New solutions to old puzzles

I spent most of the day building Crux 2.4 (yes, 2.4) off the i586 ISO on my 100Mhz laptop — and that should be enough to figure out why I said “most of the day.” I was curious this time, as I have been in the past, about squeezing it all into 810Mb.

Which is technically impossible, but can be done with a couple of tricks. Like I mentioned, the first and most important thing was to shave the swap partition down to 128Mb, and leave the remainder as root-and-boot-and-home. With ext2 as the file system and no root user reserved space, it fits, but only slightly.

It’s not possible to compile the kernel — or for that matter, to even decompress it, and have enough space for a graphical system. So I have two ways around that: First, leave out the graphical system. It’s a little extreme, but on a machine this slow, it’s almost preferable. If I get a little more memory I might not have to suffer constant paging in X, but that remains to be seen.

The other option is to hook another drive into the chrooted system during installation, and do all the compiling from there. That I also mentioned before.

But another nifty trick is to do basically the same thing with the ports folder: Hitch the root drive in the Inspiron to that folder, and build packages on the host system drive. Or even better, create a symbolic link into the existing ports tree and then there’s no need to have two trees on the same drive.

I have an added complication, but only because I use an Intel PRO/2200BG wireless card in this laptop. I can’t get network access from the installation CD, because the firmware has to be compiled separately from the kernel, and I don’t know of a way to inject it into the live system.

Which makes the building of a piggybacked system a little tricky. The next best solution I have for that is to boot into the existing, ready system, and chroot from that into the modular drive. That way the kernel on the Inspiron configures the wireless network, and the hosted system only needs to assign a network address to it with dhcpcd eth0.

And the added benefit is that I can download source packages, build them for the Pentium and install them in much less time than it would take otherwise.

This time I put together two different systems on the Pentium — one Openbox and one full-blown IceWM system. Here’s the latter.

Both of them are particularly slow on this hardware; I enabled antialiasing this time and the results are terrible. Constant thrashing at the hard drive, two- and three-minute startups, and so forth. It is possible, like I mentioned, that more memory would make the delays somehow bearable, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

I have a plan for this machine, believe it or not. It’s going to take a little effort, but I have a feeling this one will be a winner. Now all I need is enough time to put all the pieces together. …


6 thoughts on “New solutions to old puzzles

  1. rafa

    How did you manage to put Crux in such a system?.
    I have a Pentium I laptop with 90Mb and the Crux install
    CD even fails to decompress the squashfs image to begin
    the installation.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Are you using the i586 version? Remember that the standard Crux CD is precompiled for i686s, and your Pentium won’t run that.

  2. rafa

    Yes, I’m using the i586 version …
    The installation disk starts decompressing the
    squashfs image and copying it’s contents to the
    RamDisk. At some point in the middle of the copy
    error messages about no space left on the device start
    to appear. I assume this is because the RamDisk is full …
    Anyway the copy finishes with errors and I’m dropped to
    the login prompt. At this point when I try to run
    setup I’m greeted with an error message saying than
    the system can’t find some files (presumably the
    files that couldn’t be copied).

  3. K.Mandla Post author

    Odd. You might double-check your CD in case you got a poor copy. The only other suggestion I would have is to pre-partition the host drive and create a swap space. It’s possible the “live” system wants a place to swap to, and that might help it get going.

    Otherwise, do like I have to do … pull the drive and install on a different machine. … 😐


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