Is debian recommended for old netbooks

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Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby larienna » 2016-01-01 04:16

I have an old HP mini 110, I currently have Wheezy on it with XFCE as window manager, and I find web browsing relatively slow. Maybe it's because the hard drive is aging, because I tried many OS with this computer in it's old days like Mint, Ubuntu, XP ... and I don't remember having such issues. So I am wondering if it's the computer's fault or if it's debian's fault.

Now I was thinking about upgrading it to Debian 8, but I was wondering if I should search for a more light weight OS, or if debian 8 would not really be less performant than any other light weight linux OS.

Thank you for your comments
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby stevepusser » 2016-01-01 05:49

It maybe whatever browser you're using in combination with websites loading more and more junk (scripts and ads) that need to be rendered. The Huffington Post is a prime offender, for example.

Using an adblocker such as Ublock Origin can cut down the total bits needed for some pages to load down to 1/3rd the size, 2/3rds blocked are ads and tracking cookies, etc. NoScript can block scripts. The major browsers also continue to get bigger and slower at the same time, but many sites are depending on those new features in the fat browsers.

You can try slimmed-down browsers such as Qupzilla, Seamonkey, or Pale Moon for a speedup, but they may not support some features. If you want to watch Youtube videos, using something like SMTube will have better performance than watching Youtube in a browser with Flash or HTML5.

I really doubt you can find some distro faster than Debian on your hardware, but there may be other optimizations in Debian you can make, depending on your hardware.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby kalwisti » 2016-01-01 05:52

Hi, larienna,

I'm not a hardware specialist nor a software expert, so I will sidestep answering your question about whether your HP Mini 110's slowness is Debian's fault, or the hardware's fault. I can offer some anecdotal advice based on my personal experience with Debian 8 (Jessie) running on a similar model netbook: the HP Mini 210.

My Mini 210 has a slightly better processor than your model (Intel Atom N450), and I upgraded it to its maximum capacity of 2 GB RAM. The RAM upgrade was inexpensive and easy; if you don't already have 2 GB, I think the additional RAM would be well worth it and help your netbook feel "snappier". I don't know whether you live in the U.S., but if you do, I can recommend Crucial ( http://www.crucial.com/ ) as a RAM source for the Mini. IIRC, the cost was around $12 - $15 and the installation took 5-10 minutes, working slowly and carefully. The new RAM was recognized immediately by both Linux and Windows. (I have a dual-boot setup with Linux and Windows 7 Starter Ed. Windows 7 Starter is painfully slow compared to Debian, but the situation is tolerable because I don't use Windows that often).

I installed Debian 8 MATE with some uncertainty as to how it would perform, but have been surprised how smoothly it runs. I've been using it since around May 2015 and haven't noticed any significant slowdowns. I recently began experimenting with the Fluxbox window manager on it; the netbook's even snappier with Fluxbox and I now spend most of my time within that environment.

If you feel Fluxbox might be too "sparse" for you, you could always install a lighter, full desktop environment such as LXDE. I imagine that LXDE would work fine on your machine.

If you want to explore other distros which are perhaps lighter than Debian, two which I've successfully used in the past are wattOS (based on Lubuntu [Ubuntu LXDE]) and Salix OS 14.1 (a Slackware derivative "for lazy Slackers", which includes a package manager with automatic dependency resolution [Gslapt], help with installing multimedia codecs, etc.). Salix currently has options with MATE, Xfce, Fluxbox and Openbox. The Fluxbox and Openbox editions come with a fair amount of out-of-the-box configuration, to ease the transition for newbie users (myself included).

HTH and Happy New Year to you. :)
Last edited by kalwisti on 2016-01-01 15:00, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby wizard10000 » 2016-01-01 10:58

I have a (Compaq-branded) Mini 110c running Sid; the machine is competent if a little slow. The RAM upgrade kalwisti mentioned is well worth the investment and an SSD would also be a worthwhile addition.

Mine has fluxbox installed but normally sits at a login prompt and I manage it over SSH as it's stuffed behind my TV and I use it as a DLNA server. I upgraded the machine to 2GB RAM, installed a 500gb mechanical hard drive (and have run the machine with a 60gb SSD - highly recommended) and replaced the Broadcom WLAN card with an Intel 6200 card, which required me to locate a hacked BIOS as HP and Lenovo both whitelist their internal WLAN cards in BIOS so replacing the wireless card can be a challenge, but mine works fine.

After six years of 24/7 operation the battery has long since died, the processor fan is getting a little noisy but the thing just chugs along. Two years ago I took it to India on a business trip and used it for email, web surfing and light word processing and it worked fine.

One last thing - if you want to squeeze maximum performance out of it check out GMABooster. This netbook has its video chipset throttled back to I believe 166MHz where design spec is 400MHz because power saving. GMABooster will crank the video chipset back up to it's intended frequency. Also highly recommended :)

http://www.gmabooster.com/home.htm

Good luck!
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2016-01-01 12:51

+1 for WattOS

Yes they're based on Ubuntu but the community is absolutely fantastic and they are one of the few distributions to offer an i3 desktop that will be lighter than pretty much anything.

Of course you could just use a minimal Debian jessie netinstall and build up an i3 desktop yourself (very simple with that particular WM) and end up with an even lighter system (way below 100MiB used at boot) that doesn't "phone home" at every opportunity.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby Hallvor » 2016-01-01 13:07

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:+1 for WattOS

Yes they're based on Ubuntu but the community is absolutely fantastic and they are one of the few distributions to offer an i3 desktop that will be lighter than pretty much anything.



It looks like they are now based on Debian, not Ubuntu. Even better.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=n ... px=MTY4NzU
http://distrowatch.com/search.php?basedon=Debian
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2016-01-01 13:12

Hallvor wrote:It looks like they are now based on Debian, not Ubuntu. Even better.

They switched to Debian for version 8 but they're back to tracking Ubuntu now :(

http://www.planetwatt.com/

EDIT: In fairness, I think they're aiming for a "one-size fits all" type of release so tracking Ubuntu does actually make sense.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby arochester » 2016-01-01 13:16

?

The wattOS team is pleased to announce the release of the newest version of wattOS – Release 9 – (also known as R9). We have made the switch back to Ubuntu as the upstream distro and built the latest version from 14.04 LTS for long term support and stability.
http://www.planetwatt.com/
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby keithpeter » 2016-01-01 14:01

larienna wrote:I have an old HP mini 110, I currently have Wheezy on it with XFCE as window manager, and I find web browsing relatively slow. [ snip] So I am wondering if it's the computer's fault or if it's debian's fault.

Might be the Web's fault, see [1]

Have you tried the NoScript add-on in Iceweasel? Can speed things up amazingly.

Have you thought about adding a list of the more invasive ad servers to your /etc/hosts file?

http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt

Happy new year all.


[1] http://idlewords.com/talks/website_obesity.htm

Of course, configuring a wm over X is fun and educational, and distro-hopping can be rewarding and widen horizons!
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby arochester » 2016-01-01 15:34

Of course you could just use a minimal Debian jessie netinstall and build up an i3 desktop yourself


It doesn't have to be i3.

Look at https://l3net.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/ ... -desktops/ e.g. jwm has the same memory usage as i3.

Look at https://www.maketecheasier.com/build-li ... nd-laptop/ . If you go for lxde-core instead of lxde it will install less packages.

Look at http://www.alandmoore.com/blog/2013/11/ ... ght-remix/

Even more extreme is https://saidkhorramshahgol.wordpress.co ... tallation/
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby larienna » 2016-01-01 17:48

Using an adblocker such as Ublock Origin can cut down the total bits needed for some pages to load down to 1/3rd the size, 2/3rds blocked are ads and tracking cookies, etc. NoScript can block scripts.


Yes it's true, the web has been going slower. I should not have used this a a comparison point. I wanted to try it again, but it does not detect my wireless card anymore. Maybe a problem with the driver. Anyways, upgrading should be a good thing.

Nice article about Web Site obesity. I was compelled to read it all. I like short and sweet stuff (I mean web sites, because the article was pretty long). It's a good thing I am using PMwiki for all my websites which should not add too much glamour to it, but should make it relatively fast to load. With expanding cloud services and limited internet connection here in Canada, it becomes really problematic especially with an Xbox One that assume that everybody has unlimited internet. We busted our limit by watching Darth Vader burn on you tube with the Xbox.

I have a (Compaq-branded) Mini 110c running Sid; the machine is competent if a little slow. The RAM upgrade kalwisti mentioned is well worth the investment and an SSD would also be a worthwhile addition.


First, I cannot change my hard drive without actually disassembling the whole computer. I have access to the RAM, but from a simple boot, debian 7 was taking like 100 meg of ram with 0 swap. So I don't think adding more memory would actually help unless the memory is actually faster. I am not even sure if I can upgrade it to 2 gig. If I continued to run win XP, yes more ram would have helped, as it always complained it was full. From what I recall, ram usage after start up was above 400 meg with swap usage (Ah! windows, the specialist of inefficiency). As for the battery, both the BIOS and laptop battery are dead (at most 10-20 min autonomy). But changing the bios battery requires disassembly, which requires reaping off the keyboard, so I will not try it.

WattOS seems nice, Debian Mate also seems nice, not sure if run as fast.

Thanks for the input.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby wizard10000 » 2016-01-01 18:34

larienna wrote:
First, I cannot change my hard drive without actually disassembling the whole computer. I have access to the RAM, but from a simple boot, debian 7 was taking like 100 meg of ram with 0 swap. So I don't think adding more memory would actually help unless the memory is actually faster. I am not even sure if I can upgrade it to 2 gig. If I continued to run win XP, yes more ram would have helped, as it always complained it was full. From what I recall, ram usage after start up was above 400 meg with swap usage (Ah! windows, the specialist of inefficiency). As for the battery, both the BIOS and laptop battery are dead (at most 10-20 min autonomy). But changing the bios battery requires disassembly, which requires reaping off the keyboard, so I will not try it.

WattOS seems nice, Debian Mate also seems nice, not sure if run as fast.

Thanks for the input.


No problem. Just FYI, the hard drive sits directly under the keyboard and the keyboard snaps off after removing the three screws in the battery compartment. You don't have to gut the netbook to replace the hard drive.

There's a service manual for your netbook here - http://www.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01757458.pdf and both hard drive and CMOS battery are easily replaced.

And - max RAM on your Mini 110 is 2GB.

Good luck!
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby mardybear » 2016-01-01 23:45

My HP Mini 110 runs Debian Wheezy LXDE okay, sluggish running Iceweasel with several tabs. Slower processor primarily then limited RAM. Believe your system is upgradeable to 2gb, personally wouldn't bother. More funner to leave hardware alone, set up leaner system. For hardware maintenance, you'll probably find a youtube disassembly video.

As mentioned, NoScript in Iceweasel is the single most effective way to reduce processor and system load. It does take configuration to stop/allow the stuff you want. Can't have it both ways with limited hardware.

Would i install Debian on this Mini again? No. Lots of lighter alternatives. Tiny Core Linux is about as light as it gets. Graphic boot uses ~50mb RAM (moderately tweaked Wheezy LXDE ~90mb). Load up on gtk1 (eg emelfm) and fltk (eg dillo) applications with a lightweight WM (JWM, Fluxbox, tiling), your system will fly. Then just run Firefox as needed. Don't even need Xorg, can run in Xvesa. TC 6 and Xvesa run extremely well on an HP Mini 110, all hardware works.

If you don't like to tinker then test a Puppy Linux variant, still actively maintained with new releases. Designed to run out of the box with limited hardware, lots of fun to play with and take less time than Debian to set up. As these lightweights run in RAM, hard drive speed irrelevant.

As long as users have strong preferences, WM wars will continue. Once you get down to the *box territory, not much of a performance difference. I'm the extension maintainer of dwm for Tiny Core. Very light, compiles in seconds to a single binary, only one dependency, entire extension is 20k! Do i use it? No, prefer Fluxbox. Just wanted it available for others.

Happy New Year all.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby larienna » 2016-01-02 06:37

Thanks for the manual. I saw somebody on you tube insert a screw driver on the edge of the keyboard to snap it off.When I saw this, I did not want to damage the keyboard. But now that I know that I can snap it off from the bottom, I might give it a try. I also learned that I could insert a sim card, WOW, I did not know it was possible for lap tops to act as cell phones.

I'll give it a try, at snapping my keyboard, just to make sure I know my computer better. Eventually, I could install a ssd. I love that netbook as the keyboard is smaller making it easier to type than any other keyboard. Even compact keyboard sold on the market does not reduce the spacing of the keys. My only drawback is the lack of keypad.

As for tiny core linux, seems nice, but the problem is that it does not support all hardware, and for netbooks and laptops, hardware support is very important because I cannot install hardware drivers by myself. That is one of the only thing I like in windows, yes it's driver dependent, but you can find and install drivers easily. While in linux, if it does not work right after installing, well ... it does not work. Wait for the next upgrade.
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Re: Is debian recommended for old netbooks

Postby mardybear » 2016-01-02 07:32

arienna wrote:
I have an old HP mini 110...
...now that I know that I can snap it off from the bottom, I might give it a try.
...I cannot install hardware drivers by myself.

mardybear wrote:
My HP Mini 110...
TC 6 and Xvesa run extremely well on an HP Mini 110, all hardware works.


Your prerogative, better to dismantle perfectly working hardware ;)

CorePlus
(86 MB)CorePlus is an installation image and not the distribution. It is recommended for new users who only have access to a wireless network or who use a non-US keyboard layout. It includes the base Core System and installation tools to provide for the setup with the following options: Choice of 7 Window Managers, Wireless support via many firmware files and ndiswrapper, non-US keyboard support, and a remastering tool.

http://tinycorelinux.net/downloads.html

You get the drivers, even easier than a typical Debian wireless install. Don't have to make excuses, if you prefer Debian great. Jumping through a lot of hoops to make it work though. In the end, performance will still be limited by the 1.5ghz processor. See ya.
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