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We bought Walmart’s $140 laptop so you wouldn’t have to

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Unfortunately, those theoretically better specs didn't pan out in reality. Under Fedora 32—selected due to its ultra-modern kernel, and lightweight Wayland display manager—the EVOO was incredibly balky and sluggish.

To be fair, Fedora felt significantly snappier than Windows 10 had on this laptop, but that was a very, very low bar to hurdle.

The laptop frequently took as long as 12 seconds just to launch Firefox. Actually navigating webpages wasn't much better, with very long pauses for no apparent reason. The launcher was also balky to render—and this time, with significantly lower memory usage than Windows, I couldn't just blame it on swap thrashing.

In fact, for a little while I turned swap off entirely, with the command swapoff -a. This didn't noticeably improve performance—and trying to run fio with swap disabled invoked the dreaded oom-killer, so I gave up and enabled it again


The typical consumer, clearly, is out of luck—but what about us geeks? Personally, I use low-powered Linux laptops in many different roles—including but not limited to airplane entertainment, "backup laptop" for presentations at conferences, and small fleets of them as Wi-Fi test devices. I had high hopes that the EVOO might be able to fulfill that role.

Although standard Chromebooks work reasonably well as dirt-cheap Linux laptops, they need a fair amount of finagling to get there. If you don't take them apart and change a hardware setting to allow permanent installation, they have a distressing tendency to occasionally "forget" how to boot into Linux. When this happens, you can get stranded with working ChromeOS. It takes an hour or two of work before you can get back to your "real" operating system.

I would have loved for this EVOO laptop to fit that niche and finally free me from fighting the ChromeOS hardware ecosystem. Unfortunately, this device is just too underpowered to make that reasonable—and that's even before you get to the weirdly rearranged keyboard or the anemic USB2 "internal" Wi-Fi, which only supports 802.11n at 2.4GHz.

There may be a purpose this laptop is well-suited to—but for the life of me, I cannot think what it might be.

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