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.
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!
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!
A couple of weeks back I was talking with my Dad about what to do with his nearly-antiquated laptop (meaning from 2002.) Having had recent experience with lightweight linux distros and window managers, I decided to shop around a bit and see what else was out there. As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Linux Mint, but I’m willing to look around. For sheer speed, I’m a fan of Fluxbox, especially since I can get so much help around here.. For end-user applications, I’d been impressed with LXDE’s potential, but underwhelmed from a configuration and management side.
As I mentioned on February 12th, the long-awaited Fluxbox Community Edition of Linux Mint has been released, and I’ve had the opportunity to install it on my laptop to give it a whirl.
I promised @Kendall — the man who picked up the Linux Mint Fluxbox CE torch and ran with it to keep this project alive — a review, so here goes!
I’ve been following the development of this for some time, being a longtime Fluxbox enthusiast, and a relatively recent Linux Mint convert. This combines two of my favorite things in the Linux world, Fluxbox and Mint!
According to the official announcement:
“This release has been built with the emphasis on a lightweight and yet fully functional desktop centered on the Fluxbox window manager. Even though we strive to provide out-of-the-box readiness for all your hardware and common computing tasks, Linux Mint Fluxbox CE is easily configurable to run on lower-spec hardware with the tools needed for doing so readily available.”
Here’s a little version of their screenshot of how it looks out of the box (click for the full size image):
Considering the wonderful performance I’ve noted with the regular Linux Mint 7 and 8 releases on my aging hardware at home, I’m guessing a release optimized for performance with Fluxbox as its default window manager will be screaming fast.
I gave the release candidate a whirl the other day on my old Toshiba laptop in VirtualBox, and I was surprised at how fast and snappy it was even virtualized.
I can’t wait to get this installed natively on that laptop to see how it performs!
Anyway, I had to give preliminary kudos to Kendall for what is looking like some really great results from all of his hard work lately! Thanks to him for picking up that ball and running with it!
Bet you guys thought I forgot about this blog, huh?
Well, as I mentioned in my last post (ugh, all the way back in November already?), I’m gainfully employed again, and busier than a one-legged man in an…. well, you get the idea.
I get home from work and the LAST thing on my mind is writing any kind of intelligible technology articles.
That said, I DO need to start contributing some content to my own Linux blog again, so here goes.
As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I posted about my efforts to revive aging laptop hardware. While there is still a bit of work to be done, the bulk of the project is complete, and the rest is simply detail work and optimization for our particular work environment.
At my office, we have a pair of old laptops purchased back in 2003 or 2004, which are terribly slow, woefully underpowered and horribly outdated, but which we still use periodically. In other words, they made a perfect target for an OS makeover.
Anyone who has run Windows XP on a P4 with 256MB of RAM should be able to appreciate just how sluggish these machines are. So with my boss’s blessing, I gathered the two machines and tried to breathe some new life into them.
Fluxbox is a window manager about which I have written a lot. The reason for that is because I use it every day, and I like it a lot. There’s a lot to like. It’s lightning fast, stable, and tweakable to a degree that will satisfy nearly every tinkerer when it comes to window managers.
But one of the biggest barriers to adopting Fluxbox for the “less tinkery” users out there is its configuration learning curve. Yes, Fluxbox is pretty simple when you get over the fact that you have to edit several configuration files by hand to set up your menu, your keys file, and other aspects. But for many users this is a big deal.
For some of those users, the answer to that dilemma is Fluxconf, a package of three applications that can be used to configure Fluxbox graphically.