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Asus Netbook

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DarkSerge

Greetings.

 

Over the holidays, my mom gave me her old Asus netbook that she says she hasn't used in years. She gave it to me to have it recycled but I told her if she did that, I'd tinker with it before disassembling it and recycling it.

 

It is an Asus Eee PC 1001PX Netbook. It's a bit old, came with Windows 7 Starter. Are there any Linux distros that might be good for it?

 

Here are the specs: https://www.cnet.com/products/asus-eee-pc-1001px/

 

 

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Hedon James

That's an old Atom netbook, which are notoriously slow and lean-specced, but make really nice Linux machines.  As long as you recognize it's not a powerhouse (and it sounds like you're aware).  I had an older Acer netbook that I used for several years and took on vacations, due to compact size (10" or 12"?) and slim.  Repurposed it with Zorin Lite for my mom and she used it for another 5-7 years before it conked out.  Good little machine!

 

If memory serves me right, the Atom processors are 32-bit, so your selection is more limited than 10 years ago when I repurposed mine.  And the RAM is minimal...looks like 1GB is stock, but can be bumped to 2GB.  So you've got THREE bottlenecks to navigate, all of which revolve around those hardware limitations, but 32-bit is likely to be the biggest limiter.  You should also probably stay away from the "big" desktop environments like Gnome and KDE...that machine can't handle those DEs.  Even lighter weight XFCE might be a little too much, depending on whether your machine has 1GB or 2GB.  I'd say that an LXDE desktop is probably the "heaviest" DE that machine can handle; and "naked" WM distros would be even better.

 

As far as an LXDE distro, I'd suggest Peppermint, although that's a hybrid of an LXDE desktop with some XFCE components.  As far as "naked" WM distros, I'd suggest Bunsen Labs.  But in the interests of having you determine quickly whether it's even worth your while, I'll bet that AntiX is going to be your best bet.  There's a 32-bit version, it uses a very lightweight window manager (icewm is stock, but others are available), has several lightweight software packages, and is specifically "tuned" for lower-spec hardware.  So I'd recommend you start with Antix.  If you don't like Antix, you can always try the others I mentioned.

 

The biggest thing to watch with those netbooks is BROWSERS!  Web browsers are probably the single biggest consumer of RAM and CPU cycles, so you're going to want to avoid "heavier" fully-featured browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Opera, etc...  Some lighter weight web browsers to consider are Midori (stock on Antix, I think) and perhaps Falkon.  And some distros offer Pale Moon as an option.  And when you're web-browsing, limit your tabs.  Browsing with 5-6 tabs open in your browser will be very painful.  1 tab is best, maybe 2 tabs, depending on website content.

 

That should be enough to get you started down the path, but the key is "lightweight" in ALL respects.  The lighter you can go, the more responsive your machine will be.  Windows CRIPPLED my netbook, but once I put Zorin Lite (with LXDE desktop environment) on that machine, I was VERY pleased with it.  If you make good choices, you'll have a nice little machine that I think you'll be happy with!  Good luck!

Edited by Hedon James

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sunrat

I've got an EeePC 900 which is a different CPU but otherwise similar. It runs Antix quite well but the 1GB RAM is limiting for any heavier tasks like running a few browser tabs. Plays most videos and music fine.

https://antixlinux.com/antix-19-isos-available/

 

There are a couple of important titbits of advice here - https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/ASUS_Eee_PC_1001px

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V.T. Eric Layton

Zorin, Zenwalk, or any of the Slackware derivatives, would run like a scalded dog on that machine... Slackware included.

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securitybreach

All great suggestions but look others have said, the browser is one major hiccup. Today's web is very JavaScript intensive so 1-2gb will not be able to handle most websites. That said, if you stick to mostly terminal apps, it will run just fine.

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zlim

I still have my 7" ASUS eeepc (2008) running a hybrid of Debian/Xandros . Since it only has a 4GB hard drive, I can't install a newer distro. I've tested a few live USB sticks but not for several years. Mepis 8.05, Peppermint, CrunchBang!, LXLE desktop18. 04. Most were very slow. I might have tried Lubuntu and Xubuntu also but as I wipe sticks and grab something newer, I get rid of my notes for a particular distro.

Go for something lightweight .

https://itsfoss.com/lightweight-linux-beginners/

 

Have fun experimenting!

 

The old distro is fine for watching movies or reading a book. Of course now that I have two android tablets, 10.1"  and 8" , they are lighter in weight and large to read and watch movies on.

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V.T. Eric Layton
From: https://www.cnet.com/products/asus-eee-pc-1001px/

RAM

  • Technology
    DDR3 SDRAM
  • Installed Size
    1 GB

Memory

  • Max Supported Size
    2 GB
  • Technology
    DDR3 SDRAM
  • Form Factor
    SO-DIMM 204-pin

Hard Drive

  • Spindle Speed
    5400 rpm
  • Type
    HDD
  • Capacity
    250 GB
===
 
The 250GB drive in that thing is all you need. The RAM is easily upgrade-able to 2GB. That stuff is cheap, too. A lightweight browser like Midori that someone above mentioned wouldn't be too much of a strain on that 2GB. Newer Chrome/Chromium or Firefox would definitely bog it down, though. They are quite hoggish on resources these days.
 
There are many good lightweight Linuxes out there.

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DarkSerge

It looks like it might be 64-bit: https://www.cnet.com/products/intel-atom-n455-1-66-ghz-processor/

 

It wouldn't be worth it to upgrade the RAM. I have no use for the computer other than just seeing what I can do with it so money isn't worth putting into it. I'm just looking to see what it can do but overall even if it works perfectly I have no use for it.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Meh... well, if it's not needed and you're just playing around with it, dump some Linuxes on it and see what happens. Can't hurt. Obviously, I'm going to recommend Slackware-based light Linuxes, but there are bunches out there. Pick one you might be more comfortable with, perhaps Xubuntu, Lubuntu or something like that.

 

Slackware derivatives:

 

- Zenwalk

- Zorin

- SalixOS

- Absolute

- et cetera...

 

 

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DarkSerge

I downloaded Linux Lite to give it a try but I'm also looking at Salix OS.

 

Though it's old, it still works an part of me feels bad throwing out something like that even though it still functions just fine, it's just old and doesn't get used. I have no use for it other than this - putting Linux on it just for fun.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Yeah... for years I would collect old towers and laptops and install Ubuntu on them and donate them to anyone who needed a computer. Unfortunately, handheld devices and Chromebooks seem to be the fad of the day nowadays, so most of my older systems (lappies and towers) got stripped of their parts and tossed into the trash. :(

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securitybreach

Well if it is 64bit, then it does not matter which distro you choose (old or new), just the environment.

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DarkSerge

About 10 years ago I was working with a charity called Computers for Charity and we built systems from donated parts and would install Linux (one of the Ubuntu flavours) and they'd go to people who needed a PC to help find jobs or take online courses and such.

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Hedon James
13 hours ago, DarkSerge said:

I downloaded Linux Lite to give it a try but I'm also looking at Salix OS.

 

Though it's old, it still works an part of me feels bad throwing out something like that even though it still functions just fine, it's just old and doesn't get used. I have no use for it other than this - putting Linux on it just for fun.

 

If you choose the right Linux, that machine will perform better than it ever did with Windows.  Perhaps you'll "find" a use for it once you see how much better it runs?  LOL!

 

Your comment above regarding Atoms possibly being 64 bit vaguely rings a bell.  Of course 32-bit is universally compatible on all systems.  If I remember correctly, mine was 64-bit capable, but there was another reason I couldn't run 64-bit OS....perhaps a 32-bit bootloader?  Can't remember.  You can check hardware compatibility yourself, from the LiveUSB, before you install with:

sudo lshw -class processor

This will provide CPU information, and you're interested in the "width"...32-bits or 64-bits.  While you can install 32-bit OS on 64-bit hardware, 32-bit hardware will refuse to install a 64-bit OS.  So you really can't mess up, but perhaps save a little time and effort before going through the motions.

 

And no disrespect intended toward those suggesting XFCE-based distros, but I don't think they're aware how limiting only 1GB of RAM will be, and how slow Atom processors are...1.66 GHz?!  In car analogies, that's a Yugo or a Smart4Two!  LOL!  Mint XFCE, Linux Lite, Xubuntu...they're all fine distros; and XFCE is a better choice than Windows, LOL(!), but I think you're going to find that XFCE taxes that system pretty hard also.  XFCE typically hovers around 300-400MB at idle; open a webbrowser and ONE page and you have likely maxed the RAM.  We can't do anything about the webpage content, but we can use a lightweight browser, such as Midori, and limit the tabs to 1; and we can limit the RAM usage by choosing lighter-weight OS.  LXDE typically hovers around 200-250MB at ide; and naked WMs are usually in the 100-200MB range, depending on startup services.  Normally, that's no big deal in a "typical" system with 2-4GB RAM, but it's HUGE when you're limited to 1GB.  In comparative terms, XFCE is 2-4X as "heavy" as the suggested alternatives, and is likely the difference between an acceptable versus intolerable experience, IMO.  I tried several distros on my little Acer Atom netbook before I was happy with one.  My recommendations above don't come from a place of personal preference, but from a place of hardware/software compatibility.  FWIW...

 

But if this is a "test bed" project for you, go right ahead and try 'em all.  You'll only be out some time and effort, but you'll probably learn a LOT from the project.  I know I did.  It's your machine, do what you see fit!  😎

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raymac46

I would recommend antix for that machine. It is in all likelihood a 32 bit unit. As Josh pointed out a problem will be limited memory for browsers. Midori should work OK. But don't expect miracles.

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V.T. Eric Layton

According to the specs page linked to above, that is definitely a 64bit processor:

 

  • Processor Number
    N455
  • 64-bit Computing
    Yes
  • Clock Speed
    1.66 GHz
  • Thermal Design Power
    6.5 W
  • Packaging Type
    559-ball Micro FCBGA
  • Type / Form Factor
    Intel Atom N455
  • Cache Memory Details
    L2 - 512 KB
  • Processor Qty
    1
  • Type
    Atom
  • Number of Threads
    2 threads
  • Installed Qty
    1
  • Architecture Features
    Enhanced SpeedStep technology, streaming SIMD extensions 2, streaming SIMD extensions 3, Execute Disable Bit capability, Intel 64 Technology, supplemental streaming SIMD extensions 3
  • Cache
    512 KB
  • Manufacturer
    Intel
  • Manufacturing Process
    45 nm
  • Thermal Specification
    100 °C
  • Features
    Enhanced SpeedStep technology, Execute Disable Bit capability, Intel 64 Technology, streaming SIMD extensions 2, streaming SIMD extensions 3, supplemental streaming SIMD extensions 3

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DarkSerge

I put Linux Lite on the machine. The install process was long and slow and difficult as the installer didn't resize to fit the screen and at times it was so slow the cursor wouldn't move. Once it was finally done and rebooted, everything's run pretty smoothly. I'd like to try other versions too just to try them out but that install process was so long from a USB drive I'm not sure I'd have the time.

 

I had an old system I finally disassembled and recycled this summer that I had kept going as my main system running Linux almost 3 years after the Windows hard drive failed, then after I replaced it with this PC it still ran another 2.5 years before it wasn't worth upkeep anymore; it was slowly failing, it couldn't stay on properly and would take several self reboots before it would stay on, so after over 14 years of services I took it apart before I moved to a new apartment. I'm sure that old netbook could still have many useful years, I just don't know what to do with it.

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V.T. Eric Layton

If you have to rely on USB speeds (most likely v2.0) to install on that machine, it's imperative that you attempt to install one of the lighter Linuxes that use command line or Ncurses installers rather than X-based graphics installers because the X-based carp is going to be MUCH larger data-wise.

 

Also, you can have a fully functional little computer by just using a portable version of Linux... Porteus, SLAX, Puppy, etc. They don't need to be installed on the machine. They can function very well from a thumb drive.

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raymac46

My bad. This particular PC is similar to my Toshiba NB300 netbook, although I have a maximum supported RAM of 2 GB in mine.

Having a 64 bit machine broadens your horizons a bit. I run Arch Linux Xfce on mine, but I still have to use a lightweight browser.

My wife finds it slow and frustrating, but she's used to a quad core Intel CPU, SSD and 16GB of RAM on a desktop.

One thing you can do is replace the hard drive with a dirt cheap SSD.

Edited by raymac46
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Hedon James
2 hours ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

If you have to rely on USB speeds (most likely v2.0) to install on that machine, it's imperative that you attempt to install one of the lighter Linuxes that use command line or Ncurses installers rather than X-based graphics installers because the X-based carp is going to be MUCH larger data-wise.

 

Also, you can have a fully functional little computer by just using a portable version of Linux... Porteus, SLAX, Puppy, etc. They don't need to be installed on the machine. They can function very well from a thumb drive.

 

Good idea!  I've heard good things about Porteus (LXDE?), and Puppy is a lightweight distro with JWM that I forgot about but probably should've mentioned earlier.

 

Portable linux with persistence on a stick, using the HDD as a /home partition for data/music/photos/vids, etc...  All the things you typically take along for travel.  The only downside I can think of is the potential for a USB stick to break off in the port, especially if you're mobile with the device.  Just make sure the USB stick is of the nano-sized variety, to minimize chances of breaking off in the port.  If that port breaks, you've got a paperweight.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Yes, you can set up all your persistent custom settings on Porteus (Puppy, too, probably) and it's stored on the computer's hard drive in a small text file, so each time you boot the portable Linux it loads up just the way you left it previously. No need to have the OS on the main system that way.

 

Porteus is definitely COOL. I use it often. I do my rsync backups with it on my main system every Sunday.

 

http://www.porteus.org/

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V.T. Eric Layton
7 hours ago, raymac46 said:

I have a maximum supported RAM of 2 GB in mine.

 

That is the case on this machine, also. That RAM is easily upgraded. I actually think I may have a 2Gig stick for it out in my shop. If you're interested @DarkSerge, I can probably stuff it in an envelope and mail it to you.

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DarkSerge

Thanks for the thought @V.T. Eric Layton it's not necessary. I don't really have a practical use for it other than re-polishing my Linux skills.  The netbook sits on a desk next to an Amazon Echo Show that does about the same things I'd need the netbook to do (I was watching MST3K on the Echo while installing Linux Lite) I haven't even tested out how it fairs browsing the Internet. 

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V.T. Eric Layton

Okee-dokee. Just holler if you change your mind. :)

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DarkSerge

Played with the computer a bit today. It takes a good 5 minutes to start up, pretty much just push the power button and go do something else for a bit. Internet runs a bit slow too, was going to post here from the netbook but I was getting impatient waiting for things to load. Its all works, just a bit slow. Maybe try out another distro when I have time to monitor another install.

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V.T. Eric Layton

This is the Win 7 that takes five mins to boot? I'd wipe that thing clean and install a light Linux as fast as I could. At least it would be usable again... and it surely wouldn't take five mins to boot; maybe 45 secs.

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Hedon James
11 hours ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

This is the Win 7 that takes five mins to boot? I'd wipe that thing clean and install a light Linux as fast as I could. At least it would be usable again... and it surely wouldn't take five mins to boot; maybe 45 secs.

 

The Win7 comment triggers my old memory regarding the 32 vs 64 bit discussion in this thread!  My old Acer came with 32-bit WinXP OS, so of course I looked to replace it with a 32-bit linux OS.  I learned later on, through the "lshw" command that hardware was 64-bit capable.  But I kept the 32-bit linux OS on the netbook because a friend had told me that 32-bit software was "lighter" than 64-bit software, due to lesser library requirements (no 64 bit libraries) and lesser CPU bit requirements.  I don't know if he was right, but it intuitively seemed logical, and the 32-bit linux made the machine run quite well, actually....so why mess with success?  But I prolly coulda run 64-bit OS if I had gone down that path.  If any of that info is helpful to Serge...there you go, buddy?!

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raymac46

These netbooks as configured with Windows 7 starter were really brain dead. It wasn't until I replaced the slow HDD with an SSD and installed Arch that it was even usable. You still only have a max of 2 GB of RAM.

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V.T. Eric Layton
2 hours ago, Hedon James said:

a friend had told me that 32-bit software was "lighter" than 64-bit software, due to lesser library requirements (no 64 bit libraries) and lesser CPU bit requirements.  I don't know if he was right, but it intuitively seemed logical

 

Well, not really. 64 bit computing is ALWAYS more efficient than 32 bit. To my not-so-vast knowledge (and recent Google research), it is NOT harder on hardware.

 

But whaddo I know??? ;)

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DarkSerge

I've already wiped the drive and installed Linux Lite, it no longer has Win7. Linux takes about 5 minutes or so to boot up. Might try some different distros when I have the time.

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