Optimise Linux,

Use Linux’s famed mal­leabil­ity and stream­line it to power ev­ery­thing from old com­put­ers to IoT de­vices – Mayank Sharma ex­plains how

Linux User & Developer - - Welcome -

Straight out of the box, the typ­i­cal Linux desk­top distri­bu­tion is a fairly well-oiled ma­chine. The de­vel­op­ers at ev­ery stage of the distri­bu­tion as­sem­bly line, from the ker­nel up­wards to the in­di­vid­ual apps, put in a huge amount of ef­fort to en­sure that the dif­fer­ent pieces of soft­ware make best use of avail­able hard­ware re­sources. But the main­stream dis­tri­bu­tions have to ap­peal to a wide au­di­ence and en­sure com­pat­i­bil­ity with a range of hard­ware. The down­side to this ap­proach is that most pop­u­lar dis­tri­bu­tions aren’t op­ti­mised for your spe­cific hard­ware.

This leaves plenty of wig­gle room for op­ti­mised so­lu­tions, which are tai­lor-made for spe­cific ap­pli­ca­tions, de­vices and use­cases. This fea­ture is all about such fine­tuned, pur­pose-made dis­tri­bu­tions, and over the next few pages we’ll help you find one – whether you want it to run your old work­horse or your IoT-en­abled smart home.

Per­haps the most well-known ap­pli­ca­tion for lean Linux dis­tri­bu­tions is to re­vive age­ing hard­ware wast­ing away in the at­tic. The pace of hard­ware de­vel­op­ments com­bined with the vo­ra­cious ap­petite of mod­ern re­source-guz­zling apps is ren­der­ing hard­ware ob­so­lete al­most as soon as you take it off the shelf. Dis­tri­bu­tions that bring these back to life are of use to a large num­ber of users.

Also in vogue are dis­tri­bu­tions made for a par­tic­u­lar type or class of hard­ware, such as net­books and Chrome­books, as well as re­nais­sance de­vices like the Rasp­berry Pi. ChromeOS worked well for the first gen­er­a­tion of Chrome­books; it was re­spon­sive and did what it was de­signed for. But it doesn’t do jus­tice to the newer, more pow­er­ful Chrome­books. We’ll help you find so­lu­tions that en­able you to squeeze ev­ery last bit of per­for­mance from your Chrome­books to de­liver an ex­pe­ri­ence rem­i­nis­cent of a tra­di­tional desk­top Linux.

One ca­su­alty of the rise of the Chrome­books are net­books. The net­book fad evap­o­rated be­fore ven­dors could ship de­vices with ad­e­quate re­sources to power the new­est line of soft­ware. If you’re still hold­ing on to one of these un­der­pow­ered lap­top-wannabes, we’ll help you put them back into ac­tive use, with dis­tri­bu­tions that will chug along nicely in these hard­ware­lim­ited en­vi­ron­ments.

An­other de­vice that wasn’t con­ceived as an ev­ery­day desk­top is the Rasp­berry

Pi. The ARM-based de­vice is a per­fect ed­u­ca­tional com­puter, of course, but it can be a lot more than that. There are dis­tri­bu­tions that’ll turn the puny lit­tle de­vice into an op­ti­mised server or help you build smart IoT de­vices, and we’ll look at some of these too.

Per­haps the most well­known ap­pli­ca­tion for lean Linux dis­tri­bu­tions is to re­vive age­ing hard­ware wast­ing away in the at­tic

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