What Happened to my DSL?
Saturday, January 1, 2011 5:56:37 PM
But I recently inherited a rather old machine. I think it originally came with Win95 on it! I suppose it was a monster in its day: Pentium II, 256M ram, 40G hard drive... but with the demands of modern OS's (even the free one's; it seems M$ no longer holds the patent on "bloat"), it is quite limited as to what it can run.
Let me describe my hope for this machine: I would like a writing environment that is free from the distractions of web surfing, email, social networking, etc. but still has access to the internet for minor research and quick lookups. It is so easy to lose focus when all of these other things are swirling around on your desktop.
So, first I tried Crunch Bang (#!) which popped and snapped when running from the live CD. However, when I installed to the machine it became more than "sluggish", it was like maple syrup in February! This was intolerable. I don't expect it to be lightening fast. But I don't wish to wait 5 minutes for a word processor or web browser to load!
Then I tried PeppermintOS Ice. The experience and results were similar to those of Crunch Bang. It ran great live. But when I installed it, it all but stopped running. This was a bit baffling to me as I have had a great experience with Peppermint OS on other machines. It's even running smoothly on the machine that my first Opera Blog, Anon Tipplers Linux Notes, was about!
Then, I installed DSL (Damn Small Linux). I know, installng a 50M OS to a 40G hard drive is a bit of overkill. But, as I said above, my needs for this machine are minimal. Things went pretty well for a couple of days. My main gripe was that it would only let me log in as root, which is not that good of a thing. I had created a user account in the install process and wrote down the log in information. But it simply would not let me in. So, I figured that I would "fix" that later and finish setting the system up with the work tools that I needed. You have to be root (or sudo) for most of that, anyway.
But suddenly, on the third day, it would no longer even allow me to log in as root! This was unacceptable as, again, the machine was rendered near useless. And I have no idea what happened nor why. So, rather than waste any more time on this I decided to give give Lubuntu a go. I downloaded a fresh distro as the version that I had was about a year old.
However, when I tried to install it, the machine just ceased to function. The only OS that would even run from a live CD was Puppy Linux (lupu-511.iso). Though, it wouldn't let me unmount the partition in question to do any maintenance to it.
So, out of desperation I downloaded and burned a new copy of GParted and gave it a try. I had never used this OS as I had always been able to do whatever I needed to do with either Puppy Linux or Slitaz and this was the first occassion where neither of these would allow me to work on the partitions nor the hard drive. With GParted I was able to reformat the hard drive and set up new partitions. When I had completed these tasks, I reinserted the Lubuntu live CD.
The live CD popped and snapped. I installed it, updated it through the update manager, and installed a few "must haves". While it is not nearly as snappy as the live CD was and it gets even more sluggish with more than two apps running at the same time (including multiple browser tabs), at this point it appears that this will be the OS that will run on this machine for the time being.
I have two more machines qued to receive some hardware maintenance and OS installations. So, I need to call this one good for now and move on the the next project.
I'd like to add that ALL of the OS's that I have mentioned here have served me well on other machines under various circumstances. But on this particular machine I experienced situations which had never occurred for me. I am inclined to suspect that, in addition to the hardware limitations of the machine, the partitions had some issues to begin with which made this experience even more difficult. As a result, I am now a firm believer in the wisdom of running GParted on unknown machines before I try to do anything else. This might just save me some time and headache.
(On a side note, this is exactly the kind of article which made up the whole of my first Opera Blog, Anon Tipplers Linux Notes. I can't conceive in my mind what was in violation of their terms of service. And I am curious if and when they will shut this one down since it is on the exact same subject and includes references and links to the old one... foolish me! I'll try not to mention this again, not because I fear Opera, but because I don't wish to sound like a whining bag of wind. )
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