Since the late 90s when I first discovered Slackware 4 (I think? It’s been so long) at the encouragement of one of my best college pals, I have been interested in Linux.
Then I got lazy. When a computer would crap out on me, I would buy whatever inexpensive Windows laptop I could afford at the time, and never took the time to set up a dual-boot, or install Linux.
Once, it was because I was in the middle of grad school, and I couldn’t afford the time to tinker around with setting up my machine. I just needed to get a laptop, write my papers, and get my degree. I didn’t have time to mess around with finding printer drivers, or figuring out what proprietary WiFi adapter I needed to connect to the Internet. I just needed to write that paper, damn it!
Fast forward to today. I’m 10+ years removed from grad school. I have no need for a school or work computer, and I have an old laptop laying around here that is otherwise going unused. My wife has a Windows laptop that she’s using on a regular basis to do her work on, so if I were to bork this one — no harm, no foul.
I started out trying to figure out what Linux distribution I wanted to try. I had heard great things about Linux Mint, so I dove in. The nice thing about it was they aren’t afraid to bundle proprietary drivers into the distribution. My WiFi worked right away.
The only problem? The computer (Acer Aspire E 15), despite have a 7th generation i5 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, was still incredibly slow. I found that I was constantly dipping into my Swap space. I also made the rookie mistake of not partitioning the hard drive, so the installation, in addition to my /home directory was all on one giant 1TB partition.
Next up, I decided that if I wanted to run leaner, I might try going what I call the “core” route. No derivative distribution. I wanted to go straight Debian, and see how that works.
Set up a bootable flash drive, re-partition the hard drive (30GB for the OS, 4GB swap, 966GB /home, in case you were wondering), find some additional drivers for the proprietary wireless adapter (Atheros – get it here), a few tweaks of the bios because nothing ever runs as smoothly as you’d hope (try disabling secure boot – did wonders for me), and I’m up and running with Debian. No bells. No whistles.
I can already tell the difference. Everything is running much more smoothly, even in the Cinnamon desktop environment, but I know I can make it faster and leaner without sacrificing quality.
So, my next step?
Figuring out the perfect desktop environment.
Stay tuned for that.