premium installation. Alas, something went wrong in the process (despite the fact that I have installed quite a few Linux distros, I was never fond of the partitioning options and never got to understand them) so I ended up not only with a non-bootable C: drive, but also all the entire contents of the second partition were also gone! There was a lot of non-backed up stuff there, ranging from movies and music to documents and other personal files (e.g. images) which is rather impossible to retrieve from other sources.
After realizing what was happened and that there was no way of recovering, I decided to enjoy a fully formatted disk after a long time and take the time to install a fresh copy of Zorin OS 7 Lite. Everything was set up in a few minutes (I became familiar with the process) and I started installing my favorite apps, including MS Office and Sugarsync using Wine, and Dropbox and Skype using the Software Center and setup package respectively.
So far I am pretty pleased with the behavior of my netbook; in fact I think that it has been transformed into a useful machine after a long time (during my last business trip, I decided to travel with my 17-inch/almost 3 Kg Toshiba laptop instead of carrying my lightweight but sluggish netbook with me). Operation is smooth, YouTube videos also play smoothly. I am still trying to figure out which app I will need to install in order to set up my netbook according to my needs so I guess that I will have to update this post after a while.
For the last years I have been using Outlook express as my email client: It was free, easy to use and came with Windows, so no extra installation was required. In addition, it was closely connected with my main (back then) account in Hotmail, and last but not least, it was perfectly synced with my Windows Mobile Phones (Eten X610, HTC Touch Cruise & HD). During the last months I smoothly migrated in the Windows Live Mail Desktop, which indeed provided me with more options.
However, as soon as I started working, I had to dealt with additional email accounts and work with more than one laptops. However, there was no way for me to keep the structure of my inboxes, other than Hotmail, between my different laptops. I tried exporting the inbox each time and importing it in the other laptop, use an online folder to sync the inboxes, copy-paste the files etc. but nothing worked… so I took the decision to migrate to a more flexible email client: Mozilla Thunderbird.
I decided to totally re-organize the way that I was handling my emails: I bought an external hard disk and decided to use the portable version of Thunderbird, so that not only my inbox, but my whole email system would be always with me. Migration from Windows was not easy but easier than I expected. I managed to keep the structure of the folders of my main installation of WLM but still I ended up with a lot of duplicate emails, that I am still trying to identify and delete…
Even though this solution works like a charm for all my Windows-based machines, I recently faced an issue when I decided to drop Windows from my netbook and instead use Linux. Since there is no Thunderbird portable version for Linux (yet), I will have to find a way to “force” the Linux pre-installed version of Thunderbird to use the folders in my portable hard disk as a source for the settings and messages; however, I haven’t managed to achieve such thing despite my research and efforts…
Please let me know in case you have a workaround for this issue and I will be eternally grateful to you!