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Does My Laptop Need ppa Drivers?

Started by Starling, January 29, 2020, 02:17:39 AM

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I have a System76 netbook that I bought in 2009. It came with Ubuntu installed. It has an Atom N270 1.60 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. I realize it's old, and SparkyLinux 32-bit has it running fairly fast as a media player by using lightweight media players, but it's slow at starting browsers and excruciatingly slow about pulling up almost all webpages unless I use a lightweight browser and pull up a page of mostly text.

I hear others talking about getting their older computers running with lightweight Linux distros, and the specs of their computers don't sound any better than the specs on mine, so I'm wondering . . .

System76 used to tell people to install drivers from their website after any kind of update; the drivers are ppa [sudo apt-add-repository ppa:system76-dev/stable]. SparkyLinux isn't Ubuntu based, so I'm not supposed to install anything from a ppa, right? Could my laptop be slower because it's missing those drivers? Then again, if it was missing drivers, the screen or something wouldn't be working, right? So maybe the laptop is just too old to ever be truly useful again?


It would not hurt to show specs via inxi.  Numerous posts here will show how to use.  Install inxi if not installed already.  If they trust it at Siduction ...

My experience on an older atom(s)  (1 Gb ram,  1.0 Ghz) has Sparky being an effective OS.  Debian non-free iso also will work. 

Everything should be covered via the Debian base for a computer that old, especially a System 76 that avoided proprietary crap.

Just download a i386 of Sparky Stable (not sure if there is a testing version) and install  a light DE or a light WM.  LXQT or XFCE are two good choices.

If you want to go with Wayland, Sway   for WM with no DE,  there are HOWTOs available.  some here, some in Debian forum. But you will  need to go with Rolling or Debian
Sid to do that. 

No, you will not need any extra ppas. 

Search forum for "More info easier via inxi"    If requested -  no inxi, no help for you by  me.



Looking at System76 from 2009 it's probably a Starling netbook (looking at the login seems to confirm it)?

The specs are as follows:

    CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
    Display: 10.1″ 1024 x 576
    RAM: 1GB (your's probably upgraded to 2GB, right?)
    Storage: 160GB HDD
    Connectivity: 802.11b/g, Ethernet
    I/O: 3 USB ports, Headphone, Mic, SD card reader,
    Webcam: 0.3MP
    Battery: 6 cells
    Dimensions: 10.4″ x 7.1″ x 1.3″
    Weight: 2.6 pounds

That's a quite old piece of hardware, so I wouldn't be surprised if I/O throughput was the issue. You can use hdparm to check the read speeds (might need installing):

sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

Your drive might be something other than /dev/sda though. Anyway your description sounds like a case of a slow HDD. Sadly software goes forward, keeps reading/writing more and more, but our hardware remains the same. What you can do is to go as lightweight as possible.

As to one of your original questions: Sparky might not be based on Ubuntu, but Ubuntu is historically based on Debian and they do keep a sane amount of compatibility, so you can use PPAs most of the time (they're just APT repositories anyway). The thing is that it won't always be a seamless experience. Most of the time, yes, but not always.
There's no such thing as "impossible". :)

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