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Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

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thomasl
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Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#1 Post by thomasl » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:59 am

I have to deal with an ancient netbook whose owner wants to listen to her MP3 music. This works most of the time but not so well under load. Also, she dislikes the time required to boot (it is indeed not quite as fast as her old XP install). I have tried various things to remedy the choppy audio, for instance testing various players, renicing the player process, swapping the 4.15 kernel with the Liquorix 4.17 kernel etc. Some of those things have mitigated the situation but so far nothing I have tried makes any of the various MP3 players work 100% of the time.

So I am thinking of transferring the whole install from the current HD (a pretty old 160GB mechanical drive) to one of the SSD drives (120GB) I don't use anymore. I'm pretty sure this will take care of slow booting and it may well help with the MP3 playing. However, I can either transfer the frugal install from the HD to the SSD and run this as before (with home persistence), or I could install MX on the SSD (ie no frugal install and no persistence). I am not very keen on the second option because I like the simplicity and elegance of frugal plus persistence (it also allows me to check and change stuff for her by simply booting into the frugal install on my own PC, works really well). But if an installed system could/should/would run faster than a frugal install I might try that.

So, before I start doing this... what is the consensus -- that is if there's is one -- about the performance of a full vs a frugal install? And if I stay frugal, does the compression method for squashing stuff into linuxfs play a role, performance-wise when it has to be decompressed?

And, for the same netbook install, which services can be safely switched off? She has no scanner, so saned seems obvious. smbd (she has no other PC). rsync? motd? openvpn?

Lastly, other measures to optimise a netbook so that media playback is less choppy?
Dual-boot MX17.1/64 frugal root persistence + Windows 7 on Lenovo Edge72 i5-3470S/12GB and Tosh R950 i5-3340M/8GB
“In foreign countries they fear baldness. They are so rich in foreign countries, they can afford to fear all kinds of silly things.”

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fehlix
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#2 Post by fehlix » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:53 am

thomasl wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:59 am
... I can either transfer the frugal install from the HD to the SSD and run this as before (with home persistence),
or I could install MX on the SSD (ie no frugal install and no persistence).
...
But if an installed system could/should/would run faster than a frugal install I might try that.
You can have both: Just first make a full install,
and afterwards do also a frugal install (even possible on the same partition).
You can now check which one is faster.
My expierience frugal seems to be always faster.
To avoid booting frugal with LiveUSB you just copy
/antiX-Frugal-4.15.0-1-amd64/grub.entry
to
/boot/grub/custom.cfg
which gives you a nice menu-entry for frugal-boot within exsting grub of the full-installed MX.
Gigabyte Z77M-D3H, Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 (Quad core), 32GB RAM,
GeForce GTX 770, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB, Seagate Barracuda 4TB

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thomasl
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#3 Post by thomasl » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:11 am

Sad to say but I had to reinstall XP on that netbook. There was just no way how I could get it to play audio w/o dropping out. The SSD did help and the booting time is now fine but the choppiness never entirely went away. So my friend prefers to have her old XP back, unsupported as it is. (At least she now has an SSD :p though the hoops I had to jump through to get XP to boot from the SSD reminded me of why I want to get away from Windows.)

Perhaps, if I have a little more time and know more about these things I will try again with antiX.

@fehlix: Thanks for your help.
Dual-boot MX17.1/64 frugal root persistence + Windows 7 on Lenovo Edge72 i5-3470S/12GB and Tosh R950 i5-3340M/8GB
“In foreign countries they fear baldness. They are so rich in foreign countries, they can afford to fear all kinds of silly things.”

BillZM
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#4 Post by BillZM » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:12 pm

Have you tried MX 16.1? I find the older kernel (3.16 I think) faster on my old netbook (Atom N270).

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thomasl
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#5 Post by thomasl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:14 am

@BillZM: No, I haven't. Partly because the newest is "always the bestest [TM]" and partly because one reason to get away from XP to a new Linux install was that XP is unsupported and any new system should have the longest possible shelf life. I have no idea how long MX16 will be around and supported and so I simply assumed MX17 has more mileage in it.

Perhaps I try both antiX and MX16 one of these days when there's a rainy day... ;)
Dual-boot MX17.1/64 frugal root persistence + Windows 7 on Lenovo Edge72 i5-3470S/12GB and Tosh R950 i5-3340M/8GB
“In foreign countries they fear baldness. They are so rich in foreign countries, they can afford to fear all kinds of silly things.”

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KBD
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#6 Post by KBD » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:21 am

I had several old netbooks and they were choked by both low power atom cpu and lack of ram, though most were upgradeable to 2 gb ram. They were practically unusable with 1 gb ram. How much ram did she have on her machine? Upgrading ram and an ssd should have made it usable with AntiX. I hate to see anyone using XP as it is such a virus magnet :( She would be better off with an inexpensive Android device or Sansa MP3 player if playing MP3's is her priority. Also Pithos is not too heavy on resources as a music radio player for Pandora.

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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#7 Post by turtlebay777 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:32 am

I don't want to detract from MX nor Antix as they are both excellent but atom powered notebooks need a smaller distro than either of them. This page may interest you - https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/linux-distro-space/

For ultimate speed on that system have you tried Nanolinux?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanolinux

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thomasl
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#8 Post by thomasl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:58 pm

KBD wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:21 am
I had several old netbooks and they were choked by both low power atom cpu and lack of ram, though most were upgradeable to 2 gb ram. They were practically unusable with 1 gb ram. How much ram did she have on her machine? Upgrading ram and an ssd should have made it usable with AntiX
This netbook has 2GB RAM and htop showed that the RAM usage was not the problem.

In fact the PC was not too bad with MX17.1, it was slow but certainly usable. The single problem that killed off the whole thing was that whatever I tried the audio, in certain situations, remained always slightly choppy. Perhaps I can talk her into getting a newer laptop, used Thinkpads are not that expensive these days and even a Core 2 would be more than enough. I still have the install files on my PC, so reinstalling ain't no big deal.
Dual-boot MX17.1/64 frugal root persistence + Windows 7 on Lenovo Edge72 i5-3470S/12GB and Tosh R950 i5-3340M/8GB
“In foreign countries they fear baldness. They are so rich in foreign countries, they can afford to fear all kinds of silly things.”

BillZM
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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#9 Post by BillZM » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:24 pm

For reference, my netbook is an HP Mini 110 with Atom N270. I maxed the RAM at 2GB. SolydX 8 and MX16.1 32-bit PAE distros (both XFCE debian 8 Jessie with 3.16 kernel) run fairly well and stream music well. Linux Mint XFCE 17.3 would be an equivalent option (with same kernel)

Are they still sluggish with some applications? Yes. I would not want to use that netbook as my main computer. I have it relegated to "digital jukebox" duty playing through a DAC to my stereo.

When SolydX moved to debian 9 Stretch, I tried the liveUSB on the netbook and the newer kernel really bogged down. I didn't install it, staying with debian 8 instead.

If you're trying to run one of these midweight distros on your netbook, assuming it has roughly the computing power of mine, I'd suggest:
- maxing the RAM
- choosing a lighter weight desktop like XFCE (as with all three distros listed above)
- installing the 32-bit PAE version (PAE isn't really required unless you need to recognize more than 4GB RAM, but will support hyperthreading if your CPU has that feature); 32-bit uses less RAM than 64-bit as I understand it
- staying with a distro with the 3.16 kernel

MX16.1 provides support into 2020 I think (whatever Debian 8 Jessie is supporting)
I don't think SolydX has commited that far out but for now my installation is still updating normally.
I'm not familiar with Linux Mint XFCE support, so can't answer for that.

Despite your objective to have a well-supported system into the future, there are obviously tradeoffs involved at this point for low-spec equipment.
Any of these Linux options should be safer than XP now, so you're extending safe usage at least 4-6 years from XP's 2014 expiration.

In my view, I have less interest in lighter weight distros than the ones listed above, as they don't seem very user-friendly. I've run Puppy Linux and old versions of WattOS on a 2001 laptop, and they work but they require a real geek to operate them in my opinion. :)

Yes, I have Core 2 laptops (from 2008-2010) and they run Windows 10 well; and these midweight XFCE Linux distros are really snappy! $100 on ebay?

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Re: Slooooow netbook and choppy audio

#10 Post by BillZM » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:35 pm

I bought two HP dm3-3011nr laptops on ebay for $100 each. They are a wonderful upgrade from older netbooks. Roughly the computing power of Core 2 Duo laptops, substantially better than Atom netbooks. Nice sharp 13" screen (1366x768). They should have Win7 or Win10 running on them. If it hasn't been uninstalled, they also have free MS Office 2010 "starter" edition on them providing nice usable MS Word and Excel. Still fairly small; a nice travel computer. They have enough processing power to stream video in HD.

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