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Using Old Hardware for Linux Desktop

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Stomfi

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Posted: 5 Jul 2004

Here is another good tip for getting Novell on older hardware and helping the Digital Divide.

Turning older P1 hardware into a useful Linux Internet desktop for the Digital Divide can be quite easy if you take the trouble to upgrade the video card to 4MB and use a small footprint window manager.

If you can't upgrade the card, use the VESA driver to get better performance. Just edit the XF86Config file to replace the current video driver with "vesa"

Finding an alternative window manager can be fun. If you like desktop icons, then IceWM is a good choice. I like the minimalist approach and use the Oroborus WM with one-off functionality. This is a good practice for older or infirm users.

Each function is given a login name. eg writing, email, www, patience, chess. The default run level is X11. In the home user X startup file: dotXClients or dotxinitrc the oroborus WM is run in the background, and the function in the foreground. Quitting the function therefore returns the user to the X login screen.

#eg .xinitrc
#set the screen colour
# whatever you use
oroburus &
rm -f $HOME/myfile.txt
touch $HOME/myfile.txt
exec gedit $HOME/myfile.txt

oroborous &
exec mozilla

You can cut down SUSE Linux to fit on a smaller drive, or you can add another drive and split the file system by, say, putting /usr on the second or larger drive.

This should get all those older machines out of the rubbish tip and into the hands of those who could use them. Don't forget the "Novell Power" sticker on the front. Disadvantaged users need support from all of us, and giving back credit to the OS supplier is one way.

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