Introduction

In June and July 2021, I consolidated the data and upgraded the computers in the household. The data (images, Documents, audio and video files…)was spread across devices, external drives, and cloud storage.
While the computers could support the native operating system (e.g. Mac OS for MacBook Pro) I decided to zero in on the operating systems that would keep them chugging along. This post covers the operating systems I tested during the process. The data consolidation will be covered in a separate post.

Hardware and Software Upgrades to Laptops

I have three laptops and a Raspberry Pi that all got some updates or another.

These include:

  • MacBook Pro Early 2015
  • MacBook Pro Late 2012
  • Coconics Enabler Laotop
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B- 4 GB

specifications of MacBook Pro Retina Late 2012.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Specifications for Macbook Pro Retina, late 2012

Installation of drivers for Broadcom Wifi Chip on Macbook Pro with Linux Mint.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Installation of Linux Mint on Macbook Pro

Hardware and Software Upgrades

In addition to the above computers, I also changed the battery and doubled the Ram for my wife’s computer (Dell Inspiron 3000). I did try to persuade her to use Linux, even replaced the stock SSD drive that had Windows 10 with NVME that had Ubuntu Mate! But that did not go down as intended. My post below will therefore cover the above four devices only.

Hardware changes/ upgrades to computers

Below I have summarised the changes I made to the computers as they were purchased or acquired:

ComputerOriginal SpecsModificationsOperating System
Raspberry Pi4 Model BSee specificationsUpdates to Bootloader, Boot via SSD drive on USBUbuntu Mate 20.04
Coconics EnablerSee OEM SpecsKingston 480 GB SSD + 128 GB MicroSD Card. Boot via SSD, Home folder is the eMMC driveLinux Mint 20.02 ‘Uma’, XFCE edition
MacBook Pro Retina Late 2012Quad core i5, 8 GB DDR3 1600Change SSD to 512 GB Name (planned)MacOS Catalina
MacBook Pro Retina Early 2015Quad Core i5, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 128 GB SSD1 TB NVMeSolus OS Plasma Edition 4.2 (upgraded to 4.3)
Dell Inspiron 5300i7 processor/ 8 GB DDR4 RAM/ 256 GB SSD DriveNew Battery, extra 8 GB DDR4 RAMWindows 10

Disk speed test on eMMC drive for Coconics Enabler Laptop
Disk speed test on eMMC drive for Coconics laptop

bench.sh test on Coconics Enabler Laptop with Ubuntu Mate installed
Bench.sh on Coconics laptop using Ubuntu Mate

Screenshots from Installation

Manjaro Budgie and XFCE

The 2021 versions of Manjaro kept giving some strange errors- the operating system would install, ask for an upgrade, and then… Kernel Panic. Ironically I experienced this on the MBP2015 as well as Coconics. For i3, XFCE and Budgie versions of Manjaro. I had to reluctantly let that option go.

Linux Mint

Next on the list was Linux Mint. With the 20.01 version, I had some success- except that the Broadcom drivers for wifi became an issue.

Disk speeds and partition structure
Kernel Module Error
Using Ocenaudio App
Dark Mode for Mint Linux on MacBook Pro
MBP15 Operating System Information
Mint Driver Manager

The Kernel Module error kept repeating, and I had to look for other options. Yes, most errors are fixable provided one is willing to put efforts. But I was looking to standardize the operating systems and the data/ folder structure across all devices, so I needed consistency.


SolusOs Budgie

Next on the list was SolusOs Budgie desktop.

Screenshots from Installationand Desktop Setup
New Installation of Budgie Desktop
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Budgie Desktop
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Completion of Installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Checks before installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Manjaro XFCE Installation*
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
*In case you prefer it over Budgie

Screenshots from Installation of Linux Mint

2019 Edition ‘Tara’2021 Edition ‘Uma’
Multiple windows open in Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
System settings for Linux Mint Uma Installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Default Desktop of Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Hardware settings for test machine
Installation of Linux Mint Tara, 2019. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Dist- Upgrade for Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Updates during installation of Mint
Installation of Linux Mint Uma, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

And for good measure, let us look at Linux Mint Uma- XFCE edition

Disk Parition Scheme for Linux Mint
Installation of Linux Mint Uma, 2021. XFCE Edition. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

SolusOs – KDE Plasma Edition

Finally, we take a look at Solus Plasma Edition

KDE Plasma Installer for SolusOs
Installation of SolusOs Plasma Edition, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Solus OS
Installation of Solus Plasma Edition, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Solus OS
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Solus Plasma- Install Complete
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Ram Usage for Solus Budgie
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Free up Disk space using Bleachbit*
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
*Handle with extreme care, read up the risks before using Bleachbit
System Upgrade for Solus Plasma Edition – 2
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Why didn’t I opt for the Budgie Desktop?

Solus is known for the Budgie desktop -they created it after all. But in my installation of Solus with Budgie desktop, I experienced very high RAM usage. Below is the usage when the desktop had just loaded.

High RAM usage in Solus Budgie Desktop
On both Coconics and MacBook Pro15, I experienced very high RAM usage while using web browsers. This was a result from a bug in one of the GNOME libraries that is apparently still open.

RAM usage on MacBook Pro 15, Solus Budgie Desktop

RAM usage on MBP15 running Solus Budgie. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

RAM usage on Coconics Laptop, Brave browser

memory footprint for brave browser on Coconics laptop.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

The other issue I encountered on the Coconics laptop was high CPU temperatures and disk temperatures. Below is a screenshot from Ubuntu Mate 21.04 installation. The below image shows temperature from 5 minutes after installation. The laptop went into forced shutdown mode twice because the ‘safety’ temperature of 100 Deg Celsius was reached. I removed Mate and installed Linux Mint XFCE.

heating issue on Ubuntu Mate Installation.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

CPU and disk temperature was a problem with MacBook Pro retina 2015 as well.

cpu and disk temperature for MacBook Pro Retina 2015 using Linux.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Wrapping it up

The option (and ability) to boot RaspberryPi4 is indeed a blessing! I was able to follow the instructions listed here and here, and the process was seamless. My RaspberryPi Rb / 4 GB device runs Ubuntu Mate with aplomb. I had of course tried installing Manjaro XFCE – my preferred linux distro. Alas! That was not to be.

Manjaro XFCe on Raspberry Pi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

RAM usage while running Firefox on RaspBerryPi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Speedtest result for Internet speed using RaspBerryPi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Creating boot disk for RaspberryPi4 using Raspberry PI Manager. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Same issue; High RAM usage with Firefox

RAM usage when Firefox browser is running. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Reflection

The high RAM usage while using browser, in particular Firefox, makes me wonder if the extensions for browser are the culprit. Moreover, I use Firefox sync so that all browsers have identical setup. I did run a test with all extensions disabled, but the results was not much different. Solving that issue will be a problem for another day.