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BTH – evaluating OS’s for use on the EEE 901

So… I really like the form factor of the smaller, “original” EEE series (701, 900, 901) netbooks. They’re just the perfect size for use on busses, trains, etc. They don’t require much in terms of packaging or storage, they’re just very simple to carry around. My first EEE was a 900, since then I’ve tried the 1015PEM but I quickly realized it was too big for me, so I was relly happy when I found the 901 – it’s like the 900, but with much better battery life and processor. The only thing It’s lacking is a 3G slot, and I’m currently looking for a 901 Go though they seem kind of hard (and slightly expensive) to get ahold of.

Anyways, I have been trying out different operating systems and distros on the 901, trying to choose one for everyday use. What I want is basically what everyone wants in a netbook: fast boot time, responsive interface. Right? A simple way to get right into the processor of surfing or writing or whatever. My first choice was Ubuntu with Gnome 3 as a launcher, since I am absolutely in love with Gnome 3. But I found that the poor little 901 processor/ram/SSD couldn’t handle the Gnome monster very well. Sure, it booted up OK, but then I had kind of a 2-second delay between pressing the Super button and the menu actually appearing… Just not responsive enough. So I went a’shoppin. Since I know I was going to test quite a few distros and OS’s here, I created a simple test.

THE TEST

  • Each OS will use the Crome web browser. I will make the browser as accessible as I’d be likely to if I were to use the OS on a daily basis.
  • All Linux distros use the same partition scheme:
    • 3.9gb out of the 4gb SSD drive as ext4 and mounted as /
    • The remaining 100mb is used by the EEE to cut BIOS load time.
    • 15 out of the 16gb SSD as ext4 and mounted as /usr
    • The remaining 1gb used as swap.
  • Two things will be timed.
    • 1. The time from boot screen to login screen.
    • 2. The time from boot screen to the Wikipedia entry on Adolf Hitler (BTH).
  • The “boot screen” is the screen invoked by pressing ESC while Bios is loading; the screen lets me select which drive to boot from.

BTH

BTH stands for “boot-to-Hitler”, and is the simple test I’m using to determine how quickly the OS becomes usable. It’s all very well to see the desktop icons etc, but until I’m actually surfing or writing, the computer us essentially useless. BTH is not exact; it includes the time it takes for me to type my login credentials, click icons, type “hitler” in the search bar, and then click the link to the wikipedia entry.

Why Hitler? Well, why not. I hope noone out there thinks I like the man. I use him for the lulz, you might say.

The results

This is not a complete list, and is likely to change and be updated from time to time.

Android x86

Booted from SD card.

  • boot to login/lockscreen: 0:37
  • boot to hitler: 1:03

Ubuntu 12.10

  • boot to login: 0:30
  • boot to hitler: 1:09

Some additional times

  • hibernate: 0:19
  • wakeup: 0:18
  • Shutdown: 0:15

Windows XP

Activated automatic login, so these times are actually lower than they should be. I used a nLite’d XP with a lot of time consuming stuff removed or deactivated. Also defragged harddrive, newly ccleaner-cleaned, etc. In short, best possible chances to excel.

  • boot to desktop: 0:57
  • boot to hitler: 1:47

Ubuntu 13.04 Unity / Gnome

I was a bit surprised that these were actually pretty much the same, time-wise.

  • boot to login: 0:24
  • boot to hitler: 1:02

Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome 3.8

  • boot to login: 0:26
  • boot to hitler: 1:07

Linux Mint 14.1 MATE

  • boot to login: 0:22
  • boot to hitler: 1:25

Linux Mint 14.1 Cinnamon

  • boot to login: 0:19
  • boot to hitler: 1:09

Easy Peasy 1.6

  • boot to login: 0:22
  • boot to hitler: 0:57

CrunchBang 11

  • boot to login: 0:19
  • boot to hitler: 0:50

Lubuntu 13.04

  • boot to login: 0:24
  • boot to hitler: 0:53

Xubuntu 13.04

  • boot to login: 0:23
  • boot to hitler: 0:57

Debian 6.0.7

  • boot to login: 0:22
  • boot to hitler: 0:52

Debian wheezy Gnome 3.4

  • boot to login: 0:24
  • boot to hitler: 1:00

My thoughts

It’s hardly surprising that so many of these have such similar BTH values. After all, most if them are based on the same distro; the ever-present Ubuntu.Several of them impressed me; the ones that felt the most responsive were defintely also the ones sporting the shortest times: Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Crunchbang, Easy Peasy. I liked Linux Mint in both flavors, but ultimately they were not snappy enough.

I have a few distros left to est, such as JoliOS and Elementary OS (in both cases, their installation programs refuse to cooperate), Windows 7 and 8, possibly OSX.

If I were to select a distro right now, I would probably choose CrunchBang. Its responsiveness and speed are really nice, and the dmenu is a completely adequate search-based launcher, fully capable of most operations I want it to. Its task switching/launching is perhaps not on par with Gnome 3, but then again – nothing seems to be.

I am, however, kind of leaning towards the Debian+Gnome 3 option. I need to spend some more time thinking about this… CrunchBang is based on Debian, so they share basic architecture and things like that. I’m thinking I might experiment a bit, perhaps install crunchbang with the gnome 3 shell as an option…

One Comment

  1. Dan Dan September 2, 2013

    ive just unpacked my old 900 and installed easypeasy 1.6, everything is working so far and il going to try installing navit later too, it can then be put into use with a gps reciever and icampsites as a more interactive satnav

    what are you using yours for?

    great post btw

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