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I bought an Eee PC 1000, the Linux SSD model, a couple years ago. I ended up putting Easy Peasy (then called Ubuntu Eee) onto it, only to be dissatisfied with the speed. Then I put Windows XP on it, and with a LOT of tweaking it ran sort of okay. Now I pulled it out and dusted it off but I want it to run Linux.

It has the Intel Atom 1.6ghz processor and 2gb of RAM (I upgraded it) so there's no lack of power there, but the SSD is extremely slow; it has a small write buffer, but when you do anything slightly significant you can feel the system stutter every second or two as the SSD halts everything while it dumps its full cache to disk. I'm talking serious stutters, and the cache isn't very big; to get Firefox to not stutter I had to move all caching into RAM and disable history (even just writing the history log to disk froze the system with every webpage).

Anyway, I hope I've given you a decent idea of just how slow this SSD is. With that said, is there a Linux distro that is optimized for an extremely slow hard drive but decent powered system? I'm not looking for something underpowered because the processor and RAM are plenty powerful, I just want something that perhaps is optimized for not writing to disk often.

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Throw a Class 10+ SD card in it and run off that; probably a lot faster than the SSD. –  squircle Aug 7 '10 at 23:39
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5 Answers

With a similar machine, I run Ubuntu with few tweaks.

  • No swap, though I'm not sure this actually gains anything. (No swap means applications don't freeze because their data pages are being loaded from swap, but it also means applications freeze as their code or read-only data is being reloaded from files.)

  • Filesystems are mounted with the relatime option (already the default with Ubuntu).

  • /tmp is tmpfs, i.e., the line in /etc/fstab looks like

    tmpfs /tmp tmpfs mode=1777
    
  • I use Chromium instead of Firefox as the graphical web browser. ~/.cache is a symbolic link to a directory under /tmp, which radically improves Chromium's responsiveness with a slow SSD.

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My gut says Firefox's cache could be it. Firefox writes a heck of a lot of random stuff on the drive like you wouldn't imagine. When I ran FF off a flash drive on Windows, I couldn't do anything with the drive until I killed FF from Task Manager.

Tombuntu has a nice list of a few (4) things you can do to optimize Linux for your SSD.

You may also want to invest in Windows 7 (though the cost of Windows 7 may be enough for a new SSD :P). There are a heck of a lot of guides out there to optimizing Windows for SSDs, but not so much for Linux.

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I confirm the browser cache on SSD as the main source of slowdown from personal experience. –  Gilles Aug 8 '10 at 12:22
    
@Gilles agreed - I experienced stuttering with Firefox when writing to certain caches –  sblair Aug 8 '10 at 14:48
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Thanks for the answers! I researched some distros while refreshing this page and went ahead and installed Puppeee, a variant of Puppy Linux, since I didn't get any answers for a while (over an hour after asking). I was really looking for something more "heavyweight" but Puppy appealed to me because it does indeed load itself into RAM and run entirely from that. And "Puppeee" is a variant made for Eee PCs, so I figured it would give me the least setup. Indeed, after installing it, it's pretty incredible. Everything is EXTREMELY snappy, and it's like a whole new computer without the SSD weighing it down!

An alternative to Puppy Linux is of course DSL. I didn't try it, but its homepage also states that it runs entirely from RAM.

I wish there was a more fully-featured Linux aimed at this situation rather than using these which are optimized for slow, old machines, but on the bright side, it runs so incredibly fast on this Eee PC.

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Perhaps Slax would be of interest? –  digitxp Aug 13 '10 at 15:50
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If I recall correctly some of the early Knoppix versions (maybe 3.6 or so ?) had the ability to load the CD out to RAM and run from there. I tried it a few times and as I recall it took a few minutes to load but was pretty zippy after that. With 2 GB RAM that sounds feasible, depending of course on how often you need to boot up this gadget. You could copy Knoppix from internet to the HD and then copy OS out to RAM during subsequently boots. Time consuming boot but it does work.

If you're up for hardware solutions you could always go back to the stock 160 GB HD.

Failing both those I'd second the SD card solution mentioned above - if it'll boot from SD.

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I realize this thread is old, but I wanted to mention that I too use an Asus Eee PC 1000. Over the past few years I've tried several flavors of Linux, not including Puppeee. My latest install is Peppermint OS, a Ubuntu variant. I can say the performance is amazing--better than any other OS I've had on the machine.

Please note that proper partition alignment is extremely important; after aligning my drives I was almost shocked by the difference in system responsiveness.

Regards, Brian

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What partition alignment did you use? –  Simon Sheehan Jan 6 '13 at 19:04
    
I'm still very much a Linux novice, so I simply used GParted to align each partition to a 1 MiB boundary. –  Brian Jan 7 '13 at 1:02
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