Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman wrote:
The question is: what is the best (the least resource-hungry) distro to install on the MSI Wind? I'm not savvy enough to use SlackWare; how about Mandriva? Or is Ubuntu still the best for the purpose?
Let me give my two cents, answering your question in a bit of a more netbook-general way (since your usage of Apache and databases is a bit atypical for netbooks):Debian/Ubuntu
First off, I think Ubuntu and Debian are good distros for netbooks if you're comfortable with them. If you do go with Ubuntu, though, I'd suggest using the alternate install CD and install a minimal system (deselect all of the tasksel options like "Ubuntu desktop" or "Xubuntu Desktop") and build up from there: that will allow you more control over the usual kitchen-sink install. If you do this, however, make sure to pull in acpi-support, cpufrequtils, laptop-mode-tools, powermgmt-base, powertop, pm-utils and other laptop-centric packages.Arch Linux
Another distro to consider is Arch Linux
. It's what I use on my netbook (an Acer Aspire), and let me explain why: 1) like Debian, Arch has good package management -- it doesn't use apt+dpkg, but pacman. pacman is similar to apt in many ways, and generally pretty well designed (fast for most things and no-nonsense). Arch also has a surprisingly huge number of packages when you consider the official+community packages (which are well integrated with the official repos). Coming from Debian, which has everything, I find that there is nothing I use that Arch doesn't have as a package (compare to Fedora or RHEL/CentOS where I have trouble with some packages even pulling in many extra repos like EPEL, RPMforge, RPMfusion, ATrpms, Livna, etc.). Incidentally, it's also got a slick build-from-source mechanism that integrates with the package management (one reason why a distro with so few developers is able to have such a large number of packages). 2) Arch has a minimal slant to it and its BSD-style init system reflects it. It starts off lean and mean and makes it dead simple to do parallel or background service startup, etc. As you know, Slackware also has a minimal slant and a BSD style init system, but it becomes unmaintainable since it punts on package management and doesn't consider upgrade paths between releases. Arch can be great for making lean systems (so can Debian, but I find I can get Arch's boot a good bit faster due to its leaner and newer init system). As usual, there's a few minor annoyances, but it works out well for my netbook.GUI / Desktop Environment
If you must have a "desktop environment," I'd also suggest thinking about Xfce (as JBI mentioned). Gnome/KDE are pretty bloaty. IMO, the better alternative is just using Xorg plus a window manager such as Fluxbox, Icewm, Afterstep or Windowmaker (plus a standalone X login manager like Slim or XDM). A lot times that is all you really need, especially in the case of a netbook where you are running fewer applications and mostly doing a few common tasks. You don't need a desktop environment to run a browser. Once you edit your menus or add a launcher, etc. and pull in the apps you use, you've got a very lightweight environment. I use Fluxbox (with Slim for login management) and highly configure my keyboard shortcuts to launch common apps quickly. Browser
On my netbook, I spent a bit of time optimizing two parameters: 1) boot time and 2) power usage. I found by profiling with powertop that Firefox is significantly more power draining than Opera. Interesting since I never really thought about the power implications of browsing, but Firefox sets a lot more wakeup timers and other miscellaneous background tasks which take the CPU out of its idle states more often. So I use Opera. Whichever browser you use, consider adding browser plugins/extensions to "mitigate" certain animated images/Flash content. That will significantly drain your battery by constantly demanding CPU and graphics redraws even when you're just sitting there reading a page. There are some well known extensions available for Firefox and Opera that cannot be mentioned on these forums.
If anyone is interested, I can elaborate a bit more on how I got both the boot time and power usage way down. I was able to get the thing down into the <10 wakeups per sec range (measured with powertop) and my 3-cell gives me at least 2.5 hours with wireless going.