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Is there any way to squeeze more performance out of a vintage Itronix GD8000 laptop PC?

Shorter question:

I am attempting to use an Itronix GD8000 laptop with 4G of its 8G RAM given to a Mint 17.2 guest OS under Windows 10 host for an open-source Django development environment, but performance on this kind of setup seems sluggish. What—if anything—can I do to squeeze some more performance out of this setup so I can better use it as a daily development environment.

Longer question:

Once I had gotten everything installed and in place for an Itronix GD8000 laptop with 4G of its 8G RAM given to a Mint 17.2 guest OS under Windows 10 host, I got to work and slowly acknowledged to myself how much my wonderful development environment was bogged down. It was bogged down enough to shift me from expecting to do open source software development on the back porch thanks to using a laptop, to staying inside on my desktop Mac setup.

I was trying to make minor changes to my JSX source for a Django application, and I was overlooking multi-second delays when swapping windows, as well as getting Vim to register keystrokes, and it consistently seemed a really long time to get webpages to load (served by the Django development server). Even taking into account that the hard drive is old and very slow, I don’t see why one should need 5+ seconds to alt+tab.

Now if the issue is virtualization, I may be able to get a little closer to Windows by running Cygwin; I also don’t know if there are some VMware Player vs. Workstation issues. But there were long stretches of my attempted migration from a MacBook Pro to an Itronix GD8000 where performance was easily an order of magnitude less than it should be. I would normally consider a possibility that it was constantly swapping, but there was no particularly great hard drive noise, the things I was doing shouldn’t have been demanding on any resources, and certain old things I remember for swapping weren’t there.

Years back on a Debian machine when I crossed the threshold into disk swapping, and switched into a workspace that placed me in swapping territory, the appearing or disappearing window was slowly painted or unpainted regarding the background, stripe by stripe, appearing or disappearing. This was as slow as swapping, but any effect was sudden after its delay. This included swapping between windows, getting a new browser window to load, getting a response from the editor in terms of a terminal window, and so on.

So all that said, what can I do—in software or hardware—so that my Itronix GD8000 will exhibit normal performance behavior in response to development activity that should not be particularly demanding?

  • Is there some sort of software tune-up I should be making?
  • Should I swap guest and host?
  • Are there ways to ask Windows 10 and Linux Mint 17.2 to be thriftier in resource use?
  • Should I try something I haven’t thought of yet?

I’m sure something would improve in my performance if I shelled out $1,000 for a 256G SSD, but that’s on a financial back burner.