Showing posts from March, 2008

File managers

Linux gives you a choice of about a million different file managers. They differ in how much they do, how they do it, whether they are text or graphic based, etc. I have been able to narrow things down from the available choices to three that make sense to me. Each have their pros and cons and are discussed below.

The standards for selection are that the manager be fully GUI based and it must behave well. Even though this whole deal is about being light and lean, I consider ncurses or otherwise not fully GUI managers just too primitive for most users—including myself.

The three finalists currently on the shortlist are Thunar, ROX-filer, and PCManFM. An honorable mention needs to go out to XFE. It has its heart in the right place, but I just couldn't get it to look right.

Thunar is the file manager used in the Xfce desktop package. Although part of the Xfce desktop, there is nothing to keep you from using it under other window managers.

* Looks good.
* Automounts removable me…

Posted: An Even Lighter Debian

An Even Lighter Debian has been posted. Phew.


I added a new "Guides" section in the Links section (on the right) where I will try to summarize what I've learned so far in this adventure in a way that's operationally relevant. A beta version of the first guide, "A Lighter Debian", has been posted. I have also added a "Recommended Practices" section to make deciding what to do a little easier. Following these will be "An Even Lighter Debian" that documents how to make an, er, even lighter Debian. Eventually I will also publish a "Minimal usable Debian" guide to help you setup a minimal GUI system that you can then tweak to your heart's content.

Xubuntu--the hard way

I recently tried installing Xubuntu "Gutsy Gibbon" on an older laptop using a whole bunch of methods: the "alternate" Xubuntu 7.10 installer CD, the "alternate" Ubuntu 7.10 installer CD, the "server" Ubuntu 7.10 installer CD ... and they all failed. In all cases, the problem was the same. After the installer booted off the CD and moved through some preliminary information gathering, it would complain that the CD-ROM from which it had been loading was no longer mounted/found (Do you want to install the drivers from a floppy?).


A visit to the Ubuntu forums didn't really help... a couple other people had the same problem but with no solution. My best working theory at this point is that the problem is caused by the CD-ROM being an older LG device. There was a time where installing (some?) Linux would allegedly destroy (some?) LG CD-ROM drives. I think that this made a lot of developers paranoid and build kernels without support for many (all?…


I decided to take a closer look at SLiM--the Simple Login Manager--as used by Fluxbuntu (instead of GDM). SLiM is light (about the same as XDM) and it looks really good, even in its default state. What more could you want?

Turns out that while SLiM makes logging into your session easy, it makes powering off or restarting your system from the login screen something of a pain. You need to use "special names" or setup special accounts with special permissions. Either approach is 1) not intuitive from the user's point of view and 2) a security risk. The developers say that implementing a better method is on the TODO list. Once this is done, I think SLiM will be a credible and much more attractive alternative to XDM.