Netbook Adventure Part 1
I originally planned on throwing this onto Social, but I figure it might get a bit spammy and longwinded, so here we go. A friend of mine recently graduated from uni and he was, oddly enough, moving out; he'd gotten a job else where, and I was given this big box of what I can only describe as stuff that he didn't want to bother to recycle, since I'm into that sort of thing. Among other things, he had this little Acer Aspire One ZG5 netbook; designed for XP, little 1.5 GHz atom, less than a gig of ram (free says a salesman's gigabyte roughly,) a 160GB hard drive, and, of course, an integrated graphics 'card' which probably doesn't even support programmable shaders. Most interestingly though, it has an Atheros wifi chip, which means that I can get away with making it purely free software. The only problem at the moment is that its battery doesn't exist; it holds literally no charge and the laptop dies instantly if it's unplugged. I have a new battery coming in the mail now, it was like $20, no big deal.
The first real decision to be made was what to run on the laptop. This actually took a ton of flip-flopping; mostly because every single free software distro seems dead or is likely incompatible with the laptop:
gNewSense: My first try. I installed Gnewsense 4.0 right off the bat, since it's the one I'm most comfortable with. The web site mostly just references 3.0, and when I installed it from an iso that was over a year old and ran an update it found a whole one package which needed updating. I wasn't horribly comfortable using a system like that.
Trisquel: The next one I looked at. No release since 2014, no news posts since 2015. I assume it's dead.
Dragora: No release in almost 5 years.
Parabola: Free Arch! I'm running Arch on my Thinkpad right now, so maybe that's a good fit? It's up to date, it works, it's a sane-ish system....but Arch, if I recall, is dropping support for 32 bit x86 and this is a little Atom.
GuixSD: Hung on boot as soon as the kernel was loaded.
ConnochaetOS: Really cool distro, I agree with what it's doing, it's based on Slackware which is my favorite distro, it's based on an up-to-date versoin of Slackware, 14.2, so perfect! ......ConnochaetOS was hosted on gna, which was taken down early this year; there's no way to install the distro since, as far as I know, it's not mirrored because it's not technically FSF endorsed.
Crux: Not FSF free but it's another that I considered; x86_64 only.
Dragora: Since it's my favorite FSF-free distro I've gone back there. I'm running Dragora 2.2 in anticipation of Dragora 3.0 at some point.
Well, I've got a laptop that's technically working, I can boot up and install stuff but the most recently any package has been updated in Dragora seems to be 2014. It's not exactly hard to make Dragora packages, but I don't want to be running Linux From Scratch here, not yet anyway. In order to have some stuff that's vaguely up to date, I decided that I should probably hybridize and install Guix (apparently prounounced 'geeks', my brain insists on 'goo icks'.) It's not exactly the world's biggest pain to install, but it does take a little bit of fiddling with your system; I feel like guix-sd is the preferred way of using Guix for sure. As I'm typing this, Guix is updating its repositories and hopefully trying to install Emacs. An important reminder if you plan on using Guix along side an existing distro is that guix totally ignores your existing distro; it will install absolutely everything it needs no matter what your existing system has, as a part of that whole transactionality and reproducibility thing; this means that running Guix in addition to a distribution makes no sense, you're either installing an easy base to turn into GuixSD or you're installing GuixSD to begin with, basically. For the most part this thing is useless until I get a battery in it, so I suppose we'll have the next post then, maybe even drafted on the netbook.