Just so you know, this isn’t a review. It’s just a discussion on what I did to make some old hardware useful again.
I’ve made mention from time to time the Toshiba Satellite A75 that I have that has been a backup machine for me for years now.
Well, with my 3+ year old System76 laptop on its last legs and suddenly developing a short in its screen connection, I decided to blow the dust off that trusty old Toshiba again and use it as a stopgap until I get something newer.
The problem is, this Toshiba Satellite is from 2005, has a single core 32-bit Pentium 4 processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and a 60 GB hard drive. Needless to say, it’s a bit out of place in today’s world, so I had to put some thought into how to best optimize this machine’s return to productivity or it’d be pretty painful to use.
It’s been a little over a year since I reviewed the first Peppermint OS, and while I liked the first effort on this new project, I’ve been really looking forward to Peppermint Two. Well, my wait was over as of last week, so I was able to kick the tires and get a good feel for it after installing and using it for a few days.
And it didn’t disappoint!
Breaking with past tradition, the Linux Mint folks have done away with “Community Editions”, instead bringing the non-Gnome flavors of Mint fully under the Mint umbrella. Linux Mint 9 LXDE is now in general release. Here are my thoughts.
A few weeks ago I posted a very early review of the new web-friendly Peppermint OS. In that review, I lauded the Peppermint team for achieving what I think might be the fastest graphical Linux distro I’ve ever tried, on any hardware.
The only things that get in my way of enjoying Peppermint are, unfortunately, the limitations imposed by the still-under-heavy-development LXDE desktop environment, which, while I’m still pretty excited about it, provides a few stumbling blocks to someone like me who likes to have more control over his user interfaces.
Well, for those of you out there who agree, I thought I’d do a quick writeup on getting the most out of Peppermint OS without having to resort to installing another desktop or window manager. Instead, we can make do with something that’s already integrated into Peppermint: the Openbox window manager!
Wow, got a lot of traffic on the review I posted Monday about the new Peppermint OS!
I wanted to post a quick update to that review, because things move fast in the new Linux distro world, and the Peppermint OS team is already moving on some of the relatively minor things I brought up.
What do you get when you combine the flexibility, versatility and ease of maintenance of Ubuntu, the blinding speed and simplicity of LXDE, and a focus on social media and the cloud?
You get Peppermint OS, that’s what! Brought to you by the same developer responsible for Linux Mint 8 LXDE Community Edition, and for resurrecting Linux Mint Fluxbox CE as well, Peppermint OS is a lightweight, fast, stable implementation of what Kendall Weaver’s vision of the perfect Linux distro might be for speed and the web.
And I think he’s onto something.
Most of us who are familiar with Linux are familiar with the advantages of running Linux as a desktop OS. We frequently bemoan the fact that others don’t know what we do about the reality of Linux on the desktop, and we seem to be hampered by difficulties in spreading the word outside our own circles. Recently, I was able to get outside the circle of Linux users and perform a live demonstration of Linux (and LXDE) to a group of professionals in a conference setting. Here’s my story.
One of the beautiful things about Linux is that developers tend to be conscientious about the use of technical standards. Freedesktop.org maintains a wide series of standards for X Window System desktops, which apply to Gnome, KDE, LXDE and XFCE (I’m not sure whether Fluxbox implements these standards.) The standard for “desktop entries” is still technically a draft, but is generally accepted by the larger X community.
The .desktop file fills two primary functions: first, it informs the desktop environment how the file is to be handled by the desktop environment with regard to menu placement, display, environmental variables, and similar. In this function, it resides globally in /usr/share/applications/ and for specific users in $HOME/.local/applications. The second function is the direct shortcut on the desktop itself. In this function, it resides in $HOME/Desktop. The same file fills both functions, so if you want to have an application both in the menu and on your desktop, you’ll need to put the .desktop file in two places. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Trent and I were both looking forward to the release of the Linux Mint LXDE Community Edition for various reasons. Luckily for us, Kendall (maintainer of the Linux Mint Fluxbox CE) pointed us to the .iso for RC1, which is what we’re using as the basis for this review. Since we both have feedback on this CE, we’re trying a Trent Says/Joe Says model. Enjoy!
Regular visitors to this site will know that Fluxbox is Trent’s and Patrick’s preferred window manager. I, too, am impressed with its speed and customizability, and its low overhead. Fluxbox’s biggest drawbacks are that customization is somewhat less intuitive and significantly more labor-intensive than the full-featured environments’, and that the interface as a whole is foreign and unintuitive to those whose only other computer experience has been Windows.