Gmail and low powered (older netbook) computers.

This is all about getting Gmail to run on a low powered processor without the machine grinding to a halt.

I have a 1 1/2 generation netbook, the Acer Aspire One A110.

The netbook has low RAM, 512MB, and adding more is a massive task involving taking the whole thing apart. A new SSD, on the other hand is more manageable. The processor is an older Atom single core, 1.6GHz.

The original SSD is just 8GB, so I may try mounting a larger one. The machine came with a Linpus (as far as I recall (Linux)) system, and some standard apps.

I want to use this with a relatively modern Linux distribution, but the easy choice, Ubuntu or the like) simply cannot run properly on such a low powered machine.

What to do? I tried with Xubuntu, and while it is running, an update broke the screen driver, so it could only show 800×600, not the original 1024×600 screen resolution. Discarded. I became aware that the Raspberry Pi folks had made a version of their Raspbian system for Intel type processsors. This works with a relatively low demand on the 512MB, and the screen works properly in the 1024×600 resolution using about 100MB for the system with its running processes.

So far, so good.

I intend to use the machine for non-demanding stuff like writing for this blog, managing ebooks etc. Now, the system comes with a Chromium web browser, but in my experience this is a massive memory hog, so not really feasible with the low RAM.

The Thunderbird email client is also quite memory intensive, so I tried out a terminal email client, Alpine, which is fairly user friendly if you are not afraid of a text mode screen. This installed and following the manual for setting up Gmail, and at the authentication it failed. The thing kept asking for a login every time I tried to enter the password.

Google the problem. Yes, it was known. I should change the setting accept “less secure clients. This works. But (there is always a “but”) suddenly my phone kept asking to login to Google, and kept doing it. Also they keep sending mails about “upgrading security”.

Text mode browsers were tested, but not accepting Javascript the Gmail site refuses me a login.

I tried to find a text mode app that Gmail will accepts as “more secure”, but nothing found.

Update :

Here is what I do now with that machine :
Thunderbird and Chromium use about the same amount of memory, even if 2 tabs are open in Chromium. Wo when it is open there is gmail and this blog in 2 tabs. That works with a bit to spare for the writing programs.

 

Second update 13 August :

That netbook does not have the power for a writing program. Fortunately I have a newer, and with a larger screen, Acer with 4GB RAM and a quad core Atom processor. Runs the writing programs easily with a bit to spare. That will most likely end up as my computer for writing what I want.

Ebooks – Self Made

I have written some articles for a Danish science fiction magazine.

Since I have an e-reader I would like to have those available to bring with me.
For an article the process is very simple :
I take the text version of the file and add some headline tags (Simple HTML), make some paragraph markups .
Things come up very readable, and I used a neat text editor for the Mac called “TextWrangler” The editor “understands” Regular Expressions, a hairy Unix way of doing text editing, but I just had to learn a bit of it to do this.

Neat to get my own stuff on the e-reader. I may put more of my stuff on it.

Bloated Linux

I have been using the standard Ubuntu Linux with the GNOME interface for a while with my small eeeBox.

The Atom processor got exhausted rather fast just running a browser, chat client and satellite tracking program.

Switch the desktop from Gnome to XFce, a lightweight desktop environment, and bingo, things run faster and the processor does not run into the 100% barrier. Looks like I will configure the XFce a bit, but that is a small price to pay for some speed.

Of course – it does not look as sleek as the other desktop, but I want functionality, not eye candy.

The “Blessings” of a Linux distribution.

Or rather – “why does a package not work as it is supposed to be ?”

Today I tried to install a text mode satellite tracking program under Ubuntu. It installs fine and starts up, asking for some initial data (“this is the first time….”). I enter the data, the program exits. Sounds ok. The screen (window) looks strange, I restart the program : “this is the first time …”

I do not know what is wrong, something is incompatible. Probably the modifications used by the distribution.

When I get time I will look into it, for now that will have to wait. But it is annoying.

Setting up a “new” system with Linux

This week end I am going to re-establish a somewhat faster Linux machine than the one I am writing this post on (1GHz Pentium 3 gets rather sluggish when Flash is running in the browser).

At some stage I installed Arch Linux on that machine with a Sempron processor – it worked fine for a while, then apparently due to the “rolling update” something went wrong, and I lost the graphical setup.

Now, I am no Linux guru, so decided to do it the old fashined “Windows- way” – reinstalling. Oops. with a mixture of parallel and serial ATA the “#&/”/&ยค% thing could not boot. What I plan to do ? install only serial ATA disks, install OS , transfer data from the PATA disks via USB – and that should do it.

I am planning on using Ubuntu.