Long long ago in a galaxy far far away… or at least back around 2010-ish, I picked up a few netbooks for various projects. They were cheap, small machines which, once loaded with a basic linux flavour of the time, were more than adequate for my limited needs.
Later I installed a stripped-down linux server on one and ran several web services for a couple of years. It was severely limited in RAM, which was the primary weakness for the task, but it successfully managed the load for a half-dozen people collaborating on a project for the years we were active.
The last surviving unit, an Acer Aspire One 725-0670, was my primary computer for two years of traveling often and oddly, taking in a couple trips to Germany, a three-month stint in Genève, visits to France, Ottawa, New Jersey, and multiple road trips and flights back to Minnesota. It, too, was pressed into service occasionally to run a web server, but was used much more for writing, coding, and building web content.
By this time these minimalist machines were having a hard time pushing enough cycles even to uncomfortably run GUI, even basic windowing environments on Linux were sluggish. And one screen had cracked, another had an HDD failure… And I had saved enough over the four years of running them to purchase a shiny, light MacBook Air (which with SSD was just a smidge lighter than my spinning disk netbook.) The surviving netbook was put out to stud (well, into a bag and stored) and the others were recycled.
My now-nearly decrepit MacBook (it is going on four years old!) has been lent to the kid to accomplish a task beyond his household hardware for a week. And guess what I pulled out of the closet, two moves later? Installed openSUSE[en.wp], which is not, at all, a lightweight windowing OS. But it is working. When I get a chance I will build a current TAILS[en.wp] on a stick and just run that from the USB port.
Two things I have to say: omg cloud (10+TB via webdavfs!), and I never knew before of bandwidth being constrained by cpu weakness.
Having almost all my life running through my cloud has meant that (almost!) everything which was available, is available, even on this netbook. (But more importantly on my phone, my partner’s computer, when I am at the library…)
But network compression of big files means my top transmission via T10 is running right around 300 kbs. <sigh>