About a year ago I counted myself lucky that I was able to order a heavy weight BTO laptop on company's account. 8GB Crucial RAM, 250GB Samsung EVO 850, i7 4612Q cpu, Full HD screen, NVidia GTX970, lighted keyboard and all that comes with such a high end laptop. 4 weeks later it was jacked from my car.... I still get angry thinking about it.
One of the reasons I left it in the car is that is weighs almost 3kg. Well I learned a few leasons at least.
Since then I build up a gaming rig which runs Windows 7 with a Steam client running. I can play any game supported in Steam while I connect with any system able to run a steam client. I even managed to play Minecraft while sitting behind a Atom powered netbook or a Raspberry Pi 2.
I also don't need a lot of power to do lab tests, I have an entire ESXi environment with 3 hosts (1 i3 and 2 i5's, 8, 16 and 32GB of ram respectively), and a total of 20TB of storage available.
What I found out I actualy need is just a decent system to run any linux OS and a (non limited, because I at least need to ssh to connect to my own environment) internet/network connection.
The lightweight hardware I have lying around is an Aspire One netbook (Atom N270, 2GB ram and a 5400rpm hdd), a Raspberry Pi B and a Raspberry Pi 2. And a few other systems as well, but I'll leave them out of this article for the moment.
The Linux Distro's I've actualy worked with so far are;
on the Netbook
- Linux Mint 17 Mate
- Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon
- Chromixium (set up to combine Chrome OS features with a Linux Desktop)
on the Raspberry Pi B
on the Raspberry Pi 2
- Ubuntu Mate
The Linux Distro's I still want to try;
CrunchBang plus plus aka #!++
Conclusions so far;
- Linux Mint 17 is not the best distro for light systems, Mate nor Cinnamon
- I do like the lightweight Chromixium, I'm actualy writing this article on the Netbook running Chromixium
- Rapsbian can't really be locked easily which is requirement for me and definitely for the company's I work for or deal with
- Ubuntu Mate is a bit write intensive, as is any desktop, so be careful which sd card you buy and (as always) be prepared for disaster and recover.
- a netbook itself is not suited for long working sessions by itself, hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse no problem. I do have to keep the netbook open though, the housing is not designed to be closed while in use. (although I have another netbook of an older generation deployed lid closed for 4 years now and it has been running 24/7/365)
- for a Raspberry you need a monitor, keyboard and mouse to be able to use it, so working on the road is impossible, but it is the lightest option, you can easily take it with you in a jacket.
Things to test;
upgrade the hdd in the netbook to a ssd
I'll probably install CrunchBang plus plus first on the ssd.
I'm still contemplating deploying the Raspberry Pi 2 as terminal instead of Intel Celeron J1800 systems, but I'm a bit weary of SD cards breaking down to often. This deployment is in a production environment where user experience is perhaps more important than saving money and/or being bleeding edge.
With the Chromebooks now on the market I wonder how they would perform, the 13" screens would make them more comfortable to work on for longer periods and they weigh less than my current netbook at 1,1kg.
Thoughts so far;
I've got CrunchBang running in a vm at the moment, it will probably perform better than Ubuntu Mate. But as for the moment there is no ARM version. #!++ is Debian based so I could consider minibian and configure it like #!++