Putting the Pentium back to work

It’s been a few months since I worked with my old Pentium laptop. The ambient humidity has fallen a little bit since the local rainy season ended, and as a result the hardware eccentricities on a 13-year-old laptop have evened out a little. In other words, I’m not afraid I’ll send spontaneous pulses of electricity through the thing, just by turning it on.

Initially I wanted to rebuild the graphical desktop I created about six months ago, for no other reason than morbid curiosity. I found the Musca window manager on the Arch Forums the other day, and I was thinking that might be even more appealing than Awesome … since Musca apparently weighs in at an emaciated 600Kb+, while running. It sounded perfect for a machine that has only 16Mb of memory to start with.

But it was not to be. I’ve tried two different installations, building each one by scratch on a surrogate machine, and neither one would reach the graphical desktop. X complains every time that there is inadequate memory to start anything graphical, which is odd, since I have proof of the opposite.

But hey, I had wondered the same thing, often for weeks at a time, way back in February. How in the world did I get it working so many times in the winter? Beats me. Maybe it’s the humidity again.

But anyway, I took the hint and decided what I could really use is a dedicated machine for passing files back and forth between the other two. And a host for the only two torrents I actually feel “responsible” for — the old Lowarch ISO and the short-lived Ubuntu GTK1.2 Remix. And a Crux ports server. And … and … and …

So I rebuilt the thing, this time using the freshest software cut-to-fit a Pentium Classic, and set it up with ssh, nfs, rtorrent, screen-vs, cron and so forth. I’m keeping it on a wired connection this time, mostly because I don’t see any real improvement between the quirky ASIX-based Corega card I found, or the ancient Linksys WPC11 card I sometimes use. The internal hardware freaks out when it sees transfers above 256Kbps or so anyway. That’s so low that nothing is lost or gained by using one card or the other.

And I like it in this role. It’s silent, it’s low-power, it doesn’t need a raft of side packages to do the job, and it makes me feel like an old, old machine is finally getting back to work, instead of sitting in the closet.

That’s my goal. :mrgreen:


1 thought on “Putting the Pentium back to work

  1. Pingback: Musca and e3, with space left over « Motho ke motho ka botho

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