For as much as I talk up Openbox, and as much as I distro-hop and tinker with desktop environments, I always kept one machine with a straight Xubuntu 6.06.1 installation on it.
The logic was that I needed one machine that was dependable, one I could count on not to act funny or throw out quirks when I was troubleshooting another. I needed something to act as a reference for default settings. I needed something with solid, steady Internet access, something to hold important files, and something to act as an nfs server for data (not so much for music, but for configuration files, scripts and whatnot).
I have an old Dell Inspiron 8000 that I baby, and it serves the role I described. From a hardware standpoint, it’s nothing short of top-notch for its generation — Linksys WPC11 11Mbps wireless, 512Mb PC133, 1Ghz Pentium 3, 64Mb Nvidia Geforce4 Go 440, dual Hitachi 60Gb 7200rpm hard drives, an 8x NEC dual layer DVD+-RW and a lovely 15-inch 1600×1200 screen. It’s a very clean machine, and it plays the role perfectly. I even have a Logitech cordless mouse, because I’ve never liked touchpads.
And until today, it’s only run Dapper Xubuntu, and with no hefty modifications or tweaks. I wouldn’t even change the desktop wallpaper. That’s how close to default I wanted it.
But today I decided it was time for change. Boot times were slow with Xubuntu, and I wanted to see what it could do. So I blanked the system drive (it was time anyway), set it up as a speed-tweaked Edgy system, and set it loose.
It’s still a file server and an archive of important stuff. It’s still my backup machine for anything else that I’m busy breaking. But now, rather than the droll (to me, anyway) Xubuntu desktop, I’ve got something that fast, sleek and sexy.
And it can get from the Grub menu to the desktop in 31 seconds.