I started this site to document my attempts at finding a Linux-based OS alternative for machines running Windows 98. It has since evolved into a place for me to share, whine, revel, and discuss all things penguiny.

I had been wanting to get intimate with Linux for quite a while. Its reputation as a solid and secure, libre (and gratis) operating system as well as the potential it offers to counterbalance Microsoft’s dominance (and to a lesser extent Apple’s) lay at the foundation of my attraction. Then, after seeing a pile of “obsolete” personal computers awaiting demolition or similar fate, I became interested in finding an operating system that could be used on such hardware—and then that hardware turned over to schools and individuals who would otherwise have a hard time affording a computer. The fact that I have a couple machines that aren’t quite up running to Windows XP gave the issue a personal dimension, and the end of support for Windows 98 finally got me into gear. In what little free time I had in the summer of 2008, I starting digging into Linux with the goal of finding an operating system that could provide a satisfying experience on personal computing hardware previously supported by Windows 98.

I was initially attracted to what the people at Canonical were trying to do with the Ubuntu series of distributions, and my first thought was that Xubuntu would fit the bill. Sadly, this was not to be. While Xubuntu with a few tweaks to make it even less resource intensive than its default gave almost adequate responsiveness on my 198MB, 500MHz Celeron laptop, on my 128 MB 466Mhz Celeron desktop it was just too sluggish. But Xubuntu isn’t the only light-and-lean Linux distribution in town, and some promise even less weight and resource hunger than Xubuntu. So my next step was to try some of these. However, I found all of them unacceptable for a variety of reasons.

Thus began my own adventure to develop a usable lean, fast Linux installation. I want to make clear that it wasn't my ambition to develop a new distribution. Rather, my goal was to find a path of least resistance to install a workable OS that anyone with a little bit of skill can follow. Along the way, if it seemed packaging the deal up into its own distribution makes sense, I was willing to go there—but all I really want is an easy way to install a lean, fast Linux installation that works within existing structures and benefits as much as possible from existing resources.

All of this eventually led me to develop SkinnyDebbie. And now that that's done, I'll be using this space for any of my adventures in Linux that seem relevant, interesting, or noteworthy.

A caveat: I am not an OS expert. In spite of this, I will permit myself to speculate on technical matters in which I don’t have expertise, and these comments should be read with this in mind. I think I do have a reasonable sense of what makes for a decent user experience, so I hope I will not lead you astray in these matters. One of things I expect from this journey is to develop a better understanding of the complexities of OS architectures and their design. And some other stuff.