Stumbling blocks

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I’ve been using Crux on my OLPC for about two weeks now, give or take, and while things are mostly just ducky, I’ve come up with a short list of things I need to solve, or at least take the time to further investigate.

First, and most importantly, I believe the method for installing Ubuntu (and by extension Crux, since that was the way I put Crux on this machine) is only halfway “successful.” To summarize, the method calls for directly copying the modules, firmware, the entire boot folder and so forth, to the USB drive.

And while that works, I’m fairly sure it means that the kernel I build in Crux is being ignored — a belief mirrored by the output of uname -a, and cat /proc/version. There’s nothing wrong with that … except it sticks in my mind as a slight shortcoming, and it’s starting to irritate me.

I’ve tried rebuilding the kernel image and substituting it for the OLPC versions, but that’s not working. I get “unbootable program” errors and similar mistakes whenever I try to boot. Even the wiki instructions for rebuilding the kernel — and similar pages — don’t work for me.

I’ve been using the vanilla kernel off kernel.org, but I’m beginning to believe that I might have to use the OLPC-special that I’ve seen elsewhere on the ‘Net. I don’t know if Sugar is interfering, but if the OLPC source doesn’t do the trick, I’m not really sure what will be next.

Aside from my kernel woes, system speed is underpowered for what I’d like. GTK2 programs — things like Openbox and Kazehakase and so forth — are working … acceptably … but redraws, lag and stutter were becoming irritating. It’s possible that some of these things would be lessened by my kernel instead of the OLPC one, but I don’t hold out much hope.

No, instead I think the video subsystem is mostly to blame. I’m very happy with things like 3D acceleration (even though it’s slow), but I think 1200x900x16 is a bit high for the processor. It seems overwhelmed by simple things like drawing new windows or dragging the old ones around.

But rather than bemoan the hardware, which never solves anything, I found that taking the software “scheme” down a notch, I get better results. I substituted IceWM for Openbox, Dillo for Kazehakase, XMMS for AlsaPlayer and xterm for Sakura. Things seem much spunkier, and with a few more tweaks to come, this could prove to be the right solution for the current situation.

Overall I’m quite content with the little Green Machine, and provided I can assuage my conscience with these few minor points, my sense of accomplishment will be smoothed over as well.

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One thought on “Stumbling blocks

  1. Pingback: Arch Linux on OLPC XO-1 « Motho ke motho ka botho

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