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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Thu, 10 Mar 2011

Puppy Linux — could it replace Debian on my oldest hardware?

Puppy Linux before. Many times. I started with Puppy 2.13 and still remember that release very, very fondly.

I have half an entry (not yet published) on the Lenny to Squeeze upgrade for my Compaq Armada 7770dmt laptop — a 1999 throwback with Pentium II MMX at 233 MHz, 144 MB of RAM and a 3 GB hard drive. I’ve written dozens of articles about this laptop, and I’ve run everything from OpenBSD and TinyCore to Slackware and Debian Lenny and now Squeeze on it.

I did the Lenny-to-Squeeze upgrade by the book (the release notes, that is), and everything went perfectly well. I can’t get the new Grub to work, but it’s still chainloading to grub-legacy, so I can stick with that if need be. Maybe a full reinstall would fix this non-problem if it bothered me more than it does (which is “very little”).

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grub-pc vs. grub-legacy in Debian Squeeze

As you can see in the previous entry, I was running my old Compaq Armada 7770dmt laptop with its recent Lenny-to-Squeeze upgrade working well — except for one thing.

Grub2. Debian handled the upgrade well. It doesn’t remove the old Grub, now known as grub-legacy. Instead the old Grub gains an entry chainloading to Grub2, which is installed by the grub-pc package.

This way you can test Grub2 while still retaining Grub1. It’s a very nice way of doing what could be a system-breaking upgrade.

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Puppy in 2011 on a laptop in 1999 — I’m sticking with Debian

I pulled out the Compaq Armada 7770dmt, circa 1999, with 144 MB RAM (fully loaded), a speedy 233 MHz Pentium II CPU and the original 3 GB hard drive, the latter component of which I haven’t seen since I opened up the bay for the first and last time when I purchased this laptop in, I believe, 2007 for .

I had my CDs ready and loaded up Quirky and Wary — two of the latest Pups. As in the past, loading a live environment — even a Puppy environment — from CD on a 12-year-old laptop can take more than a little time. I was unsuccessful with the Xorg driver while running Wary. A reboot to use the Vesa driver was successful in getting an 800×600 display.

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Debian Squeeze updates today: Iceweasel, Icedove, Chromium

I had three big updates waiting for me today: Iceweasel (aka Firefox), Icedove (aka Thunderbird) and Chromium (the open-source, community version of Google Chrome).

These are three apps I use often. Nothing major here as far as the updates go — this is Debian Stable, and major isn’t what happens when it comes to updates.

Mon, 07 Mar 2011

PPLOG - a flat-file, Puppy-friendly blogging system written in Perl

I got a comment from BK (it could be Puppy lead developer Barry Kauler, or not …) about PPLOG, a flat-file blogging system that — like Bloxsom and Ode — consists of a single Perl script and very little else.

PPLOG comes out of the Puppy Linux community, and Puppy is a distribution that I’ve used quite a bit since I began messing around with Linux in late 2006/early 2007. I’m thinking of using it (again) on my 1999-era Compaq Armada 7770dmt, which I recently upgraded from Debian Lenny to Squeeze. Squeeze is running great on it, but I think Puppy will allow me to squeeze (no pun intended) more performance out of this now-12-year-old laptop. The live CD will enable me to keep the disk entirely devoted to swap and storage, and Puppy is lean yet easy to configure — it’s not as bare as TinyCore.

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Bradley Kuhn: ‘Back Home, with Debian’

Ever since I first heard of Bradley Kuhn, formerly of the Software Freedom Law Center and now the [Software Freedom Conservancy], on Linux Outlaws, I’ve been interested in what he has to say about (did you guess it?) software freedom. I try to listen semi-regularly to his Free as in Freedom oggcast.

Here is an article from Bradley’s blog on why he returned to Debian recently after years running everything from Red Hat to Ubuntu.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011

More blogging systems - with Debian as a guide

Blosxom, PyBlosxom, Nanoblogger — hell, even WordPress and Movable Type are available as Debian packages.

I wondered, was I missing other blogging platforms, both flat-file and database-driven?

I went to Debian’s web software archive and took a look.

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Chronicle: A Perl-based blogging system that creates static files

I’m on the lookout for more small blogging systems, and via Planet Debian and a post by Debian Developer Kai Wasserbäch, I just found Steve Kemp’s Chronicle.

You can see the system at work in Kai’s Chronicle blog and Steve’s Chronicle blog. Like many of these smaller (and larger) blogging systems, it’s packaged for Debian.

This is another one I’m going to look at.

Liquorix fatigue in Debian

The 2.6.37 kernel I got from Liquorix has made Debian Squeeze a nearly perfect distribution. The stock 2.6.32 kernel works great, except for sound, where plugging in my headphones doesn’t mute the speakers. This muting works with no configuration change in 2.6.37 from Liquorix.

I also finally have suspend/resume working for pretty much the first time ever in Linux, and I really like using it. The success of suspend/resume might be due to my installing the Debian nonfree firmware, which enabled DRI, which somehow factors into kernel mode setting. My understanding of the whole thing is a little vague, but what I do know is that suspend/resume works great, and this Debian Squeeze installation is running as well as anything I’ve ever used in the world of Linux and BSD.

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FlatPress tip: Enable the PostViews plugin and get a visitor-per-post count

I wondered why the official FlatPress blog shows the number of views per post, and mine did not.

The “xx views” at the end of every post is enabled by the PostViews plugin.

To enable the PostViews plugin, go to the Admin Area, click on plugins, then go down to PostViews and click enable.

The per-post counter starts when you enable the plugin.