Thursday, 29 June 2017

LXLE and a new lease of life

June 2017: LXLE brings a new lease of life

I'm stunned. I've got a linux system on my web book again.

Over time, I've become increasingly unhappy at the bloat that I see in Linux distro's. I can't be the only one.

Look, I only got hooked by the OS for a bet back in the very early 90's when someone bet me I'd never get X windows running on a Toshiba 386 SX 16 with 2MB of RAM and a meagre 512MB HDD. Or was it less than that ? 

They were almost right. The LUG-NUT CD that I ordered from Seattle for about five dollars by sending them an encrypted email using their public key (it took ALL AFTERNOON to encrypt that and almost as long again to send that in DOS through Demon Internet via a 9600 baud modem) featured two distros, Red Hat Linux and Slackware. Red Hat was a non starter, it needed 4MB of RAM.

But Slackware was a sleeker, leaner, meaner machine. Sort of. It took almost all of a subsequent saturday but I was able to power up the Intel powered portable brick, and around five minutes later saw a command line appear. Ten minutes later that, a command prompt accepted my startx command and fifteen after that, "xeyes" and a clock showed I'd won my bet. Nobody said i had to make it usable and the bottles of rather decent bubbly were graciously accepted  from a gallant loser.

But as time has gone on, Ubuntu has swallowed more and more of the capacity of desktops and laptops built to withstand Windows 8 and 10 ! Furthermore, as my last full post here said, Arch Linux, my original choice of an alternative OS when the "official" Ubuntu distro's started playing havoc with my mobile broadband sticks, decided its minimum architecture was now to be far more than the web-book offered, and if this was not acceptable, then the Arch way was not for me. So I consigned the web-book to the cupboard.

Until last week.I've been using various "low power" linux distros on other laptops and finally tripped over LXLE. LXLE Eclectica 16.04.2 to be precise.

Runs like a dream on an ACER Aspire laptop I used to develop Windows apps on, and so I thought I'd see what happens. 

To my utter amazement it not only booted, it installed and ran. It even avoided the horrible Panel Size firmware bug that makes most installs fail with an indecipherable display that has you running for an external VGA monitor

However, it has a few glitches, not least the fact it is currently stuck with a 640x480 screen, and terrible font thanks to shoehorning 640x480 onto what we all know is natively 1280x600. Ah well, that comes next

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Three Years Later

Well that was interesting

Arch Linux no longer boots on the web book. The Arch Linux Community says if you donlt like the way it's gone, maybe Arch is not for you. I could not agree more. A shame, but there is is.

Over and Out

Sunday, 1 August 2010

O2 And OpenZone

My word, is it two years already ?

It seems only yesterday that Carphone Warehouse Malpas Road Newport promised me faithfully they would have my Orange Mobile Broadband Stick AND my Elonex Web Book in time for a business trip, then failed to get either, and finally came up with the goods as far as the Web Book was concerned, but not the Mobile Broadband Stick, in time for a second trip.

Thank God for Best Western Hotels Free Wi-Fi.

But that was two years ago and the Orange contract is up next week. I've already cancelled it of course, it would be madness to carry on paying the stick plus webbook contract price.

But where to go next ? Ah the problems.

Orange persuaded me to carry on with a new 18 month contract at far less that I'm forking out, and in due course their wonder-stick arrived, and the web book completely ignored it. Orange say they support Bill '666' Gate's wonder OS, and Steve 'Lefties Should Hold Their Iphones In The Other Hand, Stoopid" Job's MACOs, and bugger all else. Which is why the stick went back.

Hey-Ho here we go again.

Three have a really neat device they call Mi-Fi. A little box that connects to their phone network and sprays out broadband connectivity as a "Wi-Fi Access Point". Cool idea for a range of boxes that don't do dongles very well. So, as an experiment, I shell out a quid or two to enable web access on my three phone (which I've only ever used for calls and SMS) and see how the coverage is. Disaster. At home (NP19 7) the coverage is dire and frequently drops out of 3G even though I'm on the third floor in the office. At work (CF3 5) you're lucky to get one bar on the phone service and 3G is a luxury. And at the pub (NP44 3) the coverage is even worse than home.

I call Three Customer Services to cancel the internet add-in given that the three places where I spend my life have no coverage worth a damn, and the man is so surprised their network does not live up to the hype of being the best there is, he refunds my money !

And so my attention is drawn to O2 and a neat business deal they have. Three months free and seven and a half quid thereafter for a gigabyte, AND free helpings of any BT Openzone Hot Spot.

Sounds a deal. And the good bit is the dongle is recognised by Linux right off.

The Free Openzone isn't so good though. Works a treat on a borrowed laptop running the Hell Spawn Of Bill Gates. No luck on Linux though. You get to the registratuon page enter your mobile number and get told the system cannot complete the login call.

Obviously the website is interacting with the "O2 Connection Manager" that in typical Bill Gates fashion takes over your entire machine as soom as you plug in the dongle. And once it has interacted once, you don't actually need the dongle any more, that laptop connects just fine to the OpenZone, utterly disregarding the fact that no USB Dongle is in the slot any more.

Hey Ho, looks like I have my work cut out for me. Again.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ubuntu 10:04 LTS Up and running

Yes I know this blog was put together to cover ARCH Linux on the Web Book, but I've been running it with two interchangeable drives. one Arch, the other Ubuntu, for a while now, and recently the 10.04 LTS release came out.

So I decided I would go for it.

It almost ended in disaster. The "Jaunty" image update manager told me the upgrade was available, so I picked my moment, archived anything I felt I could not afford to kiss bye-bye, and hit the "go" button.

It downloaded about 1390 packages, taking about two hours. It took about another three to install them, and then it rebooted, and worked.

Except "System => About Ubuntu" told me I was still running jaunty. Hmmm.

About a WEEK later the Update Manager told me 10.04 LTS was available AGAIN.

So I went for it AGAIN.

This time it wanted to download over 1900 packages, and took ages about it, and when it was done, the machine had a black screen of death and wouldn't respond to anything.

On reboot, the screen stayed in text mode, complained "udevd[20421]: specified user 'usbmux' unknown" and that was the start of a descent into hell.

The machine made a lot o complaints in a "text" mode, and eventually allowed me to see a login prompt, but the machine was incapable of doing almost anything.

My salvation was when I decided to force a "sudo apt-get upgrade". It started, and immediately whinged that I needed to run "sudo dpkg -configure -a"

So I did. Followed by a "sudo apt-get update" and a "sudo apt-get upgrade".

It whined and whirred a LOT. And when it had finished, here I was !!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Xorg mates with HAL and it all ends in tears

Oh dear.

One minute I have this thing running like a dream, the next it all ends in tears. Like Bart Simpson I feel it is time to write out, 100 times, on the blackboard ...
"I must not run the update program"
"I must not run the update program"
"I must not run the update program"
"I must not run the update program"
Because I did. And suddenly everything goes black. Xorg refuses to work, there is no XorgConfig and the hwd program that comes with Arch refuses to recognise the kernel. It's going to be a long, long, linux-free session in front of me.

Back to Arch-ery

OK so jaunty "worked", although it isnt possible to read the screen properly and the mouse doesn't appear on the external video display. But it is possible to fire the machine up and keep that hard drive up to date, even if I can't actually use it for the purpose I bought the web-book for in the first place.

So, back to Arch Linux then ? Well, yes. Out goes the ubuntu HDD, in goes the alternative drive with the old Arch image, wifi-radar gets me connected via the ipw2200 and pacman weaves its magic. I decide to dump the bloated gnome / gdm GUI, first in favour of the ultra minimalist icewm which I confess to being enthralled by once I'd seen it run the webbook at 1024x600 in the slitaz aircrack distribution, and then, when the limitations of icwem become obvious, I drop that in favour of Arch linux's particular flavour of XFCE combined with SLiM as my XDM. A quick word about that, make sure every user has a .xinitrc file in their home directory as SLiM does not go looking in /etc/X11... and will output a seemingly unhelpful error message if you try logging in to a user account that does not posess one.

So with all that done, on goes NetworkManager 0.7.1 and with a lot of tweaking and abandonment of the APN that clearly works in Windoze I'm up and running on the net with Arch and the Orange stick. Yippee.

Let's Get Jaunty.

Nothing for it then.

Despite Alan's dire warnings not to move on, it seemed to me the intrepid series was not going to be fixed to work with the option icon card any time soon, so maybe I might have better luck with the jaunty variant ?

Off I went to ubuntu-download-land and in due course I came back with another ISO image, and off we went back through the process of digging out the old 5.25" CD and the £40 dongly thingy from Maplins that comes with a usb plug at one end and a whole raft of 2.5 IDE, 3.5IDE and SATA plugs at the other. A further bout of fiddling with boot params and presto I was off loading myself up a jaunty jackalope.

And then I hit the display issues Alan Bell blogged about. Which I have not (yet) sorted out under this distro. But I will. Because at least this Hard Drive image now connects to Orange again.