I finally reached the end of my tether with Linpus on my netbook last week. Although it has the potential to be a nifty, quick operating system, it’s so restrictive that it makes the iPhone look good ;) Despite there being guides detailing how to unlock certain parts, remove unnecessary bloat etc, any power user soon gets itchy fingers trying to have things their way.
So, I considered my options… and decided to go with Windows 7. Ubuntu do a nice netbook remix but I’ve seen Win7 on Karl’s netbook and have been fairly impressed. Not wishing to just fangirl over another Windows OS without even trying it I got him to flatten Linpus and put it on a few days ago. Colour me impressed. Bearing in mind that the default spec of the AA1 is a single core 1.6GHz Intel Atom with 512MB RAM, it fairly nips along with the whole Aero kit and kaboodle turned on — transparency, special effects and everything.
With that said, a few small optimisations later and this thing is flying. I’d even say (without benchmarking, you must understand) that it’s faster than Linpus. So, what have I tweaked and what should you do?
- Turn off Aero — it looks good but with only 512MB RAM you do notice the difference between having it on and off. No need to go back to Windows 95 effects though, the Win7 Basic theme is fast and still looks shiny. You can take this further by telling windows to Adjust for Best Performance in the control panel, but I like to customise each option.
- Install Chrome — Chrome is a much faster browser than the rest on offer. It’s not my first choice normally but I ran Firefox under Linpus and it crippled the netbook.
- Turn off the browser cache — as I have a relatively speedy connection, it’s faster to fetch images/etc from the server each time than wait for them to be written to the SSD. HOWEVER, this is not ideal for long term browsing because it kicks the arse out of web servers, and bandwidth limits. Karl has an alternate solution that makes use of portable Firefox and relocating your cache folder, I’ll get him to write it up.
- Disable services — don’t do this if you don’t know what you’re doing (insert proper disclaimer here). I personally disable the Firewall (our router has one built in), Windows Search, Windows Updates, etc. You’ll find help with which services do what job elsewhere on the ‘net.
- Use ReadyBoost — I’ve an 8GB SD card which I was using for extra space on Linpus, although I didn’t necessarily need it (I only use it for IRC and coding when Izz is asleep on my lap or on the boob anyway) so I have dedicated 2GB of it to ReadyBoost. I can’t tell yet if this has made any positive difference, but it can’t hurt, right?
With all that said, Windows 7 is definitely netbook friendly. Considering the trend of OSes and programs getting more bloated with each version, it’s odd to be running something so new and actually noticing a positive speed difference. I’m considering buying the cheapo XP upgrade version and popping it on the Dell, too.