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Netbook Operating Systems

Posted by Akensai on January 28, 2012 in Reviews, Tech and has 11 replies.  

For Christmas I bought myself a netbook, mainly so I can lay around on the couch, play video games, etc while I work. It’s been nearly a month now and I have been trying various Operating Systems to figure out which is best for what I need, what I need is just web access, SSH, and an RDP client. Anyways, lets get down to it.

I started out with this refurbished laptop for $240 (including shipping). As I was waiting for it to be delivered I kept trying to figure out what OS I should run for best performance on the 1.6ghz and 1gb ram hardware it comes with, when it got here it had Windows 7 Starter on it. So I will explain how bad of an idea that is first.


Windows 7 Starter

Boot Time: 2-3 minutes
Initial Desktop load: 1 minute
Opening Chrome: 30 seconds

Slow as hell for the hardware, when I need to do something in a timely manner (eg: power on and answer a few support tickets / read a few emails) I can’t be sitting for 5+ minutes before it even allows me to open Chrome. So, let’s just toss this idea out altogether, it simply won’t work for a netbook.

Next I tried Win XP Pro simply because I had a disc and serial handy, don’t even bother. I spent 2 hours installing it to figure out that it’s completely incompatible with Atom processors, if you know anything you know Atom runs almost all netbooks, so toss that right out.


Ubuntu 10.10 (desktop) and Netbook Remix

Boot Time: 2 minutes
Initial Desktop load: 30 seconds
Opening Chrome: ~5 seconds

This came out a lot better than Windows as you would assume, but it turns out Ubuntu is more designed for retards than it is techs as it was in the past, I suggest against it for netbooks. As for the Netbook Remix, it was even worst.


Debian 6 + GNOME

Boot Time: 1 minute
Initial Desktop load: 30 seconds
Opening Chrome: Instant

Much better than Ubuntu but Gnome is just too damn bulky for netbooks, this is where I decided that I will NOT be using any OS with the GNOME Environment.


Debian 6 + XFCE Desktop

Boot Time: 30 seconds
Initial Desktop load: Instant
Opening Chrome: Instant

Everyone know’s Debian is fast but what they don’t know is that any desktop environment running under Debian looks like complete crap on small resolutions. While it is the fastest and overall the best for what I need I decided to go with something else entirely, if you can get over the grainy pixelated looking resolutions (and there are no fixes, trust me I looked) then go for it.


ChromeOS (Both Hexxah builds)

Boot Time: 2 minutes
Initial Desktop load: Chrome is the desktop…
Opening Chrome: 2 minutes (wtf?)

So after all that hype we went through thinking ChromeOS was going to be amazing for netbooks is a total sham, it’s slow as hell and let’s face it we need to be able to store and or open media files via our netbooks, not just use Google Docs. While the idea is good, the OS is complete crap even if you plan to only use Chrome you will find that functionality is broken.


JoliOS 1.2

Boot Time: 1 minute
Initial Desktop load: Instant (HTML5)
Opening Chrome: Instant

So this was the winner, JoliOS is a web-based desktop that runs off of a modified version of Ubuntu. Basically, you power up and everything is ready for you (assuming you have auto-connect to wireless enabled). Now, while it has the same idea as ChromeOS, it loads infinitely faster and still allows you to use the actual OS (Terminal) which allowed me to install tsclient for RDP. Overall the OS is just Ubuntu that loads up a web page that is your desktop. Your “desktop” is an HTML5 page that allows you to add links/icons/etc as you see fit. See the screenshot below of my laptops JoliOS Desktop:




If you are looking for the perfect netbook OS but wanted to test a few out and see what’s best I highly suggest JoliOS or Debian 6 + XFCE.



  • AnonMouse

    i was using winxp but did the usb install for joli… love it.

  • Fred B.

    Good call on JoliOS, I was using Ubuntu but this is just amazing in comparison, everything I need and it’s fast as hell.

  • Ash

    so i hurd you leik mudkipsz

    • billon


  • Justin

    Not impressed with Joli 1.2, I don’t want an OS that requires me to babysit it. The first time I went into sleep mode it wouldn’t restart. I’m tired of having to open terminals and enter commands just to make an OS function properly. Windows 7 isn’t the best, but at least everything works. I’ve tried every OS you mentioned. Easy Peezy is next on my list. I hope I can find something that works without me having to search forums for answers and having to fix things.

    • Akensai

      I haven’t had an issues with it myself, the only things I had to change with Joli where auto-login and power management. Then again I am using a 9 inch netbook that was designed to be used with linux based operating systems.

  • The Original Party Animal

    If you get a ChromiumOS build from your mfg, I know Dell makes one, it works much better than Hexxeh’s stuff.  Some little books are able to run OSX up to Lion at least – a lot depends on your video hardware if it’ll run QE/CI – if not then it’s pretty much crap.  I’m pretty happy with Windows on mine but I’m not as much of a Linux / BSD zealot as I was in the 90s.

  • Someboy2001

    I used to love the jolicloud when it was following the typical linux layout. It would give the user the desktop functionality at a much higher speed and faster reboot time. Later when they added more features and the shiny interface (Joli OS), it turned to be much slower than windows 7 starter, and it started to have lot of bugs. 

  • Fossil

    used Jolios for a couple of years.Alongside win 7.(Desktop)Linux mint(laptop)Win 7(Netbook) If you want Ghromeos. It comes as an application in joli

  • Paddycamilleri

    I have installed Jolicloud, it is very good … my netbook was with win7 and now it is running very very faster with jolicloud. Can you please help to install a software to run windows app on jolicloud since I cannot find the correct software (I am bit confused).

    Thanks for this very good information

  • sidneyfox

    I have a Sylvania net book that I bought used it won’t do anything other then power on someone told me to set or back to factory settings but I cant find anything on how to do that the net book did not come with a owner’s manual so my question is how do I default back to factory setting