Saturday, September 29, 2012

In search of the best Linux distro of 2012: My Experiments

Jan 2013: Please also visit my updated experiments with the major distros released in 2012


My Old Experiment: 

I recall in 2009, I had only a desktop for all my computing needs - a desktop bought in 2003 and post SP3 update, struggled to run Windows XP, plagued with virus problems, slowness and often crashing. Every 2 months, I had to re-install Windows XP! I still persisted with XP, thinking Linux was for the geeks and not my cup of tea. Finally, in 2010 I gathered courage to try out Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and I was amazed by the speed and stability it rendered to my old computer. After that there was no looking back! I installed Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty" thereafter which performed amazingly well on it. Now all the four systems that I have, run on Linux only!

Essentially what attracted me to Linux is its ability to run on low specs. Linux desktop used to be attractive in 2009 and 2010 (specially Ubuntu) but never close to a Windows 7 or a Mac OS X. However, 2011-12 are, I feel, landmark years for Linux. The best looking Linux desktops came out of Ubuntu and Fedora/OpenSUSE stable during this phase and almost all Linux distros now look as good as any Windows or a Mac!

This week I experimented to find out if these acclaimed Linux distros still retain their ability to perform on moderate to low hardware. The idea came up while searching for a distro to replace my Ubuntu 11.04 (whose support end in Oct'12) in my desktop and netbook. I thought why not document my experiments and results. 

The individual specs of these two systems are given below:

HP Compaq PC (bought in 2003):
  • RAM - upgraded to 1.5 GB DDR, 
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.40 Ghz, cache size 512 KB, 
  • Graphic card: G82845G/GL[Brookdale-G]/GE Chipset Integrated Graphics Device,
  • HDD: 250 GB IDE

Asus EeePC 1101HA (bought in 2009)
  • RAM - 1 GB DDR3
  • Processor: Intel Atom 2520 1.33 Ghz, cache 512 kb
  • Graphic card: Default provided
  • HDD: 160 GB SATA
I covered 14 of the top 20 distros (from Distrowatch ranking) in this test. Distros like Puppy are minimalistic and hence, not covered. CentOS I'll cover it some day, but left out for now. All Linux distros boot up and perform flawlessly on the other two systems I have with Ivy bridge processors. They are not particularly resource crunched and so, I am not using them for this experiment. The systems used are definitely not very low specs but can be termed as "limited" resources. Both have dual boot with Windows XP and Ubuntu 11.04 32 bit. My idea is to find out the best performing distro based on live boot and then select one to install. Criteria set are:
  1. Should be a complete distro (and not a minimalistic one) with all essential applications to run  and installable. So, no DSL, Puppy, Knoppix, etc.
  2. Should be least taxing on resources (CPU and RAM)
  3. Should be decently good looking, if not the most attractive one out there
  4. Should be very smooth to use, just like Ubuntu 10.04 & 11.04 performed, allowing me to multi-task without creating undue pressure on resources.
I did this experiments over a week, trying out 14 different latest distros. Except for OpenSUSE, I created live USB using UNetbootin and then live-boot it. OpenSUSE live USB's were created using SUSE Image writer. 

Definitely, the best option would have been to install each of them on hard disk and then check out the performance. Many-a-times Linux distros don't perform that well on live boot but are significantly better when installed. But, given the limitations of time and resources, I took live boot as an indication of the actual feel and performance and then select the best possible options. So, disclaimer of observations based on live boot attached!

Disclaimer: All the results are based on experiments I did without trying any extra fix to resolve the issues I faced. In fact, quite a few fixes are documented in my blog itself and for the rest, there are forums for each distro. 

Day 1: Sep 26, 2012

1. Linux Mint 13 Mate 32-bit 

On HP desktop, Mint took ages to boot. But, the performance was not bad, though smoothness wasn't there and the cursor would keep on blinking, causing me irritation. CPU usage initially was 100% for first couple of minutes then came down to 10-11%. Could multi-task with couple of tabs of Firefox, Writer and Calc running in addition to System Monitor, CPU usage volatile between 20%-100%. Slow but didn't hang. RAM usage was around 320 MB will all three applications running.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus netbook, the boot up was quicker. Possibly because, to a certain extent, I was using the same live USB and it retained the previous live boot memory. This has a more modern processor and hence, Mint felt better to use on the netbook than on my PC. However, the CPU usage was really volatile and touched 100% quite a few times while multi-tasking with Firefox, Writer and Calc. Wifi detection was automatic and it seems reasonable multi-tasking is possible with Linux Mint mate on this system. RAM usage is slightly higher, ~ 330 MB. One issue I faced, the tap function of keypad wasn't working.


From Best Linux distro - 2012
Verdict: Good, but not giving me the user comfort of Ubuntu 11.04! And I hate that blinking cursor!

2. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 32 bit


On HP, I selected "Try Ubuntu without install" and the OS loaded pretty quickly. It was much smoother to use initially, with Unity 2D. However, things started to get worse after 15 minutes of use.
From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus netbook, Ubuntu didn't load properly. I could see only half of Ubuntu screen and rest half had the typical violet color of Ubuntu boot up screen. Not working! I know the solution, I done it before. But, this test is based on the out-of-the-box performance and here, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS didn't work but Linux Mint Maya did!

Verdict: Bad, won't load on my netbook without additional fix. Was even a bit tiring to use on my PC. Simply won't work in the long run!

3. Solus 1.2 Legacy 32-bit

On HP, the system fonts didn't load though it was really smooth to use and I could multi-task without feeling any additional stress on the system. With Firefox, Calc, Writer and File Manager open, the CPU usage settled down to 15% with 230-240 MB RAM usage, which is really low.


From Best Linux distro - 2012
On Asus, Solus would have a kernel panic and crash. No GUI would load even when I select compatibility mode. Not going to work for me! I really like Solus OS but no luck for me.

Verdict: Good on my HP PC but doesn't work on my netbook.

Day 2: Sep 27, 2012


4. PCLinuxOS 2012.8 KDE 32 bit


On HP, PCLinuxOS KDE worked like a charm when I disabled all animations and desktop effects. I got a good, fast and responsive desktop. With Firefox, Calc, and Writer open, CPU usage was around 20-30% and RAM 430 MB. RAM usage is on the higher side, but I didn't feel any lag. I could multi-task here smoothly.



From Best Linux distro - 2012
However, on Asus, PCLinuxOS hanged even after disabling all the animations and desktop effects whenever I tried to multi-task. I tried couple of times restarting the system, it won't work still. My bad luck! I really like the stability and long term solution that PCLinuxOS provides.

Verdict: Feels great on my HP PC but won't work on my Asus netbook.

5. Bodhi Linux 2.0.0 32-bit

On both the systems I got fantastic speed using the eye candy compositing desktop. But, there was no task manager application where I could monitor the RAM / CPU usage. And if I am to use, I need to download the Nikhila application set to make it usable.


From Best Linux distro - 2012


Verdict: Very good responsive desktop, but no applications - possibly consider it when no other OS is working well!

6.  Linux Mint 13 XFCE 32-bit

Fantastic looking and very smooth to use on both the systems. It feels extremely lightweight. On netbook, LM XFCE detected wifi automatically and the tap function worked! On PC, the LAN connection worked without any problem. The OS is very rich with applications and could multi-task on both the systems without much strain. With Firefox, Calc, Writer and File manager open, LM consumed 7% CPU and 280 MB RAM on Asus and 8% RAM with 225 MB RAM on PC! The display was detected correctly on both the machines and smooth to multi-task. On Asus 1101HA, I could use the touchpad to scroll up or down, single tap to left click and double tap to right click!


From Best Linux distro - 2012
From Best Linux distro - 2012
Verdict: Best I have used in this testing! Works very efficiently on low resources.

Day 3: Sep 28, 2012

7. AntiX 12 32-bit


On both the machines, AntiX is very smooth to use. But, couldn't detect wifi on my Asus netbook - possibly can be fixed by a little research. On PC, it detected LAN without any hassles and worked really well. With Iceweasel, Calc, Writer and file manager open, consumed only 10% CY and 180-200 MB RAM! The default desktop loads at less than 70 MB RAM! And it is incredibly fast!

Verdict: AntiX is a good option if I am able to fix the wifi problem. Incredibly fast!

8. Snowlinux  3 Gnome 32 bit

On HP, initially Snowlinux, with Gnome 2 shell, felt really good to use. However, when I tried to multitask, it hanged and I had to reboot. On rebooting, it worked really great and I could multitask with Firefox, Calc, Writer and File Manager with 10%-50% CPU consumption and ~220 MB RAM consumption! Really fast and responsive desktop.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus, it felt really great to use though it didn't respond to tap function of the keypad. I could multitask with Firefox, Calc, Writer and file manager with 48% CPU and 260 MB RAM consumption. Wifi detection was quick.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

Verdict: Good distro, works fast and smooth even on moderate resources

Day 4: Sep 29, 2012


9. Snowlinux 3 XFCE 32 bit


Snowlinux XFCE worked well on my HP PC, though it wasn't as smooth as Linux Mint XFCE. However, the RAM and CPU usage are really low with Firefox and file manager running, ~20% and 206 MB. I guess, once Snowlinux is installed it will consume further less resources.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus, Snowlinux XFCE was smoother to use and offered me a really fast desktop. Wifi was detected automatically but the tap function of keypad didn't work. With Firefox and file manager running, it used 20-30% CPU and 215 MB RAM.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

Verdict: Good distro, works fast and smooth even on moderate resources.

10. Kiwi 12.08 32 bit


Kiwi is a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS derivative with Gnome 2 desktop. It worked well on my PC - I could multitask with Chromium, Calc, Writer and file manager running; CPU usage was 30% with 255 MB RAM consumption. I didn't feel any lag while using it.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

However, on Asus netbook, I ran into the typical display problem with only half of the screen loading. It will work, I know the fix.

Verdict: Can work on low resources better than Ubuntu 12.04. Need to fix the resolution problem on Asus Eee PC to make it work.

11. OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome

On HP PC, OpenSUSE default boot was on Gnome fallback mode and it felt really smooth to use. With Firefox, Calc, Impress and file manager running, CPU consumption fluctuated between 50-60% but RAM consumption was stable ~400 MB. 

From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus netbook, however, by default Gnome 3 loaded and it was really slow to use because of the limited resources available. The desktop took 90% CPU and 340 RAM to load and hence, I didn't try out multi-tasking. However, wifi and other drivers were detected impeccably. Gnome fallback definitely would work better, but I didn't try it out.

Fedora 17 gave me almost identical results and as both Fedora and OpenSUSE look and behave identically, only OpenSUSE's results are given.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

Verdict: OpenSUSE Gnome has a very attractive desktop and it would be difficult to explore its full potential on a limited resource computer or a netbook.

12. OpenSUSE 12.2 KDE

Didn't load at all in either of the machines. Boot splash won't load and caused kernel panic. 

Verdict: No suited for low resource systems by default

13. Peppermint OS 3 32 bit

On HP PC, Peppermint worked like a charm - very smooth to use and attractive. With Chrome, file manager and Google docs running, it consumed 30% CPU and 220 MB RAM! Definitely a viable option for my PC.


From Best Linux distro - 2012
However, on Asus Eee PC 1101HA, I faced the same half screen display problem. I know the solution to it but need to install it to resolve. I'll wait if I find a better distro.

Verdict: Very fast and smooth to use. Can be one of my potential choices.

3 Oct 2012:

14. ROSA 2012 LXDE LTS 32 bit

I missed out on this absolutely wonderful distro last time. I found it really lightweight and good in my review. 

ROSA LXDE worked like a charm on my HP PC. With Firefox, Calc, Writer and file manager open, it consumed only 15-20% CPU and 200-250 MB RAM! It was really smooth to multi-task and looked really gorgeous. 
From Best Linux distro - 2012

However, it wasn't able to recognize the display in Asus Eee PC 1101HA. I was hoping it would work here! Anyway, my bad luck!

Verdict: ROSA LXDE has capability to excel in limited resources. The display problem I faced can be addressed by blacklisting poulsbo after installation as given here.

15. OS4 13 XFCE 32 bit

This is a new release from OS4 stable. It is actually based on Xubuntu 12.04 and since I didn't test Xubuntu on these machines, I thought of including OS4. 

On PC, OS4 13 worked really well and I could multi-task without much address stress to the system. I worked with Chrome, Abiword, Gnumeric and file manager open using about 10-20% CPU and

From Best Linux distro - 2012
With Asus Eee-PC 1101HA, I ran into the same display problem with only half of the screen showing. It can be, however, resolved post-installation as detailed here.




16. Debian Wheezy XFCE alpha 2

Debian Wheezy XFCE performed really well on my HP desktop. It has VLC player and I could watch movies will browsing web without any hassles. With Iceweasel, Calc, Writer and Thunar file manager, CPU utilization was 2-8% and memory 180 MB!

From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus Eee-pc 1101HA, Debian XFCE performed really smooth. I could multitask with Iceweasel, Calc, Writer and Thunar file manager, CPU utilization was 5-15% and memory 210 MB! It recognized Wifi immediately and I could use my touchpad to scroll websites and documents. However, tap and double tap that worked with Linux Mint XFCE, didn't work with Debian Wheezy XFCE.

From Best Linux distro - 2012

Verdict: Super smooth XFCE distro from Debian and it can run very well on limited resources. RAM consumption and CPU usage is even lower than Linux Mint XFCE!

17. Debian Wheezy Gnome alpha 2

On HP desktop, Gnome 3 won't load and I had to use in fallback mode. To load only the desktop, CPU utilization was 23% and 200 MB RAM. However, with gnome fallback mode, I could operate quite smoothly and even multitask with Iceweasel, Calc, Writer and file manager open. CPU utilization was 20-30% and RAM, about 290 MB. This is actually good considering this is Gnome 3.4.2 desktop.

Even on Asus 1101HA, Gnome 3 failed to load. But, gnome fallback mode was quite smooth to use. But, I didn't have a good experience with Debian Wheezy live. First, I couldn't log on to the Wifi as I was "not authorized to control networking"! Further, I couldn't mount any of my netbook drives. Though the performance is not bad and I could multi-task quite smoothly, but this won't help me.

From Best Linux distro - 2012
From Best Linux distro - 2012
Verdict: Debian Wheezy Gnome didn't work well with my laptop but performed reasonably good in my PC.  



18. Fedora 17 XFCE 32 bit

On HP desktop, Fedora XFCE was very smooth. Multi-tasking was easy and effortless with Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric and file manager open, using only 5-10% CPU and 290 MB RAM. It definitely felt good to use but I wasn't too happy with the looks - Fedora XFCE doesn't look very polished!

From Best Linux distro - 2012
From Best Linux distro - 2012

On Asus 1101HA, XFCE loaded really well and it was smooth to use. Webcam and wifi were recognized easily. I could multitask without much difficulty with Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric and file manager open using 320 MB RAM and 5-15% CPU. RAM usage is higher than any other XFCE desktop, to be honest! It would seem even higher if you take into consideration Abiword and Gnumeric are actually lighter than LibreOffice counterparts. 

From Best Linux distro - 2012

Results


Linux Distributions HP PC (P4, 1.5 GB RAM) Asus 1101HA (Atom, 1 GB RAM)
Linux Mint 13 Mate Slow Satisfactory but tap not working
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Painfully slow, would hang Display problem, slow
Solus OS 1.2 Legacy Very smooth Kernel panic, no GUI
PCLinuxOS KDE 2012.8 Very smooth Slow, would hang
Linux Mint 13 XFCE Very smooth Very smooth
Bodhi Linux 2 Very smooth Very smooth
Antix 12 Very smooth Very smooth, but no wifi
Snowlinux 3 Gnome Smooth Smooth but tap not working
Snowlinux 3 XFCE Very smooth Very smooth, but tap not working
Snowlinux 3 E17 Very smooth Very smooth, but tap not working
Kiwi Linux 12.08 Very smooth Display problem
OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome Satisfactory with Gnome fallback Slow with Gnome 3
OpenSUSE 12.2 KDE Won't load Won't load
Peppermint 3 Very smooth Display problem
ROSA 2012 LXDE Very smooth Display problem
OS4 13 XFCE Very smooth Display problem
Fedora 17 XFCE Very smooth Very smooth
Debian Wheezy XFCE Very smooth Very smooth
Debian Wheezy Gnome Smooth Smooth but no authorization

 
I also did tests with Snowlinux 3 E17, very fast and smooth on both but the tap function didn't work there as well with Asus Eee PC netbook. I didn't try out Chakra as there won't be any 32-bit version going forward - hence, why try Archimedes? Further, Crunchbang is too minimalistic for my taste - I know it will perform as well as Linux Mint XFCE or even better, but still I need a conventional desktop. 

So, my top 3, based on the performance on both the systems, is:

1. Linux Mint 13 XFCE: Best distro, would work on any system. No wonder Linux Mint is at the top on Distrowatch ranking!

2. Bodhi Linux 2: Faster than Linux Mint XFCE for sure, has some really cool effects from compiz - second because you have to download Nikhila to make it usable. Could have easily been the number uno in my ranking.

3. Debian Wheezy XFCE: Very fast and works well within limited resources. Had the tap and double tap functions worked on Debian, it would have been a tie with Linux Mint XFCE.

4. Snowlinux 3 XFCE and E17: Wonderful distro, could have been in top 2 if the tap function of keypad would have worked out of the box.

Potential candidates like Peppermint, OS4 and ROSA missed out narrowly due to the display problem on Asus Eee-PC 1101HA. Otherwise, except possibly Linux Mint XFCE & Bodhi, they are next to none.

For my PC, I am going to install a distro outside this top 3 - PCLinuxOS. I like the interface, rolling release and enviable collection of out-of-the-box applications provided. Definitely it's repo isn't as rich as a Ubuntu or a Debian but even my PC isn't cutting edge! It worked wonderfully well on my PC.

For Asus Eee PC 1101HA, I am confused between Linux Mint XFCE and Bodhi Linux. Both are really good. Possibly I am going to install both for the time being, disk space isn't an issue.

There is a high chance that I might have missed a few distros. Readers please suggest other non-minimalistic distros which have potential to work in limited resources and on any system and I haven't tried them. I'll try them and add to the article.

P.N.: I installed Linux Mint 13 XFCE to my Asus 1101HA, no issues faced while installation. It is really working well - no issues with drivers, sound and wifi works wonderfully well. One thing to mention - I have used Ubuntu 10.04 & 11.04 for nearly last couple of years on it, but I never thought it has touchpad function like scroll down or double tap to get right click options. With Mint XFCE, I unearthed those functions as well!  

However, on my old PC with Intel Pentium 4 processor (2.4 Ghz) and 1.5 GB RAM, I started with installing PCLinuxOS, but it became a tad bit heavy after a few updates. So, I replaced it with Linux Mint 13 XFCE, as it was performing really well on my Asus 1101HA Eee-PC. But, no luck for me on my PC. It used to crash often. Hence, finally I installed Bodhi Linux 2 and it is currently working really well. Amazingly fast, I downloaded the Nikhila application pack which more or less contains every application I need. I am pretty happy with Bodhi's performance as of now. But there seems to be some problem with the grub in Bodhi - by default it gets installed in the USB drive resulting in a not bootable OS. I had to repair the grub and it worked fine after that.

You may be interested in the my objective comparison of KDE distros of 2012, written on 30th Dec, 2012 - Comparison of KDE distros of 2012. 

68 comments:

  1. Right now I'm preparing to leave (my beloved) Ubuntu 10.4 for Linux Mint MATE 12.04 for my P4 300ghz 2GB RAM desktop .

    While testing out Mint in virtualbox ,with 800 MB RAM allocated, it drags every now and again but overall it's stable. One thing I noticed about LM through the years is the live mode always seems to be slow and drag when compared to an install. It's one those quirks you deal with when dealing with Linux.

    Moreover,Mint ALWAYS boots slower than most distros (around 60 - 80 seconds) for some reason.A minor annoyance since Win XP and Win 7 both take around the same time to boot,give or take a few seconds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, mint takes a bit of time to boot. But, I am using Linux Mint 13 XFCE for last couple of days on my Asus Eee-pc 1101HA (Intel Atom, 1.33 Ghz, 1 GB RAM). It is really smooth, least taxing on resources and absolutely no lag while multi-tasking! You can try out XFCE in addition to Linux Mint Mate.

      Delete
  2. You're right about LM XFCE It runs so smooth with only 800mb! I did try XFCE a month ago but since I installed Caja and Gnome System Monitor (I didn't really care for Thunar or XFCE System Monitor) I figured I'll test out MATE and well, it reminds so much on Ubuntu 10.04 I decided that was the DE for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mate is really good! Hopefully Linux Mint developers would continue with Mate and keep Gnome 2 alive in their future distros. XFCE task manager is not good, even I installed Gnome system monitor :)

      Delete
  3. I would have expected a few more of the top 10 Distrowatch distributions in a test like this.... pretty useless me thinks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the top 10 distros run on Gnome 3 or KDE 4! I tried all of them - none would load well on my systems.

      Delete
    2. Just checked Distrowatch, it covers 10 of the top 20 distros!

      Delete
  4. Debian has all types of live media. Isos for live cds/dvds:
    http://live.debian.net/cdimage/release/current-next/i386/iso-hybrid/
    And hdd images for usb keys:
    Live usb images: http://live.debian.net/cdimage/release/current-next/i386/hdd/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correct! Try to include Debian wheezy, whose stable release is just round the corner.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for this link. My goal is to try Wheezy xfce. This info is not readily available doing a standard search. Thanks again..

      Delete
  5. Excellent review. That explains why Linux Mint is the number distro in Distrowatch ranking right now. It gives better performance than the parent OS Ubuntu any day and works with most of the commonly available drivers and systems.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great! Many thanks for that. I have an Asus 1101HA and it's so slow that it's unusable with Windows XP on it. It looks like it's worth a reformat and Mint 13 XFCE going on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far my experience goes, 1101HA works like a charm with Mint 13 XFCE. Fantastic performance! Please let me know your experience with Mint XFCE as well.

      Delete
  7. CrunchBang is probably the best low resource distro out there. You can make it look beautiful, I made mine look like this: http://i.imgur.com/pqHHg.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome! I'll test Crunchbang this week on these two machines and update my article.

      Delete
  8. I would recommend you to compare the same Desktop environment from all distributions like xfce from suse, xfce from fedora,xfce from Debian etc instead of comparing gnome 3 from suse against xfce from mint

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vaz,

      It is a really good suggestion. Actually here I was limited by the 32-bit distros I am having which is a mixture of Gnome, KDE and XFCE. One area of my interest was to test the performance across these desktops. Now what it shows that Gnome 3 and KDE doesn't work on limited resources; whereas XFCE and LXDE does! Next time I'll compare across XFCE and LXDE distros only!

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  9. Hi Arindam,
    as usal I read with great interest your work and now I have almost decided to install Bodhi on my notebook. What do you think about Mageia and Rosa linux (to install on notebook)?

    Ciao

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lorenzo,

      Thanks for reading my blog. I really liked Rosa LXDE and I'll update this article with Rosa results in a couple of days.

      For Mageia, I am waiting for the Mageia 3 to come out. I am anticipating a really refined distro from Mageia with the bug free KDE 4.

      As far as Bodhi is concerned, I am really happy with its performance. Please let me know the OS you installed on your notebook and your experience with it.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. Hi Arindam,

      my notebook is a Fujitsu lifebook A serie (Intel® Pentium(R) CPU P6200 @ 2.13GHz × 2 with 4 mb of ram).

      Now, on it, I installed Ubuntu 12.04 (with gnome and kde 4.9) and I installed MsOffice 2010 (following your guide, thank you again).
      Till now, I must say that I didn't have any problem with this OS where I use gnome or kde, both better than unity. I think that kde is a little bit more fast than gnome.

      I try to install other distro (like Fedora, Slackware or Arch) but I had problem to install it (Fedora) or I found them too difficult for me.

      But... after reading your blog, I always want to install something new.

      Of course, this is not so easy because, as I use this notebook for work, to do the backup of my files; change the OS; re-install all the software (MsOffice too) etc... takes time, so... I continue to read your blog waiting for a "lightning strike" (I would like to say "un colpo di fulmine") for a new distro.

      Last night, I installed Mageia on the my daughter's pc (with kde). I dont't have problem to install it, but I don't see if it work or not (I finish this morning at 2 o'clock).

      Ok, for now, I'm waiting for your results on Rosa...

      ciao
      Lorenzo

      Delete
    3. I hope Mageia worked on your daughter's PC. I tried ROSA LXDE, it works fantastic on low resource environment! I ran into a display problem - but it can be easily resolved post installation. Since I was checking live-boot option only, so I didn't try. It worked fantastic on my PC and I know it will work with Asus 1101HA as well. Only you need to blacklist poulsbo. The way to do it is given in my blog.

      Delete
    4. Thank you,

      I'll let you know my experience.

      Ciao
      Lorenzo

      Delete
  10. Hi, thanks for the great review for all us linux fans out there looking for a distro to use in light of the Ubuntu unity and Windows 8 disasters. I've also been toying between gnome shell and XFCE. Keep up the great work. Thanks. Jim from PA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Thanks for liking my review. Regards, Arindam

      Delete
  11. Hi,

    I have been searching all over the internet for such an article and luckily I found your site. Thanks for the experiments and results that you have shared with.

    If I were to do the same experiments like you, I would have included the following criteria as well, just because I need them for my work.

    1. Allow VPN connection with out troubleshooting.
    2. I would avoid the branding versions of software (iceweasel for firefox, icedove for thunderbird etc) since they don't go nice with some of the addons. I need to configure thunderbird with Exchange 2007/2010 outlook calender and I don't think icedove allows an addon to get this thing work.
    3. We use microsoft lync as a messaging client at work. sipe plugin for pidgin allows this. So this is a must for me.
    4. Test with docking stations. I see docking and undocking the laptop causes issues sometimes, though I don't know how to test this.

    I used Arch Linux for more than a year, but ditched it as updates become a challenge once in a while. Now, I am using Sabayon XFCE and it is very fast and excellent to use. The only problem that I am seeing with it is the docking station issue. I don't use dual display at the same time though it is dual monitor setup. When I dock the laptop and switch the display to laptop, it doesn't work sometimes. The laptop is kinda hung at that time and I had to do a hard reboot.

    Thanks,
    Balaji.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Balaji:

      I wish I could try testing out VPN connection but it won't be possible at my end. Also, testing with docking station won't be possible at my end.

      I also use lync but for unofficial communication. Would be really nice to try out with Pidgin.

      I used Sabayon XFCE for sometime as my main distro - really nice and stable. I guess you are more fond of Arch Linux and derivatives. Else for docking station issue I would have suggested you to try out Linux Mint 13 XFCE :).

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. Hi Arindam,

      Thanks for the reply.

      Sipe with pidgin is a nice combination for office communicator protocol and you should try it out.

      I like Arch (never had issues with docking stations, but only with updates). I prefer rolling release distributions more than release based distros. I will try linux mint XFCE and let you know how it goes.

      Thanks,
      Balaji.

      Delete
  12. Hi,

    I tried ubuntu, xubuntu and linux mint 13 XFCE on my laptop. They are working fine with docking station. However, it looks like the docking station issues are some how related to wireless mouse. When the laptop is docked and if I turn off my wireless mouse, linux get hung and I had to pull out the nano receiver from the laptop and plug it back.

    xubuntu's performance was horrible, but I did face lots of issues with wireless mouse and docking station. So, I restored my Sabayon XFCE image yesterday with clonezilla.

    You have mentioned that you are not interested in crunchbang, but in my opinion, it is an awesome distro with openbox. Openbox is one of most configurable window manager that I have come across. You can take a look at this link for openbox capabilities http://urukrama.wordpress.com/openbox-guide/. If you want a panel, you can add tint2-svn (not just default tint2) so that you can application icons on the tint2 panel. It will more or less look like the quick launch menu in windows. Tablaunch is another option. I like XFCE and it is configurable. I prefer to have application shortcuts (Super-T for terminator) instead of navigating through menus.

    Thanks,
    Balaji.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oops. xubuntu's performance was good (mistyped as horrible in my previous post).

    Thanks,
    Balaji.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Balaji:

      I like XFCE as well along with a docky with all my favorite applications there. As you suggested, I'll try out crunchbang with a bit more research. It is definitely good, but my preference is XFCE, LXDE these days over other desktops :).

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  14. Thank you very much for this distro review on eeepc 1101 HA !
    Last week, I installated Xubuntu 12.10: it works out of the box but it is very very very slow and CPU consuming...
    It is slower than Ubuntu 11.04!

    I look forward to install linux mint xfce

    Thanks,

    Olivier

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad that you liked it and hope Linux Mint XFCE works for you!

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  15. i was running mint mate and really liked it, but dropped it in favor of debian wheezy xfce4, which in my opinion is doing even better!

    [...] Had the tap and double tap functions worked on Debian, it would have been a tie with Linux Mint XFCE [...]

    i had the same issue and fixed it with 1 simple command:
    synclient TapButton1=1
    along with a few others to fine tune my touchpad even further.

    you can read more about it at http://uselessuseofcat.com/?p=74

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debian wheezy xfce is the fastest xfce distro I have used. But only thing hindering me was lack of touch pad support. Now I'll try it for sure. Thanks for sharing.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  16. A great run down. Thank you for taking the time & sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great great great article... I personally went for the Fedora XFCE on my Samsung NC130 (Atom N270, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD).

    It really gives me the best of the little power that netbook has, because the OS itself takes almost nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for liking my article. Fedora xfce does reasonably well on limited specs. Good distro but looks a bit bland.


      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  18. Thank you very much! Excellent article!

    I just installed Xubuntu 12.04 on my netbook, and am quite happy with it.
    However, I wonder whether maybe Bodhi or AntiX or Mint Xfce would boot up even faster.

    Do you remember, from your testing, the boot up times of these distros?
    Can you tell me whether there is any significant difference in their boot-up times?

    I would guess that, as both Bodhi and Mint are based on Ubuntu, their boot-up times are roughly the same as Xubuntu's. Is that so?

    Many thanks

    Puffin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Puffin

      I checked. Boot up time is almost same at 10-15 sec. Bodhi may boot 2 to 5 sec faster, I guess. But not significantly different.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. Hello again and thanks for your prompt answer.
      My netbook is an Asus Eee PC 1011PX (Atom N455 1.66GHz and 2 GB RAM).
      Boot up time is about 35 seconds. :(
      Am I doing something wrong?
      Do you think, would it boot faster with one of the other distros?
      Many thanks
      Puffin

      Delete
  19. Hi,

    I was using Sabayon XFCE and Xubuntu, but it looks like the notification daemon has some issues in XFCE. I used a 32GB pen drive in linux, and whenever I try to unplug it, I get a message saying "There is data that needs to be written to the disk. Please do not eject or disconnect the drive". I had to remove several times by ignoring this message and at last, the drive is gone. It is unusable now.

    Thanks,
    Balaji.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Balaji,
      Even I get the same problem using thunar. I installed pcmanfm and made it the default file manager. Now there is no such problem. Could you please try caja or pcmanfm and check if the problem is still there?

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  20. Hi Arindam,

    Thanks for your response. I ditched XFCE and now using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. I am planning to try Zorin 6.1 now as Zorin's hardware support seems to be much better than Ubuntu, though it is based on ubuntu. I have a canon MP160 all-in-one machine and the scanner doesn't work in Ubuntu. I tried the Zorin live cd and everything seems to work.

    Thanks,
    Balaji.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool, great to know. Will try Zorin's new lite update to check it's hardware support.
      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  21. hii
    im using linux mint 13xfce on my gigabyte Q2006 net book, but i cannot go wifi ,are there any better linux distros for my gigabyte netbook :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am using Linux Mint 13 XFCE in my Asus EeePC 1101HA netbook and it catches wifi without any issue. Could you please click on the network icon and just check if enable networking and enable wireless both are ticked?

      Delete
    2. thanks but i failed and opted for fedora 18 lxde as i've left with no options left. then i tried to install vlc with sudo yum install vlc but it says no lc package available. what to do

      Delete
    3. Fedora doesn't provide restricted multimedia codecs or VLC by default. To install, I added RPM Fusion repos to the package list. I entered the following command at the terminal to add RPM fusion packages:

      su -c 'yum localinstall --nogpgcheck http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-18.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-18.noarch.rpm'

      Post submitting this command, a refresh of the Software Install showed me the non-free codecs as well as VLC.

      For details please go through my review of Fedora 18:
      http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com/2013/01/fedora-18-spherical-cow-xfce-review_23.html
      http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com/2013/01/fedora-18-spherical-cow-kde-review-pure.html
      http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com/2013/01/fedora-18-spherical-cow-gnome-review.html

      Hope it helps you.
      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
    4. thanks guru, a lot to ask from you. but your blogs are great for beginners,

      Delete
    5. Thanks :). Hopefully some Windows users will get motivated to shift to Linux after going through my posts ... it is targeted to beginners only, advanced users know most of the stuff or can put the right questions in respective forums.

      Delete
    6. still in trouble, im thinking whether to use fedora 18/17 xfce one, will it run on my gigabyte netbook. ubuntu, xubuntu,debian failed.

      Delete
    7. Please try and let me know if your wifi works.

      Delete
    8. nope it doesn't work, but wired network is identified..............
      also having problems with bluetooth, though this LXDE rocks i'm left with searching for a bettr one help me plzzzzzzzzzz

      Delete
    9. Install peppermint OS - it is one of the better LXDE distros I have used.

      Delete
    10. ok thanks i'll try and let u know how it works, thanks again for those small information that is giant to me

      Delete
    11. well treid that too but the same result, couldn't even boot. :)

      Delete
    12. Specs of your gigabyte book?

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    13. its gigabyte Q 2006 NETBOOK
      intel atom N2800
      2GB RAM DDR3
      320 GB
      Wireless 802.1lb/g/n

      thinking to try crunchbang :(

      Delete
    14. Crunchbang is good. You can also check Archbang or Manjaro. I found both of them to be really good openbox distros.

      Delete
    15. tried crunchbang 10 but failed may a error in md5, will waldrf 11 can settle my problems, does archbang has a graphical instalation mode

      Delete
    16. Yes, 11th one is the latest release and Crunchbang has a rolling release. Installing an older release would mean 1-2 GBs of downloads.

      Archbang does have a graphical installer and it is pretty intuitive to use. You can read my archbang review here: http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in/2012/12/archbang-201212-review-simple-light-and.html

      Please let me know if you face any issue.

      Delete
    17. tried that too, but it failed though it is mentioned as 572 size it downloads only 514 size file ..... is that which causes this.
      i treid to boot but it says failed hmmmmmmmmmm.
      again i'm thinking to make a bootable crunchbang with windows and install.
      think that when fedora 19 comes it will settle this touchpad/WIFI issue
      waiiiitiiiinggggggggggggg........................................

      Delete
  22. Replies
    1. Manjaro was new with all rough edges when I wrote this article. You can find about Manjaro in the best XFCE distro review link given at the top of the article.

      Thanks.

      Delete
  23. if i edit the grub according to ur link http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in/2012/04/solved-precise-pangolin-asus-eee-pc.html can i use ubuntu 12.04 or opeppermint in my netbook????????????

    ReplyDelete