Archive for the 'Arch Linux' Category



No joke: A full Gnome desktop on 105Mb

Careful, this might make you spit out your breakfast cereal.

That’s a fully updated installation of Linux Mint Debian, after a cold boot and with nothing else running. No special tricks or shortcuts. Clean and default.

Amazing. This puts it within striking range of Pentium III machines, in terms of memory. Or at least machines with 128 or maybe 192Mb, like this one did. I almost wish I still had that computer, just so I could try it out.

True, you can get smaller desktops with very sparse installations, in other distros as well. But this comes with all the bells and whistles, from the word go.

If you haven’t played with Mint’s version of Debian yet, you really owe it to yourself to give it at least one short attempt. And if you’ve got a Pentium III lying around with about 128Mb in it, tell me how it works. How, not if. ;)

What good is the “arch” field?

Today I exhibit my relative ignorance. After spending a lot of time with ConnochaetOS, I began to wonder: What good is the architecture field, in Arch Linux PKGBUILDs?

I mean, I’ve read this:

The arch array should contain ‘i686′ and/or ‘x86_64′ depending on which architectures it can be built on. You can also use ‘any’ for architecture independent packages.

Which might make mine an obtuse question. I really don’t use PKGBUILDs beyond the few esoteric programs I prefer, that aren’t in Arch’s Community repository.

But short of cross-compiling, and therefore needing to physically change each field each time, there’s nothing in there that isn’t defined by /etc/makepkg.conf, or by the CARCH or CFLAGS variables.

Which means, to my thinking, that it’s just a flag that stops the process, if the CARCH field doesn’t match. Isn’t that just a variable checking a variable?

Of course, this is one of those things that just shows how little I know, and so I should probably keep my mouth shut. Seems to me that, in a distro with separate packages for each architecture, making another point of declaring the architecture again is a third time and not necessarily useful.

But I don’t know everything, so feel free to teach me. But it seems like that variable, along with some other things in PKGBUILDs, could be trimmed out. Spent too much time in Crux, I guess. …

P.S.: Yes, I know about customizepkg.

More goodies for ConnochaetOS

I’ve been doing a little more work with ConnochaetOS again, this time moving more toward the same system I run in Crux, or on my day-to-day workhorse.

In other words, dropping the X-based system in favor of a framebuffer-based arrangement, and removing X altogether. :twisted:

I have the luxury of doing that with ConnochaetOS, much like I did with archlinux-i586.org, because — for reasons I don’t altogether understand — these Arch-based systems can get the framebuffer working with the tridentfb module, and a few parameters.

I’ll be darned if I can get it working on my own, with the systems I build manually. My best efforts look like … well, they don’t look like anything, and that’s the problem.

Regardless, with halfway proper framebuffer support, I can get not only a decent Terminus font working, but also fbterm with the PKGBUILDs in AUR and elsewhere. The end result is something that looks like this, and runs on about 21Mb of RAM.

Do not adjust your TV set. That screenshot looks like crap because what the framebuffer shows on the screen and what the framebuffer grabber reports are two very different things. Why? Again, for reasons I may never know.

But it’s always like that, no matter which system I use or which screen grabber. I have accepted it as fate, and moved on in life.

Ripping X out of ConnochaetOS is a little more complicated than in Arch. Arch uses groups, but ConnochaetOS either hasn’t implemented them yet, or might not.

No problem either way. A couple of simple loops will pull everything out, simply by screening for package names and prompting you to yank them. Try …

for i in `pacman -Q | grep xf86` ; do pacman -Rcsn $i ; done

to start with, and get a list of what you’ve still got with just pacman -Q. Look for libx11, pixman, xorg-fonts-alias, and some others.

I also made a point of pulling our four of the standard six tty screens (on a machine with only 32Mb, that eats a lot of memory), adding "tridentfb mode=800x600-16@60" and snd-es18xx to the rc.conf modules, backgrounding the net service (it will connect with my wireless automagically, but it takes a while), installing fbterm and fbv, and so forth and so on.

Probably most importantly, I put together PKGBUILDs for sudo and nfs-utils, because those are useful on my day-to-day systems. I know, I know, real geeks don’t use sudo, but I can rely on that for a quick shutdown at a key press.

And nfs-utils is kind of useful to me, since I have a string of three or four computers and like to trade files between them. ;)

The final product of all this offhanded geekery is this lumpy tarball. Binaries, PKGBUILDs, sourcecode and patches are all in here, for all these applications.

alsa-utils
aspell
aspell-en
axel
bs
cdf
centerim
charm
dehtml
detox
dictd
dmenu-xft
elinks
fbgrab
fbterm
fbv
figlet
giblib
giflib
heimdal
hnb
htop
iftop
imlib2
iotop
irssi
libevent
libgssglue
libid3tag
libidn
libldap
libmaa
libmad
libpcap
librpcsecgss
libsasl
libtirpc
libxinerama
lua
moc
musca
myman
ncdu
ncmatrix
nfsidmap
nfs-utils
odt2txt
renameutils
rpcbind
rxvt-unicode
screen-vs
scrot
sudo
teapot
terminus-font
tidyhtml
vitetris

(And no, I do not take requests. It’s Arch-based; you can build it yourself in less time, probably.)

Keep in mind that most of what you see there is a dependency of scrot, or musca, or nfs-utils (what a rat’s nest that is … :shock: ). The single console programs that are actually usable are generally independent and don’t need libraries and whatnot.

(I should also mention that elinks as built there doesn’t include spidermonkey.) If you want a rundown on what those programs do, take a look here.

That’s about all for now. I want to spend a little time working with a couple other distros, so I’m going to mirror this drive and try something different.

If you’ve got an old i586 lying around and want to see what trouble you can get into with it, please feel free to try out the stuff I posted. I strongly recommend dumping the binaries I gave you, and rebuilding them yourself.

That’s a backhanded reminder not to install random software posted by some stranger on the Internet. Not everything in life is sunshine and happy puppies. :)

P.S.: Yes, Mediafire is not cool, etc., etc. …

Another winner: ConnochaetOS at 150Mhz, 32Mb

I know, I’ve said this before but … I think I’m in love.

Just about the only downside to working with a source-based distro on a machine as old as … well, as old as the last century, is the fact that almost everything requires a large amount of time, a large amount of discipline and a meticulous attention to detail.

I’m not trying to flatter myself, I’m actually grieving over the effort in putting Crux — as I like it — on a 586 machine when ConnochaetOS does such a great job with almost no effort at all.

And honestly, as someone who migrated from Ubuntu to Arch to Crux, this is my ideal answer to the issue of running a lightweight system on a terrifically out-of-date machine.

I’ve wanted Arch to run on sub-Pentium IIs for years now, and I rejoice everyone puts together a i586 branch. Lowarch led the pack a while back, followed by a few independent efforts, and most recently the dearly departed archlinux-i586.org.

So yes, this may be just the latest in a long string of attempts to keep an i586-based version of Arch moving. And yes, this may be just the latest in my long string of excited attempts to keep my i586 machine moving with Arch.

But this comes off the slow dissipation of the DeLi Linux project, and might be able to carry momentum for a while. There are a lot of factors at work though. :(

Regardless, it’s still very exciting to watch a 150Mhz machine come to life and dash through the Arch startup sequence. The thrill of that might always outlast an Arch-for-i586 project.

I should mention a few caveats.

First, as best I can tell ConnochaetOS is still in its early stages. The package list is very sparse. Installing from the ISO is going to give you Fluxbox and a few options, and not much more. No vim. No emacs. Only nano. :shock:

So if you’re looking for the entire Arch Linux suite plus AUR …well, it’s not quite ready yet. Of course, with Arch, you’re only a few moments away from building whatever package you want, and stepping slowly through dependencies that way.

(Note that you’ll have to download the Arch PKGBUILD and install files from the Arch website, then edit the PKGBUILD to allow the i586 architecture to build. And even then it might need some tightening up.)

Next, I should mention that I installed to a virtual machine and copied across USB with dd, as is the case for most of the distros I test these days. I have a feeling that the ConnochaetOS ISO would boot alright, but I saw no reason to tempt fate. It’s just as easy the other way, and probably faster.

Finally, performance is very nearly what I get from Crux, with a few small concessions. I carve up rc.conf and inittab as a matter of course, and as you can see, I went through the work of building Musca and dmenu-xft, just because.

Occasionally though, I get some rough spots where ConnochaetOS seems to be dragging through something. I am accustomed to using my Crux build of Musca so I have a feel for its relative speed, and at times ConnochaetOS seems to be thinking very, very hard about something very, very important. :???:

Of course that wouldn’t be any different from any other machine that I’ve seen run both Crux and Arch though: Crux is a good step faster than Arch for me, and probably because so much of it is whittled down to nothing.

So I don’t fault ConnochaetOS for inheriting the (infinitesimally minor) shortcoming of its progenitor. Because on the whole, this is really great stuff.

It found my network card, configured it and connected to my wireless network without prodding — and without wireless-tools (which is possible with an orinoco-cs-driven card. Believe it or not). :shock:

It managed to make the transition between the emulator and the actual system without losing track of the hard drive, although I did hope for that when I picked the /dev/kernel drive assignment option at installation.

Video-wise, I did have to build my own xorg.conf file and adjust it to avoid the fbdev and trident drivers, and go with vesa. And I need to check to see if this will handle the tridentfb module, like archlinux-i586.org could.

In the sound department … I’m going to take my time, mostly because alsa-lib is in the repos, but alsa-utils isn’t. And there are a few other things I’d like to be in place before I force it to sing.

What I’ve personally built I’ll put out there on the Internet somewhere, and if you want to use it to get your own system up and running, be my guest. And I see that the ConnochaetOS team is soliciting software suggestions, within criteria.

In the mean time, I’m interested in playing with this a little more, and maybe even merging this with the carcass of archlinux-i586.org, which might have a few useful packages that ConnochaetOS, at this point, doesn’t.

Sound crazy? It might. All in the name of science, of course. :roll:

Keep the customers satisfied: Three more graphical apps

The post a week ago mentioning a few non-console programs was well received, so here are a few more I made a note of, but probably wouldn’t pursue personally.

vim users, or at least people who prefer vim’s approach to navigation, will probably like apvlv.

As far as PDF viewers go, it’s delightfully quick and to-the-point. Take a good look at that interface though, because if you’re not already adept at vim, you’ll be a bit stuck for getting started.

But otherwise, command mode and :help do what you would expect, and joy of joys, even things like :tabnew are supported.

Part of me says if you’re a vim fan anyway you probably already have your fingers dipped in another PDF viewer solution. But you can’t go wrong giving this one a try.

Here’s aqualung, which I found … I don’t remember where.

It’s quick and speedy, and unorthodox for a music player. In its AUR version it calls on quite a few dependencies though, and more than one has to be built from another AUR package.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make me wonder, in the grand scheme of things, if I really need it as a music player when things like Potamus are running quite a bit lighter.

I also must admit (again) my prejudice against applications that try to track and manage music for me. I don’t like it, and I might as well just say it out loud.

On the other hand, this has a nice interface that focuses more on controls and information than sparkle and motion. It’s a no-nonsense application, which I do like.

Altogether, music players are my Achilles heel, and no matter which one I like or try, there’s always another one out there that seems lighter or does more. Shake a tree, and a music player for Linux will fall out. Egad. :roll:

One more, just because three feels natural. Here’s gcstar, which can help you manage your collections.

When I say “collections,” I mean “collections.” Of just about any sort, flavor shape or function. Music collections, stamp collections, video game collections — you name it, this’ll probably handle it for you.

And one of the nice things, as you can see in the screenshot, is that it comes prepared to access online information about, for example, music or other domains, and update your local collection to match.

I can remember keeping stacks of 5 1/4-inch floppy discs organized manually with a C-64 decades ago. I would have given a limb or two for some way to automatically fill categories and minute information.

But that was then, and this is now. The new world expects online databases to feed your local ones, and if it didn’t, it would be a shortcoming. So the nostalgia moment ends now.

I should note that installing this in Arch brought in just about every Perl package that exists; if that’s important to you, consider yourself warned. I don’t think this would be too far beyond the muscle in, for example, a Pentium II machine, but it’s always possible.

That’s good for now. If you see something here that looks appealing, give it a try. :D

Blasphemy! Three graphical tools

One of the fun things about bouncing around between distros is that you occasionally (or should I say frequently?) see new and interesting software you didn’t know existed.

When I find fun console applications I make a note of trying them out. I also keep lists of surprising graphical ones too, even if I don’t mention them as often.

Here’s one I found interesting, although if I must be honest, I forget where I saw it and so I’ll apologize ahead of time for that omission.

That’s RedNotebook. A while back someone asked about a daily journal application for the console, and I didn’t really have an answer. (Actually, I do have an answer, but the author hasn’t given me permission to write about it. ;) )

In the mean time though, if you can stomach a graphical application that does something similar, this one is quite comprehensive. Templates, search tools, cloud displays and tagging functions, backup-to-zip-file options and a full export wizard.

It’s very comprehensive, and very light too. On my Arch system it only asked for one python derivative as a dependency, which is rather impressive when you see how much it does.

Here’s another lightweight, albeit graphical tool you might like.

gonvert knows everything, or at least a lot more than I do. (I’d never even heard of a “pony.” :roll: ) If you do conversions frequently this can come in quite handy.

Of course, conversions against variable rates, like daily currencies, are probably not within its grasp, but there are online tools better suited to that.

And like RedNotebook, this asked for no more in dependencies than a few things I had already installed.

One more, because I try to make a point of following the rule of three: gutenpy.

As you might have guessed, this is a nifty interface and reader for Project Gutenberg, which you (had better!) know as a repository for free and classic texts, converted to digital format.

If you you have a digital book or something similar, you’ll probably be interested in gutenpy, if just for its ability to deftly arrange and manage a database of more than 33,000 books, authors, languages, etc.

gutenpy will download them, manage them in a folder for ebooks and serve them hot and fresh whenever you ask. It has bookmarking options, a slew of display preferences and requires no more background software than the other two I listed. Very cool.

And that’s probably good for now. Not everything need be console-based, although it would be fun if a programming guru decided to adopt one of these ideas for text-based systems. Nothing implied in that though, of course. … :oops:

I must work harder: DSL at 150Mhz, 32Mb

This is not the first time I have used Damn Small Linux on the Mebius. Since June or so, when I bought it, I’ve used DSL as a sort of backup or interloper distro, usually for the purpose of installing others across USB.

But in fairness, I made a point of installing it directly to the hard drive, and the lesson learned is: I must work harder.

Usually any number of well-meaning but late-to-the-party visitors suggest DSL when I talk about distros that will work at 150Mhz, with 32Mb on board. It’s the obvious pick.

Probably in the same way any number of well-meaning but again late-to-the-party visitors will suggest Slitaz or Tiny Core or Puppy Linux or Debian. And I say thank you for the suggestions, but I’ve been down those roads.

There are no surprises with DSL. It’s been around as long, if not longer, than I can remember. I am only half saddened that it’s not actively developed any longer, since it’s just as usable now as it ever has been.

To be fair to DSL and to be fair to some of the other distros I’ve looked at lately, DSL did need a little prodding to get into fully usable condition.

Installation went fine, although I used only one “gigantic” 512Mb partition for both the system and home, and a teeny little 128Mb for swap. And a vast wilderness of about 7Gb beyond, unallocated.

The screen needed a little bit of tweaking, but the xsetup.sh script does all the work for you, so there wasn’t anything difficult in getting it to jump to the right size and right dimensions.

In total, the system uses only about 16 of the 29Mb available, which gives lots of space for applications or frills. Programs start snappy, with no swapping or lag, as I have had in the past with other systems.

Network is a little bit of a stumbling point for me; the wireless cards I usually rely on — and which I am sure have worked in the past — don’t seem to respond.

Wired ones however, for example ne2000-based cards, work great. If I string a cable to the router, it’s a champion in the true sense of the word.

Wireless is a bit tricky for some reason, in the 4.4.10 release. For the record, I’ve tried orinoco, rt61 and ath5k-based cards, with no luck. No major loss though; my router is only about a meter from the computer.

No, the real kick in the teeth is sound. Not only does DSL find the ISA sound card in this machine, but it configures it properly, sets the volume, and has it up and running even before the desktop appears. (I can hear a little speaker hiss when it comes online.)

And miracle of miracles: Playback is smooth and clean. No stuttering, no skipping, no lag — I’m using the same audio files that were more or less unplayable at any speed below 200Mhz with Crux, archlinux-i586, Debian. …

So obviously I’m doing something wrong. I have managed to wade through the jungle of setting up featherweight, custom-built desktops, and I can get sound working on a minimum of resources.

But DSL is still miles ahead of me in the grand scale of things. My own versions sound like someone singing through spinning fan blades. DSL sounds like the real deal (disregarding that speaker hiss I mentioned … that’s just a fact of 14-year-old laptop speakers :roll: ).

So I can’t pat myself on the back just yet. If I can get things working right, in the same way DSL can, I’ll consider myself vaguely successful. But until that day … I will work harder. :D

Goodbye, Lowarch

The time has come to say goodbye. For almost two years now I’ve seeded the Lowarch ISO and made it available for download either via bittorrent or from a free hosting site.

But now it’s something like three years old, really. Even archlinux-i586.org hasn’t seen an update in more than a year, and holding on to an ISO that predates that by two years is almost silly.

Good times were had, but they are done now. There are still Pentium-era machines out there in serviceable condition, but there’s no need to clutch to that ISO as if it were some sort of crucial tool.

From where I stand though, there are still some options for 586-based machines, to include Debian and (almost) anything Debian-based, Slitaz, and of course ground-level distros like Crux, Gentoo or Linux From Scratch.

With that many solid, reliable and active options out in the wild, there’s no reason to carry a torch. Cheers and salud. :roll:

A console goodie grab bag

I have a few applications that I have tinkered with, but didn’t make a big enough impression to warrant a full post. Just in the interest of safekeeping the notes I made about them, I’m going to leave a list here, for the future.

ecasound

I found ecasound a long time ago, when I was troubleshooting sound on one Pentium or another. I had hoped that it would help give me some insight in how to set up the ISA sound card, but it wasn’t until much later that I found the answer to that.

Regardless, ecasound has an interactive interface for sound processing, including playback and mixing and quite a few other goodies. I am not enough of a sound geek to want to experiment much with it; if it appeals to you, give it a try.

P.S.: It was last updated in August, so it’s definitely not stale.

id3lib

If you are one of those programmer types who is looking for a project, I have a suggestion: An id3 renaming and tagging application for the console.

Technically speaking, I suppose id3lib by itself can do those things, but like most libraries it’s a bit unwieldy for large collections or heavy-duty editing and fine-tuning. Finding and searching and replacing, for example.

It’s not impossible to use this strictly as a command line tool, or even a la the hacky ogg editor I clumped together a while ago. But something with a bit more panache would be nice.

ised

ised is another command-line calculator, but intended to work in a way that resembles sed. It does have an interface of sorts, so it can function in a way similar to bc or wcalc.

I suppose as a background tool to a script or program that needed heavy calculations, ised would be great. I tried it once a while back and while it does what it promises, that’s about all I remember.

look

look was mentioned as an alternative when I mentioned aspell about six months ago. It relies on the /usr/share/dict/words or /usr/share/dict/web2 files though, and neither of those files appears in any of my systems, even if look does.

It does apparently have uses beyond just checking your spelling, so if it has a use for you that I seem to have skimmed over, let me know.

mdocml

Similarly, mdocml was offered to me via email as a substitute to the man utility, mostly on the grounds that it’s a faster and lighter tool than man.

If I understand it correctly, man relies on groff, which is rather heavy and at times unreliable. If there’s some sort of man vs. mdocml war going on though, it’s news to me.

I usually keep a machine online to check command options or look for example syntax. I rarely use man and have actually run systems that didn’t use it, but I won’t argue if a lighter, faster document interface is helpful to you.

nanoblogger

This one is a bit dusty from sitting in my list for so long. I made a note of it about a year and a half ago, when I was looking for a command-line blogging client, and found charm.

For a few moments I thought nanoblogger was what I was looking for, but it’s actually the opposite, if I understand it right. nanoblogger is the engine, not so much a client.

So if you want something incredibly light to serve as the basis for a web log, something that you host on your own and don’t use an external service for, it might be just right. And it’s actively updated, which is always a good thing.

nn

nn is a newsreader with a long history, if I understand it right. I don’t have much to tell about this one, mostly because I don’t know much about newsreading services. Sorry.

I do know things like alpine and slrn and so forth, and that they too can read news services, but I somehow missed over that intermediary step in life. I have no experience here. :|

orpie

orpie is another calculator, and one I would probably like a lot, except for two things: First, it needs not only ocaml to build, but ocaml-gsl, and those two together are rather hefty for most of the machines I own.

The other thing is that it’s a reverse polish notation calculator, which is something slightly alien to me. I was required to use an RPN calculator in high school, but it’s not something I’m terrifically comfortable with. I don’t think I’ve used one since then.

On the other hand, it does have a really slick interface and quite a few advanced options. Don’t miss out on this one.

password-wallet

This is a newer project by the look of it, and basically stores passwords in an encrypted text file. The owner can edit the text file and feel reasonably comfortable that their passwords are secure.

I tried it briefly a few months ago and it did what it promised, but again, beyond that I don’t have much to say. I can see where this might be useful though, for example in combination with ssh.

qodem

As a terminal emulator I suppose this has a practical side. I have almost no experience to report with anything that is claims to support though, so I am very much uninitiated on this one.

I would recommend checking it though, since it seems to be receiving updates — some within the last few weeks — so it may be that my ignorance is unknowingly embarrassing. :oops:

rdiffdir

rdiffdir is part of the duplicity package, which is in and of itself a rather nifty set of tools. I could show you rdiffdir and post a couple of screenshots, but I wouldn’t be doing a better job that what is already done here.

This is a great tool for someone who needs to synchronize between folders at home and at work, or on non-networked machines. I used it once a long time ago when I was diligent and dedicated and wanted to keep a mirror of my work directory on my home machine. Not so much these days … :(

svgatextmode

This I couldn’t find much documentation on, and the few places where it is mentioned (like on Freshmeat, above), it is already a decade out of use and probably not really what I need.

If anyone can vouch for it, please leave a note. I turned up my nose because I doubted it would run on newer software, but that comes with the admission that it’s running on older hardware. ;)

That’s all for now. I can clear some of these off my to-do list. And as always, if you know about something that I don’t, please share. :)

Oh great, another addiction: OpenRA

I’ve said before I’m not a huge gamer, but this is really great stuff.

I was never a giant Red Alert fan; I played it enough times to have a few fond memories, but not anything that would cause a crying fit.

On the other hand, OpenRA is a fantastic rendition. Sound effects, graphics and game play are all subtle mimics of what I remember from the original game.

It is, however, obviously a work in progress. Some of the sophisticated units, for example, are labeled “TODO,” and here and there debug messages pop up. And I don’t remember attack dogs chewing up concrete walls.

And it needs a few embellishments that seem lacking, given RTS games in the current day and age. Just to illustrate, it would be nice to have some patrol commands, or grouping functions. I can’t seem to find those.

But none of that impedes an otherwise exceptional game, even in this early state. And Arch users in particular can rejoice: For once, a downloadable package specific to the distro. :mrgreen:


Welcome!



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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