We have this old laptop kicking around that we really just hadn't gotten rid of yet. It's pretty much a piece of junk by today's standards, dual core 1.6Ghz with 1GB of memory.
"Piece of junk"? Speak for yourself - you are sounding like a gamer. I consider that a perfectly serviceable machine for all serious purposes including business, though I am upgrading to so-called (it appears there are some tricks about this) quad cores with more memory.
More to the point, going from Windoze to Ubuntu or Mint makes up for a lot of processing power. At present, Firefox (in tabs) seems to be insanely greedy however on all my (lesser) systems.
Fair point. A dual core 1.6 is still perfectly acceptable for even modern desktop processing. 1GB of RAM however is pretty slim for Windows or even your more bloated Linux desktops.
Then I grabbed the latest downloads for the Arduino IDE and Fritzing (the ones in the Ubuntu repos are out of date) and everything runs great!
That seems to be a substantial problem in the repos. It is so much easier to use the update system though that I am being lazy and still running 1.0 for the present.
I also being generally lazy agree with this. But for one or two applications I don't mind periodically checking. I just stored them in /opt, symlinked the directories to arduino and fritzing respectively then added those to my path. So it's as easy as extracting the new package and updating the symlink.
I was thinking you could also do this on one of those SoC systems that are gaining in popularity like the RaspberryPi or the BeagleBone Black. I know that the RaspberryPi suffers from no hardware accelerated Xorg drivers (last I checked) and I suspect the Beaglebone suffers from the same limitation and then there's the lack of hardfloat based JRE's, though I understand that Java 8 will have hardfloat releases.
The Pi is cute and nice that you can (extremely easily) install Arduino IDE on it - but abysmally slow. We will all be waiting for those hardware accelerated Xorg drivers then.
Agreed. This Wayland/Weston business looks promising too but I figure that's a long way out.
I'm running on a Dell D520 which is 1.8Ghz. Unfortunately, the Dell and the Lenovo edge E430 that I bought to update the Dell both have the same problem, in that they use Intel graphics chips. The more recent X servers seem to have problems when the 3D effects are used in the newer distros, and I've tried various things (bios settings, Intel X rpms, nomodeset kernel option, going to XFCE/mate instead of gnome, etc.). So far, I keep the Dell at Fedora 14, which was the last Fedora release that was stable on the Dell, and I haven't been able to keep the edge running for more than an hour with either Fedora or CentOS. I have some time coming up shortly, where I might try to take another whack at it.
So, if you have Intel graphics in your laptop, you might need to go to an older Linux distro that isn't so smart about 3D graphics. As somebody who started computing with punch cards/paper tape, and used 80x24 character terminals for many years, I don't need the eye candy that the younger set thinks they need, and I wish modern distros had an option that says no 3D support at all.
Intel graphic chipsets are definitely the bottom of the barrel, no doubt. I've had some luck in Linux with newer chips but like you I've had terrible luck with older ones.
I'm not familiar with MATE but it looks like it's a fork of Gnome2. I can't tell if it uses compositing or not. It's also been awhile since I used XFCE but I seem to recall it having an option to use compositing. Compositing window managers use various 2D and 3D animation effects, true translucency/transparency, etc. These can be rough on a junk onboard graphics chip so that could be your problem. Turning them off might help.
Another option is to just an ultra lightweight desktop like LXDE that doesn't have the capability. I see that Fedora has a spin for it. http://spins.fedoraproject.org/lxde/