Sunday, 12 January 2014

6 More Great Linux Operating Systems For Netbooks

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  10:05 65 comments

Introduction

A short while ago I wrote an article called 12 great linux operating systems for netbooks. That article has been a huge success.

Time has moved on and some of those operating systems are now defunct and I have had a chance to test a few more.

The key to a good netbook operating system is that it needs to fully utilise its resources. Memory usage has to be kept to a minimum when running idle. The screen is smaller so you need to have a very intuitive navigation system that doesn’t clutter the screen.

So here is a list of another 6 great Linux operating systems for Netbooks.

AntiX


AntiX uses the iceWM window manager which will help to keep the initial memory footprint low.

Whilst it may not look as stylish as a Ubuntu, Mint or Elementary it is fully functional. Basically what you lose in beauty you gain in performance.

For navigation purposes you have a taskbar at the bottom and icons on the desktop which has been fairly standard across operating systems for a large number of years.

The menu however can be pulled up by clicking anywhere on the screen which means you can get to your application of choice quite quickly.

There are 4 virtual desktops available which helps with the utilisation of space because you can have different applications open on different workspaces.

AntiX comes with a lot of applications and perhaps there are some of them that won’t necessarily fit well with a netbook. The one place I would recommend Abiword and Gnumeric over LibreOffice is on a netbook and that is purely for performance.

Most of the applications are lightweight such as IceWeasel for web browsing and the Claws Email Client.


SparkyLinux


The version of SparkyLinux I tried had the Razor-Qt desktop environment and as with AntiX’s iceWM window manager the intention is clearly substance over style.

The look and feel of Razor-Qt is very traditional with a panel along the bottom and a menu in the bottom left corner.

SparkyLinux comes with a whole host of applications with almost too many too mention. Again the developers have plumped for the LibreOffice suite over the lighter Abiword and Gnumeric tools. GIMP is also installed for image editing which will eat up the memory.


Lubuntu


In the original article I listed Xubuntu as a great operating system for netbooks but it’s LXDE based cousin, Lubuntu, is possibly even better.

The LXDE desktop is incredibly light and almost as easy to customise as Xubuntu.

The desktop is again a fairly familiar affair with a panel at the bottom with a menu and system tray icons.

You can however customise Lubuntu to look the way you want it to and so you can have multiple panels if you so wish.

The applications are very well suited to a netbook with the Sylpheed email client, the Firefox web browser as well as Abiword and Gnumeric.

The audio application is Audacious which is lightweight but functional and for watching movies MPlayer is installed.


OS4 OpenLinux


OS4 is based on Xubuntu so in reality you are getting a fairly stock version of Xubuntu with a few tweaks in the choice of applications.

OS4 therefore uses the XFCE desktop which is great for customising and can work any way you want it to.

XFCE is also a lightweight desktop environment and so performs very well on a netbook.

With Xubuntu you will have to install the restricted extras package to get Flash videos and MP3s to play but with OS4 these things work straight away.

The office tools for OS4 include Abiword and Gnumeric. The browser is Chromium and Claws is the email client.

OS4 also comes with a Commodore Amiga Emulator installed so if you like to retro game on your netbook this is definitely an option.


Point Linux


Point Linux is unique in this list because it is the only one that uses the MATE desktop.

The MATE desktop was initially forked from Gnome 2 but has grown to be a really good desktop environment in its own right.

Point Linux therefore looks very stylish. The menus look great and the performance on my netbook was really good.

As with the LXDE and XFCE desktops, MATE is highly customisable and so you can make it work for you the way you want it to. (Maximise display usage).

Point Linux has 4 virtual workspaces by default (can be increased) and so you can use these again to maximise the usage of your netbook so that you are limited by memory and processor power over display issues.

Point Linux has more powerful tools installed such as the VLC Media Player, the full LibreOffice suite, Thunderbird Email Client and Firefox for web browsing. I have tried this out on my Acer Aspire One D255 and they all work fairly well but you wouldn’t want too many of them open at one go.


Elementary OS


If you want to try something really stylish on your netbook then look no further than Elementary OS.

The developers of Elementary have clearly spent a lot of time on design and it looks great.

I wasn’t sure whether to add Elementary OS to this list or not because when I tried it on my netbook it was a little sluggish compared to the other operating systems. This might have to do with the initial RAM usage when sitting idle.

Note that there isn’t an office suite when you first install Elementary but this means you can pick and choose the tools you want to use which I think is a good thing.

For web browsing there is Midori and the email client is Geary. Totem is installed for watching movies and the audio application is a nice little tool called Noise.


Click here for a full review of Elementary OS




To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".

The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Click here to buy the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu"

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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65 comments:

  1. Thanks for the two excellent posts about linux for netbooks. I'm not sure which type of netbook you used for testing, but I still have an Eee PC 701 4G. It has run a few versions of Bodhi Linux quite successfully. But since two years I have Watt OS R6 installed, and it works like a charm. On my pc I run the most recent R7.5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watt OS isn't one that I have tried as yet. One for the future

      Delete
    2. I have installed WattOS R8 on an Aspire One AOA 110 and it works well.

      Delete
  2. I enjoying the articles about Netbooks. I've got a HP Mini 110-3518CL that is currently running Kubuntu 13.10. I've maxed out the RAM at 2GB, and even though I love running KDE, it's starting to bog down on the later distros. Looking forward to trying some of these out on the netbook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I currently have Kubuntu installed on my main laptop. It is currently my favourite distro

      Delete
    2. Have you reviewed Netrunner? It's a fun Kubuntu-like OS.

      Delete
  3. Might want to checkout LXLE, based on Lubunu but more resource saving! See it at LXLE.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This isn't the first time someone has suggested this to me. I will have to take a look and maybe write a review in the next few weeks

      Delete
    2. I also use LXLE on an acer aspire one d260 netbook and it works very well. Has everything you want without slowing the machine down.

      Delete
  4. Debian Wheezy with Xfce... can't go wrong

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is hard to go far wrong with Debian but I think for XFCE you have to look at Xubuntu

      Delete
    2. Or Manjaro XFCE - fast, stable, semi-rolling, everything set up for you... Try it!

      Delete
  5. Since 2008 - we have been installing Fedora - first with Gnome 2, now 3 - on some 50+ netbooks. On the field, in remote areas, across Central India

    Works great! But netbooks are disappearing now from the market!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reason I write these articles is that whilst shops are stocking less netbooks there are thousands of people who still own these devices. If they can make them do more for them by running Linux then that is a good thing

      Delete
    2. Thanks Gary. I bought an Acer Netbook for my daughter in 2009. I don't believe in changing computers just for the sake of it. Our Netbook has enough life in it to last few more years.

      Ubuntu got slower and slower on it (with newer versions I mean). After reading your post, I am thinking of trying Lubuntu.

      Bala - It is true, Netbooks are disappearing. It is disappointing to see that happen. I feel that they satisfy certain market segment.

      -Sri (from AP, India)

      Delete
  6. blankon linux ,, runs smoothly on asus netbook N550

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never heard of blankon Linux before. Just done a search and by the looks of it the base is Debian and it heralds from Indonesia. Linux, the truly global operating system

      Delete
  7. Peppermint Linux is my favorite for netbooks as well as desktop PCs. Fast, easy to customize, very light and stable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peppermint Linux is in my original list of 12 great operating systems for netbooks.

      Delete
  8. I like the simplicity of the same OS on the netbook (eeePC 1011PX) as the home computer so I use LinuxMint15 on all (32 or 64 as necessary). Mint12 was very slow but 15 is quite satisfactory, a big difference! I simply use a 64GB SD card for all my files and it doubles as the backup for the home machine, all computers use links in the Home folder to so keeping them synchronised is no great problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linux Mint does that very well. I reviewed Mint 15 XFCE edition last year and I like the way that the XFCE, Mate and Cinnamon editions all have the same look and feel.

      Delete
  9. I still have an Asus EeePC 900HA with Debian 7 Wheezy and XFCE as DE. Runs fast, stable (yes, really stable).

    Using on it:

    * Iceweasel (Firefox) from backports to have current stable version
    * Vim with some addons to code
    * Git to checkout my repos so I can work from different computers/laptops I have

    So I'm using it when I'm going out to browse the web and make quick edits for my projects.
    I've replaced it's battery and still goes to 3-4h on WiFi.

    Everybody asks me why I don't replace it. I respond, why spend money when it does it's job in the same amount of time and I make the same profit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are the second person that has recommended Debian with XFCE. I think it is a good choice. I would recommend Xubuntu over Debian for the average home user.

      Delete
  10. And you dont even mention MeeGo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is MeeGo still an active project

      Delete
    2. MeeGo has been discontinued since September 2011.

      I wonder why there are always people who suggest or mention distro's that are discontinued... It's just pointless, really...

      Delete
  11. http://circlesoftrust.blogspot.be/2013/10/from-belgium-with-love-elive.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good article. I still prefer Ubuntu Netbook Release 10.04, now obsolete, for my old eeePC 701 4G. This is a very tiny netbook, and most distros don't work well with it. Classic desktops don't work well on 800x480 at 7" screens. I found UNR 10.04 a fair compromise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only issue with that is that it is very out of date. Why not try a MATE based distro such as Point Linux?

      Delete
  13. Can't go wrong with Bodhi Linux! I have it in my netbook and my laptop. Works like a charm on both! Ever since the day of installation, I quit distro hopping.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bodhi is in my original list of 12 great Linux based operating systems for netbooks

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. If the netbook is aimed at education, especially children's, the best bet is GalPon MiniNo GNU/Linux for children (PicarOS Diego). You can tell by the UI that it is actually designed for kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn't heard of this one before

      Delete
    2. I would like to recommend MiniNo for Desktop older than 10 yr. it is based in Debian wheezy and runs pretty fast in netbooks like yours as mine Acers.

      Delete
  16. Replies
    1. Everyday Linux User is aimed at the average user who uses their computer for web surfing, watching videos, listening to music etc. I think Arch is a good operating system but maybe not an easy distribution to install and learn.

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. In fact there were at least three generations of "netbooks" on the Intel Atom: first gen around 2007 were Windows XP and various proprietary Linux distros provided by the OEMs, that all failed. XP ran well and blew the rest out of the water. I bought an Acer with XP but the hardware broke.

    The second gen around 2009 was pre-installed almost exclusively with Win 7 Starter, a crippled version of W7 that could be fixed with third-party optimizing tweaks, but still overtaxed the hardware, requiring about 40% of RAM to run. I have one of those. I still dual boot lightening fast Lubuntu 10.10 on it running obsolete software since Linux keeps wanting to reinstall the fatter and fatter OS instead of learning from XP and maintaining the OS and repositories to support third party software updates. If I need current software I use Windows, if I want to browse safely on an old browser, I use Lubuntu. My second gen netbook will die before I change the OS on it.

    Right now, the big question is what will replace XP on older machines once MS support is terminated in April. Once again, Linux is blown out of the water as it was for first gen netbooks, and it will not be a factor. Linux has decided to fail to be a consumer alternative Windows, in order to keep forcing more and more reinstalls.

    I've decided on Mint 16 XFCE for an older non-netbook laptop with half-decent specs that had XP on it, to squeeze another year or so from it. All in all the most recent Linux distros are about the same as W7 and W8 in resource requirements. But unlike Windows, the OS has to be completely reinstalled every year or so to keep software repositories up to date, regardless of distro. Reinstalling Linux distros is a bloody nuisance that takes hours of reconfiguring the OS and third party software like LibreOffice or GIMP. This is a nuisance unknown to Windows users.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smells a lot like TROLL. XP ran like a turd on netbooks, Win7 actually ran a bit better. Reinstalling a Linux distro is no nuisance, and can be completed in about 20-30 minutes on most. Can't even recount the agonizing hours of reinstalling Winblows after a blue-screen and trying to hunt down all those stupid license keys and CD's. Not to mention the nightmare of hunting down drivers. I was absolutely shocked the first time I installed Ubuntu on an old tossed aside Dell, and found that 20 minutes after popping in the disk I was up and running with a full host of free software included. I never looked back!
      And hey, what about Puppy Linux on a Netbook! Talk about snappy!!!

      Delete
    2. What tosh! eeepc 701 4G dual boots Xandros, Mint10 from a card, and from USB for whatever is on the pendrive. Purchased Xmas 2007 and still in daily use. Gnu compilers and X working well. Only upgrade is memory to 1GB. Admittedly XP may have worked with an internal hard drive, but so slow! Surprise is that battery is still good!

      Delete
  19. Lightest distro I've met so far : crunchbang.

    http://crunchbang.org/

    ReplyDelete
  20. None of those distros suit on a netbook. The GUI is just too small. Some kind of netbook-launcher or lxlauncher is a must, e.g. EasyPeasy or some old Ubuntu Netbook Edition, which is much faster than the recent Ubuntu. Still you can install recent Opera on that legacy distros.

    ReplyDelete
  21. AlphaOS ON THE FIRST NETBOOK - EeePC 2G SURF (700)

    This is an interesting distro (I use AlphaOS 10 though AlphaOS 12 is the last 32-bit version available) based on Puppy Linux and Arch Linux (ArchPup).

    I have it installed using Unetbootin on a USB drive with a separate save file (either on same USB or on a different drive) which can be zipped and the archive restored in case one wants to go back to a previous state.

    With Firefox browser pre-installed one can add using pacman Abiword, Gnumeric, View Your Mind for light-weight office apps that work on the 571 Mhz Intel Celeron processor. Besides 480 pixel videos on YouTube can be viewed effortlessly using SmPlayer and Smtube that use the installed Mplayer to watch movies. Also Flash is supported in the Firefox browser and one can watch videos though the netbook processor struggles to handle quality beyond 240p.

    But the simplicity of Arch, the user-friendliness of Puppy with its savefile as well as the lightweight Openbox desktop environment makes this an outright winner on the world's first netbook - the Asus EeePC 2G Surf!

    You can check it out at http://alphaos.tuxfamily.org/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will have to look in to AlphaOS. Not heard of this distro before

      Delete
  22. antiX, at the head of the list here is very interesting, geeky, has this UNIX nostalgia about it as it has this old school Unix look at first glance. So that's cool.
    But it's first and foremost very functional, doing a lot of stuff with an incredibly low resource footprint.

    Scripts and in-house applications make it possible to have things like a screenshot app etc and a good control panel while avoiding the use even of a desktop environement like Xfce. This makes the system usable even on VERY old hardware, like a 400 mhz 256 mb RAM pc, and fast on f.ex my old laptop, an 1.6 ghz 756 RAM pc.
    An run with Debian stable sources this system is even extremely stable and reliable. And actually very easy to use - a bit of an achievement while even avoiding Xfce4 or the use of things like Networkmanager.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AntiX makes my old Samsung boot faster than my Toshiba Satellite Pro. It is like a Prius taking on a Porsche and winning

      Delete
  23. antiX has a 'base' version without Libreoffice, using Abiword and Ted (rtf only editor). 300+ mb iso.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the great review. It helped me a lot in the search for a new OS on my netbook.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I've tried almost every distro recommended for a netbook, some ran fast but weren't user friendly, while other where "pretty" but quite sluggish. The best i've found was Manjaro Netbook Edition, it works out of the box, doesn't wast screen space and has a kernel optimised for Atom Processors.
    You can find it here: http://forum.manjaro.org/index.php?topic=7319.0

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hello There,

    I'm trying Elementary OS, for me is the best distro EVER, I have a Lenovo B590 and everything is faster. I've a core i3, 4GB DDR3 and 320GB on hard disk.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi,
    I've recently changed to a netbook, aspire v5-121 amd c-70 8gb ram 120gb ssd, i used to have win7 on my notebooks but it seems to bee a bit much for this processor.. can somebody recommend a good distro, nice clean easy to use, mostly watching movies and youtube..
    i really like Elementary from above.. can i run it smooth on this config? or is there anything that looks like Elementary?
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should be fine. I run Elementary on an old Dell D620 with 2gb Ram and it is snappy and ultra smooth. Nothing else is as tastefully polished, clean or simple out there in the linux distroworld as far as I am concerned, maybe stock Xubuntu but that is a subjective statement, your taste may vary. Not sure how a netbook would cope with it though, which is what the article is about, for that Puppy is still hanging in there, and I hope it is around for a while to come........Nice article by the way Gary. Have fun guys.

      Delete
    2. I think your netbook should be fine to run Elementary. It works well enough on my Aspire 1 and it isn't as powerful as your netbook

      Delete
  28. Salix is a stable, fast and elegant Slackware derivative, with xfce as its default desktop. It is much easier for relatively inexperienced users than Slackware though, and has a full package management system with dependency checking. Salix 14.1 xfce has just been released, with other DEs (KDE, Openbox, Maté ...) to follow. I use it myself on an Asus Eeee.
    www.salixos.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tried Salix yet. I will add it to my list.

      Delete
  29. Ran Linux mint 16 xfce on a Lenovo net book s10 idea pad. Not as smooth as I'd would like, going to try elementary, looks fun

    ReplyDelete
  30. Gary,
    Haven't seen your blog before but I really appreciate this post. I am looking for an OS for a sweet little Toshiba NB 205 Netbook. I usually default to Lubuntu for this kind of thing but for some reason it would not boot after install although the live environment ran fine. I've tried Puppy and Antix, too, and both had their downsides. Bodhi, which is my all-time favorite distro, ran a tad sluggish on this machine (very surprising) so I'm downloading Point now to give it a go. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm getting an Android Netbook with about 500MB of RAM, 4GB Hard Drive, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 graphics card. Which OS would you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is there anyway you can increase the RAM? You might get Lubuntu working but it wouldn't be the greatest experience.

      Delete
  32. I'm using Debian testing netinstall with openbox desktop and just installed the software I really need. Here in Spain is easy to find people throwing laptops away (because they don't know GNU/Linux) and you can upcycle a 2gb ram to increase performance for free. Also I'm using vnc, to open software on other computers I have that needs more resources such as virtualbox, compiling software,...Great article, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are skilled enough to do that (and it only requires a bit of extra reading) then this is definitely a good way to go

      Delete
  33. I have an Asus T101 MT, so does anyone know if any of these (or other) distributions support and/or handle touch screens? I'm tired of running Windows 7 there, specially after I upgraded it to the Ultimate Edition (yes, dumb me).

    ReplyDelete
  34. Acer A5-123 - constant 100% CPU load by "jockey-backend" and "apt-cache".
    Elementary OS so cool, lol

    ReplyDelete
  35. ive tried all sorts of os over years but at the moment im using deepin on a compaq presario cq56 and looks and use are easy , on a toshiba portege p3500 with 1gig of ram i use bhodi but lxle runs nice as well on it , and on my old compaq cq 60 i use sparklylinux game version , and on a compaq cq61 that has had deepin , mint , ubuntu ect on it lol ... and finally on a small dell mini 10 i used androidx86 im forever trying new and old os

    ReplyDelete

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