Want to Install Another OS? It’s Not (THAT) Easy as They Say (Part 1)
Several months ago an older brother of mine handed his ASUS Eee PC 4G (701) as he upgraded to a bigger, beefier laptop for home/sideline use. This Eee PC was one of the earliest generation of netbooks, and as such the tech specs of this machine is ‘meek and modest” in terms of cpu power and other capabilities compared to today’s models:
- 900 MHz Celeron processor
- 4 GB of SSD (soldered onto the motherboard)
- 1 GB RAM (DDR-400, expandable to 2 GB via 1 RAM slot)
- VGA out port
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- 1 SD/MMC card reader (internal)
- 0.3 MP front-facing camera
- 802.11 b/g wireless card
- 10/100 mbps ethernet port
- no bluetooth built-in
- no internal optical drive (mine came with an slim, external USB tray-loading DVD-ROM)
- 7″ (diagonal) lcd monitor
- 4-5 hours of battery life (but due to wear and tear, mine was reduced to just an hour of battery life)
It comes with Windows XP as default OS, and it can dual-boot to Linux or any other open source operating system using the SD card slot.
Since his handing of the netbook over to me, I’ve had this idea of booting/using it full time as a Linux laptop. Personally, XP works, but it’s rather clunky and such compared to MS’s newer OS release (ie Windows 7; I’ve never used Vista, as I’ve heard/read dreaded stories about it). Since my older brother left me with just a functional OS and no other important files in it, I set out to find the perfect Linux flavor for my little machine.
….And it turns out it’s not that a walk in the park.
My first choice of Linux was Ubuntu Linux, a very popular variant that I’ve heard from my peers. The interface is clean, smooth, and very user-friendly. At first glance at the screenshots, I knew that it’ll be the perfect Linux for my Eee PC.
Then again maybe not.
Turns out that Ubuntu is much of a resource hog, not to mention that the minimum installation of the OS requires AT LEAST 4 GB. And the built-in disk space on the Eee PC was like, 4.1 GB. That only leaves about 100 MB for system updates and some other features.
As said before, I can an SD card as an alternative OS disk space for the Eee PC, but it would mean sacrificing expandability. And the 4 GB of SSD would be such a waste if unused.
First, I tried to install my copy of Ubuntu for dual-booting with the original XP that came with the netbook (XP was installed on the SSD, and I disabled the update manager to save space) in a 16 GB SD card that was always inserted in the card reader. I used the live cd method, as I haven’t read up about the live usb method, which the Eee PC can do as well. First impression was the live cd method was slow; it’s a given, really, with the optical drive connected via USB. But as said, the interface was smooth and clean, and those two are my two main points for Ubuntu.
After an hour of installation, I was ready to boot Ubuntu for the first time on the Eee PC. I was excited at using Linux (I only had few instances of using Linux, and that was when I was back in college), and when the Ubuntu desktop greeted me, I realized a few things:
- Booting up was slow. Past the BIOS POST, GRUB greets me as to which OS I want to use: Ubuntu or XP (of course I want Ubuntu!); however, after logging in, loading time was much of a waiting game.
- Not-so-much responsive interfaces. Either because of my netbook’s specs, or what.
- The borders of the windows opened are cut, and at times I can’t adjust the window size even if the cursor changes from simple pointer to ‘adjust window’ pointer. I suppose Ubuntu isn’t really for 7-inched monitors.
- There are a LOT of software updates to download after installation. Some of them total up to 1 GB in capacity, and my disk space is getting smaller and smaller for personal files and whatnot.
Really, I had high hopes for Ubuntu. I know it’s also my fault as I could’ve upgraded my RAM and bought a larger capacity SD card, but my budget is tight and I have to make do of what I have right now. But if Ubuntu wants me to download more important updates for some components (which I ask myself: do I really need to know all of them like lib-prc-gnuil-whatever?), it may or may not bog down my system in the long run.
So for now, I’ve taken the liberty of turning the SSD of my Linux into a clean slate: no more Windows XP, and the SD card is next to be formatted.
Next, I’ll post about my journey of finding another suitable Linux.