Midori on Openbox with Arch

I’m posting this from the Midori version 0.1.8 Web browser, installed on Arch from the repositories (sudo pacman -S midori). It seems to be snappier than Firefox and certainly appears to use less RAM, although RAM usage isn’t much of an issue on the E2 with 1Gb less the graphics share.

Below is the xorg.conf (most settings auto-detected as I have dbus and hal running, see xinitrc further below). I’m using just openbox as a window manager, and I start it up using startx.

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier     "X.org Configured"
	Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
	InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
	InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"

Section "Files"
	ModulePath   "/usr/lib/xorg/modules"
	FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/misc"
	FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/100dpi:unscaled"
	FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi:unscaled"
	FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/TTF"
	FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/Type1"

Section "Module"
	Load  "extmod"
	Load  "glx"
	Load  "dri"
	Load  "dbe"
	Load  "dri2"
	Load  "record"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier  "Keyboard0"
	Driver      "kbd"
        Option      "CoreKeyboard"
        Option      "XkbLayout" "gb"
        Option      "XkbRules"  "xorg"
        Option      "XkbModel"  "pc105"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier  "Mouse0"
	Driver      "mouse"
	Option	    "Protocol" "auto"
	Option	    "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
	Option	    "ZAxisMapping" "4 5 6 7"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier   "Monitor0"
	VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
	ModelName    "Monitor Model"

Section "Device"
        # Available Driver options are
        # Values: i integer, : float, : "True"/"False",
        # : "String", : " Hz/kHz/MHz"
        # [arg]: arg optional
        #Option     "PrintVGARegs"       	# []
        #Option     "PrintTVRegs"        	# []
        #Option     "I2CScan"            	# []
        #Option     "VBEModes"           	# []
        #Option     "NoAccel"            	# []
        #Option     "AccelMethod"        	# 
        #Option     "ExaNoComposite"     	# []
        #Option     "ExaScratchSize"     	# 
        Option     "SWCursor"           	# []
        #Option     "ShadowFB"           	# []
        #Option     "Rotate"             	# []
        #Option     "VideoRAM"           	#
        #Option     "ActiveDevice"       	# []
        #Option     "BusWidth"           	# []
        #Option     "Center"             	# []
        #Option     "PanelSize"          	# []
        #Option     "ForcePanel"         	# []
        #Option     "TVDotCrawl"         	# []
        #Option     "TVDeflicker"        	# i
        #Option     "TVType"             	# []
        #Option     "TVOutput"           	# []
        #Option     "DisableVQ"          	# []
        #Option     "DisableIRQ"         	# []
        #Option     "EnableAGPDMA"       	# []
        #Option     "NoAGPFor2D"         	# []
        #Option     "NoXVDMA"            	# []
        #Option     "VbeSaveRestore"     	# []
        #Option     "DisableXvBWCheck"   	# []
        #Option     "MaxDRIMem"          	# i
        #Option     "AGPMem"             	# i
	Identifier  "Card0"
	Driver      "openchrome"
	VendorName  "VIA Technologies, Inc."
	BoardName   "CX700/VX700 [S3 UniChrome Pro]"
	BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"

Section "Screen"
	Identifier "Screen0"
	Device     "Card0"
	Monitor    "Monitor0"
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     1
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     4
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     8
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     15
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     16
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     24

Then comes my .xinitrc dotfile

# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)

# exec gnome-session
# exec startkde
# exec startxfce4
# ...or the Window Manager of your choice
exec dbus-launch --exit-with-session openbox-session

I’m using feh to set the wallpaper, and an ‘autostart.sh’ script in the .config/openbox directory to load feh first on bootup.

I use a British layout keyboard. Identifying the GB locale during installation meant that the keyboard layout was correctly set for command line use. I had to create an extra XML file to ensure that the UK layout was used under Xorg. There is an Arch forum post that explains the detail – just substitute gb for es in the file. The XML file has to be saved (as root) at /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-keymap.fdi (I just used sudo leafpad /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-keymap.fdi and copied the code in. I know Real Men would use Vi at the terminal).


Arch Linux


I’ve just put Arch Linux on the Aleutia E2. I had to use the unofficial Archboot ISO, as the ‘official’ arch installers (both the .img intended for installing from a USB stick, and the .iso for burning onto a CD-ROM) both dumped me into the grub prompt when booting the E2. Both booted to the linux prompt when I booted from the images on an Asus EeePC. The Archboot distribution is a complete base system, so you end up replacing most of the files when you upgrade the distribution after installing. The ‘official’ boot images are ‘ftp/http’ installers so you get the up to date packages as you install. The Archboot image is available on all the Arch Mirrors in case you need it.

Once booted into the installer (using my trusty and ancient Iomega external CD drive) I just followed the Arch Beginner’s Guide and it (sort of) worked. I went for the LXDE desktop, and got caught by the fact that the LXDE package does not include openbox itself, so you end up without a window manager! What I should have done was

pacman -S openbox
pacman -S lxde

but all sorted now. The E2 does seem slightly snappier than with Debian Squeeze, but the YouTube videos still won’t play (I think I’m being a little ambitious for a 500 MHz 32 bit processor). I can (and am) listen to the flash audio streams from Magnatune though, so here is a little Lute music from Joseph Herringman.

Now I need to sort out getting British English keyboard layout working in X (its fine at the command prompt) and downloading the biggies (OpenOffice &c).



Arch Linux is often recommended because of its speed. I had just resolved to print the installation guide when I saw this article on K.Mandla’s blog.

I shall attempt to install Arch on the spare partition on the E2, just basic system, xorg, dwm, firefox and the flash plugin. If the result can cope with a YouTube video I shall donate £25 to the Arch project. Below is my standard test YouTube…

Ubuntu standard on an AMD dual core box

Ubuntu standard on an AMD dual core box

Using Ubuntu Gnome Jaunty Jakalope, aka 9.04, on an ASUS Pundit AH1 quiet desktop PC. Dual core, 2.4GHz, integrated graphics (NVIDIA but picked up by ‘restricted drivers’ tool). Compiz works, and provides an Expose style view of all four virtual desktops (I don’t like the cube).

Most things ‘just work’. Sound has problems, managed to get sound recorder, record my desktop and audacity working. Audacity works if you set the sample rate to 48Kb/sec.

I’m using Firefox 3.5 (having enabled the PPA repository in /etc/apt/sources.lst) and performance is noticeably snappier than Firefox 3.1. I have a full installation of ffmpeg and the firefox Easy Youtube Downloader for converting YouTube videos to WMA format. The College where I teach has a firewall that blocks YouTube to protect students, but staff want to use the good stuff in their teaching.

It is really nice that you can get most of the software you need for normal everyday tasks for nothing on a system that is secure and that is updated regularly. Rock On.

Aleutia E2 front view

Aleutia E2 front view

The E2 came with Ubuntu 8.10 installed, and I opted for the 80Gb mechanical hard drive option (so I can’t claim that it is totally silent, but you have to concentrate and listen from about six inches to hear the drive spinning), so I shrunk the Ubuntu partion to 10GB. I made a new 10Gb partition for ‘guest’ linuxes, kept the existing 2.5 Gb swap, and the rest I formatted to VFAT 32 so I can share data between two Linux operating systems without permissions issues or without overlapping configuration files.

The partitioning was done by booting from a USB drive into SliTaz Standard and using the partitioner. I ended up using gparted from within Ubuntu to format the spare space on the drive to VFAT 32 as SliTaz standard would not create VFAT formats for some reason, the option was grayed out.

The Debian live CD would not boot from a USB stick (created using unetbootin), so I booted from an old Iomega USB CD drive (recognised instantly and easily set as a boot device in the E2 Bios). Once booted, I got ‘signal over range’ errors when the X server started. I suspected this may have to do with my no name 17 inch LCD panel not revealing its pixel size properly, which is why the Ubuntu Jaunty install is stuck at 600 by 800. Proceeded to install a minimal CLI Debian from the netinstall ISO booted from the external CD drive.

Once booted into the CLI, I added the x server and a window manager (dwm initially but also fluxbox later), and then added an xorg.conf file that would force the use of the VESA driver, and set an appropriate screen size. The xorg.conf file for Debian Lenny for use with the E2 chipset is shown ‘below the fold’ in this article.

After some googling I found an xorg.conf file that would work with the Openchrome mode (see ‘below the fold’ for that version of xorg.conf), however, OpenOffice began to loose menu text and produce poor screen refreshes with parts of the screen missing, so I used the VESA mode.

Decided to do a distribution upgrade to Debian Squeeze, and a new version of the Openchrome driver. This solved the issues with full openchrome mode, and, again, the xorg.conf file I use is reproduced at the end of this post.

I added SLIM for graphical log in and created a .xinitrc file to handle the two window managers (dwm and fluxbox). SLIM mentions a lot of other window managers by default. When you log in, pressing F1 gives you a choice of dwm or fluxbox with fluxbox as default.

# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)


case "$1" in
fluxbox) exec startfluxbox ;;
dwm) exec $HOME/bin/dwm_run ;;

Read the rest of this entry »

Aleutia E2 arrives


Aleutia E2: a pc smaller than a CD box

Aleutia E2: a pc smaller than a CD box

My Aleutia E2 has arrived. Based on a VIA Eden 500MHz processor, with CX700/VX700 chipset (Ultrachrome graphics), no fans, but I opted for an 80Gb mechanical hard drive over solid state storage. Almost completely silent. Has bolt holes so you can bolt the box on the back of an LCD monitor. Takes 11 watts of power maximum.

Comes with Ubuntu 8.10. Runs Debian Squeeze (updated openchrome drivers) and SliTaz. You need to use an xorg.conf file to change certain settings. More details soon.



Manage your iPod Shuffle using an 18Kb python script. Can’t get lower weight than that! I’m using the script to pop extra mp3 tracks onto my shuffle. I listen to (creative commons licenced) mp3s on this laptop using the terminal based mpg321 which has its own decoder.

Kyle Gann is allowing us a preview of her Planets suite. Enjoy.

I’d forgotten how slow a USB 1.1 connection is, 10 minutes to back up my iPod Shuffle g2 silver.

keith@l400:~$keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        241          3          0          4        113
-/+ buffers/cache:        123        121
Swap:          768         30        738

Above with Firefox and three tabs, two instances of Thunar and terminal session running.

Xubuntu lighter


I used the Distrowatch Weekly Feature “Minimal Xubuntu” suggestions for a lighter XFCE4 based desktop, using Xubuntu pacakges but leaving out some of the Ubuntu branding and overhead. The article has tables that compare the memory use of Ubuntu and Debian versions, and gives memory estimates for each new service as you add the packages.

The recipe I settled upon is…

  • Install CLI from the Ubuntu net install iso
  • sudo aptitude install xorg gdm xfce4 xfce4-goodies firefox
    which adds 360Mb of files and gives around 80 to 90Mb of memory use. I accepted the defaults when an alert box about hddtemp demon arived.
  • sudo aptitude install gnome-power-manager
    Allows hibernation on lid close! But see below for settings
  • To get hibernation working, I had to go to use XFCE | Settings | Screensaver | Advanced and tick the Power Management box
    Screen Saver | Advanced

    Screen Saver | Advanced

  • Then I was able to go to XFCE | Settings | Power Management and select Hibernate as the action to take when closing the lid. Remember to set this on both On AC Power and Battery tabs!
  • I’ve decided not to install network manager. I’ll just use wvdial on my mobile internet modem. This laptop does not have a wireless card, and the Netgear WG111v3 USB wifi adaptor is playing up on all my computers.

Applications include firefox with flash, openoffice.org, mtpaint, and mirage. I’ll see how much stuff evince brings with it and might use epdfview instead for PDF viewing. MTpaint is a light and simple photo editor, all I need is something to resize and crop screen grabs and to adjust the colour balance and contrast of snaps now and again.

I’m using mpg321, a terminal based MP3 decoder and player, for listening to mp3s as that saves installing all the restricted drivers stuff. I noticed that XFCE has a terminal based sound mixer called aumix installed. As usual, all the volume controls are turned down, so you need to use this to set levels for your YouTube and mpg321 listening.

Results with Firefox (5 tabs, flash player active with widgets in WordPress.com), OpenOffice writer with a 16 page handout loaded (280+ OLE objects), mpg321 playing some nice Bach cello

keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        237          7          0          4        104
-/+ buffers/cache:        128        116
Swap:          768         37        731
keith@l400:~$ df -m
Filesystem           1M-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5                 7976      1811      5761  24% /
tmpfs                      123         0       123   0% /lib/init/rw
varrun                     123         1       123   1% /var/run
varlock                    123         0       123   0% /var/lock
udev                       123         1       123   1% /dev
tmpfs                      123         1       123   1% /dev/shm
lrm                        123         3       121   2% /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/volatile
keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        239          5          0          9        135
-/+ buffers/cache:         94        150
Swap:          768          8        759
keith@l400:~$ df -m
Filesystem           1M-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5                 7976      1368      6203  19% /
tmpfs                      123         0       123   0% /lib/init/rw
varrun                     123         1       123   1% /var/run
varlock                    123         0       123   0% /var/lock
udev                       123         1       123   1% /dev
tmpfs                      123         0       123   0% /dev/shm
lrm                        123         3       121   2% /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/volatile

A slimmed down Ubuntu Gnome desktop with no applications other than Firefox installed. Adding GIMP and openoffice took another 560+Mb, but the installation is still just on 2Gb.

Method from a Distrowatch article based on Intrepid but all still works on Jaunty.

An answer on Ubuntuforums and a previous thread about pmi, a command line interface to power management tools, give me hope about being able to hibernate and suspend from a dwm on Xorg with no desktop manager system. See

I’d better explain

  • Stock Ubuntu: hibernate works when you set the Power Options settings so that the lid closed action is hibernate
  • Stock Ubuntu with a new session and a different window manager (e.g. dwm) close lid does not hibernate, but if you install pmi-interface you can issue a command from your user terminal ‘pmi action hibernate’ that will cause hibernation.
  • I’m now going to re-install a CLI system and install just pm-utils uswsusp acpi-support pmi-interface and see what happens. Can I hibernate from a CLI only system? Once I answer that question, some way of trapping the lid closing event will manifest itself.

Ubuntu 9.04 stock


keith@l400:~$ df -m
Filesystem           1M-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5                 7976      2716      4856  36% /
tmpfs                      123         0       123   0% /lib/init/rw
varrun                     123         1       123   1% /var/run
varlock                    123         0       123   0% /var/lock
udev                       123         1       123   1% /dev
tmpfs                      123         1       123   1% /dev/shm
lrm                        123         3       121   2% /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/volatile
keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        226         18          0          5         72
-/+ buffers/cache:        148         96
Swap:          768         20        748

Stock Ubuntu 9.04 (geological time frame to install) and as you can see with Firefox loaded and logged into this blog we are into swap already. I increased the swap size a bit from the last install just in case that is causing any issues with hibernate. I doubt it though. Haven’t even got to the flash plug in yet!

Hibernate works when you adjust the settings in ‘power management’ so that closing the lid selects hibernate instead of ‘blank screen’. I wonder if there is a similar setting in Debian 5?

Installing LXDE and fresh booting into an LXDE session reduces the memory footprint with Firefox running to around 91 Mb

keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        186         58          0          8         85
-/+ buffers/cache:         91        153
Swap:          768          3        765

But we are still into swap with just Firefox loaded (no flashplayer). And so to the stock dwm in the Ubuntu repository – which isn’t quite behaving as it should (shift-alt-enter does not start a new terminal for instance, I had to alt-p and type xterm). 77Mb with one Firefox window, but at least there is no swapping yet.

keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        212         32          0         11        122
-/+ buffers/cache:         77        167
Swap:          768          0        768