Testing Acer 751h with Zorin OS 7 Lite – Ressurection

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.

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(Re-) Installing Windows (and the required additional software)

I took some time during weekend to backup some things from my Acer Aspire One 751h, format the hard disk and re-install Windows, as it started being laggy and the hard disk kept reading and reading for long periods. In addition, there was a noticeable lagging in almost every function (e.g. Skype), which made the netbook almost unusuable in some cases (leading to several “Not Responding” messages. I had a dual booting system with Windows 7 Pro and Jolicloud installed, but I heard that Windows Home might be easier for my netbook to cope up with, having lower minimum requirements (even though I didn’t manage to confirm this statement from the Microsoft website). On the other hand, I rarely used Jolicloud (or Joli OS now) during the last months; despite them being advertised as an OS designed primarily for netbooks, it was too cloud-based for me and I found myself missing access to files etc. when I was working ofline. Joilicoud is one of the few Linux distributions with native support for the GMA500 of Acer 751h (which is a really problematic piece of hardware, when it comes to software support/drivers in both Windows and Linux), but I was not ready to

So, this time I went for the Windows Home Premium. Installation was pretty snappy, using a bootable USB with Windows 7 that I had created some time ago.

In the meantime, I tried to install an alternative OS, Zorin OS, which is considered as the Linux distribution closest to Windows interface, so I thought that it might be handy. I downloaded the free version, created a bootable USB stick with UNetbootin Even though the interface was really close to Windows (so familiar), there was no native support for GMA500, so I had to quit it really soon. Unofrtunately I do not have the time nor the knowledge to tweak any Linux settings on my own…

The netbook seems more responsive now, and I started installing my favourite freeware apps in order to bring it closer to my needs:

A, System addons:

  1. Java: A must for the system, as a lot of web sites are depending on Java.
  2. Flash/Shockwave player: Flash installation is not needed when using Chrome, as it is integrated in the system. On the other hand, Shockwave Player is a must, especially in some social networking sites.
  3. MS Sliverlight: Just in case it is needed for the playback of videos in some web sites. Makes video playback smooth.

B. Apps

  1. Google Chrome: I went for the Chrome when I realized how sluggish was Firefox a couple of years ago. Through the years I appreciated the speed and simplicity of Chrome and I have become a fan since then!
  2. 7zip: A must for handling compressed files. It is free, with friendly user interface and minimum user intervention.
  3. GOM Media Player: A great video player, especially for low-end machines like my netbook. Customizable, supporting a wide variety of formats through internal codecs, while additional codecs can be downloaded for free, if needed.
  4. Filehippo: Helps me keep my apps updated. The utility is small and quick.
  5. DriverMax: Helps me keep my drivers updates. I am not sure about how it works, but I get some updated versions of drivers every now and then.
  6. Windows Mobile Device Center: For syncing my Windows Mobile phone (an HTC Touch HD featuring a kwbr WM6.5 ROM)
  7. Dropbox:  For keeping my precious working documents synced between my various computers. I currently managed to have 3GB of space there.
  8. Sugarsync: For keeping my precious working documents, as the 3GB of Dropbox are not enough. I think I currently have 5GB of space in Sugarsync.
  9. Irfanview: A great image viewing and editing app. It is small, light and has a comprehensive package of plugins.
  10. Foxit Reader: A lightweight PDF reader with a lot of useful options (e.g. commenting, post-it notes etc.). I prefer it over the official Adobe Reader app (which is really chunky) but it seems to have issues when it comes to online forms and submitted forms.
  11. Bullzip PDF printer: A great app that allows the conversion of almost all file types to PDF through the Print option.
  12. CCleaner: Helps me keep my hard disk clean and free of temp files. You would be surprised by the amount of space allocated to temp files in your computer. It also clean the registry, by removing useless entries.
  13. Skype: A must for communicating with colleagues and family. Even though I was an old and loyal MS Messenger user, it seems that almost everyone has migrated to Skype (Messenger has even dropped the option for video calls). Using Skype for internal office communication and online meetings with colleagues is really often.

(Re-) Installing Windows (and the required additional software)

I took some time during weekend to backup some things from my Acer Aspire One 751h, format the hard disk and re-install Windows, as it started being laggy and the hard disk kept reading and reading for long periods. In addition, there was a noticeable lagging in almost every function (e.g. Skype), which made the netbook almost unusuable in some cases (leading to several “Not Responding” messages. I had a dual booting system with Windows 7 Pro and Jolicloud installed, but I heard that Windows Home might be easier for my netbook to cope up with, having lower minimum requirements (even though I didn’t manage to confirm this statement from the Microsoft website). On the other hand, I rarely used Jolicloud (or Joli OS now) during the last months; despite it being advertised as an OS designed primarily for netbooks (and it is indeed really user friendly and responsive), it was too cloud-based for me and I found myself missing access to files etc. when I was working ofline. Joilicoud is one of the few Linux distributions with native support for the GMA500 of Acer 751h (which is a really problematic piece of hardware, when it comes to software support/drivers in both Windows and Linux), but I was not ready to migrate to a solution other than MS Office at the moment.

In the meantime, I tried to install an alternative OS, Zorin OS, which is considered as the Linux distribution closest to Windows interface, so I thought that it might be handy. I downloaded the free version, created a bootable USB stick with UNetbootin Even though the interface was really close to Windows (so familiar), there was no native support for GMA500, so I had to quit it really soon. Unofrtunately I do not have the time nor the knowledge to tweak any Linux settings on my own…

So, this time I went for the Windows Home Premium. Installation was pretty snappy, using a bootable USB with Windows 7 that I had created some time ago. The netbook seems more responsive now, and I started installing my favourite freeware apps in order to bring it closer to my needs:

A, System addons:

  1. Java: A must for the system, as a lot of web sites are depending on Java.
  2. Flash/Shockwave player: Flash installation is not needed when using Chrome, as it is integrated in the system. On the other hand, Shockwave Player is a must, especially in some social networking sites.
  3. MS Sliverlight: Just in case it is needed for the playback of videos in some web sites. Makes video playback smooth.

B. Apps

  1. Google Chrome: I went for the Chrome when I realized how sluggish was Firefox a couple of years ago. Through the years I appreciated the speed and simplicity of Chrome and I have become a fan since then!
  2. 7zip: A must for handling compressed files. It is free, with friendly user interface and minimum user intervention.
  3. GOM Media Player: A great video player, especially for low-end machines like my netbook. Customizable, supporting a wide variety of formats through internal codecs, while additional codecs can be downloaded for free, if needed.
  4. Filehippo: Helps me keep my apps updated. The utility is small and quick.
  5. DriverMax: Helps me keep my drivers updates. I am not sure about how it works, but I get some updated versions of drivers every now and then.
  6. Windows Mobile Device Center: For syncing my Windows Mobile phone (an HTC Touch HD featuring a kwbr WM6.5 ROM)
  7. Dropbox:  For keeping my precious working documents synced between my various computers. I currently managed to have 3GB of space there.
  8. Sugarsync: For keeping my precious working documents, as the 3GB of Dropbox are not enough. I think I currently have 5GB of space in Sugarsync.
  9. Irfanview: A great image viewing and editing app. It is small, light and has a comprehensive package of plugins.
  10. Foxit Reader: A lightweight PDF reader with a lot of useful options (e.g. commenting, post-it notes etc.). I prefer it over the official Adobe Reader app (which is really chunky) but it seems to have issues when it comes to online forms and submitted forms.
  11. Bullzip PDF printer: A great app that allows the conversion of almost all file types to PDF through the Print option.
  12. CCleaner: Helps me keep my hard disk clean and free of temp files. You would be surprised by the amount of space allocated to temp files in your computer. It also clean the registry, by removing useless entries.
  13. Skype: A must for communicating with colleagues and family. Even though I was an old and loyal MS Messenger user, it seems that almost everyone has migrated to Skype (Messenger has even dropped the option for video calls). Using Skype for internal office communication and online meetings with colleagues is really often.