I have been using Arch Linux on my Thinkpad for the past few days to give small-scale video and audio presentations for groups of two to six people. It’s very rudimentary — a collection of probably 12 or 16 photos, then a short, six-minute audio replay.
For software I keep it very simple, using Mirage for photo display, which does great in fullscreen mode. Even though the Thinkpad’s screen is only 800×600, it’s in fantastic shape. Since the presentation is usually given to just one small circle of people at a time, the screen doesn’t need to be big — just clear and bright.
For audio I’ve been using AlsaPlayer compiled for GTK2 and mp3 access, and that too has been more than enough. The audio tracks are just downloaded from a news Web site, and don’t require heavy management aside from adjusting the volume at particular intervals.
The Thinkpad’s speakers are tinny of course, but using an external speaker system with the headphone jack turned out to be worse. I don’t think it’s the fault of the laptop, since the audio through headphones sounds fine, but the output from the external speaker system was horrid — distant, muted and dull. Not at all true to the file.
So the built-in speakers have worked, even if they lack some of the depth and presence of proper speakers. It’s a bit high-pitched, and there’s no bass (and even some mid-range levels are suspect), but it’s working.
But best of all, of course, are the funny looks I get from IT people or fellow tech hobbyists, when they see how fast it starts and how the desktop behaves. A few people ask about the software beyond what I show in the presentation (which is completely unrelated to Linux), but for the few who are familiar with Linux, it’s only in the server role, not in desktop use.
Which might change. I have considered making a separate presentation, outside of my daily responsibilities (or perhaps in addition to those), that covers Linux and its uses. It would be a wild swing beyond what I normally present, but it would probably gratify that portion of my audience that gives me the curious look when they see the desktop. And it would be fun for me.