The “New” Laptop

The other day I picked up yet another laptop- well, it was FREE. It’s a Toshiba Satellite Pro 460CDT, in almost perfect condition- barely needs cleaning, and just a few slight scratches on the cover. Before anyone gets too excited about it, here’s a picture. And full specs.

Showing my previous attempt to put AntiX on it.

This beauty runs an original Pentium processor at a blazing fast 166 Mhz. With a 32 KB cache, 64 MB of RAM and a cavernous 2 GB HDD, this is the machine of your dreams… in 1997.

The 12″ screen is clean and bright, zero dead pixels or artifacts, and will display at 800×600. On a screen that size it honestly doesn’t seem too big or pixelated, although I do have to think of my 11″ netbook running 1366×768…
The back fairly bristles with ports and connections, serial ports, parallel ports, nameless 30 pin this, 20 pin that, 50 pin something else with giant hooks and couplers to hold the cables on- I haven’t even identified half of them yet. And the real gem- a single, lonely but gloriously useful USB 1.1 port. ūüôā
At about 2″ thick and weighing a portly 7 pounds it’s even portable, in a vague sense. I haven’t tested the battery, but it held a charge for at least two minutes, so it doesn’t appear to be a total loss.
Right now I’m working on putting Slitaz CLI only on it- I would have loved to go Arch but Arch has yet to spawn a viable i586 compatible release, despite numerous efforts in the past.
But with no networking capabilities beyond an RJ11 port, installing software is going to be tough. My best option at this point seems to be repackaging the EasyTether for Android .deb file as .tazpkg, and hopefully avoid dependency misery.
We’ll see. ūüôā


Use the Minimal CD

I’ve used Ubuntu for almost a year now. ¬†I started out knowing nothing to very little about Linux, and I’m glad I started with Ubuntu. In spite of its bloat, the odd direction (in some people’s opinion) that Canonical seems to be taking it, it is still quite stable, good looking, and requires minimal configuration and knowledge to run.

I’m still very much a Linux novice, but I’ve come to the place where I am no longer satisfied with a vanilla Ubuntu system, nor any of the remixes. Too much software I’ll never need or want comes along and clutters things up- and butchering an existing installation is usually an effort in futility, as far as speed gains and cruft removal go.

Enter the Ubuntu Minimal CD. This ISO image installs a core operating system, CLI only, that you can build your X components on top of. It’s rather like Arch, one step up. You can build your Ubuntu system from the first story up (the ground floor is already laid. :)).

I am an unabashed Gnome Shell fan. At first I was aghast at what Gnome had done with their DE, but after installing a few extensions and tweaking a few features, I enjoy using it a lot. So on my main laptop I installed Gnome Shell as my DE, and gdm for the login manager. Those wanting a more lightweight system can go with lxdm for login manager and any number of the lightweight WM’s or DE’s. When it comes to lightweight I’m of the opinion that Openbox is hard to beat. I’d like to try some of the more esoteric ones such as Awesome or JWM some time as well, but that’s as I have time.

The list of packages I installed to get a functional Gnome/Ubuntu system running is quite small:

xorg
gnome-shell
gdm

That’s all it takes. If you’re installing a more minimal WM, you’ll need more- terminal emulators, text editors, panels, etc., to suit your taste.
But now that I have my Ubuntu installation just where I like it, the Arch Side is tempting me… ūüėą


Add Startup Program to (almost) Any DE

This is one of the more frequently asked questions I see on varoious forums- I’ve asked it myself in times past. So here’as a bit of a compilation.

Key word: almost. This covers the top five at least. ¬†These are the DE’s used by the main *buntu spinoffs- but of course they will hold true for any distro using the DE.

In Ubuntu/Unity:

Click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of the top panel. Select¬†Startup Applications. Click¬†Add. In the resulting dialog box give the name of the program and set “command” to the command you use to run the program from the terminal. Click add and close.

In Gnome shell

Press¬†Alt+F2¬†to bring up the Run dialog. Type¬†gnome-session-properties.¬†Click the “Add” button. In the resulting dialog box give the name of the program and set “command” to the command you use to run the program from the terminal. Click add and close.

In KDE

Go to K-Menu>Computer>System Settings. Select Startup and Shutdown and click the Add Program button. Type the command to run the program and click OK.

In LXDE

Run the following commands in a terminal:

mkdir -p ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/
touch ~/.config/lxsessions/LXDE/autostart
leafpad ~/.config/lxsessions/LXDE/autostart

Add this line to the autostart file:

@program_command

Save and close.

IN LXDE/Lubuntu

An autostart file already exists, in ~./config/lxsession/Lubuntu/autostart. Just use this file instead of making a new one, in the manner described above.

In XFCE

In the Applications menu open¬†Settings Manager¬†and select¬†Session and Startup. On the¬†Application Autostart¬†tab click the¬†Add¬†button. In the resulting dialog box give the¬†name of the program and set “command” to the command you use to run the program from the terminal. Click add and close.


Linux on Acer Aspire One 722-0369: II

In my last post about my Acer netbook, I wrote about how I had tested several distros on it and Fedora 16 LXDE was the only one that suited me for it.

Well, it’s changed.

The sad thing is, as much as I would like to like Fedora, it takes FOREVER to boot. Minute-and-a-half boot times are quite common, and for a machine with 4 GB RAM, dual core 1.3 GHz processor and an SSD that is just plain unacceptable.

I’ve been through dmesg time and time again. The main holdup can vary, but primarily it seems to be activating the wireless. After finding little on blacklisting wireless at bootup, and after borking the current system with a little too much experimentation, I decided it’s time for another change, back to one of the two distros I wanted most to run on it: Bodhi Linux.

Bodhi is based on Ubuntu LTS. The current version (Bodhi 1.4) is built on top of Ubuntu 10.04, and the next release (scheduled for June) will be based on the newest LTS, 12.04. Bodhi uses the Enlightenment DE, although you can install other DE’s if you wish. Enlightenment is… well, interesting. In some ways it feels like dated future tech (how’s that for nonsense?) but overall I find the experience to be polished and functional. On top of that, it’s extremely lightweight.

Enlightenment is almost infinitely customizable, and (gasp) there are GUI tools to do virtually everything related to customizing. Indeed, learning to navigate through the plethora of menus and options is one of the steepest learning curves I’ve found yet.

But because it’s infinitely customizable, you can make your desktop look pretty much ANY way you want. I’m going for a fairly minimal setup myself (easier on the li’l netbook) but you can get it as glitzy, gadgety, and ornate as you want. And many of the wallpapers available in the Art Wiki are absolutely stunning.

Bodhi also has a great community and an active forums. The project is definitely very alive, and that in itself is reassuring.

All told; I think I’ll be much happier with Bodhi (at least with its boot time- 26 seconds) than I was with Fedora, but we’ll see. Crunchbang still beckons alluringly… ūüôā