101 uses for a dead distro

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

I’ve been spending a rather inordinate amount of time trying to get the ugly little laptop working with the corpse of Lowarch. I know, it’s a lost cause, but it’s not without some success.

First, I don’t know why I’m getting that bizarre 848×480 letterbox effect. I think X is having a hard time reading the proper dimensions for the screen with the old 1.4.1 siliconmotion driver. I recompiled the 1.5.1 driver off the freedesktop.org site, but I was getting a horrendous flicker effect from it; that might be my X settings, or it might be the way I compiled it. Either way, vesa works fine and at the proper resolution, so I’ll probably use that and just suffer the laggy redraws.

So far I’ve rebuilt ObConf 1.6, using the source code in the Ubuntu archives, of all places (the old ObConf isn’t available off the Openbox Web site … or at least I couldn’t find it there). I might try building Openbox 3.4.4 on this machine, but I don’t know how it will go.

I’ve also put rxvt-unicode 8.4 in place — which I prefer because it can handle xft fonts — and emelfm2, which was a breeze to compile. I also added Leafpad 0.8.12, because I know from experience that earlier versions (like, from a year ago when the Lowarch repo was built) have search-and-replace bugs that can be exceptionally annoying.

I installed Sylpheed 2.2.6 from the Lowarch repos, which is good enough for me (I am not a connossieur of e-mail clients), and a few other piddling programs. My goal here is to see what I can get working, and comfortably.

My only real fear is trying to get a browser into place. Too many sub-dependencies and I end up recompiling for hours just to get one teeny library that may or may not work. If I can get anything that will browse, I will consider myself exceedingly lucky.

But for now that luck is holding. I’ll add a few more little applications and call it complete.

I’m not sure why this intriguing to me now. It’s performance that I’m after I suppose. I keep installing this and installing that, and while they all do the job, they don’t do it like (Low)Arch does. It’s hard to compare a two-minute boot with distro X when this gets to the desktop in under 45 seconds.

Anyway, I’m sure it will disappear in a day or two. Like everything else, it’s a learning experience. 🙂


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