Just bought a new netbook? The reasons can be many! The manufactures sell these small laptops for different kind of use. The perfect travelling partner, the small compannion u bring along to business meetings or the small computer you can use while relaxing on the sofa. I did as many others and bought a small netbook for many good reasons, but couldn’t use it for any of them. Why? Because HP had decided to put a bloated Windows Vista on it as a operating system. The operating system looked like a shiny diamond ofcourse, but the small VIA CPU and a limited amount of memory made it impossible to use. It used ages to boot, only to boot into a desktop that was slow, the applications hanged and often crashed and I lost the motivation to use it. I put it away, using my T61 in stead – but I recently decided to bring it back “to life”
This is the computer! A very nice looking HP MiniNote 2133 based on a VIA (!) CPU and chipset. It was originally shipped with an 120GB 5400RPM harddrive and 1GB of DDR2 SO-DIMM RAM. I first upgraded the hardware! I had laying around from the previous “pimp project” a 40GB SSD Gen2 from INTEL which I installed instead for the old harddrive. I also took a 2GB RAM SO-DIMM from my T61 and replaced the 1GB SO-DIMM that was already installed. I then – since i had installed a new drive, installed Windows 7 Professional 32.bit – that would make a more lightweight choice than Vista. One would perhaps think that this setup would make this computer fly? But no – this alone would not make it shine! I had to do some serious work on the software.
The default Windows 7 Pro screen :
And here is a default IE8 installation (with a Windows Live toolbar – today you rarely can buy a new computer without a couple of toolbars bundeled) showing how much you actually can see of a webpage while browsing on a 1024x600px netbook.
Lets try to make this PC run more smoothly with a more efficient desktop :
First off I removed the Aero theme. This is the theme that gives you the Windows 7 look – including transparent windows. I set it to “Windpows Classic” theme. You can do this by right-clicking on the desktop and choose “Personalize” – them choose the “Windows Classic” theme under “Basic and high contrast themes”.
Windows 7 with a Windows 2000 look :
I then choose small icons, both at the taskbar at the bottom and on the desktop. You do this by right-clicking on the bottom toolbar, clicking “Properties” and marking “Use small icons”. This will reduce the height of the toolbar by about 50%. Then you choose to have small icons on the desktop by right-clicking on the desktop, choosing “View” and then “Small icons”. This will make room for more icons on the desktop – and in general make the screen look a bit larger.
Desktop looking larger :
At the end I choose to put the start-bar at the left hand side of the desktop. This will give the applications all 600px in height. I think that this is more important than having full 1024 px in width. This will also make browsing web-pages easier! You do this by right-clicking at the bottom taskbar, choosing “Properties” and then choosing “Left” at “Taskbar location on screen”. This will give you a kinda Non-windows look, but I think that it does make a positive difference when you use the computer.
Windows 7 looking weird – but efficient!
Here is a few more tips to increase the overall speed of Windows 7 :
Disabling “Search Indexing”. By doing this you will not have the fast-search possibility in Windows 7, but do we really need it? If you can’t find your files, perhaps it is best to leav it enabled – if not – do this :
- Right Click the “Computer” Icon in the start menu.
- Click “Services and Applications” in the “Computer Management” window.
- Click on “Services”.
- Look for the “Windows Search” service.
- Right Click on “Windows Search” from the list and choose “Properties”.
- The “Windows Search Properties Window” will open. From “Startup type” click on the drop down menu and choose “Disabled”.
- Click “Apply” then “OK”.
Disabling more Visual Effects in Windows 7 – this will make your computer look and feel even more Windows 2000, but it will make the system behave more smoothly and quick!
- Right click ”Computer” in the Start menu and select “Properties”.
- Choose ” Advanced System Settings ” from the left pane to open the ”System Properties”.
- Select the “Advanced” tab. Then Under ”Performance” click ”Settings“. Choose ”Adjust for best performance” – to gain the best performance
- Choose “apply” and “ok” – you probably want to rebbot after this to see the changes taking place!
Disable applications to run at startup. Skype, Spotify, Windows Live Messenger and alot of other applications tend to be ran at bootup. If you can live with having to run them manually when you plan to use them, you can disable them from boot.
- Type ”msconfig” in the “Search progams and files” box at the start menu. Run “msconfig”
- Click the the “Startup” tab.
- Uncheck the Entries which are not needed
- Choose “apply” and “ok” – if you unchecked alot of applications here, the next boot will go quicker!
I have made this screencast to show how these configurations improved the overall performance of my Netbook.
Next time :
I will look at what software works best at a Netbook. In this video i switched from Adobe Reader to Foxit reader (239 MB to 10 MB) and from Microsoft Word/Excel into AbiWord and Gnumeric – to gain more free harddrive space and to gain better performance! I will also try a lightweigh GNU/Linux distribution for this Netbook to see if another operating system is the best choice! Pleace stay tuned!