Linux Distro Recommendation

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by horrorshow, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. horrorshow

    horrorshow [H]ardness Supreme

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    I've got an ancient laptop with a T7100 (1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo) and 2GB of RAM....

    I'm looking for a light distro for basic web-browsing, netflix-esque streaming, and other basic functionality.

    The lower the CPU usage the better.

    I've tried Lubuntu, Linux Mint Mate, & Linux Mint XFCE

    It appears XFCE has the lowest CPU usage when using the 64 bit version.

    So, two questions:

    1. Are there any distros capable of Netflix level functionality that have lower CPU usage than XFCE? (bearing in mind I'm a windows user and therefor don't know jack about linux)

    2. Considering the age of the laptop, should I go with 32 or 64 bit? (whichever's fastest obv)

    As always, thanks [H]!!
     
  2. KarsusTG

    KarsusTG 2[H]4U

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    Peppermint. It was basically a linux version of Chrome OS before Chrome OS existed...

    https://peppermintos.com/

    It uses a custom LXDE I believe, based on LTS ubuntu I think.
     
  3. horrorshow

    horrorshow [H]ardness Supreme

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    Considering the age of the hardware, should I install 32 or 64 bit? (for maximum snappiness)
     
  4. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris Wii was a Novelty

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    Full screen HD video will probably not run great with that CPU even without an OS in the way.

    If you're sitting at 0% cpu utilization at idle, and you open up full screen video and it kills your CPU, the OS isn't going to fix that.
     
  5. ChadD

    ChadD I Love TEXAS

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    https://manjaro.org/

    Manjaro... install the 64 bit version. 32bit isn't going to run any faster... and the core chips are 64 bit chips. XFCE is their main desktop... and XFCE is perfect. It doesn't really get much leaner and its still a fully functional desktop. XFCE is one of my favorites for hardware of any vintage.

    You can install either Google chrome, for netflix. Or the open source Chromium browswer... and install widevine. (the DRM component for chromium) I use Chromium myself and it works great... it syncs with chrome and really you won't see to much difference accept its free and open. You just have to install the extra DRM if you want netflix playback.
    Manjaro is based on Arch... and chromium is in the main repository. (I think widevine is as well if not it is in the AUR... the arch user repository. which makes it a simple one click install either way)
    https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/chromium-widevine/

    Once you are up and running you likely want to disable the security patches covering both Spectre and Meltdown. Its up to you if you run the latest kernel your Core2 chip is going to be dog slow. (which would also be true of newer patched versions of windows). If you choose to disable them you will be a bit less secure (although I doubt your older laptop will really be in danger from viruses or malware making use of those exploits) however the core 2 chips lean heavy on those features and I know from experience they will loose 50-70% of their performance depending on what you are doing.

    Disabling them is not a big deal. But it does involve adding some parameters to your grub boot. (grub boots your machine and loads the Linux kernel)

    To disable Spectre Variant 2 add the following parameter to your grub boot;
    spectre_v2=off (or nospectre_v2)
    To disable Meltdown add the following parameter to your grub boot;
    pti=off (or nopti)
    To disable Spectre Variant 4 add the following parameter to your grub boot;
    nospec_store_bypass_disable

    To add these parameters... you will need to hit a command line to edit the grub configuration.
    In Manjaro (and most other distros) this from the command line will work
    sudo nano /etc/default/grub
    (sudo raises your run level to admin... nano is a command line text editor... and you are opening the location of the grub text configuration)
    Find the line that says;
    GRUB_CMDLINELINUX_DEFAULT="quite splash"
    edit it to read
    GRUB_CMDLINELINUX_DEFAULT="quite splash spectre_v2=off pti=off nospec_store_bypass_disable"
    Save and exit.

    At this point you have to rebuild your grub;
    Again from the command line type;
    sudo update-grub
    This will take a few seconds it will make the changes.
    On your next reboot the paramaters you added will be used when the kernel loads turning off the performance killing patches.

    Another option if you don't want to make this change persistent on boot.
    When the grub screen loads when you first turn on your computer. You can hit the e key on your Linux boot option. This will bring up a text display of the grub boot options. You can again slide down to where the parameters are (you will see quite and slash in manjaro) and add the parameters after. (or remove them if you want to boot with all the patches running) when you do that hit F11 to boot with the changes you have made. (they will only effect that boot... when you reboot grub will use your default unless you tell it otherwise)
     
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  6. DrLobotomy

    DrLobotomy [H]ardness Supreme

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  7. ManofGod

    ManofGod [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Try them all, one at a time, as a live distro and see what you like.
     
  8. Mega6

    Mega6 Gawd

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    you dont need a lightweight distribution of linux. im running fedora core on an i3-4005u web surfing six tabs, watching a stream. 3,5GB of ram use and top is 15 to 25% on four threads.
     
  9. whatevs

    whatevs Limp Gawd

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    You could also try Windows 10 if it allows it. I used to run Windows 8.1 on a super ultralight laptop with 2GB RAM without much issues. Fullscreen netflix was an issue but it was super low power CPU that was at fault. Windows itself was fine.
    You can download Windows 10 to try out directly from Microsoft, just say you don't have a key and trial it.

    For all the knee-jerk reactions, Win 10 has tightened its belt a ton more than what it started in Win 8.1. It added memory compression, it's shed a lot of weight,... To compete with Apple's ultrabooks likely.
     
  10. Brian_B

    Brian_B [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don’t think CPU use across distros will be as big a bottleneck as you are afraid of. GPU is almost always the bottleneck in GUI apps.

    The flavor you like and use is the correct answer here.
     
  11. Tiberian

    Tiberian DILLIGAFuck

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    In my own experience, on Core 2 Duo processors 32 bit code runs slightly faster (believe it or not) and with only 2GB of RAM it doesn't hurt to save every last bit one can in terms of resource usage.

    Ubuntu 16.04 32-bit would run well on that, and since it's an LTS release you're good to go for several more years (5 year support cycle). If you must use something with very light resource usage for the GUI aspects, use Xubuntu which uses Xfce.

    As for Netflix, if you use Chrome it should work fine.

    Install the 32-bit version and do some testing, then install the 64-bit version and do testing, find whichever one performs best and run with it.
     
  12. Mazzspeed

    Mazzspeed Gawd

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    I wouldn't recommend running 32bit, dependencies become a bit of an issue now that the platform is reaching it's twilight years. I've run Ubuntu 16.04 64bit on a T7100 with 2GB of ram and it runs beautifully.
     
  13. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    For 4k Netflix support I think you should install Android on your laptop (if possible hardware wise).
     
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  14. whatevs

    whatevs Limp Gawd

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    You made me laugh, than go for a loop, than laugh again. Masterfully crafted. You win the Internet!!!!
     
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  15. Chuklr

    Chuklr Gawd

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    Android-x86 is the port of the Android mobile OS to PC.

    Maybe this thread should be moved to the Linux Subforum?
     
  16. Lunar

    Lunar Limp Gawd

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    I'd recommend CloudReady as it sounds like media/browsing is the main use for this laptop. CloudReady is a free and open source build of ChromiumOS for general devices. I've installed it on several older machines, and it ran quite well. It supports Netflix and other DRM'd streaming services, and has the Chromium browser installed. Also, if this laptop is going to be given to someone who is less experienced with computers, then CloudReady is a great option as they can't break it.

    https://www.neverware.com/
     
  17. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    And the cause for your loop was?
     
  18. horrorshow

    horrorshow [H]ardness Supreme

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    First of all, thanks for all the help guys!

    I think I'm gonna go with Mint XFCE 64-bit....

    Quick question for ChadD:

    So I can follow these instructions to the letter, and it will work just fine using Mint XFCE?

    (total linux super n00b here)
     
  19. ChadD

    ChadD I Love TEXAS

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    Mint xfce should work well.

    Yes you can turn off the security patches in any version of Linux.

    I found this for you... Just a list of Ubuntus mitigation controls. Mint is an Ubuntu spin.
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SecurityTeam/KnowledgeBase/SpectreAndMeltdown/MitigationControls

    Grub files should be in the same place... nano should be a default mint program. I believe what I typed previously should work just fine on Mint. Should work on almost any distro really... only a few distros that ship with specific hardened kernels perhaps may not allow specific kernel flags to be disabled. (I'm not aware of any that disable the Speculative security patch toggles but its possible)
     
  20. ChadD

    ChadD I Love TEXAS

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    While we are talking about tweaking your grub.

    https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/enable-zswap-to-increase-performance/11302

    With 2gb you may want to enable zswap.

    I posted that link for someone awhile back and they mentioned that mint no longer uses pluma text editor (or thats a mate thing) or something.... whichever. Just use nano, also they suggest gksu... which is just a graphical (GTK) front end for sudo. Just use sudo and nano.
    So when they suggest using
    gksu pluma /etc/default/grub
    Just use nano instead
    sudo nano /etc/default/grub

    In this how to to turn zswap on in ubuntu they are aiming you toward adding parameters to your grub boot. In the same manner I am saying you can edit the security patch parameters.

    This also assumes you are going to have a swap part... after you install. I assume Mint still defaults to installing a swap part. Having said that if you haven't installed Mint yet... when you do ensure it sets up a Swap part. I would assume it would default setup a 4gb swap part for you... if not you can ask it to.

    PS... I won't go through and tell you what every command in that link does. But if your going to use Linux long term, take some time and google commands like cat and grep ect. I know most folks have either never used a command line or haven't used one in years. Its not really as scary as it seems at first. Even if you don't plan to use it a ton... it makes doing basic stuff easier. Most people are going to still look things up but at least when you read instructions you will have a good idea what X or Y step is doing.... or if the instructions you find for something are good or bunk. (for the record even linux vets will look things up there is no shame in not committing every single command / file location / config file option to memory... but knowing the basics makes it easy to know where to find what you need when you need it. :) )
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  21. horrorshow

    horrorshow [H]ardness Supreme

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  22. ChadD

    ChadD I Love TEXAS

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    Yes they are different things.

    Swappiness setting tells the kernel how often to use the swap. So if the kernel knows its getting low on ram it will start using the swap early. So lets say you have a server with 1 TB of Ram that is constantly getting filled, because its running a service where all of a sudden 1000 users log in and the ram usage spikes hard at peek time or something. In such a case you want the servers kernel to start hitting its swap early. You don't want it to wait to the last second and slow down to snail speed for every user at 7pm because the machine gets itself into a situation of having to move 100s of GBs to swap at the same time.

    On a desktop you may want your machine to let the ram fill to 90% before it even thinks about touching the swap drive on a harddrive.

    So many people suggest changing that setting if you have a desktop/laptop system with lower ram. Cause you don't want it hitting the swap when your at 60% ram used... as you will be fairly often. With 2gb of ram perhaps you want it to wait till its 80-90% full instead.

    Zswap... and Zram. Are 2 other technologies you will hear about.

    Zram... is a Ram based swap. This is famously used in Chrome books. Instead of a swap part on a hard drive... zram creates a swap in ram, and compresses it with a fast compression. Seeing as how in the case of say a chrome book many don't have HDD to swap to... also most of the data in general chromebook use is text / web based data that compresses real well. Zram can make 1-2gb chrome books with no HDD swap device operate as if they have much more ram then they really do. I think in your case Zram is not likely the best option.

    Zswap... basically makes your swap smarter. It creates an area in ram where the swap can store page files. When running it the kernel will keep things in the RAM swap space first... and move the stuff your not using to the drive swap if required. So it basically just makes your swap a lot more efficient.

    http://alvistec.com/posts/zram-vs-zswap-vs-zcache-ultimate-guide-when-to-use-which-one.html

    So in a nut shell... you can run zswap if you wish. (machine should run fine with or without... but I do believe things will be smoother if you use it). Same with the swappiness setting. Should run fine either way... but its a tweak that may well make things a bit smoother for you.