Netbooks were an amazing variety of portable computers, the predecessors of today’s tablets and compact laptops. They were small, light, and cheap, equipped with incredibly power-saving hardware which allowed them to have a decent performance coupled with a decent autonomy. Alas, they were only around for a short time, being replaced by tablets and more powerful laptops. Some of you might still have them lying around, gathering dust. Now you can give them new life with a bit of trickery, and the right choice of software.
Oldies, but goldies
Back in the day, most netbooks ran Windows XP, perhaps the most appreciated operating system Microsoft has ever released. And things were good: it worked like a charm, allowing me to carry my work and play around easily in my backpack. Then XP was discontinued, making way to Windows 7 – but that was not the right OS for a netbook. After the update, most netbooks became sluggish, unfit for even the easiest task.
The advent of tablets and smartphones made netbooks feel even more obsolete. Many of them ended up in thrift shops or gathering dust somewhere in a closet. A shame.
Google’s Chromebooks are devices not entirely different from netbooks – they have batteries big enough to last them for hours and hours, and hardware strong enough to run virtually any browser-based and Chrome app you can think of.
The games work like a charm on them, allowing players from all over the world to use their ‘books for something else than work. It is understandable that these cheap and useful devices have sparked the imagination of many.
Turning a netbook into a Chromebook?
Well, not quite. Although there are distributions of Chrome OS that you can download and install yourself, they are not as reliable as a proper OS should be. After all, Chrome OS was not meant to be used this way. So, a group of enthusiasts decided to combine Ubuntu’s reliability with the ease of use of Chrome OS, giving birth to Chromixium, later renamed to Cub Linux. And it’s the perfect OS for any netbook.
Cub Linux works like a charm on a basic netbook configuration (a single-core Atom CPU with 1GB of RAM). Its UI is simple and plain but hidden behind it, you’ll find all the power of a proper Linux operating system.