back to article Remember Netbooks? Windows 10 makes them good again!

Among the many bizarre and stupid mistakes Microsoft made with Windows 8.x was the decision to require screens to have resolution of at least 1024 x 768. That decision meant that hordes of Netbooks, the very small laptops popular in the late noughties, had no obvious upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 8.x. Back in …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Remember them?

    I've still got an EeePC doing real work with debian Linux on board.

  2. getHandle

    Re: Pah!

    Lubuntu for me on my eMachines em350 - ideal "kitchen" computer!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah!

    Ditto for me, but with Mint. Not much use for image manipulation, but quite a useful tool otherwise.

    I'm sure Windows 10 would run fine on mine (for now, at least - who knows how future upgrades will play), but I'll pass - I'd have to pay for it anyway.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Re: Pah!

    Only yesterday I pulled the upgraded 3GB hard drive from a Toshiba prior to scrapping it; the bios battery has died and screen backlight is on the dark side of feeble.

    See that 75MHz pentium go!

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    Re: Pah!

    My 701 still has debian on board - but the keyboard is a bit broken (a few of the keys only respond intermittently)

    Haven't had to use it in a while though...

  7. The Real Tony Smith

    Re: Pah!

    I've got an EeePC sitting here doing stirling work as a low load database server with the addition of a couple of 1TB USB drives configured as RAID 1.

    Also running Debian

  8. OhDearHimAgain

    Re: Pah!

    I prefer Xubuntu - its not quite a light as Lubuntu, but pretty close - however, its lot easier to look after.

    We have it on our 1Gb/1.2Ghz dual-core atom netbooks and its like having XP back, except secure :)

  9. Chika

    Re: Pah!

    My Aspire One still has openSUSE running on it, though I don't often use it these days. Poor thing is getting a little tired.

  10. Steve Graham

    Re: Pah!

    My "media player", permanently connected to the television and sound system, is an Aspire 1 netbook with Atom N270.

    My armchair device for looking up stuff on the internet while watching television (that's what people use tablets for, right?) is a Samsung netbook with dual-core Atom N570.

    Both running Linux. It would be crazy to try to put Windows, any version, on them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah! / Remember them?

    Remember the eeePC lady? I wonder if she also presently having general memory issues and lagginess.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah! / Remember them?

    I've got a pen and a notepad.Sometimes I need to replace the pen, other times I use a pencil.

  13. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Re: Pah!

    The ideal kitchen computer was the Honeywell H316.

    That was then, this is now. The ideal kitchen computer is Deep Blue - Chef Watson, say no more, even if you can't eat it, the suits are probably going to be interesting.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah! / Remember them?

    "Remember the eeePC lady? I wonder if she also presently having general memory issues and lagginess."

    'lagginess' or 'sagginess'?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah! / Remember them?

    "'lagginess' or 'sagginess'?"

    Without a picture, how could one possibly tell?

  16. Woodnag

    Lubuntu vs Xubuntu

    Been Lubuntu-ing for a few years, and like the simplicity, but random stuff just stops working until re-install, and PCManFM crashes about 1 in 10 times after copying files. Maybe try X.

  17. Electron Shepherd

    Re: Pah! / Remember them?

    Judge for yourself (possibly NSFW depending on policies)

  18. Deryk Barker

    Re: Pah!

    Yup, my HP and my wife's Compaq netbooks are both happily running LXLE linux.

  19. Manolo

    Re: Pah!

    I also have an EeePC still running: it has Lubuntu on board and is a secondary NAS (with an USB attached 500GB drive) and also doubles as a secondary media server. Does SMB and NFS.

    I also have an Acer Aspire One, running some flavour of Linux, I think Xubuntu. Haven't booted it for a while, but I think I'll give it a whirl.

  20. Number6

    Re: Pah!

    I have a couple of Aspire Ones with Linux Mint and LXDE. starting to struggle a bit but still going and still in use. Not bad for 8 year old machines.

    Netbooks never went away, MS saw them as a threat and screwed the market.

  21. Bernardo Sviso

    Re: Pah!

    > Netbooks never went away, MS saw them as a threat and screwed the market.

    Assisted by Intel, for similar self-serving, anti-competitive reasons.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pah!

    I found open/fluxbox works well with the aspire one.

    The fastest it ran was with an arch build from scratch but I didn't plug it in for a couple of years and the package manager got itself in a twist. I then completely ruined the file system by forcing an update.

    I'm back on debian now.

  23. The Travelling Dangleberries

    Re: Pah!

    LinuxMint 13 XFCE works fine here on both my 701 and 901 EeePCs. I tried EasyPeasy before settling on EeeBuntu for a while until development stopped, then ran Xubuntu for a year or so until I got fed up of it not behaving as it should. I still have the original Xandros OS on the internal SSD on the 701 with the hacked desktop GUI. I fire it up every now and again to smile and remember the taste of freedom that ASUS gave me with that crippled version of Linux.

    I once encountered a much more modern netbook with Windows 7 on it. Despite lots more RAM than my 701 and a much faster CPU the GUI and most other things were slower than on my 701 with Linux on it. That's progress for you.

    I cannot see why I would want to install any version of Windows when modern distros such as LinuxMint install and work so well OOB.

  24. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: Pah!

    eee pc relegated to DNS,DHCP and light filtering and firewall duties (dead screen) running debian with cacheless squid+guard (virgin superhub running in modem mode) the usb network is 10/100 and runs just fine.

    I don't actually remember rebooting it.

  25. Joe Werner

    But.... where are the netbooks?

    Recently my netbook (Samsung, 6years old, second battery, new keyboard) became unreliable. The screen works only intermittently. So I went to search for a replacement. It should be faster than the Atom processor, have more disk space (say... 500GB), similar long battery life (6-8 hours), and a similar size, and of course similar cost would be nice, the old one was 300€ with the RAM upgrade). Of course it needs to run Linux, 'cause that is what I use. Turns out this is impossible.

  26. Flatpackhamster

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    They've been replaced by devices like the Linx 1010 - 10" touchscreen tablet running Win10, and with an attachable keyboard.

  27. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    I was in the same boat as you recently. My eeePC 701 is showing its age and I wanted a newer netbook.

    The new "netbook" equivalents (the cheapo Medions and Asus Cloudbooks etc.) are optimised for battery life and media consumption (and aren't particularly Linux-friendly, either).

    Your best bet these days is a secondhand Lenovo X-series (e.g. X220), failing that a Dell Latitude (I recently acquired a Latitude E6220 for €200) or an HP Elitebook.

  28. Franco Silver badge

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    Linx7 in my case, with a Bluetooth keyboard/touchpad it's permanently connected to the TV. Perfect for that job or for a travel media device and can do "real" work in a pinch.

  29. Martin

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    How about a Chromebook? Some of those are really good now. And if you want Linux, use Crouton.

    OK, you won't have 500GB disk space; but if you can manage without all that space (say with a NAS or similar) then you're fine.

    You never know - you might actually LIKE using Chromeos as well.

  30. Joe Werner

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    A Chromebook? A tablet? I do some work on it and like to have the data with me when I travel, which is too often. Not on an external harddisk, that is another thing to pack that would be left in an airport lounge or whatever. The tablets / combo things also usually have very crappy linux support, which is bad if that is what you need to work.

    The size fits. The battery life fits. The rest does not, which is the deal breaker.

    The smallest laptops available are now 11", and this is what I am typing this on now. It is bulky and heavy compared to the netbook. (Lenovo E145 + Mint).

  31. bollos

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    tablet + keyboard = laptop!!

  32. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    "tablet + keyboard = laptop!!"

    ...until you try to actually use it without having a table. There is a reason why laptops have most of their weight under the keyboard and the display is firmly attached to it. That way you can use it without having a table. Just hold it in one hand and type with the other.

  33. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: But.... where are the netbooks?

    The acer one I have has a battery and additional hard drive in the keyboard so it has enough weight to tilt the screen without falling over. Sure when you "undock" it loses the additional hard drive (and USB) but I bought it because at the time the "small screen" laptops were gutless and had no storage - this one had the option to undock (which I didn't need) but also had 500gb of storage AND two batteries. CPU is just find for general use (and light image work i.e. presentation preparation, word stuff, notepad++ work etc) There was a dell tablet that was a rival to the surface pros that also undocked with additional batteries but was also twice the price.

    Having a gyroscope means you can tilt the screen sideways and providing you have a Bluetooth mouse you can plug a keyboard in to use it. sure it looks weird (with the keyboard STILL docked) but it means you can work in a document/page portrait mode on the train. I always found full size laptops with "hotkey rotation" to fall over more on trains like this....

    I think acer do "iconias" now but im not sure how they are weight distributed.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windoze XP

    So, is that an upgrade directly from XP? Was it free? My understanding was that upgrades only applied to Win7 or later, XP and Fista you have to pay for. What changed?

  35. Really Anonymous Coward

    Re: Windoze XP

    Later netbooks came with 7

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Windoze XP

    Mostly Win 7 "Starter edition". I have a netbook with 7 Starter and I'm pondering whether to take the plunge or not of the proffered upgrade.

  37. NBCanuck

    Re: Windoze XP

    "Mostly Win 7 "Starter edition". I have a netbook with 7 Starter and I'm pondering whether to take the plunge or not of the proffered upgrade."

    I had a netbook with Win 7 Starter. While I had it I upped the memory from 1GB to 2, and changed the drive to a 64GB SSD. I had given my old netbook to my daughter over a year ago and she took the plunge last fall and upgraded to Win 10. She did it on her own, likes it very much, and I have not been called upon a single time for tech support or instructions.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Windoze XP

    Back in 2014, I decided to rejuvinate the old 2010 Acer Aspire One, upgraded to 2Gb Ram and 64Gb SSD and still windows 7 starter ran like a POS! Scrubbed Windoze and went for LXDE (LTS)

    Still going strong..

    Great battery life in these for mobile work.

    Many LXDE distros out there, check

  39. Steve 114

    Re: Windoze XP

    Same story here with an HP netbook (Atom?) I use as a kind of literate multimeter. Win7 Starter (pathetic), shifted to SSD, upgraded seamlessly to Win10, works faster than before. Can't say I like it, but I haven't tweaked it as I need to see what innocently-upgrading cousins are suffering from.

  40. John Tserkezis

    Re: Windoze XP

    "Later netbooks came with 7"

    I upgraded mine from XP to 7 straight out of the box, and while 7 natively supported the 1024x600 display, some programs spawned taller dialogue boxes, so you lose the buttons at the bottom.

    One minor registry change, and you can easly choose 1024x768, or, 1152x864. It won't look pretty, but it'll work.

    So, since it's working just bloody fine right now thank you very much, why the pain of upgrading?

  41. Gordon861

    Re: Windoze XP

    I just upgraded my WinXP Toshiba NB100 to Windows 10 Pro and it works fairly well.

    Bought the Win10 licence online from Kinguin for about £13.

  42. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Landfill tablet as an evolution of the netbook - Disagree

    What netbooks have become is the Windows Live spec which is 1366x768 in a 10x form factor and 100M Ethernet. I have two of those, both with AMD Fusion CPUs. Thanks to having a decent Radeon onboard they provide more than sufficient GPU power for most day-to-day tasks. Definitely better than the abhorrent Intel IGPs which shipped on most netbooks. Everything else - reduced size keys on keyboard, overall form factor, etc is practically the same making them an ideal "spare" which you can chuck in your bag in case your main laptop decides to kick the bucket in the middle of a trip (happened to me a couple of times).

  43. Preston Munchensonton

    Re: Landfill tablet as an evolution of the netbook - Disagree

    Indeed, there was more to disagree with for me:

    As we've discussed elsewhere, Windows 10 is a worthy upgrade that makes Windows sensible again.

    Pfft. FFS, worthy and sensible must mean something else in the Southern Hemisphere.

  44. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: Landfill tablet as an evolution of the netbook - Disagree

    It depends what you want to do on it; The spec you describe is MASSIVE (high power GPU in a netbook?). Netbooks were supposed to be low powered PCs with good battery life and low heat, not notebooks with small screens. Dell used to sell small XPS machines with high end components but small high quality screens - great for even small mobile gaming.

    But asking a netbook to run windows 7 or 10 is a massive undertaking. Just put Linux on there, it will do everything you need.

  45. Mage Silver badge


    1) Such devices ran XP badly, they originally had Linux.

    2) Win 10 costs money to replace XP and offers just spyware

    3) Linux Mint with Mate works fine.

    Why would you bother?

  46. Ilmarinen

    Re: Madness


    Bought a Win7 netbook a few years ago. It limped along soooo slooooly it was an embarrassment.

    Duel boot it into Mint + xfce and, Presto, a neat little machine.

  47. Montreal Sean

    Re: Madness

    Poor hdd must be getting a thrashing if you have dueling partitions!

  48. Geezheeztall

    Re: Madness

    I agree. My EeePC 1015px was originally equipped with Windows 7 Starter. It later served as a travel device for email and web when tethered to my phone and a backup point for photos and video. Updating took hours to complete because the netbook was infrequently used. With Security Essentials, Windows Update, Firefox, and Adobe all calling home at any given time, I couldn't trust my tethered data was not being wasted.

    I dumped Win 7 for Mint. It updated much quicker and at my convenience. It booted quicker and device functionality remained much the same.

    Trying Win 10 is intriguing but it is so network chatty, I'd probably blaze through travel data plans in no time. With even less manual control for updating, installing it isn't worth the risk and aggravation.

  49. serendipity

    Re: Madness

    "1) Such devices ran XP badly, they originally had Linux"

    Bit of an over simplification that. The early ones with 7" screens and minute SSDs were horrible and weren't even up to running XP and should have been restricted to Linux . The later ones like the Samsung NC10 I had with a single core Atom, 2GB RAM and 160Gb HDD ran XP just fine. I even ran a full version of Visual Studio on it for occasional late night coding in hotel rooms. I never tried the last of the line dual core models but I can't see any reason why they wouldn't have run Windows 7 quite well.

    "2) Win 10 costs money to replace XP and offers just spyware"

    Can you actually back that claim up re Spyware. I've read several in depth analyses of Windows 10 that compressively debunk that myth - sorry if the facts don't fit your anti-MS stance.

    "3 Linux Mint with Mate works fine"

    If it does be happy but remember some of us need access to stuff not easily accessible via a Linux Distro - different strokes and all that.

  50. Goldmember

    Re: Madness

    "but I can't see any reason why they wouldn't have run Windows 7 quite well."

    My 2GB Atom NC10 (which I only bought around 18 months ago from ebay for £45) ran Win 7 like shit. But with a recent upgrade to a 240Gb SSD and Win 10, it's now a perfectly usable machine, and is great for travelling. I too run Visual Studio on it for occasional airport lounge/ plane coding, although it's mainly for films and email. It's knocking on a bit so it's not the quickest, but the weight and battery life are good, and it does the job well enough for now.


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