In every obstacle, opportunity

As I mentioned a day or two ago, the jump from xorg-server 1.5.3 to 1.6.0 on my Crux-running Thinkpad reduced my graphical system to a metaphorical pile of junk, and thus far nothing I have tried has restored my erstwhile-awesome Awesome desktop to life. Rebuilding xorg-server failed. Rebuilding the siliconmotion driver failed. Rebuilding the driver and the server failed and failed. It has been a long string of failures since Sunday morning, when I went ahead and pressed the enter key.

And I couldn’t be happier.

No, I’m not kidding. You see, after I realized I was spending a rather long amount of time trying to coax X back into action, I said to myself, “Self, this is stupid. For as much work as you’re putting into this twisted knot of electronic instructions, you could have built framebuffer support into your kernel, transmogrified a Pkgfile for dvtm and gotten the entire system back into the same condition as it was Saturday night, with plenty of time to spare.”

I have learned the wisdom of listening to myself, so that’s what I did. Twenty minutes later I had a working kernel with 16-bit framebuffer support at full 800×600. Ten minutes after that I had both dvtm and fbgrab installed on my machine, and now I have the complete system working in the same geography as I did under X, a day and a half ago.

I just don’t have to suffer through the ignominy of Xorg’s on-again, off-again miscreance.

In this arrangement I run two instances of tty. On the first, dvtm, like you see above, and on the other, screen. dvtm gives me the three-at-a-time convenience for things like alpine and calcurse alongside elinks.

screen, on the other hand, is much more useful for applications that I need real estate for — things like mc or moc. On that side, I can run larger windows that are easier to bounce between, but are more comfortable with some space.

For the console font, I’m using ter-112n, which is a dead ringer for the font I was using in X. And with the exception of the snazzy wallpaper, everything looks and acts the same.

I said a few weeks ago, after living at 100Mhz for a full week, that I wouldn’t have any compunction about doing it in the longer term. One of the things that convinced me then was the fact that I could get so much done — and at an acceptable pace — by eliminating X and relying only on console programs to do the same work.

I think this little episode with xorg-server is a revision of that lesson. I like Awesome, and a graphical environment is good. But there’s nothing to be gained in building and rebuilding and building and rebuilding in hopes of running across the magical combination that makes Xorg happy again. Better to do the same thing in a slightly different way.

Work smart, not hard. That’s what I learned today.

8 thoughts on “In every obstacle, opportunity

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      That was my initial attempt, but when I tried it, it behaved funny, so I didn’t think it was possible. I’ll try it again though since that’s easier than logging in twice.

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  2. Nugnuts

    It should definitely be possible; I’ve started doing it at work since learning about dvtm here (thanks, btw!).

    Also, I highly recommend remapping the screen escape character, especially if you use bash/emacs/whathaveyou. The C-a go-to-the-start-of-the-line functionality is too useful and too ingrained in my motor memory to have to escape itself (“C-a a” does the trick in screen). I personally use ‘t’ instead; a simple “escape ^tt” (or key of your choice, of course) in your .screenrc should do the trick.

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