Category Archives: Arch Linux Forums

Lowering the bar

I don’t know what it is about my character that enjoys making things more difficult for myself, but I’m presently rebuilding Xorg off the Crux 2.5 rc1 CD, again. But this time it’s for the ancient laptop, with the added dilemma of using the old, original 810Mb hard drive.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t worry about the size of the drive, but it became rather obvious very early on that this was going to be an interesting complication.

First of all, if I partition the drive with the 64Mb slice I usually devote to /boot, plus a 256Mb swap partition, then I’m left with only 490Mb of free space — and that’s not really enough to hold the system files.

Part of that problem is because Crux drops in the uncompiled 2.6.27-series kernel, uncompressing it in a giant tree that, along with the fresh packages, takes up a considerable amount of space. Technically the Crux installer ends with errors when I try that stunt, because there’s not not enough space for everything.

So I trimmed down the swap space to 128Mb and reallocated the /boot partition to the main root, which should, in a manner of speaking, give back that space to the main directory. So I have a whopping 682Mb available for fun and profit (provided of course, that I also reduce the root-reserved space to zero percent when I format the drive — mkfs.ext2 -m 0 /dev/hdc1).

Well, that’s still not enough, so I’ve been getting creative.

I’m piggybacking the modular drive into the Inspiron, but only after removing the cushioning pads from the drive tray, because as I mentioned before, the drive is slightly taller than a standard laptop hard drive. No real inconvenience, although now the drive heads smack against the frame from time to time, reverberating through the drive case into the plastic shell, which means the left palmrest of my Inspiron occasionally makes an echoing CLACK-CLACK-CLACK sound. Rather amusing really, once I got used to it. 😆

I also managed to circumvent my drive-password issues by entering the BIOS and acknowledging the settings that were there already before proceeding with a boot. It seems to be okay; I’m no longer harassed about a boot password for that drive, and that’s good.

(Rather than mirror the drive to a file I decided to just blank it and move on — I have little use for a Japanese installation of Windows 95 that has no network access. If I want that, I’ll just install IceWM and dummy up the environment to look like Win95. And yank the network card, just to complete the picture. 🙄 )

I started the installation process and let the kernel decompression crap out, then chrooted into the system and mounted the system drive I already had in there to the /usr/src directory. Then I downloaded the current kernel from, then moved it to /usr/src and decompressed it. Then, as an added inconvenience, I downloaded the 2.4 ISO and mounted that too — since gcc won’t work for me off the 2.5 CD — and compiled the kernel.

Whew! But it’s not over.

Everything went fine, because it’s doing all it’s compiling and compressing and whatnot through to the main system drive. But the next problem is that all of the software has to be recompiled for i586 (or --march=pentium, technically) or most of it won’t run, so I issued a papal bull with prt-get listinst | xargs prt-get update --margs="-f" and let it run overnight.

But the problem this morning, of course, is that larger compilations — like glibc, perl and python — don’t have enough space either.

Boy oh boy, if it’s not one thing, it’s another isn’t it?

All right: Problem, we solve it. I copied out the .config I made for the kernel, since that’s the most crucial part, and dismounted the /usr/src directory. Technically I was done with that.

Then I moved the entire updated ports tree from /usr/ports to a thumb drive so I would have a backup copy, and emptied the /usr/ports directory. Then I remounted the system drive to /usr/ports and replaced everything there.

Is any of this making any sense?

Anyway, it is working again, with the larger packages compiling properly — and probably more quickly, although only by a fraction since the drive can read and write faster than the old, old one. Once they’re built, they install automatically back to the 810Mb drive since the path and tree are still within the chrooted environment.

And with any luck, in about eight hours, I’ll have a working desktop for my FMV-5100 again.

Or at least, that’s the plan. And no doubt there’s something I’ve overlooked or misconfigured, which will hamstring the entire system and force me to start over from scratch.

And that, of course, will be because the entire time, I’ve been typing with my fingers crossed. Superstitious? Yes … how did you know? :mrgreen:


Arch repositories for i586

I’m not sure exactly how or when I’ll get a chance to try this, but I found this repository this morning on the Arch forums and I desperately want to see how well it works.

I’ve been hunting for a way to put Arch on an i586 that doesn’t involve a full system recompilation and that might just be the ticket. My plan right now is to shuffle between the old Lowarch ISO from two years ago, which is still downloadable from here, add that repository and see what happens.

If the test machine doesn’t erupt in a pillar of fire, I’ll call it a success. If you get a chance before me, let me know how it goes.

Gather round, gather round

The biannual discussion of stable releases for Arch Linux has begun again.

Yup, every now and again, Arch users come together from all over the planet to have a little love-fest and decide whether everybody’s favorite speed-freak-centric rolling-release distro should have stable snapshots.

There’s a lot of foofoorah, a lot of chest-pounding, some people threaten to leave Arch, some people threaten to fork Arch, some people offer to help do it, and then a major holiday appears and the whole thing evaporates. At least, that’s what usually happens.

Oh wait, you mean that was a zombie thread? A necromancing poster? Argh! 😐

Oh well, at least the timing is right. Halloween is right around the corner.

So I tell myself, just don’t update

I’m not any closer to tracking down the network issue that hamstrung my Thinkpad the other day, and since I needed it to run Crux for work this week, it made little difference either way.

Now that I can return it to its normal duties, I had hoped whatever bug had bit me would have been squashed, but it didn’t work out that way. The newest kernel and the newest dhcpcd, freshly installed via FTP, just didn’t want to give me any love. I tried the SACK and DSACK tricks on the Arch Linux forums, but still no luck.

So I decided rather than continue to flop around without a network connection, like fish without water, I’d just install from the core CD and not update.

It’s working fine, of course. I’m running the 2.6.25 kernel that was installed off the Overlord core ISO and the 3-something version of dhcpcd, and while I synced with the repositories with pacman -Sy, I haven’t added the -u flag to that to trigger a systemwide update. I could, I suppose, tell pacman to ignore both the kernel and dhcpcd and do that systemwide update anyway, but I’m still not confident where the issue lies, and so I’m not keen on smashing a system by installing the mystery package that eludes me. Call me shy

So anyway, until I can be sure where the problem lies, and how to fix it, I can run without a full upgrade. No ground lost, everything is still Arch-fast and working fine.

Openbox, the one-way window manager

This thread mostly speaks for itself — Has anyone ever been able to leave Openbox for good?

I can concur with the poster’s thoughts. No matter what window manager I use, I always end up rearranging it to make it closer to my Openbox setups. XFCE? Needs to be less pudgy around the corners, and needs an easier right-click menu. IceWM? Looks better without the taskbar, and IceWM-lite is just about right. Fluxbox? Too … Fluxboxy.

And really, how do you resist screenshots like these?

On the other hand, there are a few people who claim to have left OB for tiling window managers. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of them, but it’s hard to be sure some times. The screenshot arena sometimes tempts me. … 😐

That rollercoaster sensation

My first obstacle I ever faced in Linux was, like many people, a hamstrung wireless connection. And so even now, when my wireless connections falter — like they did this morning, after an update on my Thinkpad running Arch Linux — I get this stomach-dropping sensation, kind of like riding in the last car on a rollercoaster, as it makes the crest into a downhill sweep.

This time the culprit may or not have been dhcpcd, which jumped from 3-point-something to 4-point-something, and seems to be triggering errors when I ask for an address. What’s also curious though, is that I also have some module errors that appear on boot — firmware_class is kicked back with a fatal error message. Boot continues, but that’s not something that was happening a few days ago, and there was a kernel update too.

For now my troubleshooting sequence will be to install a clean and pure Arch system across FTP and see if those packages are just plain not happy, or if it was something I mismanaged in my old installation. From there I’ll try to track down similar cases on the forums, and maybe file a bug report. If experience is any indicator though, the problem is something I’ve done to my own system.

Edit: A clean installation with all-around default values erases the module error, but doesn’t help me get an IP address with dhcpcd. I’ve taken a look at this thread and some others like it, but so far, no luck.

Edit No. 2: Downgrading to 3-point-something doesn’t seem to solve it either. Perhaps this is something in the kernel, instead of in dhcpcd … ?

Chimera 1.72 on Ubuntu 8.04

This one turned out to be easier than I thought.


Of course, the reason it was easy is because dav7‘s instructions were fairly clear cut. The only real trick is hardwiring ./src/Makefile to point at the right directory, and after that it’s smooth sailing.

I needed the xorg-dev, imake and build-essential packages to finish it, and I put together a makeshift .deb file with checkinstall, and it seems to work. If you want to try it out, I put a copy here, along with some of the other curiosities I’ve been collecting lately.

Drop me a note and tell me if it works for you. Pages with PNG graphics are going to hang the browser, and of course it lacks any real protocols that postdate 1993 or so, but you might find it useful for some simple browsing, or for use on a machine with no graphical muscle at all. It’s a little clumsy at times and even just changing URLs is a bit of a pain, but what can you say? It works.

I guess I should say, if it doesn’t, let me know. 🙄