Alternate OS recommendations?

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Neighbourhood Alum
Neighbourhood Alum

Hi all,


So I've gotten an old Acer ZG5 netbook, and I thought it might be a fun machine for the kids to play PBS Kids or Nick Jr. browser-based games on.


Thing is, I'm not a Windows guy, and I like secure and low maintenance. I'm looking for suggestions on a good lightweight Linux flavour or other alternative OS that this low-spec machine can handle. A browser with Flash, audio, and wifi support is basically all I need.


Thanks in advance for any recos!


ScottyJ 


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Community Power User
Community Power User

The biggest thing you'll have to watch is if there are drivers available for the various flavors of linux for a netbook. Especially for the NIC.

 

Outside of drivers, A suggestion is Ubuntu. I have briefly used Ubuntu and it is pretty simple to set up for the most recent version. The issue is your netbook needs an older version. (Should still be easy enough to install)

 

They do have a specific page for supported hardware and issues on the Acer ZG5 also. It'll work with an older release of Ubuntu, not the current one. Download page for newest version it'll work with (12.10) > http://releases.ubuntu.com/12.10/ (The card reader may be iffy - see issues page)


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Most Helpful
Community Power User
Community Power User

The biggest thing you'll have to watch is if there are drivers available for the various flavors of linux for a netbook. Especially for the NIC.

 

Outside of drivers, A suggestion is Ubuntu. I have briefly used Ubuntu and it is pretty simple to set up for the most recent version. The issue is your netbook needs an older version. (Should still be easy enough to install)

 

They do have a specific page for supported hardware and issues on the Acer ZG5 also. It'll work with an older release of Ubuntu, not the current one. Download page for newest version it'll work with (12.10) > http://releases.ubuntu.com/12.10/ (The card reader may be iffy - see issues page)


If you find a post useful, please give the author a "Like" or mark as an accepted solution if it solves your trouble. 🙂

View solution in original post

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CPU Alum
CPU Alum

To clarify... how much Ram and hard drive is in that netbook?


I've had good success with Ubuntu with flash, but it meant googling for utilities that I can't recall at this time

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Community Power User
Community Power User

Specs: http://www.engadget.com/products/acer/aspire/one/zg5/specs/

 

1GB ram. Atom CPU.


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Neighbourhood Alum
Neighbourhood Alum

Cool stuff. I haven't run Linux in like 15 years, so I have no idea what constitutes a "good" distros these days, particularly for a low-spec machine. And drivers are the worry.


I've heard of Ubuntu - it seems to be the widely heralded home user distro - but there's also Lubuntu and a couple of other "lightweight" distros. No idea what's a better pick.

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Community Power User
Community Power User

Unless you can find drivers for the other flavors, Ubuntu may be the best place to start.


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CPU Alum
CPU Alum

Hmm.... if you have any spare DDR2, you might want to upgrade the 1gb RAM for more speed.  I also replaced my stock hard drive with an SSD on Boxing Day.  That helped boost performance too.

 

There's no harm to install more than one distro, you can choose which partition to boot.

 

I'm no Linux expert, but choose Ubuntu because it was the most common talked about distro at the time (introduced graphic interface) and there was an App store for simplicity.  I tried Mint, but it gave me problems on my 2005 laptop.

 

I even got Optik to Go working on Ubuntu after I did the Silverlight mods.  Hmm.... not working tonight.  I guess there's been some changes over the months.

  https://onthego.telus.com

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CPU Alum
CPU Alum

Otherwise, just stay with Windows and get a good malware suite.  Love Best Buy/Future Shop Boxing Day special for Norton Security $29 for FIVE devices.

  http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/norton-security-2-0-5-device-1-year/10323618.aspx

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Neighbourhood Alum
Neighbourhood Alum

Thanks @Nighthawk and @xl for the input! That URL to thew ZG5-specific site is pretty solid looking, and dig the idea of multiple distros to play around with. I guess I don't have to commit. 🙂


I think I still have Disk Druid-related nightmares about how hard installing/configing Linux was back in the day.

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CPU Alum
CPU Alum

Keep in mind you can also run Ubuntu off a USB key.  It's going to be slower than the hard drive, but you will get to try out the graphic interface.

 

If you do choose to run it off the hard drive, don't make my mistake of wiping out the Windows rescue partition.  Again, I suggest replacing factory drive with an SSD for Ubuntu.  This preserves the Windows OS.

http://www.ncix.com/detail/crucial-m500-ct120m500ssd1-2-5in-120gb-ca-81654-1265.htm

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CPU Alum
CPU Alum

I think this is the command to get flash...

  sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer

 

Here's some hints of getting a Silverlight...

  http://www.itworld.com/article/2697813/install-silverlight-alternative-pipelight-in-ubuntu-14-04.htm...

 

It would be great to see Optik on the Go working under Ubuntu.  Can you get the developers to research this?

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Neighbourhood Alum
Neighbourhood Alum

@xl Good point, although this is a computer that is destined for use by five year-olds, and so I'm not fussed about performance. More, I just want to allow surfing by URL whitelist and not risk my network. They usually use an iMac, but then they're in my office. So. That.


As for OOTG on Ubuntu/Linux, happy to look in to it, but with a smaller addressable market, I don't know that it would be a high priority. Maybe post an idea and see what kind of traffic it picks up?

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Community Power User
Community Power User

I've dabbled in a number of Linux distros over the years, including Red Hat, SuSE, Ubuntu, and the distribution in the ASUS EEE PC. Ubuntu was simplest, followed by SuSE.


Another choice for youngsters would be a tablet, but I'm guessing not so readily available.


NFtoBC

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NFtoBC
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Rockstar

Distro Watch

http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major


Lightweight Distros too.

For Linux Mint, pick your desktop GUI as well, MATE, Cinnamon, KDE and Xfce. Best way to try Linux is with 'live cd/dvd/usb'.  See what parts of the hardware don't work or become errors.

Be aware that a small accident of 'install' instead of 'try live' can wipe the hard disk contents.   



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Advisor

Watch out when pairing Acer & Linux!  My old Acer 5720 would always overheat and shut down. Turned out that Acer had introduced a bug into the firmware, but rather than fixing it, patched Windows to work around it. Of course, Linux did not have the fan control software patched so constantly overheated.  Eventually found a fix, an updated BIOS IFRC, and now works like a charm