Want to Install Another OS? It’s Not (THAT) Easy as They Say (Part 2)
From my previous post I’ve talked much about my initial interaction with Linux, and up until now I’m still looking and trying out what I would say the ‘best’ variant that’s capable for my Asus Eee PC 4G netbook. Ubuntu has a lot to be desired, but with much add-ons and updates after the base installation, it looks more like bloatware to me.
As such I’ve looked into other Linux variants through Google and Wikipedia. Other flavors include some popular like Fedora, Debian, openSUSE, Mandriva, Gentoo (Ubuntu is categorized here as a Debian fork), Slackware and others. Some offers ease-of-installation, while some offer full customization of what to install and what to throw away, and there are some that are tuned to specific applications.
Now, I’d like the full customization variant, but most Linux flavors that fall in this category are mostly command-line based. Though I am not the type that abhors typing commands with the keyboard (our very first family personal computer was way back in the 80s), I am not very well-versed with linux commands, nor even UNIX commands. Though Gentoo looked good, but with the amount of time spent on command lines before having a GUI at the end of the whole installation process, and with my current computer skills on CLI it’ll take me more than just one night to complete it. That goes for Slackware too (and its variant, Arch Linux).
Debian, openSUSE, Mandriva and the like offer ease of use, a GUI to help you in installation, but at the cost of more than 4 GB disk space used up just for the OS. Again, software updates will balloon that value more.
Then I’ve read about a particular category of Linux variants: the so-called “lightweight” flavors that are optimized for either netbooks or aging hardware (this applies mostly up to Intel Pentium 4 and Celerons). Some boast that it can be installed in under 300 MB, while another contests that it is lighter than its original variant. So there’s really not much of a strict definition of what “lightweight Linux” means.
After looking at some forums, the first lightweight Linux that I read upon was Peppermint OS. It claims to be light on system resources usage and is a quick loader, and most of the apps are cloud-based (a trend I’ve been seeing lately). Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’d love to download the ISO soon (only 512MB when installed? Good enough for me!)
Then I’ve come across another lightweight Linux that I’ve tried and tested: Bodhi Linux. This one installs in just 300 MB, and you get graphics and detail that doesn’t rob you of your precious system resources.
I was able to try this variant using the live USB mode (thanks to UNetbootin), and I can say that it IS fast. Boot time was like under 20 seconds, and it gives you the option of what the live USB interface would you like to load on. I chose the laptop/netbook theme (minimalistic, yes), and in under 5 seconds I was playing around with the Enlightenment desktop interface like crazy. The cursor was responsively fast, desktop animations are present but not much of a hog, and all in all it was under 300 MB. It seemed that this would be the Linux I’d be using from then on.
But for some reason, I couldn’t install Bodhi on my Eee PC. I don’t know why, but every time I attempt installing it on the on-board SSD the installations stops midway of the process. It frustrated me for awhile, then I abandoned Bodhi altogether to look for another lightweight OS.
This time I went with easypeasy (formerly known as Eeebuntu). Again, using the live USB mode, I find clean and somewhat reminiscent of Ubuntu; then again it IS based from Ubuntu (ver. 9.04 or something). There’s the familiar synaptic package manager for downloading updates for important components, and the response is fast, though not as fast as Bodhi.
I was convinced that easypeasy would do the job for my netbook. Again, another hiccup on installation: the live USB can’t install on the on-board SSD, and when I tried formatting the SSD for good measure, there was this “drive currently in use” error. Huh. I couldn’t even format the SD card for some reason.
Then I remembered I still haven’t erased the Ubuntu OS from the SD card, and probably it was causing some conflict with installation. So i removed the SD card, and tried booting thru the live USB. But all I got was a black screen after BIOS POST-ing.
Hmm. Guess back to the old live-cd method with easypeasy (good thing cd burning these days are faster than it was 10+ years ago).
I’ve had a better success in installing easypeasy with the live cd method, so I waited for around an hour to complete the installation. By the time I rebooted, easypeasy was now the OS on the Eee PC, and I was…
…not that elated. More downloads were required as some of the components were outdated, and by the time it was finished, all that’s left from the 4 GB was around less than 512 Mb.
Well, that’s Ubuntu for you (even if it’s a variant). Resource hog.
For now I’m typing this post on the Eee PC running easypeasy (I’ve turned down all other download requests of updating old components), and I’m setting my eyes on two more lightweight Linux variants: Joli OS, but I have my doubts since it is also Ubuntu-based, and Puppy Linux (as recommended by a reader).
But as a third option, I’ll look back at Peppermint OS. That one looks very promising.