Testing a theory of usability

I made a comment a few months ago about conceivably downscaling everything and learning to live off the fat of the land … plus a 300Mhz Pentium II-era machine. Well, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

For the record, the computer you see in that picture is a Celeron, running at 300Mhz with 64Mb of memory. The hard drive is 4Gb and it’s running Arch Linux with screen-vs and fbterm. The usual array of software is installed, with very few exceptions (I think I left out freecell :roll: ). This machine has a single USB1.1 port, is using the finicky Corega ath5k-based wireless card and I have a CD reader as well.

It’s definitely the technology of the last century; I had a faster computer than this before the dials turned on 2000. And in addition to being something of a thumbsucker, I have the added joy of a row of lifeless keys which means the teeny-tiny external keyboard is in the picture too. Luckily I have an ancient USB hub that I got nobody-knows-where, so I can expand on that one port, to a small degree.

If you’ve been visiting this site for a while, you’ll remember that, about a year and a half ago, I shoved everything into the closet and ran at 100Mhz for a week. This is not an attempt to reproduce that experiment, particularly because after that stunt, living at 300Mhz isn’t even a tiny challenge. This is really just a test run of sorts, to get an answer to my theory that 300Mhz would be a bottom-of-the-barrel compromise between practical and minimal, for me at least.

And this is nowhere near as spartan an arrangement as before. I still have my Thinkpad on the other side of the room, playing music and seeding torrents, and I control that through ssh. I will still be checking this site with another computer, to make sure no one is dumping spam image links in here (I learned my lesson :roll:). And I have my addiction to Warzone 2100 v2.3 to feed. :mrgreen:

But maybe for a day, maybe for two or three days, or maybe for a week, I’ll give this a try. A banged up, beaten down, ugly, cantankerous and somewhat functional Celeron with a dozen years of service under its belt might not be a dream machine for most people, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do something useful around the house. … ;)

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6 Responses to “Testing a theory of usability”

  1. 2 gruen 2010/06/09 at 6:30 PM

    I was running a Pentium MMX, 267MHz, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD notebook for a while. It was Debian (Sarge?) by that time with a 2.4 Kernel and Fluxbox (just to run a xterm window) and screen. I could play music and podcast but that machine was way too slow for video. For webbrowsing I used ELinks and Dillo, and Mutt for Mail. It was a lot of fun with that formerly windows 98 machine. :)

  2. 3 zenfunk 2010/06/13 at 7:01 PM

    Did you get any chance to try out your usability theory befor the machine gave out?
    To be frank, with a machine that fast I ran puppy linux with X- server and some GTK apps quite happily.
    I even made a remaster of it for all my other low end machines.

    Cheers, Christian

  1. 1 Not with a whimper but a bang « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/06/11 at 7:55 AM
  2. 2 The lesson of the Celeron « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/06/16 at 10:59 AM
  3. 3 fbterm on a 150Mhz Pentium MMX, 32Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/07/05 at 9:09 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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