For the past year, at least, I’ve been chiseling away at Crux systems, compiling sometimes for days straight in order to get clean, sharp, fast systems that run light and are tuned nicely to the hardware they reside in. I’ve learned a lot, and for that I’m thankful.
On the other hand, there are some things that I still haven’t quite gotten right — like getting ancient VESA hardware to work with modern kernel framebuffer support, or using an Xorg later than 7.3, or getting closer to configuring an ISA sound card. These things aren’t necessarily impossible, I always said to myself. My failures and inability to get more information are just the shape of the learning curve.
So for more than a year probably, I’ve been swapping drives and trying any number of installations and reinstallations, different kernels, different configurations, adding this or enabling that, and never really making much progress.
Slitaz has already given me the proverbial “middle finger,” as some of my American friends say — being the only distro I know that I didn’t build myself that can run comfortably on less than 16Mb of memory. A day or two ago it did it again, popping up a graphical desktop with Xorg 7.4, which hasn’t worked for me ever.
And then yesterday it blows another raspberry at me. That’s when, on a whim, I took a very basic Slitaz installation and force-fed it the vga kernel flag for an 800x600x16 framebuffer. The hope was that it would choke on it, fall back to a console screen, and allow me to adjust some of the root configuration before snapping to the desktop, and losing the terminal access (don’t ask … it’s a long story).
And after a pause of about 3 seconds, I get a full 224-color tux logo and a complete boot report, at 800×600.
How is that possible? How did that happen? I’ve never had a proper framebuffer on this machine ever. Neither this nor its predecessor ever showed me anything console-esque at more than 640×480, regardless of what I enabled, checked, configured or compiled in Crux.
Life just isn’t fair. That’s all there is to it. …
I still have a few smaller things to figure out. I need alsaconf to configure my ISA sound card and modern versions of alsa-utils disable that by default, so I have to make it myself. I was able to change the font with setfont, and then an update or something caused it to start spewing forth “garbage” messages (no, literally, it complains of garbage. I wouldn’t lie about that). And there is some network hopscotch that I have to play, to get wireless working from the console. And to be honest, it’s not as speedy as my Crux builds.
But it’s just as light, and all the more impressive since it’s already done two or three things that I haven’t been able to, at all, ever. If I get the sound card configured, this will be a major coup.
But I’ll only get half the credit, since all the heavy lifting was done by the Slitaz developers. Grr.