Testing a theory of usability

I made a comment a few months ago about conceivably downscaling everything and learning to live off the fat of the land … plus a 300Mhz Pentium II-era machine. Well, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

For the record, the computer you see in that picture is a Celeron, running at 300Mhz with 64Mb of memory. The hard drive is 4Gb and it’s running Arch Linux with screen-vs and fbterm. The usual array of software is installed, with very few exceptions (I think I left out freecell 🙄 ). This machine has a single USB1.1 port, is using the finicky Corega ath5k-based wireless card and I have a CD reader as well.

It’s definitely the technology of the last century; I had a faster computer than this before the dials turned on 2000. And in addition to being something of a thumbsucker, I have the added joy of a row of lifeless keys which means the teeny-tiny external keyboard is in the picture too. Luckily I have an ancient USB hub that I got nobody-knows-where, so I can expand on that one port, to a small degree.

If you’ve been visiting this site for a while, you’ll remember that, about a year and a half ago, I shoved everything into the closet and ran at 100Mhz for a week. This is not an attempt to reproduce that experiment, particularly because after that stunt, living at 300Mhz isn’t even a tiny challenge. This is really just a test run of sorts, to get an answer to my theory that 300Mhz would be a bottom-of-the-barrel compromise between practical and minimal, for me at least.

And this is nowhere near as spartan an arrangement as before. I still have my Thinkpad on the other side of the room, playing music and seeding torrents, and I control that through ssh. I will still be checking this site with another computer, to make sure no one is dumping spam image links in here (I learned my lesson :roll:). And I have my addiction to Warzone 2100 v2.3 to feed. :mrgreen:

But maybe for a day, maybe for two or three days, or maybe for a week, I’ll give this a try. A banged up, beaten down, ugly, cantankerous and somewhat functional Celeron with a dozen years of service under its belt might not be a dream machine for most people, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do something useful around the house. … 😉

6 thoughts on “Testing a theory of usability

  1. gruen

    I was running a Pentium MMX, 267MHz, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD notebook for a while. It was Debian (Sarge?) by that time with a 2.4 Kernel and Fluxbox (just to run a xterm window) and screen. I could play music and podcast but that machine was way too slow for video. For webbrowsing I used ELinks and Dillo, and Mutt for Mail. It was a lot of fun with that formerly windows 98 machine. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Not with a whimper but a bang « Motho ke motho ka botho

  3. zenfunk

    Did you get any chance to try out your usability theory befor the machine gave out?
    To be frank, with a machine that fast I ran puppy linux with X- server and some GTK apps quite happily.
    I even made a remaster of it for all my other low end machines.

    Cheers, Christian

  4. Pingback: The lesson of the Celeron « Motho ke motho ka botho

  5. Pingback: fbterm on a 150Mhz Pentium MMX, 32Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

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