Dellbert

[If you don’t know who or what these* are, check the Glossary page.]

I told you that RoboFrog rescued two old machines that were on their way to the computer graveyard. I’ll tell you about the “other” computer another time; for now…Dellbert*. Dellbert is the “newer” of our two castaways. He’s still a wimp by today’s standards, but he has the best hardware: 128 MB memory, 13 GB hard drive, 500 MHz Pentium III processor. I haven’t been able to pull TheFrog away from Dellbert. (For me, that’s a relief. If HE’s* tinkering with Dellbert then HE isn’t messing up our other machines. I like stability; TheFrog just can’t help asking, “What happens when I do this?” Notice that’s not “…if I do this?”) The big thing on TheFrog’s mind is,”These computers were free; are they good for anything?” HE set out testing Linux distributions to see if HE could get anything to run acceptably.

RoboFrog’s first attempt was Lubuntu 12.04. (We’re running Lubuntu on Whitestar* and we love it.) The problem was that Lubuntu wouldn’t load onto Dellbert. After that attempt, HE started trying server distributions. HIS reasoning was that server distributions don’t automatically load GUI’s*. You end up with a command line interface that needs a lot fewer resources. HE tried the following (in no particular order): Ubuntu 12.04 server, Debian 6.0.5, Debian Testing, Slackware 13.37, Vector Linux 7.0-lite, Knoppix 6.7.1 (not a server distro, LXDE GUI), FreeBSD 9.0 (worked very well). I’m sure that HE tried something that I’ve forgotten, but the bottom line is that all of the server distributions (and Knoppix) loaded without any problems.  HE considered experimenting with Slackware, but since everything else we have is running one of the Ubuntu’s, HE came back to Ubuntu server.

“We have command line Ubuntu and apt-get (package manager),” mused TheFrog. “What happens when we do: apt-get install lxde gdm?” (You don’t need gdm, but we prefer it.)

I think you get the picture of what’s happening. HE’s not looking to me for an answer; HE knows that I don’t know. Rather, HE’s musing to HIMSELF and has already executed the command. TheFrog is simply passing time until HE gets HIS answer. But notice, too, that there’s no sweat rolling down my face (as is usual in these situations). HE’s doing this on Dellbert! First, even if it doesn’t work, it can be undone. Second, it’s not the machine I work on…so…”You go Frog!” Third, Dellbert was free. Even if he goes up in smoke, it’s no big deal (at least to me…TheFrog? That’s another story.).

Amazingly, it worked. RoboFrog rebooted. HE had a functioning Ubuntu 12.04 LXDE system. And frankly, it worked better than expected; it was sluggish, though. TheFrog was hopping off the walls. I haven’t seen HIM that excited for a long time.

TheFrog wanted to to see if HE could get a browser to work. HE was already pushing Dellbert pretty hard, so HE needed something light. That usually means Midori. Midori takes some getting-used-to, but we like it…a lot. HE had a long frown on HIS face when Midori turned its toes up and died. That’s the first time that’s happened to us. So what next? HE did some research and finally came up with Arora. Arora tried to run, but there was so much disk swapping that it essentially locked up Dellbert. Next, TheFrog tried Dillo. It ran pretty well; it’s not our favorite browser, but if you’re really low on resources, give it a try. It’ll get the job done.

There’s more to where we are with Dellbert, including a big surprise. Next time.

Linux Newbie

RoboFrog sits around worrying about the oddest things. HE’s concerned about how to get newbies into Linux safely (without destroying their current system) and with a gentle learning curve. Then, how does one move from newbie to moderately competent Linux-er (whatever that is). TheFrog feels that HE’s hit a plateau with what HE knows about Linux. HE wants to figure out how to get to the next lily pad. There’s no one answer to either of these issues, but our two computer refugees suggest one possible approach. We’re going to tinker in both of those directions for awhile: Linux Newbie and The Next Lily Pad.

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