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What OS will best turn my bloated and slow Vaio Vista laptop into an instant on/off web browser?

Posted on 2010-09-13
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Last Modified: 2014-11-12
Hi there!

I have a Sony Vaio VGN-FZ21Z laptop. Despite having nice hardware it runs painfully slowly, which seems mainly to be due to Sony's bloatware installed on top of the already bloated Vista OS.

I would now like to use the machine for a very simple purpose. I just want it to sit in the kitchen and use it instantly to browse web pages like google calendar, web forecasts, etc.

This is impossible with the current OS, as it takes minutes just to come out of hibernation, and having it on all the time is not an option. It needs to boot up and display a web page within seconds.

What it the best OS I could use for this purpose? I guess some kind of Linux distro, but which one?

It has to be:

1. Really easy to install.
2. Work with the internet easily (I don't want to spend ages getting drivers working for the wireless network, for example).
3. It really does have to boot up in like 5 seconds. I don't see why this shouldn't be possible, given this hardware, and a simple OS.

Extra marks if it possible to install without hosing the current Vista install (never know if I might want it for something) but I appreciate this may be impossible.

Cheers,

Ben
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Question by:amorphia78
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Expert Comment

by:torque_200bc
ID: 33661021
Ubuntu. Download, burn and install graphically.

To keep with Vista, in my old vaio I went to start->control panel->programs and uninstall everything i didn't know its purpose. After thar i run "msconfig" and disable all starting progrmas and non microsoft services. I also disabled UAC.

If you go the linux way be shure to burn first the recovery cd's so you do not need to send the laptop to Tokio for reinstallation.
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Expert Comment

by:Alex_W
ID: 33661033
If you format and install another OS you may have issues locating correct drivers and the restore utility would only restore Vista back, also you'd have to buy windows.  I would stick with Vista but remove all the stuff running that you dont want.  I wrote an article on speeding up Windows:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/Windows_Vista/A_2832-Boost-Restore-PC-Windows-Performance.html

Among other optimizations you can go through, this will show you how to get into the Windows startup list and see whats added itself to slow things down so you can remove it.
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LVL 12
ID: 33661128
I concur with the Ubuntu answer. These days Ubuntu seems to ship with most drivers for most stuff - it managed to install and find everything it needed for some very old IBM laptops I had to connect wirelessly.
And if it can't find anything then the forums will more than likely be able to point you in the right direction to find what you need.

I would however install Opera instead of Firefox as that seems to run faster.

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Author Comment

by:amorphia78
ID: 33661182
Thanks for the comments folks! Is a standard install of Ubuntu really likely to be able to start up in like 5 secs though? It isn't exactly a stripped down distro is it?
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Accepted Solution

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rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 33661239
Ubuntu is much slower than most other Linux distro's (except if you get an old version like 6 or so...) Get something really lean and small, like Tiny Core, Puppy Linux, or at least not the standard ubuntu, but rather Lubuntu, which uses LXDE as the GUI which is much faster than Gnome.

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=tinycore
http://www.puppylinux.org/
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=lubuntu
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 33661259
You can install them beside your current OS they install a boot manager.

Ubuntu should work faster if you use hibernate or suspend.

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Assisted Solution

by:mccracky
mccracky earned 250 total points
ID: 33663541
As above, I'd probably use Lubuntu (or a stripped down minimal Debian install with just LXDE). Another that you might look into (that I haven't tried) would be Google OS or Chromium OS if it's just going to be a web kiosk.
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by:mccracky
ID: 33664693
another that I recently came across (but haven't tried) is PeppermintOS:

http://peppermintos.com

From their webpage:


Built for Speed
Peppermint OS was designed to be easy on your processor and system resources so you can get going and get things done...

Lightweight
Peppermint OS is under 512MB and easy to run as a Live CD or USB. Loads and Shuts down in Seconds...

User Friendly
Step-by-step installation, Works out of the box, Easy to Navigate with Automatic Updates....

System Requirements:
    * i386 or derivative processor (AMD64 and x86_64 are fine as well)
    * 192 MB of RAM
    * 4 GB hard drive space (this is an overestimate just for good measure)
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Author Comment

by:amorphia78
ID: 33666179
Thanks for all the suggestions folks!

I actually found one myself that wasn't suggested here, and tried it:

http://xpud.org/about.en.html

I liked Xpud because there is an installer which you can run under windows, which installs xpud onto your hard drive. Once that installer is run, when you boot your machine you get a boot menu from which you choose either windows or xpud. That really impressed me.

The problem I am having with xpud, and which I assume I may get with many of these other suggestions, is how to make certain things persistent from session to session. Currently I have to type in my Wireless network WEP key everytime I start xpud. Xpud is supposed to have a backup restore function which gets round this, but it is unfortunately currently broken (according to devs on their own forum).

This is a deal breaker, because the whole point is just boot up and see a web page immediately.

I don't understand how with something like peppemint which is apparently supposed to be booted from CD or USB, how can things stay persistent? Can anyone point to a specific example of one of these cut down OS's which has the documented ability to make things like WEP keys persistent by saving info to the hard drive (preferrably without hosing windows)?

Cheers,

Ben
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 33666381
xpud is rather basic, that's one reason I didn't mention that one. But it is similar to tiny core and puppy. My favorite of the small distro's is puppy. It has an installer (I think you can also install it from within windows, but I'm not totally sure as I never had the need for that). To keep things persistent you create a file to which it writes things to. Wireless networking should work pretty well with it.

Peppermint isn't really a small distro. It isn't far away from Linux Mint which is based on ubuntu. Peppermint also is more based on "cloud computing" and uses lots of apps like google apps etc. Although that has certain advantages, that can make things slower as such apps get started via the internet. It has an installer so once it is installed on the HD it doesn't act like a LiveCD anymore. This is like most distro's work.

Speaking of WEP keys, don't even think of using WEP, as that is practically as secure as no security. WEP keys can be cracked within minutes, and therefore it only keeps the trusted folks out. Always use some sort of WPA.

Also, most distro's can easily install alongside windows, at least the more polished ones.
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Expert Comment

by:rajesh_rhce
ID: 33673757
dear

just win xp sp2 and easilly work run all things easy
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