RT Cunningham


Linux Mint MATE on an MSI U100-XP Netbook (or Mini-Laptop or Notebook)

Linux Mint MATE My old netbook now has Linux Mint MATE (32-bit) installed on it. I put Lubuntu on it back at the end of January, 2017. It worked fine until recently when my daughter-in-law, Cathy, complained about issues with it. She didn’t have those issues until she let certain younger relatives use the netbook without adult supervision.

Installing Linux Mint MATE was easy enough. What took me hours was deciding to use it instead of something else and moving files back and forth on the netbook. When I was done with everything, I realized all the work I put into it.

Why Install Linux Mint MATE?

Lubuntu is a very lean Linux distribution. It’s a version of Ubuntu, which itself is based on Debian. The differences in Ubuntu versions are the desktop environments. For my web server, I use plain Ubuntu, with nothing but a command line to control things (via SSH).

Lubuntu uses LXDE as the desktop environment (that’s the “L”). This is the lightest desktop environment I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, I don’t like some of the packages included with Lubuntu. It’s a pain to set up.

I installed Ubuntu with the Unity desktop environment on my web development workstation (the laptop I’m using now) after my laptop crashed. Unity sucked and I replaced it with Linux Mint MATE (64-bit) a few days later.

I liked Linux Mint MATE so much, that’s what I decided to go with on the netbook. The 32-bit version, of course, because it’s a 32-bit machine. I knew when I started that it could be too much for a machine with only 1 gig of RAM. It wasn’t. The web browser is the memory killer. As long as I use it sparingly, it isn’t a problem.

Optimizing Linux Mint MATE on a Weak Machine

The Easy Linux tips project helped me remember things I already knew. The main things were reducing the swappiness and installing zRAM.

I was doing some things with the netbook earlier today and watched the System Monitor. I never saw it using more than 600 megs of RAM. Of course, I was only doing one thing at a time.

Although Cathy wants to use it for music, she can’t use the USB speaker bar anymore. It’s been dropped so many times it isn’t recognized by any of my laptops. Speakers that plug into the headphone/earphone jack work just fine. Headphones and earphones also, naturally.

Linux Mint MATE is My Favorite Linux Distribution

I’ve tested many distributions. I only like the ones based on Debian. Out of all the desktop environments, I like Cinnamon and MATE. I won’t use Cinnamon, however, because it had a memory leak the last time I did. MATE doesn’t suffer from that.

I like the main menu in MATE. I like Linux Mint MATE because it seems friendlier than Ubuntu MATE and other distributions using the same desktop environment. Of course, I’m influenced by weak laptops. They’re all low-end machines, even though two have 4 gigs of memory in them. I wouldn’t use a modern laptop with less.

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By RT Cunningham
October 25, 2017