Pictures at an exhibition

With apologies to Mussorgsky, here are a few framebuffer screenshots of the two Crux systems I have running without X now. One I mentioned a few days ago (sorry for the lack of attention; I am counting the days until the first full week of July) when I told about the larger Thinkpad coming back from the repair shop. The smaller, of course, is the machine I use daily for everything from writing up blog posts to distracting myself with Freecell, to digging around the Internet for the correct name for an old symphony. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All of these use screen with the vertical split patch, although dvtm would probably be a worthy alternative. I think screen-vs has a little more freedom in arranging and slicing up your LCD real estate than dvtm, and I feel screen-vs is a little faster on the redraw for most applications. However, I certainly wouldn’t discount it as an option.

As mentioned elsewhere, this is more or less the standard setup for my torrent machine, a 24-7 online machine.

That puts rtorrent at the top in a slim box, letting me just take a look at the status without too many details. It also leaves elinks on the screen in a box of considerable size, while giving me a proper system profile and a good look at network traffic with slurm. That’s what I like, all at the same time.

I threw this together the other day, and recreated it this morning as another option for that machine. It takes a little while to get it quite right, but it’s good when it’s done.

Similar applications, mostly because I don’t have too many options for software on that machine. No point in installing a long list of (albeit lightweight) programs that I wouldn’t use. But this arrangement gives me a little more space for elinks, while chipping down a little at the space for the system profile. I have both iftop and slurm running this time in smaller areas, while leaving open a root prompt.

(This machine is set to automatically sync with the Crux repositories once a day, and automatically update itself. The other two machines can refresh against it, and since all three are Coppermines, I can just install the compiled package on the little Thinkpad or the Inspiron. Convenient, yes?)

That arrangement also pushes rtorrent to the sky, but this time squeezes htop into a slim bar at the bottom, where I get only the CPU, memory and swap meters. Sort of conky-esque, don’t you think?

Back to the little computer now. Here’s an unusual arrangement, but useful when writing up a blog post or digging up information on troublesome hardware.

At 800×600 this allows elinks most of the screen, with both hnb and vim getting a share. I have alpine showing in one little window there, but it’s usually where I put Charm if I am concocting another Internet complaint. It’s functional and fast, and I can use screen’s copy-and-paste tools to move information between applications. Thank goodness for that. …

This is more of a distraction than anything. MPlayer, vitetris and myman, all at once.

Not that I watch my DVD rips while playing two games at a time. It’s just an example of using the thing as a complete waste of time, instead of work-work-work. :mrgreen:

But this one is the most practical, and most common for this machine. This puts all the good stuff together on one plate, and still has lots of area for more.

MPlayer for a distraction, system profiles on the left, elinks and alpine on the right. Usually I pop centerim or irssi in and out of those right-hand boxes, or do whatever needs to be done with mc or vim. The right-side boxes are around 400×300, more or less, and the left side are usually about 400×200. Good sizes for most applications; not too small, but not overbearing either.

As yet-another endorsement of an X-less system, I have to repeat how satisfying it is to build a machine like this. Boot times are as low as 11 seconds for the 550Mhz machine; even less for the faster ones. System overhead, as you can see in the screenshots, is so slim as to be unnoticable, and unless you’re doing something processor-intensive, you’ll probably never see any real CPU or RAM use.

You don’t have to suffer through X software revisions, video driver glitches or system-wide software substitutions. As you can see, I still watch movies, and I still swap photos with family members. And I suppose if I wanted, I could probably scrape YouTube for those precious Flash videos of snails racing, convert them, and watch them against the framebuffer. Not interested personally, but I know it’s crucial to some. ๐Ÿ™„

10 thoughts on “Pictures at an exhibition

  1. tigrmesh

    Youtube against the framebuffer? No problem. youtube-dl downloads youtube videos and saves them as .flv, which mplayer can play.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I had heard about youtube-dl, but still haven’t found anything so terribly interesting that I need to try it with. :mrgreen:

  2. Primo

    That’s interesting, any suggestions where one can find a cheap sub 1GHz laptop. Would be pretty cool to have a similar setup.

    1. mulenmar

      eBay is your friend, in that department. They have an Operating System section for Linux, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Or find some poor soul struggling with Windows XP on a laptop who’s planning to “upgrade” to newer hardware and buy it off of them.

    2. K.Mandla Post author

      I’ll second mulenmar’s suggestion — ask around and usually someone has a leftover computer they’re willing to give away, if not sell.

      Check recycling centers and thrift shops too. Or if you want a lot at once. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. mulenmar

    Cool, I’m listed in Alpine in one of your screenshots. I’m internet immortal! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyhow, you said you’ve pushed the boot to 11 seconds?!? HOW?!? I’ve seen (and used many tweaks from) your 16-second Crux boot howto, but how did you shorten it further?

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Actually I’ve trimmed that down quite a bit since I first posted it. I should update that page.

      Aside from that though, just omitting X shaves 5 seconds off the boot time, easily. I use ext2 only, keep partitions small and the time to boot to the login in just under 11 seconds.

      Some of the tips on that age-old Ubuntu speedup page also help.

      1. mulenmar

        Awesome! (Pun intended, although I do prefer Ion…) Iยดve read and used almost all of those tweaks, except most of the script tweaking — aside from some reordering to put preload earlier, Iยดd rather steer clear of messing with SysV-style scripts. They confuse the transistors out of me. And the broadband settings are on my to-do list…but I donยดt really need them. ๐Ÿ™‚

        They all seem to work perfectly on Debian as well, btw — no suprise there.

        Looking forward to your future posts!

  4. Jeff Flowers

    Very nice write up. I would give it a try, but I move between Arch Linux and OpenBSD, and since OpenBSD does not have framebuffer support, I have to use X if I want a consistant UI between both OSes.

  5. colonelcrayon

    You continue to amaze. I really need Xvesa for OpenOffice and the occasional graphical web page, but these are some great tips.


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