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Old 02-22-2019, 11:39 AM   #1
DragoonJ
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What is a good current distro for a netbook?


As of recently, some distributions have decided to drop support for 32 bit hardware (Ubuntu variants, official Arch, etc.) and so I'm making this thread as I was looking to install a Linux distribution tailored for this netbook of mine that could see some use in lightweight ways.

This netbook is an Acer Aspire One ZG5, 1GB RAM. The network card for this machine seems to be well supported by most kernels out there so support for it doesn't concern me, I have a few candidates, however, I would like some people to point me out into the right direction.

Among my candidates these are: Gentoo, Slackware, Void, antiX, Debian/Devuan and OpenBSD (the latter isn't a Linux distribution, but I have heard it being recommended for hardware such as this, not sure if it's properly supported though)

I would however, like to ask several questions in this order:
1) If I go with a distro like Gentoo, then, a lot of research would have to be done in order to be able to even install it, would the benefits of source-based compiling be the right fit for this among all them?

2) Memory usage: Among these candidates, am I to expect the same for all them? for example, if I run fluxbox + midori on any of these OSes, will I see the overall same across these? Many people have told me that in general, the underlying OS doesn't matter as much as the DE and applications running, I have the latter fixed but I still have doubts about how much does things like the filesystem, inits or userland can affect overall performance (is it noticeable?)

3) Does a program that runs in OpenBSD will be "lighter" than one that runs in say, Gentoo or Void? or, will they be same across? (Consider this question a follow-up of the second one)

4) Package manager, how much would things change depending on this aspect alone? specially if programs need to be built with source

That should be all of my questions. Nevertheless, if you have any other distros or explanations about how to go with this piece of hardware, feel free to let me know. For further clarification, I have installed antiX on a Presario F700 64 bit with only 2 gigs of ram and it's been quite the treat, however, this netbook is different obviously so I would like to see how much juice can I extract from this and what's the best way to go about it.

To explain my needs: I can go with light browsers (Midori, Netsurf, Dillo), light audio players (qmmp, xmms) and so on, I would use this for casual surfing and retro-gaming (consoles such as SNES, GBA, NES), if I am able to plug my desired game controller, even better, but is not completely mandatory.

That's all I can say and have a great day!

-DragoonJ
 
Old 02-22-2019, 11:59 AM   #2
hydrurga
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Just to add to the following posters who will be more knowledgeable about light distros, do be aware that for little cost you can increase the RAM in that beast to 1.5GB. That might make things more comfortable. For example in the UK:

https://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/compat...aspire-one-zg5
 
Old 02-22-2019, 12:20 PM   #3
rokytnji
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Had a zg5 that ran well on AntiX. I gave it to my deceased now father in law.
Some old readouts of mine from the web,

Code:
Machine:   System: Acer (portable) product: AOA150 version: 1
           Mobo: Acer model: N/A Bios: Acer version: v0.3305 date: 05/09/2008
CPU:       Single core Intel Atom CPU N270 (-HT-) clocked at 800.00 MHz
Below is when I installed MX linux on it before giving the Acer to my father-in-law.

Code:
$ inxi -Fxz
System:    Host: biker Kernel: 3.12-0.bpo.1-686-pae i686 (32 bit gcc: 4.6.3)
           Desktop: Xfce 4.10.2 (Gtk 2.24.10)
           Distro: MX-14 Symbiosis 24 March 2014
Machine:   System: Acer product: AOA150 v: 1
           Mobo: Acer model: N/A Bios: Acer v: v0.3310 date: 10/06/2008
CPU:       Single core Intel Atom CPU N270 (-HT-) cache: 512 KB
           flags: (nx pae sse sse2 sse3 ssse3) bmips: 3191
           Clock Speeds: 1: 1600 MHz 2: 800 MHz
Graphics:  Card: Intel Mobile 945GSE Express Integrated Graphics Controller bus-ID: 00:02.0
           Display Server: X.Org 1.12.4 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) Resolution: 1024x600@60.0hz
           GLX Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel 945GME x86/MMX/SSE2 GLX Version: 1.4 Mesa 8.0.5 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio:     Card: Intel NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio Controller
           driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v:: k3.12-0.bpo.1-686-pae
Network:   Card-1: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller
           driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: 3000 bus-ID: 02:00.0
           IF: eth0 state: down mac: <filter>
           Card-2: Atheros AR242x / AR542x Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express)
           driver: ath5k bus-ID: 03:00.0
           IF: wlan0 state: up mac: <filter>
Drives:    HDD Total Size: 160.0GB (1.5% used) 1: id: /dev/sda model: WDC_WD1600BEVT size: 160.0GB
Partition: ID: / size: 7.6G used: 2.7G (38%) fs: ext4 ID: /home size: 79G used: 2.3G (4%) fs: ext4
           ID: swap-1 size: 2.10GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 62.0C mobo: N/A
           Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info:      Processes: 142 Uptime: 1:55 Memory: 360.7/994.9MB
           Init: SysVinit runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 4.7.2
           Client: Shell (bash 4.2.371) inxi: 2.1.7

Last edited by rokytnji; 02-22-2019 at 12:22 PM.
 
Old 02-22-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
rokytnji
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Forgot to mention, On cold boot and after logging into Icewm and conky starts.

Ram usage is about 80-90 Mbs. Turn off some start services like cups. Goes even lower.

Just remembered. Don't bother trying to boot off the sd card slot. Acer disabled that in their aspire one zg5 netooks.
Insert the card in the pen drive adapter and boot up using that route.

Last edited by rokytnji; 02-22-2019 at 12:33 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2019, 02:00 AM   #5
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokytnji View Post
Had a zg5 that ran well on AntiX.
and what more is there to say...

i had the same machine, with a real 160GB hard drive, in mother-of-pearl.
i always liked it a lot. i could bite myself in the arse for selling it on, but despite being small it was also clunky, and media playback was tricky at times.

but sturdy it was.

btw, it pays to take the time to open it up and max out the RAM. 1GB by default iirc, but there's a free slot. i had a suitable 512MB (!) stick, and even that made a notable difference.

i still like the size factor, i might consider buying something like this again.
the smaller keys were surprisingly easy to get used to.
same hardware size, smaller bezel = larger screen. not older than 2013. any ideas?
 
Old 02-23-2019, 03:37 AM   #6
fatmac
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As above, AntiX is a great choice for these old netbooks, if you increase the ram, you can run Firefox.

Otherwise, take a look at a distro that loads to ram for a speedier experience, TinyCoreLinux or SliTaz are good.
 
Old 02-23-2019, 05:13 AM   #7
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmac View Post
if you increase the ram, you can run Firefox.

Otherwise, take a look at a distro that loads to ram for a speedier experience
isn't there a contradiction somewhere?
 
Old 02-23-2019, 06:14 AM   #8
DragoonJ
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Hello everyone! I'll give you a quick update

For curiosity's sake, I decided to go with OpenBSD first, though it seems like there's a bug with my network atheros card, it hasn't been solved since then and the installer is unable to recognize it well. The solution for this problem needs some serious kernel driver hackery and that's something that I do not know how to apply, so I dropped OBSD for this particular machine.

My next distribution was Void Linux, indeed the networking was much easier but I still had some doubts because in order to set-up networking on the installer I needed to take some steps before in the terminal, I was able to get some things working, and others not. Perhaps I could give it a more serious try one of these days but I put it off too.

It came down to antiX, Slackware and Gentoo. In the end though, as you all recommended me, I settled with antiX. Because I feel that older machines such as these will have a more difficult time trying to build modern sourcebased-packages and that's something that you need to do in both Slackware and Gentoo regularly, including updates. So I needed something that was a binary-distro (because those will be much better for older hardware), 32-bit support and really lightweight, so as I mentioned before, I installed antiX without a hitch and now I have something working quite nicely!

Thanks for the support here, you can mark it as solved.

P.D: So yeah, source-based probably isn't good for older machines or hardware but it has its uses I suppose. Binary-distros are a much better fit for them if it exists and thankfully they did! I may play with Void Linux later on but only to see what it has later on, still, thank you all!
 
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:02 AM   #9
rokytnji
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Having 3 test small atom n270 cpu netbooks. Clamshell 9 inchers. 2 touchscreen < passive type screen >



Touchscreens are maxed at 2 gig. Non touchscreen is 1 gig. Only one ram slot. zif ata hardrive. Slow toshiba 30 gig usually. They are xp and windows 7 netbook vintage.

I boot up all kinds of things on them. But time is limited lately. So they stay on the shelf lately.
If you lived down the block . I'd probably let ya have the non touchscreen one for 10 bucks.LQ forum member only discount.

10 bucker netbook. Here. Amazon used to still sell them , even today
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...SIN=B0016OJXGQ
Mine has the atom instead of celeron though. Sounds like a eeepc 701 processor in the aamzon link is my best guess.

Mine has handles also. M&A companion pc took that page down so best I can do is
http://www.techsmart.co.za/data/arti...te_Profile.jpg
That is what it looks like.
Source for above picture link
http://kirchberg.live/personal-computer-e09e16-55/

I am noticing lately. These after market power bricks are starting to send out radio signals that that slowing down the mouse pointer and then freezing . The touchpad don't like the new power brick.

External usb or bluetooth mouse gets around this snafu. I guess I know a little about obsolete netbooks.

Enough of my rambling . Glad you got it sorted.
 
Old 02-23-2019, 12:51 PM   #10
fatmac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
isn't there a contradiction somewhere?
I was saying, if you up the ram, it should run firefox OK, otherwise, try one of TinyCore or SliTaz, as they can run from ram, which would speed up that old netbook; but then use dillo, (as comes with them, if I remember).

But, I see AntiX is doing fine.

Last edited by fatmac; 02-23-2019 at 12:53 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2019, 01:31 PM   #11
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmac View Post
I was saying, if you up the ram, it should run firefox OK, otherwise, try one of TinyCore or SliTaz, as they can run from ram
but if there isn't even enough ram to run firefox, how can it benefit from loading the whole OS into RAM?
 
Old 02-24-2019, 03:43 AM   #12
fatmac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
but if there isn't even enough ram to run firefox, how can it benefit from loading the whole OS into RAM?
Because the ones loading to ram don't have firefox included as standard - & I wasn't saying firefox would't run at all, just that it is painfully slow with just 1GB ram.

Don't forget the OP says they would be happy to run a light browser such as dillo.

Last edited by fatmac; 02-24-2019 at 03:46 AM.
 
Old 03-02-2019, 01:51 PM   #13
baumei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DragoonJ View Post
It came down to antiX, Slackware and Gentoo. In the end though, as you all recommended me, I settled with antiX. Because I feel that older machines such as these will have a more difficult time trying to build modern sourcebased-packages and that's something that you need to do in both Slackware and Gentoo regularly, including updates. So I needed something that was a binary-distro (because those will be much better for older hardware), 32-bit support and really lightweight, so as I mentioned before, I installed antiX without a hitch and now I have something working quite nicely!
Actually, Slackware does not require that one compile all the packages, however if one wishes to do so the nature of Slackware does not impede this. The binaries for each released version are available from any of the several mirrors (see: "https://mirrors.slackware.com/mirrorlist/"). As the patches for a particular version are published, the binaries and source code are put in the sub-directory named "patches" (for example, see: "https://mirror.slackbuilds.org/slackware/slackware-14.2/").

The most recent stable version is 14.2, and it comes in 64-bit and 32-bit. In 32-bit one has a choice of kernels: single processor, and symetrical multi-processor. (I gather from the grapevine that v15.0 is getting 'close'.)

In my opinion, if one wants to learn Linux, then Slackware is GREAT. Primarily, because all the configuration files are human-readable, and with decent commenting.

Also, there is a 'book' available online about installing and configuring and administering Slackware: "http://www.slackbook.org/beta/". (The previous book is not a beta version, but it is rather old, having been published in 2005.)

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Slackware 14.2 32-bit runs nicely on my ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. :-)

Last edited by baumei; 03-02-2019 at 01:55 PM.
 
Old 03-04-2019, 07:53 PM   #14
RockDoctor
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Dragoon - glad you were able to find a workable distro. A couple of alternatives: I have a ZG5 on which I run 32-bit Fedora with the Mate DE. I also have a Dell Mini with an Atom N270 and 1 GB RAM (similar specs to the ZG5) that's running Ubuntu 32-bit; also with the Mate DE. XFCE works fine on both if you'd rather run that; I just prefer Mate.
 
Old 03-07-2019, 12:08 PM   #15
DragoonJ
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by baumei View Post
Actually, Slackware does not require that one compile all the packages, however if one wishes to do so the nature of Slackware does not impede this. The binaries for each released version are available from any of the several mirrors (see: "https://mirrors.slackware.com/mirrorlist/"). As the patches for a particular version are published, the binaries and source code are put in the sub-directory named "patches" (for example, see: "https://mirror.slackbuilds.org/slackware/slackware-14.2/").

The most recent stable version is 14.2, and it comes in 64-bit and 32-bit. In 32-bit one has a choice of kernels: single processor, and symetrical multi-processor. (I gather from the grapevine that v15.0 is getting 'close'.)

In my opinion, if one wants to learn Linux, then Slackware is GREAT. Primarily, because all the configuration files are human-readable, and with decent commenting.

Also, there is a 'book' available online about installing and configuring and administering Slackware: "http://www.slackbook.org/beta/". (The previous book is not a beta version, but it is rather old, having been published in 2005.)

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Slackware 14.2 32-bit runs nicely on my ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. :-)
Those are some quite fine news! I do think that Slackware is possibly the greatest distro out of 'em all in terms of design and stability, as well as long-lasting choices that keeps old hardware and new hardware alike like new! However, it does have a somewhat steep learning-curve (I didn't have too many troubles myself, but setting up things the way I want to does take quite a bit of time on my end, like setting the WM, setting the icons, opening the text editor to see it exactly as I want, etc.)

Further, many people recommend the full install. Which installs quite a lot of things that I don't need (like KDE, which I find fine, but I don't particularly use it, or many server packages as well), of course you can slim the installation, though one has to work out the dependencies and programs later on, and that can't be all pretty. Otherwise though, is a fine choice for any old and new hardware alike, is up there along with antiX among my preferred distros.

I could give it a try, but for now, I'm having enough fun with antiX as of now! of course, if Debian were to drop 32 bit support (which I doubt but who knows, anything can happen) Slackware will always be my backup plan for anything! also excited for Slackware 15 as well

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockDoctor View Post
Dragoon - glad you were able to find a workable distro. A couple of alternatives: I have a ZG5 on which I run 32-bit Fedora with the Mate DE. I also have a Dell Mini with an Atom N270 and 1 GB RAM (similar specs to the ZG5) that's running Ubuntu 32-bit; also with the Mate DE. XFCE works fine on both if you'd rather run that; I just prefer Mate.
I recall Ubuntu Mate and all the similar offerings (Xubuntu, Lubuntu, etc.) the announcement of dropping official 32-bit support if I recall right? one would have to build upon a netboot cd in order to be able to install something similar (as those are keeping 32-bit still), though that's not a problem to me, Trisquel also exists and did performed quite nicely. Who knows how things will be once Trisquel 9 rolls out for the Mini edition offering.

Fedora is a distro that worked nicely enough surprisingly! never expected that as I hear all sorts of things for this distro alone. Thanks for further recommendations though, will always keep them as backup in case anything happens
 
  


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