Slower than a three-toed sloth at a narcolepsy convention
March 30, 2009 8:26 AM   Subscribe

GeekFilter: I just bought an Asus eee PC 900 (the model with the 16 GB HD). I needed a spare laptop fast, since my MacBook Pro had a mishap on the road and has to be repaired. I bought the eee at Best Buy, so it's running Win XP and not Linux. Problem: it's very slow. Question: should I return it, or put Linux on it when I get home?

I'm traveling and am at my parents' house for a few more days. There's no Best Buy near where I live, so I need to return the eee PC here if I'm not going to keep it.

Will installing Linux fix teh_slow? I'm geeky enough to do it. I've wanted a eee for a while, so I'd really like to keep it if possible. I've heard some non-positive things about the 900/16 GB, though.

If I keep it, any suggestions for which Linux distro to put on it?

Thanks in advance, hive mind.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ubuntu is pretty popular and easy to install. Try the LiveCD (by downloading Ubuntu to a CD and use the OS without installing it to the laptop, albeit slower) first and see how you like it before you make the jump.

I don't know if the eee PC has a hidden partition (which would take away lots of space and not making much sense) or not; also make sure BestBuy does not require the laptop to be able to boot into windows when you return it. Be careful =)
posted by jstarlee at 8:32 AM on March 30, 2009

I'm pretty sure if it's slow in xp it's not going to be any faster in linux. Seems like the bottleneck here is the harddrive and linux still will have to load from that drive as well.
posted by bigdave at 8:55 AM on March 30, 2009

Best answer: Easy Peasy is an Ubuntu distro with EEE drivers pre-intalled. The SSD in the 16G is notoriously slow. If you don't mind investing more money, you can make it scream with a Runcore SSD. Go to Ebay and search for "Runcore SSD." The EeePC 900 forum here has a tutorial for speeding up the 16g. Anyway, the "non positive" things you've heard about this model are, unfortunately, true. I just unloaded mine on Ebay because nothing (not the 2 gig RAM, not the aftermarket Patriot SSD) could make it useable. But I need Windows. Should run fine with one of the EeePC specific Linux variants.
posted by Crotalus at 9:01 AM on March 30, 2009

There are a couple of customized Ubuntu distributions for the eee PC. One thing I would check is what exactly is causing the slowdown? If it's memory usage Ubuntu very well may be much better. If disk access is dog slow, as mentioned above, changing the OS won't make much of a difference.

Puppy Linux might be worth looking into too. You could run it from a memory stick and performance might be more than good enough.
posted by COD at 9:01 AM on March 30, 2009

i have a plain ol' ubuntu on my 701 and it's kinda slow, but not frustratingly so. i only use it for communicating (like right now) and word-processing, so there's no real number-cruching going on. it came with windows, which wasn't any worse. it may just be that you're used to something much, much faster (as am i) and the downgrade is a shock.

if you want to run eclipse or compile a linux kernel, you should probably not do it on an eee.
posted by klanawa at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2009

Best answer: I just got the 900A in a similar situation and like it a lot. I put Easy Peasy on it (1.1rc2 became available 5min before I went to download!) which is pretty sweet. Only downside is wireless seems to be flaky after suspend/resume, so I guess I need to get a bigger SSD and set up hibernation. Also, it was supposed to come with a camera and didn't, but claims they aren't responsible for the description they use to sell a product and won't make it right.
posted by vsync at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2009

It's probably slow because of the slow SSD inside. In that case, linux won't help much.

I'd try removing as much of the crapware as possible, that should help out... that is, unless you want to ditch windows.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2009

My solution was Xubuntu and 2 gigs of ram. It's still not the fastest thing in the world but it works for me. There are a handful of items that don't work with a fresh Ubuntu/Xubuntu install that you have to fix manually.

I haven't tried Easy Peasy, but that sounds promising.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 12:29 PM on March 30, 2009

Linux will outperform XP on weaker hardware almost every time. You can load it yourself, but keep in mind that you paid for an XP license as part of your purchase. I don't know the pricing on that model, but the linux version may be cheaper, so returning it as an exchange might be an option. As I recall, BB charges a restocking fee on notebooks.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:40 PM on March 30, 2009

If you like the netbook platform, I would get a better one than that. 904HA, 1000HE, 1002HE, etc.

The early SSD drives are quite terrible.
posted by liquoredonlife at 1:50 PM on March 30, 2009

A friend put Fluxbox on mine. Wikipedia says that it has a "small memory footprint and quick loading time," and I'd be inclined to agree.
posted by aniola at 5:15 PM on March 30, 2009

Return it, get a 901 (if you like a small form factor) or a 1000 (for a much bigger harddrive). 901s are slightly faster than 900s, and have much better battery life.
posted by orthogonality at 10:20 PM on March 30, 2009

I feel your pain. I have the same eee pc that you do, but mine came with the Linux version. Although I love this machine, it is way too slow and I'm considering buying a new one later this year. I did an upgrade to 2 gigs of RAM and it still wasn't enough to combat its slothlike nature. It hangs constantly. It gets somewhat better if I reset it once in a while, but that's not a good long-term solution, in my opinion. If I were you, I'd return the one you have and buy a newer version. I've had mine for about 8 months and the frustration over its slowness is a daily thing - you never really get used to it.

I'm using the default Xandros distribution, but from what I understand about this particular model, you and I just happened to buy the one that's very much a dud. I don't think there's much else that can be done that's easier and more cost-effective than simply getting a different model.
posted by kclassic at 5:22 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: Running Easy Peasy now, with no hardware upgrades, and it's terrific! Thanks for all the advice.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2009

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