Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rediscovering Mandriva with 2008 edition.

I began my tryst with linux by installing Mandrake Linux 9.1 on my then brand new Laptop in Sep 2004. In July 2005 I shifted to Ubuntu 5.04. Since then I have been an Ubuntu lover.

My love for Ubuntu is slowly fading with the RAM requirement going up with new versions. When I saw Mandriva 2008 DVD with Linux for you magazine I decided to give it a try.

I don't have DVD drive in the laptop, even the CD drive does not work. I install new versions of Ubuntu directly from iso. I have spare 1 GB partition to copy the contents of the iso. I converted Mandriva DVD into iso on another machine and copied it to my Laptop by connecting the two machines. I had to increase the spare partition to 4.5 GB since DVD is much bigger then a CD.

After reading the README and install.txt files I discovered that I had to go to this page to get the lines to write in menu.lst file of Grub boot loader. After entering the partition # on which i had copied the contents of the DVD I got the following lines:
title Mandrake Install
root (hd0,3)
kernel /i586/isolinux/alt0/vmlinuz ramdisk_size=128000 root=/dev/ram3 acpi=ht vga=788 automatic=method:disk,partition=hda4,directory=/i586
initrd /i586/isolinux/alt0/all.rdz

I copied the above lines at the end of /boot/grub/menu.lst file. On reboot I scrolled at the end of Grub menu and clicked on the line "Mandrake Install". The installation began.

Since I did not want KDE or Gnome I looked at other option which was Icewm. I decided to see what happens if I don't select any desktop environment. I was surprised to find that even then X window system was being installed. The installation was smooth. The Grub boot loader detected Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04 installations on the machine correctly.

After reboot I logged in the command line and entered startx command. The X window system started and I got into Window Maker. There was no panel but I got a Menu on right click. In the Menu there was an optopn to start IceWM session. I selected it and I got the bottom panel and blue Mandriva wallpaper. I checked the memory usage by clicking on xterm and got the following:
$ free -m
total used free
Mem 312 91 221
buffers/cache 35 277

This means Mandriva 2008 with IceWM is suitable for 128 MB machine and the memory required is less then what I got on Ubuntu Cli and LXDE desktop.

Just out of curiosity, I installed XFCE and created .xinitrc file with following lines to boot into it on startx command:
#!/usr/bin/env bash

exec startxfce4

I got following figures on XFCE:
$ free -m
total used free
Mem 312 136 176
buffers/cache 58 253

I think XFCE may also work on 128 MB RAM but IceWM is preferable to have more memory for the applications to run.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Usability of Ubuntu on 128 MB RAM PC.

Earlier I have posted about LXDE the new light weight Desktop Environment on this blog.

I decided to install it on Ubuntu command line system to really see how light. After installing Ubuntu Cli through Hardy Heron alternate CD and adding xorg xterm and testing the X window system working properly I added the repositories as per the previous post and tried to install lxde.

Initially lxde failed to install due to unmet dependencies. I discovered that required dependencies were not available in Hardy repositories. I downloaded the following packages from Debian and installed them through dpkg:

Finally I could install lxde.

There is a big difference in memory usage compared to LXDE on full Ubuntu install and login through GDM.

Memory usage full Ubuntu install & login through GDM:
Total used free
Mem: 312 255 56
buffers/cache 74 237

Memory usage Ubuntu Cli and using startx:
Total used free
Mem: 312 166 146
buffers/cache 44 268

Note: Memory figures are on the desktop with xterm only running.

I recommend it to all Ubuntu LXDE users.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Using Damn Small Linux on Pentium 200 MHZ 32 MB RAM

My 4 years old Laptop was getting heated up and ACPI was shutting it down at 72 degC. I have given it to my friend for opening and cleaning. Now I am forced to use the old Desktop bought in 1998. The specifications are Pentium I MMX 200 MHZ 32 MB RAM. I am using Damn Small Linux from live CD and Firefox Browser. I have to wait after clicking on Firefox icon, then I have to wait for loading of the web page. Once loaded, I can work quickly, like I am typing this on at normal speed.

I have Broadband connection but web page loads slowly because of memory limitation on this PC. I am trying to enjoy the slowness, particularly, the gmail and other Google Applications which have become necessary part of my online life.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I am Linux Geek.

After using Linux for 4 years, I think that I am a Linux Geek.

Proof: After struggling with Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, I concluded that I can report a Bug in Xorg 7.3 and submitted it on

Original Specifications of my Laptop:
HP COMPAQ Presario 2500 series Laptop, Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU 2.80GHz, CDRom, 30 GB HDD, 128 MB RAM, Mandrake Linux 9.1 Tailor made CDs with multimedia codecs and Linuxant internal free modem driver (14.4 Kbps), Radeon IGP 330M/340M/350M video card, Ethernet Card.

Bought in July 2004. Original Mandrake Linux 9.1 worked very well. Then I started using Ubuntu 5.04.

Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake could be installed but was slow, therefore, I added 256 MB RAM to make it 384 MB total. With this RAM it is just suitable for today's Ubuntu. I have started using LXDE to make it faster.

Hardware Changes and Laptop turned into Desktop:
Original HDD replaced by 40 GB HDD, CDRom does not work, LCD screen is broken. I have hooked up external COMPAQ V45 monitor and using it as a Desktop.

Since CDRom does not function I install from ISO.

Difficulty in installing Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron
I have installed from alternate ISO but the new Xorg 7.3 fails to show anything on the external monitor. I can see GDM login screen through broken patches on LCD screen, blindly enter my userid and password, hear the Gnome welcome music and get satisfaction that Hardy is installed.

I can see the console by pressing Ctrl Alt F1, login and try xrandr but could not make X work.

I went to Bugzilla and found a Bug in Xorg for my video card. I have also submitted a bug report.

Till the bug gets resolved using Ubuntu 7.10 with LXDE.