[racket] Racket on Netbook (Windows 7 Starter)?

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Sat Nov 5 15:26:49 EDT 2011

Asa Packer wrote at 11/05/2011 02:07 PM:
> Is anybody using Racket on a netbook running Windows 7 Starter?  Does 
> it work OK?  I'm trying to figure out how much I need to spend on a 
> machine for my son to use Racket on... 

In case no one has firsthand experience, I can extrapolate based my 

Looks like the US$250 netbooks on Newegg.com are all 1.66GHz single-core 
Atom, 1GB RAM, 250GB disk, 10.1-inch 1024x600 display.

Based on a quick test just now, I think that CPU would be fine for 
running DrRacket, including with the new online Check Syntax feature 

The 1GB RAM would be fine for GNU/Linux setup running DrRacket, Firefox, 
OpenOffice.org, and a lightweight GUI desktop simultaneously.  You could 
even run without swap space, and with the "tmp" directory in RAM, for 
speed and power-savings.  I don't know about Windows 7 Starter's RAM 

The 1024x600 resolution is a little unfortunate.  All my laptops have 
1400x1050 displays, and even those are a little bit tight when I want to 
view Racket code and Racket documentation on the screen at the same 
time.  Currently, I work around the small screen space by using the 
Xmonad tiling window manager to keep both windows on screen and to 
quickly toggle which one is big enough for much reading.

If anyone is looking at netbooks because of the price rather than the 
portability, they might also consider refurbished/nonissued ThinkPads 
off eBay, which can have better specs than new netbooks in most regards, 
at lower prices.  (That's what I use exclusively for 
workstations/laptops right now, because I like the specs of a particular 
ThinkPad model that's no longer made.)  And used slightly older-model 
netbooks are dirt-cheap, sometimes free, yet are perfectly usable for 
Racket running atop a lightweight GNU/Linux setup.  Same with used 
laptops that people mistakenly think are slow or broken, but that really 
just need a well configured OS.

I mentioned GNU/Linux because that's what I know works, and historically 
it has worked much better on modest-resource machines than Windows 
does.  If you decide to go GNU/Linux, you're looking at more work than 
Windows to set it up well.  You might consider tweaking GNU/Linux as a 
general educational experience or a useful practical skill, somewhat 
like your intentions for Racket.


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