How to speed up Ubuntu on a Low-End computer?

If you think your Ubuntu box is slow. You may want to give Xubuntu a try.

I have a Ubuntu box on a relative old (5+ years) laptop (HP dv1000, Pentium Celerom M + 512MB ram). I mainly use it for lightweight activity such as office and web browsing. Recently, I put this laptop in my kitchen, which required connecting to an external monitor. I found that when I am in graphics mode, the overall system was getting slow.

After some investigations, I have the following conclusions:

  1. The native resolution of the laptop graphic card is 1024×900. Since I connected it to an external monitor (1680×1050), it required more CPU and memory from the system. (It is an integrated graphic card, and it does not have any memory on its own.)
  2. The Ubuntu uses Gnome desktop, which uses more resources and it is not optimized for low-end machine.

So I have few options –

  1. Go back to Windows (Guess what, a clean Windows XP runs even much faster than Ubuntu)
  2. Install other high performance system such as FreeBSD
  3. Stick with Ubuntu, but uses a different window manager.

I do not prefer the first option because I like to keep a distance from Microsoft product. For the second option, I normally prefer using FreeBSD as a server rather than desktop because of the hardware driver issues. Therefore, I decide to go with the third option. That will minimize the change and impact.

Ubuntu comes with two otherĀ siblings, Xbuntu and Kbuntu. Basically, these three systems share the same core, but with different themes, i.e., window manager:

  1. Ubuntu: Gnome
  2. Xubuntu: Xfce
  3. Kubuntu: KDE

I have tried these three window managers before. Here are their rankings in terms of fanciness, beauty, and resource consumption:

KDE > Gnome > Xfce

So I decide to give Xubuntu a try. After installing Xubuntu, I found that the overall system is a lot faster and smoother. I know that I’ve made a good decision.

FYI, if you need even more speed, consider to install Window Maker. It is even faster than Xfce!


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