Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Persistence
After a full day of wrestling, I finally got an old family computer (A PIII 700mhz with 256 ram and a 20GB harddrive) to the point where I'd call it "finished". I installed Arch (of course) along with Openbox and Thunar. The family will have to learn to survive without Desktop icons.

Since this machine was going to be going in the living room, having it connect to the router via a wire was out of the question. Instead we purchased a Linksys wmp54g wireless PCI card. At first I thought I was going to have a rough time, as the card wouldn't scan with "iwlist scanning". After about an hour or two of trying different stuff (but not ndiswrapper), I finally decided to just install wicd and see if it worked. For some reason, it decided to work. I'm not complaining.

The second thing that messed me up was the xserver. The machine itself is a very old machine, so it can't handle AIGLX. Every time I would try to startx, the mouse would appear, but after 5 or so seconds, the whole screen would freeze and I'd be greeted with a barrage of fantastic colors and lights. While some might consider this trippy, I wasn't pleased; There was no way for me to use my keyboard to escape or kill the process. I eventually had to shutdown and start from runtime 3.

How did I finally figure out that I needed to disable AIGLX? I Google'd my vga controller according to lspci along with the error that /var/log/errors.log spit out. After some reading, I had to do this:
Section "ServerLayout"
....
Option "AIGLX" "false"
EndSection
After much wrestling, the family computer is humming along quite nicely. I've even set up an ssh server on it so I should be able to access it from far away if they need help with it.

Just goes to show that it may not be a good idea to trash computers at the first sign of sluggishness. Get the right kind of computer geek that's willing to blow away an entire day and you may have yourself a happy new addition to the family.

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