Settling in at 100Mhz

I ran into a busy spot at work over the past few days, so there’s little to tell or share. My last advance in usability for the 100Mhz laptopawesome with console applications — seems to have set in for the long run. I haven’t traced the root of the memory issue, or for that matter come up with faster hard drive yet. But both of those things are in the future.

Right now though, I’m finding I can do more and more with this old machine, which is either a testament to lightweight console applications, or an offhanded slur against how little I actually do that’s worthwhile. 🙄

But what’s clear is that elinks, irssi, Charm and a few other programs are keeping me occupied and enthused, moreso than I usually am. System performance is still substandard, since any program switching or movement between programs triggers disk access, and the drive that’s in here is just too darn slow to be tolerated. In the short run it’s the only one I’m willing to use, but by the end of the week I should have a new one in place. My hope is that even if the memory stick proves utterly useless, a faster drive will mean tolerable swapping, at least.

Here’s the short list of applications that are on this machine.

I’m still using nano to draft these posts (as you might have guessed from the whacked-out post formatting from time to time 🙄 ), and that’s probably not going to change for a while. WordGrinder, as much as I would like to use it, has a rather gnarled list of dependencies that will need solved before I can transplant it to Crux. It’s on my to-do list though. If I can find a nice, solid block of about four hours of free time, all of these things could be checked off. … 🙄

Charm works great on this machine, although I do have to manually edit the 1.9.1 version, in the manner reacocard explained here. But the actual function of Charm is sufficiently light that it doesn’t require extra effort to use. One hundred megahertz is plenty.

Chatting is like random noise to me, but it’s fun sometimes to watch the conversations scroll past. irssi does the job without complaint, and so I usually let it run without actually participating. So if you see me online in #crux or #archlinux or somewhere, don’t take it personally if I seem to be ignoring you. 🙂

It sounds funny to say it, but elinks is the heavyweight in this configuration. It can regularly eat up as much as 40 percent of my meager processor power, and a large 12 percent of my 13Mb of memory left (according to htop, that is). When it’s idling it drops to more acceptable levels, but the action of accessing the Web and converting all its junk into an acceptable shape is rather taxing, for 100Mhz. Just the same, it’s doing the job well, and there’s little Firefox can do that it can’t. Yes, except for display images, and that extension that you’re about to mention, that you can’t live without.

I’ve had two disappointments in recent days; the first was Raggle, which didn’t want to cooperate and bogged down the system so badly that it went from pityable to unusable. As far as I can tell Raggle was the only program on the system to use Ruby, so I have a feeling between that and ncurses-ruby and Raggle itself, there was just a little too much being asked.

I was also just a little set back by mutt, which seemed like more effort than it was worth to install. I realize that mutt is what separates the true geeks from the wannabes, but in this case, I didn’t really want all that work just to check an e-mail address.

Instead, I grabbed alpine, and found it sufficiently useful to keep it on hand. I would like to configure it to use multiple accounts, if that’s possible. I’ve just barely scraped the surface, and so while I don’t see a visible option for checking more than one account, it might be in there somewhere. And if you want a great, two-second howto for setting up alpine and GMail, go here.

After that, I should mention that I have htop and mc installed as the obligatory system monitor and file manager (there is none higher), and while I could install cplay, I never did sort out the sound issues on this machine, and so anything audio is … moot point. It’s okay, it’s not critical. On the other hand, cmatrix is critical, and so it’s installed. 🙂

But I think that’s about everything. I use scrot and feh as a matter of course, but I set the background with xsetroot because feh is too sluggish for that task. I have rxvt-unicode installed, but I might switch to xterm since it’s probably lighter, I don’t use complex fonts and I don’t need pseudotransparency.

In case you haven’t figured out where I’m going with all this, I’m wondering how much of my day-to-day use can be relegated to this 100Mhz machine. Naturally there are some cracks in its armor — for one thing, I don’t know of any console replacement for Zim, but I heard of one or two that might take the place of Osmo.

If it turns out I can actually live for a day — or two, or longer — I might adopt it for daily use. It’s a long road though, and time always seems to be my limiting factor.


17 thoughts on “Settling in at 100Mhz

  1. IceBrain

    Wow, the mention of Feh as “sluggish” blow my mind 😛

    But I don’t think xterm is lighter than urxtv, as long as you use urxvtc and urxvtd, as it only uses on process for all your terminal windows. Of course, if you only use one window, there’s no savings at all 😀

    But using a computer without a graphical browser and where feh is sluggish I would just “dump” Xorg and simply use the console, along with Screen.

  2. Onyros

    Or snownews –> <– it’s even set up with nano as the editor (instead of vim,which is what I use). It’s a 1 second tutorial on mutt right there 😛

    It’s actually one of the most straightforward config files I’ve seen, so I don’t get it when people say mutt is a pain in the… butt to configure.

    The mailcap, aliases (an address book of sorts, even though you can use abook with mutt, too), urlview (it’s in the AUR), lynx or elinks for html in emails (bleh!) and feh for images and you’re all set.

    I’m interested, though, in what you have there that could be a low spec replacement for Osmo…

  3. Onyros

    Ah, raggle is resource-hungry, indeed… I’d recommend snownews as another alternative, it’s all a matter of taste, in the end. I prefer snownews’ layout, though, and it’s as simple and slim as they get.

    As for mutt… you gotta give it a shot, really! I have a (very simplified) sample that’ll help you get started, if you’re interested, right here –> <–, I even set it up with nano and wrapping (which, in Arch, you’ll only get if you compile nano-wrap from the AUR), ‘cos I know you’re not vimmed, yet. YET.

    But you’ll be mutted, once you try it. You won’t look back. Just fetch (pun somewhat intended) urlview (also in the AUR, dunno why it’s not in the official repos), use lynx or elinks for (eek!) html in emails, feh for image viewing when needed, and you’re all set.

    Set up the aliases, which is an address book of sorts, or you can even use the also previously recommended abook with mutt; take care of the mailcap, keybindings if need be and define mailboxes… You’re gonna be hooked, it has the best IMAP implementation of all email clients I’ve tested, it’s faster and more reliable than anything you’ve used.

    I wonder what lightweight alternatives you’ve found to Osmo! I know a trio that I use on the N800, but they’re actually 3 apps, and have a couple of dependencies I don’t enjoy much (Pimlico’s dates, tasks, contacts). I do like my Osmo, though 😉

  4. johnraff

    @IceBrain: I’m not sure – maybe rxvt was based on xvt, just as urxvt was based on rxvt, but by a different person.
    Anyway xvt comes up much faster than urxvt for me – if the bash shell is already loaded then a new xvt window is almost instantaneous, while urxvt takes 3 seconds. (450MHz cpu)
    Htop reports memory use of 0.3% (of 504MB) for xvt, 0.4% for urxvt.
    The difference might be greater on this 100Mhz/16MB machine.

  5. Onyros

    Sorry for the double post back there, I had posted initially with Dillo, and it looked like it had failed posting, hence the rewriting!

    BTW, searching for a console replacement for Osmo, I found this beauty here –> <–

    Meaningless to say, ncurses, looking smashing in my fake transparency urxvt… it’s a winner!

  6. wolf


    For those old computers you love to play with, Mutt is the only way to fly. It uses maybe 20% of the resources.maybe less ( if you can believe htop) as does Claws and is really easy, very easy to set up. Easy if you can get the right tutorial which I finally stumbled across on the net and have somehow lost the bookmark for. I think they try to confuse people as to how to configure it.

    Biggest problem with Mutt though is I’ve come to believe it is for those who love complexity. After using it for a few months I decided I was just being sort of a masochist and went back to Claws. Don’t have to remember anything with it, just click a mouse and type.

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  9. Onyros

    K., just to let you know that the image is not loading in this post either 😉

    (Time to drop altogether, huh?)

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Got it, thanks. Yes, I’m afraid I couldn’t recommend their service to anyone, knowing now that there’s the chance an image would be replaced with ads like this. 😦

      Let me know if you see any others. …


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