Category Archives: Arch Linux Forums

KDEmod and KDE

I don’t use KDE. I don’t use Gnome either, really, although I’ll admit that I do have it installed right now on the Thinkpad, and it’s doing an admirable job. But both DEs are just too much for me on a regular basis, and so I usually only refer to Gnome as a kind of offhand benchmark for system performance, and KDE as a similarly casual benchmark for aesthetics. If someone can come up with a Gnome desktop that looks as good as most of the KDE ones I see, I’ll acknowledge that it does have an artistic side.

But as far as I’m concerned, both pale when you put them up against the KDEmod packages for Arch. If I wasn’t such an incorrigible Openbox addict, I would definitely be using KDEmod. And if you’re an Arch user and you haven’t at least tried it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I know you dig dvtm or whatever, but at least give it a try. It’s at once exceedingly minimal, lightning fast and pretty as a peach.

I do, however, see where the idea of KDEmod as the standard Arch version doesn’t really do it. I don’t have the least bit of experience or ability in packaging or distro management, but I get that spider-sense tingling that says you can’t really keep KDEmod as the default KDE for Arch. It just has to be an alternative, something that requires a certain sense of aesthetics, minimalism and performance to be appealing.

I don’t really have any rationale for that opinion, other than acknowledging that a default KDE should be KDE. A KDE-savvy Arch user will probably migrate toward KDEmod anyway, provided that they find the entire principle acceptable, but an ordinary Arch user or a KDE veteran might expect the full rendition, and that, to me, is what should be there at the start.

You know, all this talk about KDEmod makes me want to install it again. Where’s my dban disk at … ?

Arch Linux on OLPC XO-1

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

This is the part where I eat my own words. I didn’t think it possible, but it works. The Geode is an i586, and logic says that a system tuned to the 686 — which regularly resisted all efforts to run or even boot on K6-series machines for me — seems quite happy to plunk along on my XO-1. See for yourself.

The method was identical to the Crux version I had been using for a few weeks — basically importing the OLPC kernel, modules, firmware, etc., straight into the Arch installation. It still seems a bit barbaric to me, and as an Arch fan it’s less than satisfactory since it undercuts a lot of what Arch is about. But it works.

I stuck with the same GTK1.2-ish setup I had with Crux (Dillo, XMMS, Xfe, xterm and the like), and performance is about the same.

I still want to get a proper, pure, non-OLPC-reliant system into place, but this is satisfactory for now. I get all the frills and benefits of Arch without having to recompile every little fragment of software that is implied. That gets a little old on a 430Mhz system. ;)

Why do Ubuntu users become Arch users?

The new Arch Linux subforum may have been a bad idea overall; it seems there are a lot of people slipping in there to check it out and coming out Arch users. Even staff members. :shock:

What’s the reason for that? I don’t know for sure. I blame a mixture of things, in a variety of proportions according to the person. How well you like Arch will depend on the machine you use, how well you know it, how much you like tweaking things, how experienced you are with Linux … and a mess of other stuff.

It’s not for everybody. But if you wanted me to recommend it to you, I’d want to be sure you were okay with these things first:

  1. Be comfortable with Linux. I wouldn’t recommend Arch to a first-time Linux user, or to a technophobe (or even a casual computer user). It’s not as cuddly as other distros are (at first), although there are lots of people who hope to remedy that.
  2. Be comfortable with the command line. Because 15 minutes after you insert the CD, you’ll be finished … but you’ll be looking at a terminal login. :)
  3. Get a fast connection. Linux almost requires broadband anyway, but Arch is a rolling release, and will need at least intermittent access to repositories to stay up-to-date. It’s certainly not impossible to use Arch over a modem, but I wouldn’t want to do it.*
  4. Know your hardware. It always helps to understand what’s inside your machine; Arch will expect you to know it, inside and out.
  5. Be comfortable breaking and fixing things. This isn’t to suggest that things break a lot in Arch, only that when something does go wrong, you should have an idea of how to make it work — that can mean compiling, booting to a live environment, or just hand-editing a configuration file.

But after that, Arch is what you make of it, so it’s as good, as complete and as beautiful as you want. You can say that about a lot of things in Linux, but if you enjoy “fast” and “easy’ and “clean” on top of all of those, you definitely need to try it out. :D

*If you are on a slow connection, you might keep an eye on the stable-release version of Arch that some community members are working on.

finferflu’s bash Jamendo browser project

So long as I’m mentioning interesting little projects, finferflu has come up with a very handy Jamendo tag browser that runs from the command line.

“What?!,” you say. “A primitive command-line tag browser for a music networking service?! What good is that?”

“What?!,” I say. “Can’t you see the beauty in that?!” You screen the site by tags and can pluck albums one-by-one, and preview (pre-listen?) to them without loading pages or waiting on Java and Flash doodads. Enter your choice, listen, then decide if you want it. Best of all, it’s light as a feather and won’t hog your system resources. And you can run it on ancient equipment too.

It’s a beautiful thing, that command line. And don’t even think about trying to argue to the contrary, unless you can come up with something just as light, just as fast and just as intuitive in a GUI. I dare you. I double dare you. I double dog dare you.

And when you’re done, I have a 430Mhz machine I want to try it out on. Then we’ll see if it compares to finferflu’s.

His script is here on the Arch forums, but it’s completely independent of distro (I even tried it on my XO). It needs mpc and mpd as well as w3m, all installed and configured. Someone has already come up with an option for moc instead; I’m tinkering with it to see if I can get it to work with mp321 but I keep getting distracted. :mrgreen:

Ex beneficio

I gave away two more computers last week, and forgot to mention it.

This time though, they were more or less valueless. These were Dimension T-450s. 450Mhz Pentium IIIs with onboard sound, video and network, and only 96Mb RAM apiece. Not dogs, but nothing to dance around and clap your hands about.

I did put extra hard drives in them, though. But neither one had a valid copy of Windows, so they had to go out blank.

Still, I leave that up to the new owners. I mentioned I could put an operating system on them, but both people said they already had Windows at home and could do it themselves. I could have pointed out that it was illegal, but I’m not in the mood to prosletyze these days.

I still have quite a few hard drives and some memory left over, but I’m saving it for nicer machines or for upgrades for friends. I don’t mind giving the stuff away, but there will come a time when I wished I still had that 128Mb stick of PC100.