Ha Ha! Dynamic Images!

Posted 2006.10.22 0.00 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Have you seen the Ha Ha! Man? He’s out there, laughing at us.

Ha Ha! Man

Linux on my Toshiba Libretto 100CT – i

Posted 2006.10.22 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Recently, I blew the dust off an old sub-mini laptop, and decided to fire it up and make it useful again. It’s a Toshiba Libretto, model 100CT. This ‘laptop’ was made in 1998 I think. I bought it as a factory refurb, probably in 1999. It’s just bigger than a VHS cassette box. It has a 7″ SVGA screen, a keyboard that you can touchtype on if you practice a bit, a Pentium MMX 166MHz processor, and a maximum of 64MB of Ram. It takes normal laptop hard drives. If you saw it, you might think it was an oversize PDA but it’s not. It’s a real computer.

I’ve had it running Linux before, RedHat 7 I believe, with the X desktop gui. However, that was then, this is now. What seemed like acceptable performance back then is now grindingly slow today. In order to get a Linux GUI running in any way that would be acceptable, I needed a small, light Linux, that had low overhead requirements.

Don’t get me wrong, command-line linux is great. I spend most of my time in a terminal window, and that’s always damn fast. The problem is, I also like surfing while I work, so I want a graphical browser, which means I need a GUI.

My first thought of course was Ubuntu, or more specifcically, Xubuntu. Xubuntu is a lighter version, based around the XFCE Desktop environment. It’s designed to work better on older or low-end machines. So I installed it and gave it a whirl.

Xubuntu worked fairly well, and has the benefits of being a very modern, actively developed distribution. It has all the technological and philosophical benefits of Ubuntu. However…it was still slow as molasses as a GUI solution for my old Libretto.

While reading a website with some Ubuntu tutorials, I found a mention of Damn Small Linux – a distro designed for systems with limited RAM and older slower resources.

Damn Small Linux is a mostly modern linux distro, that was designed to fit a complete usable GUI Desktop Linux onto a 50MB mini CD. It’s ideal for older systems, mini-systems, embedded systems, and so on.

Now, one of the problems with the Libretto is it’s so small, it has very limited options in certain ways. No built-in floppy drive. No CD drive. It has a proprietary external PCMCIA floppy that it can boot from, but mostly the only boot option is the internal hard drive. So to try out the Damn Small Linux CD, I had to make a new hard drive partition, copy the DSL iso file onto that partition, and then use grub to boot from the partition as if it were a CD. Anyhow, it worked and I gave it a try. I liked it. There’d be some minor issues, but it looked to be about 90% perfect.

In the next installment, I’ll cover how I got Damn Small Linux installed on its own hard drive; how I screwed it up and broke the My-DSL tools that managed all the customizations and personalizations; and how I solved most of those problems and got things 99% perfect.