Saturday, 30 January 2010

A possible roadmap

First do a SkinnySqueezey, then do a SkinnyLucy.

SkinnySqueezey

SkinnyDebbie off Squeeze (alternate names: SkinnyLGM. SkinnyGreenie). This will probably have a slightly different motive than SkinnyLenny. Whereas earlier SkinnyDebbie versions had a “the absolutely lightest alternative for getting things done” motivation, it’s probably safe to assume that really old (i.e., RAM-limited; i.e., less than 256MB) hardware for which the above makes the most sense will be essentially nonexistent by the time Squeeze is released. This gives the project a bit more leeway to be nicer. So the new motivation may be, “Light, standard, effective, with as little Gnome as possible.” Probably something based on Openbox+fbpanel — and therefore resembling Crunchbang Linux, but with even less Gnome dependence and easy config for newbies.

Potential wins:

  • Debian is more solid in more places than Ubuntu.

Potential fails:

  • No PPA-ish alternative for newer packages.
  • Font rendering not as nice as Ubuntu.
  • Mixed su and sudo may confuse some interface issues.

SkinnyLucy

Adapting SkinnySqueezey to Ubuntu Lucid should be pretty easy once Lucid is released. This could start now, except the current Lucid installer doesn’t seem to work for command-line systems.

Potential wins:

  • Ubuntu’s PPAs
  • Lucy is an LTS
  • Ubuntu’s lovely font rendering
  • sudo only simplifies some interface issues

Potential fails:

  • Ubuntu’s sort-of odd/arbitrary maintenance habits for non-mainstream packages
  • Identical basic config in Karmic and Squeeze leaves Karmic many tens of MB larger

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Squeeze sound nit

After installing alsabase in Squeeze on my Intel/AD soundcarded laptop, sound didn’t work. I finally got it working thanks to this.

In particular: I ran:

# alsactl init

Didn’t work.

I installed:

gstreamer0.10-alsa

Didn’t work.

I reran:

# alsactl init

It worked.

Squeeze nits

I’m starting to play around with Squeeze. I installed a minimal CLI system with the netinstall CD, then added some minimal bits to do GUI development. In the process, I made a few interesting discoveries:

GRUB2

Squeeze is using GRUB2. The post-install didn’t register the Ubuntu install that was alongside the Squeeze install, but

# update-grub

fixed the problem.

I have not yet figured out how to configure the default entry. grub-legacy was so much easier to configure. :-(

Gsynaptics

gsynaptics wasn’t able to enable vertical scrolling (I didn’t try horizontal scrolling.) The UI says it’s enabled, but it isn’t. I don’t know if this is a bug with the particular hardware on the lappy I used or a general bug in gsynaptics.

The workaround is to call synclient directly after executing gsynaptics-init with the line:

synclient VertEdgeScroll=1

Also, gsynaptics has sort-of been superseded by gpointing-device-settings — except the latter doesn’t have a gsynaptics-init equivalent, i.e., there’s no easy way to make changes persist between login session.

Network Manager

Currently, network-manager in Squeeze does not manage the default wired connection. The issue is discussed to some extent here. This discussion points out that Ubuntu makes it work by commenting out the lines

(auto,allow-hotplug) <device>
iface <device> inet dhcp

in /etc/network/interfaces. I tried it. It worked.

Wicd

Wicd works as expected (without the tweak needed for Network Manager above). What’s news with Wicd is that it only lets you have one active network connection at a time. 99% of the time this won’t be an issue. But that one time when you need to connect to two different networks at the same time might find you cursing your decision to use it.