Monday, October 19, 2009

project on hold

Just a quick shout out to let everyone know I'm putting this project on hold for the time being. I had good intentions of continuing this, but time constraints being what they are, I simply don't have enough time to give this blog the attention it needs or deserves at the moment.

Some day I may reopen this blog, but for the moment it's closed. Good luck!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Winfast 2000 xp tv card on Arch linux

Well, my wintv card finally crapped out on me, so I popped in a spare tv card. This card is a leadtek winfast 2000 xp tv card and for whatever reason, the arch linux kernel misidentifies this card.

The arch wiki gives a good hint of what needs to be done.

Ironically, the example card is the exact same model as my own card. The wiki must have been written when 2.4 kernels were the norms in arch, as it states to place the needed code in /etc/modules.conf. The code itself tells ya to place the code in /etc/modprobe.conf for v.2.6 kernels. Even this is incorrect at the moment as arch currently uses /etc/modprobe.d. So the correct placement of the code is /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf.

Tvtime then was able to properly utilize the card.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm back

Things went a little haywire there for a while, and my online writings went by the wayside. I do plan to update my blog here in a relatively timely fashion however.

So stay tuned for some good ole linux fun!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to compile a slackware kernel

There are many reasons to build a new kernel in a distro like slackware. It could be that you bought a new usb camera or printer that the new kernel supports. Or perhaps a newer kernel has better support for your wifi card. Whatever the reason, we'll cover here how to build the latest and greatest on your box. At the time of this writing it's the first release of the 2.6.29 tree.

The first thing we need to do is to download the source from The 2.6 tree is found here.

Scroll down to the desired version to be compiled and select "copy link location". Then open a terminal and become root and change to your build environment. We'll use /usr/src as the default.

su -
cd /usr/src

now we need to unpack the tar ball.

tar -jxf linux-2.6.29.tar.bz2

Next we're going to remove the current symlink to the linux directory and link to the new directory.

rm linux
ln -s linux-2.6.29 linux

Now we'll move into the build directory.

cd linux

To get this far means that you have a working kernel. So we're going to utilize the current kernel config to build our new kernel.

zcat /proc/config.gz > .config
make oldconfig

New additions to the kernel will be displayed and you can choose which ones you want to keep and in what form. It will ask you to keep them in module form (m), or you can select y for it to be built in to the kernel, or n for it to be left out. Simply hitting enter will do the default action, which the dialog will tell you what that is.

Next we can alter anything we want in the kernel itself.

make menuconfig

There are a couple of things I always change here. One is the processor support. Scroll to processor type and features, and then processor family. For my celeron M on this laptop I pick the pentium M option. For my core 2 duo system, I choose the core 2/ newer xeon option.

We then exit from the processor type and features menu back to the main menu.

Next we scroll down to Device Drivers and select it. Then we select usb support. Finally we modularize "USB Mass Storage Support" by pressing "m" while it is highlighted.

We click exit to exit out of our submenus all the way back to the main menu. Hitting exit one more time, will ask if you want to save the kernel configuration, to which we reply yes.

Now we want to build the kernel so we type

make all

This can take a while, depending on your processor, so grab a cup of coffee, read the paper and come back in a little while.

Once that completes, we'll grab a nice script by Dagmar to install the kernel in /boot.

install -m 755 installkernel /sbin/

Then we execute the following to be able to use the new kernel

make modules_install
make install

These commands will install the new modules and copy the config,, and kernel to the proper locations in /boot.

now we'll change to the /boot directory to modify a few things.

cd /boot

It's time to remove the current symlinks to config,, and vmlinuz.

rm config
rm vmlinuz

and then link them to the new kernel.

ln -s config-2.6.29-smp config
ln -s
ln -s vmlinuz-2.6.29-smp vmlinuz

At this point it's a good idea to create an initrd. For ext3 we use the following command. Note that sda3 is my root partition. be sure to alter yours accordingly.

mkinitrd -c -k 2.6.29-smp -m mbcache:jbd:ext3 -f ext3 -r /dev/sda3

For reiser it would be

mkinitrd -c -k 2.6.29-smp -m reiserfs

next, we'll edit lilo to use the initrd.gz. we add the following line above "root = /dev/sda3"
initrd = /boot/initrd.gz

so it will look something like this.

image = /boot/vmlinuz
initrd = /boot/initrd.gz
root = /dev/sda3
label = Linux

Now we need to run lilo to update it.


That's it. upon rebooting you should now be utilizing your shiny new 2.6.29 kernel. If you somehow messed something up, and you end up with a kernel panic, you can use your slackware 12.2 cd to boot your system in a pinch.

Good luck and happy slacking!

I borrowed heavily from this excellent guide on the dropline wiki.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How to use slackbuilds

I posted this on the hackmy forums and figure my blog is a good place for this as well. Enjoy Slackers!

If you're using slackware, you'll find there are many packages not "included" with the base distribution. Slack tends to use vanilla packages with little or no patching from how the application was intended by the author upstream... so this means that you can build virtually anything you need with the excellent build tools.

Utilizing slackbuilds from is a good way to do this.

First, we need to su to root so that we can build and install the packages. so we open a terminal and type

su -

then we need to create our build directory. this can be anywhere, but you may want to put it in your user's home directory. So we create the directory like so.. substitute your user name where "user" is listed.

mkdir /home/user/build

then we'll change directory to our build directory

cd /home/user/build

now we can begin building packages. navigate in your favorite web browser to

On the right hand side of the screen you will find a search navigation tool, and the version number. So if you're using slackware 12.2, you select that and then search for the package you want to build. Let's try something simple like flash... which brings us to this page.

now at this point the different options available for building flash are listed. We'll simply go with flash-player-plugin so we can watch some videos on youtube.

Now that we're on this page, we have access to the slackbuild tar ball and a link to the source required to compile it. It's a good idea to read the README file linked to at the bottom of the page and to peruse the slackbuild script.

Next we'll download the slackbuild in our terminal session using wget which is very reliable. Simply right click on the link to the slackbuild source under "Download slackbuild" and select "copy link location". Then type


then leave a space and right click in the terminal and select paste. this will paste the location of the source slackbuild for you to download. then hit enter. so in this case it would look like this.


now we need to untar the archive

tar -zxf flash-player-plugin.tar.gz

now we need to see what directory has been created, and we can do this with ls


it will show the directory. in this case it's "flash-player-plugin". so we'll change to that directory.

cd flash-player-plugin

now we'll download the source linked to on the slackbuild page under "Download Source"


we now want to make sure that our slackbuild is fine, so we can open a text editor and take a look to make sure everything seems fine. sometimes the slackbuild site doesn't link to the latest version available, so we can navigate to the homepage of the original author, download the source and edit the slackbuild. we'll cover that another time however and focus on installing this slackbuild.

next we have to ensure that the slackbuild is executable.

chmod +x flash-player-plugin.SlackBuild

now we're ready to build the package.


the program will compile now, assuming we've met the needed dependencies. flash-player-plugin doesn't have any additional dependencies, so it should compile just fine on a stock slack install.

the created package is created and moved to /tmp, and the full file name is listed. we can either cd to the tmp directory and then use installpkg, or we can simply use the full path. so our next step is to install the package now.

installpkg /tmp/flash-player-plugin-10.0_r22-i386-1_SBo.tgz

congrats! you have just compiled your first slackware compliant package and installed it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ice ice archie

I've been working on a icewm rpm in pclos, and decided to port it to a pkgbuild in arch linux. I absolutely love the result. I used the patch to give borderless buttons on the toolbar and it looks fantastic in my opinion.

Here's the revised pkgbuild. Be sure to modify the pkgbuild to use your path to the ybutton patch, or comment it out if you want borders on your buttons. I got the patch from the silverxp theme here.

The theme used is called eleganceice and I got it from

$Id: PKGBUILD 25822 2009-01-30 08:33:36Z eric $
# Maintainer: Eric Belanger
# Contributor: dorphell

pkgdesc="A Window Manager designed for speed, usability, and consistency"
arch=('i686' 'x86_64')
depends=('gcc-libs' 'imlib' 'libxrandr' 'libxft' 'libsm' 'libxinerama' 'giflib')
source=(${pkgname}-${pkgver}.tar.gz icewm.desktop)
md5sums=('970a21588d26eb361020fd60a61a482c' 'a3ed467f0199792205b04272402a9945')
sha1sums=('bee1ca66d2282888807551bc28a65b08e4108027' '7dcb1f2c89792a35b687182584ed9baa0d34cc80')

build() {
cd ${srcdir}/${pkgname}-${pkgver} || return 1
cd src
patch < /path/to/patch/SilverXP-1.2.17-single-1/Linux/
cd ..
./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc --with-imlib \
--enable-shaped-decorations --enable-gradients --enable-antialiasing || return 1
make || return 1
make DESTDIR=${pkgdir} install install-man install-docs || return 1
install -D -m644 ${srcdir}/icewm.desktop ${pkgdir}/etc/X11/sessions/icewm.desktop

here's a direct link as blogger doesn't format the pkgbuild correctly.

Friday, February 27, 2009

icewm in pclos

I've been testing out the features of pclinuxos with the "big update" and I've been thinking about an icewm remaster. It's exceptionally lightweight and I've ironed out a few bugs, such as setting the dpi correctly for my monitor and customizing the panel a bit. Here's a pic of it so far.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Arch Linux 2009.2

There was a family issue at my sister's house in which her computer died, and a certain program had to be run that could only be done in windows.... so I wiped the hard disk with the perfectly working slack install and installed xp (ugh).

Needless to say, we ordered new parts for a computer and now I'm left with a laptop with windows xp on it.... this will never do! So after a quick perusal of, I noticed that arch linux had a new release iso, so I figured why not?

The install was fairly straight forward.... One thing that I noticed was that my rc.conf didn't have any modules populating it... after checking the forums, I discovered that udev handles all that now, so I really only need to populate it with items that I want to blacklist. Nice eh?

I ensured that wireless tools and b43-fwcutter were installed and then had to figure out a way to get the firmware, as this laptop does not have a wired nic, only a wireless one. So I downloaded the firmware onto a usb stick on another computer and plugged the stick into the usb slot on the laptop. I checked /dev before and after inserting the stick to see what the stick came up as, and then I created a mount point in /mnt of usb... so it's /mnt/usb. The command to mount was mount -t usbfs /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb. From here, I copied the firmware over to /tmp, extracted the tarball, cd'd into the driver directory and used b43fwcutter to installe the firmware. This allowed me to access my wireless network using wpa_supplicant and dhcpcd.

At this point I configured pacman and it was off to the races installing whatever I wished to. My girlfriend likes gnome and xfce and gets confused when I get all geeky and install something minimal like awesome or openbox... So to keep the peace, I figured xfce isn't TOO bloated and took the plunge.

The very first thing I noticed was that the fonts were AWFUL. So I searched the arch wiki and found clear instructions on lcd fonts on the fonts page. Then I enabled anti-aliasing for fonts, hinting and sub-pixel hinting
and the screen looks nice and sharp.

The standard vesa driver is fine, but there is full support for the graphics chip in this laptop with the r128 driver, so I installed that, set the bit depth to 16 for better performance and I'm back to 500 fps in glxgears. =p

I compiled a custom tuxonice kernel with the help of the aur and ran into a few problems. Tuxonice apparently doesn't like the uuid scheme of things, so I had to edit my /etc/fstab to the old /dev/sda way of doing things and then run mkswap on /dev/sda1 (my swap drive) for arch to detect the swap drive. I also kind of rushed through the wiki and missed a few steps with mkinitcpio and I was surprised that hibernate wasn't working. The second time through I took my time and got it right and now hibernate works as expected. I may try to get hibernate working from a graphical environment, but I'm not sure I'm going to bother. Logging out to the command line and running hibernate is not a big deal to me.

I'll keep you posted on how things are going!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Refining the install

On the dell inspiron 5000e with 320 megs of ram, I ran into an interesting phenomenon with pcmanfm. If I allowed pcmanfm to manage the desktop wallpaper and produce desktop icons, I ran into a spike of approximately 15 megs of ram usage and general slowness while scrolling.

I'm not sure what the correlation is, but when I switched to feh to handle the wallpaper and disabled desktop icons, scrolling became smooth once more. Weird eh, as even when I have other applications using up more memory than pcmanfm did while handling the wallpaper and icons, scrolling was still nice and smooth.

For those times when I simply want a dock instead of a full blown panel, I installed stalonetray, and it works great. It puts out a memory footprint a full 5 megs less than fbpanel, which is quite a nice improvement. It's not a big deal on this laptop, but if I were more memory constrained, I would definitely ditch fbpanel for stalonetray.

I've also grown to really love pysolfc as it has so many card games that it's insane! I can't count the number of hours I've spent playing this while watching tv or talking to the girlfriend. =p

The custom kernel I built is working great. It utilizes pentium 3 coppermine optimizations and I can really tell the difference in speed over the stock ppro kernel. I also cut out a LOT of cruft from the huge.smp kernel and slimmed it down big time. This was quite interesting as I noticed almost no difference in speed in my two faster boxes that run slack (a 1.86 ghz celeron m with 1.5 gigs of ram and a 2.4 ghz core 2 duo with 2 gigs of ram) when customizing the kernel. I guess the optimizations are most important on slower processors.

At this point, I consider this project pretty much closed. I'm very satisfied with the performance of this old laptop and see no need to upgrade this box further. I was considering buying another 256 meg stick and maxing out the memory, but quite honestly can't justify it. If I wanted to run gnome or kde, then I would probably do so, but with the way the system is set up right now, there is really no point.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slackware on Dell Inspiron 5000e part 2

Putting the final touches on an operating system is always very satisfying. When that operating system is Slackware, this is especially true. Slack is one of the quintessential "hands on" distributions where you really get down and dirty with the essentials of just exactly how your OS functions. Doing a full install of software with Slack will give you a plethora of tools with which you can build your own programs. The only portion I did without was KDE, as there is no way I will obtain any kind of performance with it.

A great resource is slackbuilds are so useful because of their excellent documentation, and they build slackware packages with proper permissions and install locations. also lists dependencies that need to be built before the slackbuild will compile correctly. It can be a tad annoying tracking down all the dependencies before building the program you wish to use, but it would be FAR more annoying trying to build the program and not having the dependencies already installed.
I won't bore you with how to set up a user account... One of my arch linux blogs documents this, and the functionality is the same in slackware.

The second step was to get the wireless functional as this laptop does not have an ethernet port, so connecting to the internet would have to be accomplished by the belkin wireless card that utilizes the broadcom 4306 wireless chip. The native stx broadcom driver does not include support for the 4306, so I would have to use either the b43 module or ndiswrapper. has slackbuilds for the b43, so I built the b43 module against the proper firmware and I was in business.
One of the first things you'll want to do with slack is to build your own custom kernel. Without gnome or kde running things for power-management, I decided to compile in support for tuxonice to enable hibernation. Trimming unneeded items out can take some time on a custom kernel, so be sure to take your time and get it right the first time.... that and compiling on a 600 mhz celeron will take HOURS. I found best results with hibernation from the command line. So exiting out of x and issuing the /usr/sbin/hibernate command saved an image of what was running, and resuming brought the system back up in 10 seconds flat. Not bad for an old 600 mhz celeron.

The window manager selection was easy for me to decide on. Openbox is both lightweight and yet very robust in it's configurability. Had I not upgraded the ram to 320 megs, I would have gone without a panel to save on resources, and simply used alt-tab. Since I do have over 256 megs of ram however, installing a panel is perfectly acceptable and won't impact performance. There are many good choices for panels, such as pypanel and lxpanel, and I could have installed stalonetray or trayer just for a dock, but I tend to like having a menu accessible on my panel, so I chose fbpanel.... not because fbpanel is any easier or better than the other afore-mentioned panels... but because I've used fbpanel for a long time and I'm intimately familiar with just how it functions and how to configure it.
In fact, now that I think about it, I do tend to reuse many of the same programs, as I find it more productive than constantly learning new ways to achieve exactly what I want. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. The slackbuild for pcmanfm compiled and installed perfectly, and I was set with a lightweight filemanager which can also handle desktop icons.

Getting volwheel to work with Slackware was a tad difficult, only because of the fact that there is no slackbuild for it, and also no slackbuild for it's needed dependen
cy (perl-gtk2-trayicon). This required little in the way of real innovation. The aur in arch linux has a pkgbuild for perl-gtk2-trayicon, which also includes what it depends on which is perl-extutils-pkgconfig, which does have a slackbuild. Then I followed the instructions in the pkgbuild for perl-gtk2-trayicon, which involves downloading the source of gtk2-trayicon, unpacking the tarball and issuing the following command to build it with perl.

PERL_MM_USE_DEFAULT=1 perl Makefile.PL
make install
Then, I was able to utilize volwheel normally. It was good to see the documentation updated with very specific install instructions by the way. Props to Oliwer!

I also have enough ram to utilize wicd to handle accessing different wireless networks. The command line or a script would of course use fewer resources, but I wanted to see how the system would respond with 320 megs of ram and wicd. I installed wicd from /extra and the system didn't seem to suffer in usability, so I told it to start on bootup by adding wicd-client to my

With conky installed I had access to some common features that I like to be aware of... such as ram usage, cpu usage, cpu temp, battery charge, file system usage, and network usage.

alignment top_right
background yes
border_width 1
cpu_avg_samples 2
default_color cornflowerblue
default_outline_color white
default_shade_color white
double_buffer yes
draw_borders no
draw_graph_borders yes
draw_outline no
draw_shades no
gap_x 25
gap_y 15
maximum_width 225
max_port_monitor_connections 64
max_specials 512
max_user_text 16384
minimum_size 330 10
net_avg_samples 2
no_buffers yes
out_to_console no
#wm_class_name Conky
own_window_colour black
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_type normal
own_window yes
stippled_borders 2
update_interval 2
uppercase no
use_spacer yes
use_xft yes
xftalpha 0.8
xftfont arial:size=9

${color #9DCAFF}${font impact:size=12}$sysname $kernel ${alignr}$color${time %l:%M:%p}
${color #9DCAFF}$nodename
${font arial:size=5}
${color #0077ff}${font arial:bold:size=12}System:
${color #0077ff}${font arial:size=9}Uptime:$color $uptime ${color #0077ff} Load:$color $loadavg
${color #0077ff}CPU 0(${freq}mhz):${alignr}$color ${cpu cpu1}%
${color #0077ff}${cpubar cpu1}
${color}CPU Temp: ${color #0077ff}${acpitemp}${color}Celsius
${color #0077ff}RAM Usage:${alignr}$color $mem${color #0077ff}/${color}$memmax - $memperc%
${color #0077ff}$membar
${color #0077ff}Swap Usage:${alignr}$color $swap${color #0077ff}/${color}$swapmax - $swapperc%
${color #0077ff}${swapbar}

${color #0077ff}${font arial:bold:size=12}File Systems:
${color #0077ff}${font arial:size=9}/ ${alignr}$color${fs_used /}/${fs_size /}
${color #0077ff}${fs_bar /}
${color #0077ff}/home ${alignr}$color${fs_used /home}/${fs_size /home}
${color #0077ff}${fs_bar /home}

${color #0077ff}${font arial:bold:size=12}Processes:
${color #0077ff}${font arial:size=9}Top CPU ${alignr}CPU% MEM%
$color ${top name 1} ${alignr}${top cpu 1} ${top mem 1}
$color ${top name 2} ${alignr}${top cpu 2} ${top mem 2}
$color ${top name 3} ${alignr}${top cpu 3} ${top mem 3}
${color #0077ff}Total Processes:$color ${processes}

${color #0077ff}${font arial:bold:size=12}Network:
${font arial:size=9}${color #0077ff}
${color #0077ff}Net Down:$color ${downspeed eth0} k/s
${color #0077ff}${downspeedgraph eth0 104E8B 0077ff}
${color #0077ff}Net Up:$color ${upspeed eth0} k/s
${color #0077ff}${upspeedgraph eth0 104E8B 0077ff}

${color #909090}AC Adaptor: ${color0}$acpiacadapter
${color #909090}Battery: ${color0}${battery}
${battery_bar} never seems to format this correctly, so if you need my conkyrc and can't figure out where blogger screwed it up, just drop me a line.

Here's a list of what I chose

Window manager = Openbox
File manager = pcmanfm
Panel = fbpanel
Terminal emulator = sakura
Graphical text editor = geany
Mplayer = movie player
Mplayerplugin = movie player in firefox
Browser = firefox
Music Manager = Quod Libet
Card games = Pysolfc
Chat program = pidgin, xchat irc
Email client = thunderbird
Bittorrent client = transmission
Word processor = abiword
Calculator = galculator
Graphical archiver = peazip

These are all lightweight, or fairly lightweight applications that function well on older hardware. There are of course ways to go with even lighter software, but I didn't feel the need as these all function well and are easier to use (IMHO) than their more lightweight alternatives.

The 5000e has an 8 meg ati m3 graphics chip that utilizes the r128 module in xorg.conf. Changing the driver to this and a couple of other tweaks allowed me to achieve 530 FPS in glxgears. I know... I know... glxgears is not a benchmark, but it showed that 3d was working and I could utilize basic 3d functions. Installing frozen-bubble confirmed this. It was very slow at the default settings, but turning it down one notch (removes the penguin firing the bubble animation) allowed decent play.

Section "Device"
Identifier "VESA Framebuffer"
Driver "r128"
VideoRam 8192
Option "AGPMode" "2"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "EnablePageFlip" "on"
# Insert Clocks lines here if appropriate

I love to encourage people to still utilize their older hardware. It's always great to have the latest and greatest to run the newest version of kde or gnome with all the bells and whistles, but the funny thing is that older hardware like this laptop are still perfectly usable with the right choice of window manager, software, and available hardware upgrades.

This has been a fun project, and I encourage you all to dig out that old desktop or laptop and resurrect it to usefulness.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Slackware on Dell Inspiron 5000e

The other day, the hard drive I'd been waiting for, an 80 gig Samsung 5400 rpm 8MB unit finally arrived! I slapped it in, and replaced the old 5 gig hard disk and decided that the operating system I'm going to use on this is Slackware.

I'm really quite fond of Slack 12.2 and I LOVE how it's performing on the acer laptop. Slack is so rock stable on it, that I've had to do ZERO tweaking/repair for my family since I installed Slack on to it.

I'm going to once again try to walk that fine line between usability and speed in my all my choices due to the limited abilities of the hardware on this laptop.

I'm a tad pressed for time at the moment, but here's a teaser as to the fairly finished project. I'll post what programs I built and am utilizing on this install.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Network card has arrived!

I just received the replacement wireless network card and installed it in a pcmcia port. It's a Belkin F5D7011 wireless g card utilizing a broadcom 4306 chipset.

The 5 gig hard drive currently in this Dell inspiron 5000e has windows XP on it. I know... I know... I'm not a huge windows fan, which is why when the replacement 80 gig hard drive shows up, it's going to have some form of arch or slackware on it. I have XP on the 5 gig drive to ensure that if there are any hardware problems with any of the upgrades I've made to this laptop that tech support can't whine that I'm using an unsupported Operating System. That and I dug out my old Civilization 3 cd's and I've been rather addicted to this series of games for years.

I must say that I've had zero problems with this card and XP detected it out of the box as a dell mini pci card and installed the broadcom drivers automatically. When I install linux on the new hard drive, I'll be using either the b43 module, or ndiswrapper. The STA drivers don't support this card, but I've had good success with b43 and ndiswrapper with my broadcom 4311 chipset on the Acer laptop.

The hard drive is due to arrive on the 29th and I'm excited. It's a Samsung SpinPoint 80GB UDMA/100 5400RPM 8MB unit and I expect performance to be quite an improvement over this 5 GB UDMA/66 4200 RPM 2MB IBM travelstar hard drive.

I'm thinking of using openbox or pekwm with fbpanel, pcmanfm, geany, peazip, and an assortment of lightweight applications to top it off. Goggles music manager looks interesting, and I may try mpd as well.

I'll keep you all posted on how things turn out.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Slowest RMA processing on the face of the Planet

I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting.... more or less impatiently for my RMA to process. I must say that this is the slowest service I've ever received from an online vendor. I made the initial purchase on the 17th of December, and received the products on the 23rd. All three components ordered were DOA. I received an RMA and sent them back on the 27th. They were not acknowledged as received until January 8th, and I STILL have not received credit for the items to even reorder new parts. It just goes to show you that going with well established and reputable companies is preferable to dealing with online retailers who may have the lowest price... but not the reputation to go with it.

So I got impatient and ordered a 256 meg stick direct from Crucial and I'm playing with an arch linux install on the old 5 gig hard drive. The realtek wireless usb dongle works fine and I have a basic openbox setup with fbpanel and conky working.

Performance-wise, I really can't complain. It's no barn-burner, but it runs firefox with flash and wicd connects on bootup with no issues whatsoever.

I installed sakura for a terminal emulator and it is both lightweight and very functional. Geany works fine as a text editor, and lxappearance sets the gtk themes.

I'll have more to report once I finally receive the stinking rma and some new parts. Here are some screenshots with wicd and volwheel running.

Friday, January 9, 2009

320 megs on a dell inspiron 5000e

As I've stated previously, I'm still waiting for my rma to clear and to order new parts. It seems that this dell laptop is very picky about ram, so I ordered a single 256 meg stick from crucial that claims to work in this system. The laptop can have a maximum of 512, and has 2 slots, but it came with a single 64 meg stick.

Adding the 256 meg stick has worked wonders for the responsiveness of this old laptop. The install of TinyMe (lightweight pclinuxos) went smoothly now that I had enough ram for the livecd to run and for the installer to do it's work.

On the positive side, it picked up the 8 meg mobility m3 (rage128) card and set the native resolution to 1024x768 with 3d enabled. The ess maestro sound card was also autodetected and worked out of the box as well.

As I'm waiting for some other parts to arrive (a 60 gig seagate 5400 rpm 8 meg ide hard drive, and a wpa2 pcmcia wireless network card), I'm stuck with a good old 5 gig hard drive and a usb wireless card.

And here was the first show-stopper. Since TinyMe uses such an old kernel, to get the realtek wireless card to work requires the eeprom and rtl8187 module to be patched... and since this old laptop does not have a wired internet connection, I'm at a bit of an impasse. I suppose I could download the files on another box and place them on my 1 gig usb thumb drive and then transfer them over, but that's a bit of a pain as there is only one usb port on this laptop, so that means swapping the wireless dongle and the thumb drive... but I'll probably just download the kernel source and build a more current kernel myself and include the rtl8187 usb support as all kernels 2.6.23 and later have it... it just needs to be enabled.

The decision to use an older kernel like this seems to be a bad choice in my honest opinion. The 2.6.26 kernel is rock solid and supports MUCH more hardware than the old 2.6.18 series. It also plays nicely with drm modules for older hardware as well.

In fact, a LOT of the software seems very outdated as well... and remember... I'm a long time Slackware user, so I don't HAVE to have bleeding edge software.... but c'mon.... ndiswrapper 1.48? 1.53 has been out FOREVER and it's still not included?

I think I'll only keep this installed long enough to help another user with his troubles with the mach64 driver and pclos, and then I'll wait for the new release of pclos to come out and then I'll modify my own openbox setup on it and see how that is.

I'm sure some users love TinyMe, and I'm trying very hard to like it... but with it's current limitations I'm finding that impossible at the moment. Pclos really needs to get their next release out the door and start progressing again or you'll find many more users moving on to other distros as well.

In fact... I have a freshly burned zenwalk cd calling my name.... hmmm.... =p

Friday, January 2, 2009

Waiting... waiting... waiting....

The joys of waiting for new equipment to arrive to continue adventuring in the world of linux has nearly driven me mad! Well.... perhaps that was a tad overdramatized... The point is that I'm still waiting for my credit, so that I can reorder parts to jumpstart the life of the dell inspiron 5000e laptop.

In the meantime, I've had to do absolutely no maintenance on the acer 3680-2682 laptop running slackware. It's so rock stable that I find it a tad boring to be honest. My main desktop, a core 2 duo @ 2.4 ghz, has been running arch linux and I tinkered a bit with pclinuxos on it as well. I'm waiting for the new pclinuxos release to try it out on my desktop, but it still has not been released.

I'd also like to try out tinyme on the dell after receiving the ram and hard drive upgrades, as the installer hangs with less than 64 megs of ram.

I'll post my openbox setup with pcmanfm and conky to show what I've been working on lately.

Hope you all had a great holiday season!