Life just isn’t fair

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.

And then along comes Slitaz.

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. :evil:

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12 Responses to “Life just isn’t fair”

  1. 1 Nugnuts 2009/12/11 at 10:33 PM

    You win some, you lose some ;)

  2. 2 jozee 2009/12/12 at 5:29 AM


    I am one of the developers of slitaz. Thanks for your love for Slitaz.

    If you are having a sound issue with slitaz, please download the linux-sound pkg from

    We had (for unknown reasons) some broken sound modules in our linux kernel in the latest slitaz cooking. Hope that helps.

    Other thing is that you can also easily tune and cook Slitaz pkgs to work more optimally on your computer :-).

    If you have other problems, please do post on our forums.



  3. 3 rocketry 2009/12/12 at 6:24 AM

    I just loaded Slitaz onto an old laptop of mine and I’m quite impressed. Works great and has nice selection of apps etc. Even the packaging system is well done. Bravo to you developers.

  4. 4 Armor Nick 2009/12/12 at 7:11 AM

    Wow. Being a programmer and a wiccan, I don’t know whether to say ‘A wizard did it!’ or ‘Those are some mighty fine hacks’. ;)

  5. 5 Sam 2009/12/12 at 11:14 AM

    Mighty fine hacks. And I’m going to apologize again for what I said earlier.

  6. 7 noteither 2010/03/27 at 12:46 PM

    let’s be thankful that some bright kids do their way around for us to be left with few tweaks or nothing at all to enjoy linux and opensource :)

  1. 1 Links 13/12/2009: Preview of Linux 2.6.33, Krita Gets €4,000 | Boycott Novell Trackback on 2009/12/13 at 7:40 PM
  2. 2 Howto: Install a console-only Slitaz system « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/12/13 at 10:44 PM
  3. 3 Buying a name « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/08 at 5:01 PM
  4. 4 Sound’s ironic « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/04/05 at 10:04 AM
  5. 5 A short interlude for blasphemy « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/06/25 at 10:54 AM

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Visit the Wiki!

Some recent desktops

May 6, 2011
Musca 0.9.24 on Crux Linux
150Mhz Pentium 96Mb 8Gb CF

May 14, 2011
IceWM 1.2.37 and Arch Linux
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

Some recent games

Apr. 21, 2011
Oolite on Xubuntu 11.04
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

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