Meanwhile. …

For good or for bad, I happen to be one of those people who usually can do or think about two things at the same time. And so in between all the drive-swapping, CD-booting and system installing that’s been going on with my new 100Mhz laptop, I also erased my old Arch installation on my battered Thinkpad, and replaced it with a fresh test run of Ubuntu GTK1.2 Remix.

The purpose was twofold — first, I wanted another test case for that remix, aside from the 1Ghz system I built it on, and the 550Mhz spare that I tested it against. Something alien and in the middle was called for.

But more importantly, I’ve been grinding my teeth over the fact that my network speeds on that machine are pitiful — still just 60Kbps or so, on hardware that should reach a hundred times that speed. So this was an opportunity to see if there was something wrong with my installation or my hardware, and make it work right.

And … it didn’t. Ubuntu Hardy ran just as slow, seeding and downloading torrents at rates that were barely any different from Arch. Whatever slowness is affecting that machine, it’s happening at the hardware level, and probably isn’t software-related.

Even worse though, I started getting those mystical Hardy system lockups that some people talk about. I always thought they were the fault of unique hardware conflicts or strange system modifications (or maybe just hyper-aware Ubuntu fans), but this is a laptop I’ve been using for the past six months, and aside from that crappy network speed, it’s not unusual in any way I know of.

Except it doesn’t have a Windows key. Lucky! :mrgreen:

Anyway, I’m putting Arch back on it since I will occasionally come back from work and find the Ubuntu system sitting there with a dead screen, the hard drive light on (not flickering, just on) and the system unresponsive. Basic triage says the dead and dying are tended to last, and the salvagable get first priority.

The trick, of course, is installing and configuring Arch with only the upper half of a console screen … :twisted:

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6 Responses to “Meanwhile. …”


  1. 1 Josh 2008/11/11 at 12:19 AM

    I have a NEC Versa P/75 laptop that I adore. Eventually I’ll max it out to 40mb of ram from the 24mb I’m at right now. I’ve run a very slim Debian Sarge install on it before with X and wifi without issues. That hdd died, haven’t used it with Linux since then… You have inspired me to fire it back up :P

    btw, you may want to nab a Versa. The P series has an 800x600x16bit LCD, max 40mb ram, two PCMCIA slots, a “versa bay”. The versa bay can take two more PCMCIA slots, a floppy drive, another battery, etc. Plus the laptop has a trackball in the most awesome spot ever. The front edge of the case below the keyboard. I deal with the slowness just because of how awesome the hardware is :)

  2. 2 devnet 2008/11/11 at 12:43 AM

    Sounds like an excellent time to switch to TinyME :)

  3. 3 johnraff 2008/11/14 at 2:05 AM

    btw just how worrisome are those Hardy freezes? I haven’t found any posting suggesting the problem has been fixed as yet… Just as I was thinking of cleaning off this system which has been dist-upgraded step by step from Breezy to Gutsy (presumably collecting a fair bit of detritus on the way) and putting in a clean install of the LTS supposedly stable Hardy!

    For a mediumweight cli install + xorg + xfce (or openbox) type setup would you (or anyone reading this) recommend:
    *)installing Hardy anyway?
    *)sticking with Gutsy for now?
    *)jumping to Intrepid?
    *)installing Debian Etch, or some other distro?

    Advice appreciated!

  4. 4 K.Mandla 2008/11/14 at 7:07 AM

    No, and I admit a bit of laziness when it comes to those kernel freezes. I’ve seen threads about them before but couldn’t duplicate them until now. And even so, the only common characteristic is that they occur after the machine has been running for a day or so, and it’s a complete lockup — so I have no practical way of troubleshooting it. Add to that it’s happening on a machine with an LCD that’s 3/4 shattered, and it’s probably easy to see why I’m not quite “driven” to figure it out.

    And Arch is working fine. It’s been up for about four days now without a problem. I really think this is unique to specific hardware arrangements; I’ve been using Hardy on literally dozens of installations over the past six months and this is the first time it’s been an issue. So I blame the machine more than the software.

    All that being said, if you can’t put Arch on that machine and you want something Debianesque, I’d go with Intrepid unless you’re really worried about lockups. If they happen, drop back to Hardy, and if they happen there too, drop back to Gutsy again. If you’re just running CLI+ stuff, I don’t think one particular release is overwhelmingly better than another.

  5. 5 johnraff 2008/11/14 at 11:53 AM

    Thanks – I’ll try Intrepid for now.
    Arch looks good but I’ll have to study up a bit first.
    Yes, having got used to the convenience of apt-get the Debian world feels kind of cozy…

  6. 6 johnraff 2008/11/23 at 1:40 AM

    Just for the record:
    on my testbed 1998 Toshiba laptop (266MHz Celeron, 192MB RAM) cli Intrepid + Xfce (not xubuntu) seems to be working quite nicely.
    Xfce is certainly prettier than Openbox was on Gutsy (though maybe some improved graphic rendering libraries or something in Intrepid?) and doesn’t seem to be all that much slower.

    There were a couple of small issues to fix – getting the right screen resolution required pasting in some lines from my previous xorg.conf file, the PolicyKit stuff had to be adjusted to enable mounting of usb sticks, and apt-get fetches recommends by default – but now everything seems to be OK.


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