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LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 20, 2013
Pencil, Pencil, and Pencil
Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it
Posted Mar 23, 2011 1:23 UTC (Wed) by corbet (editor, #1)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 3:41 UTC (Wed) by xanni (subscriber, #361)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 3:43 UTC (Wed) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 4:16 UTC (Wed) by k8to (subscriber, #15413)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 5:01 UTC (Wed) by JoeF (subscriber, #4486)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 7:13 UTC (Wed) by Darkmere (subscriber, #53695)
Gotta admit, I first got started on slack back on an IBM PS/2 ...
Mature Linux Users
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:07 UTC (Wed) by Felix.Braun (subscriber, #3032)
( Long uid here, shame on me ;)
No need to be ashamed! Back when LWN started offering user registration, I was very sesitive to privacy issues too. I remember only being willing to give up my anonymity when non-subscribers had to wait for a week to be able to access the newest content.
Nowadays, I subscribe to a lot of other sites. I guess I'm getting mellow with old age... :-)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:26 UTC (Wed) by fatrat (subscriber, #1518)
You've just been corrupted by the Zeitgeist of the age :)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 7:48 UTC (Thu) by frazier (guest, #3060)
Posted Mar 26, 2011 6:16 UTC (Sat) by speedster1 (subscriber, #8143)
Posted Mar 26, 2011 2:07 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599)
I think I installed mine on (the remains of) an IBM PC/AT. Granted, the motherboard was gone, but that case and keyboard were built like a tank. IIRC, the upgrade path was something like 286-6 -> 386-25 (first Slackware, early 1994) -> 486-33 -> 486-66 (CPU upgrade only) -> 2 x Pentium-100 -> 2 x PII-266. The power supply was still working after nearly 20 years...but its lack of ATX headers finally killed the upgrade cycle.
These days I run a mix of systems, including two that shipped with Ubuntu, but I still have Slackware on my current desktop at work and on at least one or two laptops at home. Ah, X Windows and Netscape in 16 MB of RAM...those were the days.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 7:27 UTC (Wed) by hjb (subscriber, #25523)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:08 UTC (Wed) by vmlinuz (guest, #24)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:32 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (✭ supporter ✭, #5246)
I remember when I could still boot my vmlinuz image from a 360K 5.25" floppy. It was a sad day when I made my 3.5" drive A: instead of my 5.25" floppy. (I even booted a bare 5.25" floppy once, just 'cause.)
dd if=/vmlinuz of=/dev/fd0 bs=512
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:08 UTC (Wed) by SiB (subscriber, #4048)
X11, Emacs, Latex alternativly swapping in and out of RAM.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:02 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:36 UTC (Wed) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:38 UTC (Wed) by tomsi (subscriber, #2306)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:47 UTC (Wed) by ekj (guest, #1524)
I guess that must mean it was 1995 or something of that nature ?
We're thus nearing the date when I can say: "I've run Linux since before you where born, little one."
I -do- remember a.out vs elf being a big deal - along with getting scandinavian letters to work right on the console, which at the time required arcane magic. (and even then you couldn't generally expect it to work right in all programs)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:55 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
Well, we're there already. At least, I am. In the krita project we have a 15 year old contributor, and at conf.kde.in I was hacking together with a five year old who knew Python and C++... Not to mention that I was using Linux before my twins were born, and they are Linux users as well.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:59 UTC (Wed) by ekj (guest, #1524)
Posted Mar 28, 2011 4:48 UTC (Mon) by The_Barbarian (subscriber, #48152)
I can see a five year old that can do some Python, but the thought that a five year old could do any C++ terrifies me.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:59 UTC (Wed) by etienne (subscriber, #25256)
You could then download it (by dialup), it was 27 floppy disks if I remember correctly - and worked on 386sx 16Mhz.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 23:07 UTC (Wed) by jcm (subscriber, #18262)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:29 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (✭ supporter ✭, #5246)
And I remember "impure" executables, great when you wanted a really tiny a.out file. "gcc -N", right? That allowed your data and code segments to overlap, rather than be page aligned....
Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:00 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Of course then there was libc5 -> libc6 and we had to recompile everything *again*, and it took forever to compile glibc or X on my 8Mb RAM 486...
Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:28 UTC (Wed) by kay (subscriber, #1362)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:17 UTC (Wed) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
I don't miss that sort of thing very much. The Good Old Days were really quite bad.
I was working in tech support back then, and on one occasion we spent days trying to get a Diamond video card to work with X on Slackware. Diamond finally relented and gave us the information we needed. I think the FVWM screenshot in this article must have triggered that memory. :)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 19:46 UTC (Wed) by SiB (subscriber, #4048)
fvwm is still managing my windows. My current fvwm2rc.m4 was handcrafted more than 10 years ago, but still does what I need.
Posted Mar 23, 2011 20:03 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 15:46 UTC (Thu) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
I've often thought the FVWM project could do themselves a favor by using a more "normal" default configuration. This wouldn't affect people like yourself who have their own fine-tuned configuration, but I think it would help new users stick with it longer, with more of them staying on as long-term users. The way it it now it's tempting to say "I can't use this" after about 10 minutes and move on to something else.
I haven't tried FVWM for about a year, so maybe this has changed.
Posted Mar 25, 2011 0:19 UTC (Fri) by jonabbey (subscriber, #2736)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 23:09 UTC (Wed) by jcm (subscriber, #18262)
Posted Mar 25, 2011 15:10 UTC (Fri) by rbrito (subscriber, #66188)
Gee, what is the problem with magicfilter? :-)
Posted May 4, 2011 9:50 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Mar 27, 2011 20:58 UTC (Sun) by dsimic (subscriber, #72007)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:18 UTC (Wed) by joey (subscriber, #328)
Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:43 UTC (Wed) by marduk (subscriber, #3831)
Posted Mar 28, 2011 4:58 UTC (Mon) by The_Barbarian (subscriber, #48152)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 3:02 UTC (Thu) by skvidal (subscriber, #3094)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 17:08 UTC (Thu) by cdmiller (subscriber, #2813)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 22:11 UTC (Thu) by ldarby (subscriber, #41318)
Posted Mar 24, 2011 23:04 UTC (Thu) by allesfresser (subscriber, #216)
Posted Mar 25, 2011 1:30 UTC (Fri) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283)
Then I reinstalled and did it again with a better understanding of what was going on. I'd been running Linux on my PC for all of three weeks before trying to manually upgrade libc. It was a great experience. :)
Posted Mar 25, 2011 1:35 UTC (Fri) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283)
Posted Mar 25, 2011 6:26 UTC (Fri) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
Good times, for a limited definition of good. :)
Posted Mar 25, 2011 7:08 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
Posted Mar 26, 2011 2:27 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599)
Yeah, we've all been there. Though in my case, the monitor in question (KFC 17", I think) claimed to support 1280x1024 at 60 Hz, so I didn't feel too bad about sticking them for an in-warranty replacement. I had to wait about six weeks for the damn thing, though.
Haven't destroyed anything since then, but ironically enough, I did end up mucking with modelines and deep X voodoo not too long ago, trying (futilely) to get a stupid onboard Intel chipset to do 1920x1200. I'm still kind of annoyed by that one...
Posted Mar 26, 2011 6:19 UTC (Sat) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
Fixed-frequency monitors were much cheaper, but they were scary to use with Linux. It was sooo easy to get a modeline wrong.
Posted Mar 26, 2011 20:40 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599)
"Expensive" being the key word... This was a multisync, but either it didn't have the circuitry to detect out-of-range signals, or else its parts were borderline. (It did survive my settings for at least a couple of months, and I believe its replacement did, too, though it's possible I tweaked things.)
Hmmm...just found a 1997 XF86Config:
Identifier "KFC 17-inch"
VendorName "Kuo Feng Corporation"
HorizSync 31-70 # multisync
VertRefresh 45-90 # multisync
# 67Hz 1152x864 mode (hsync = 63.1kHz, refresh = 67Hz)
HTimings 1152 1200 1296 1504
VTimings 864 866 869 904
Flags "-HSync", "-VSync"
# better 1280x1024 mode (hsync = 64kHz, refresh = 60Hz)
HTimings 1280 1288 1472 1712
VTimings 1024 1025 1028 1054
I had forgotten all about interlaced modes (one of the 1024x768 settings) and the need for special, lower-res modes to accommodate graphics cards that either didn't have enough memory to support 16bpp at full res (e.g., 2MB ATI Mach32) or couldn't crank up the dot clock high enough or both.
Good ol' days, indeed...
Posted Mar 26, 2011 23:09 UTC (Sat) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
Multisyncs aren't *supposed* to be killable by any input, but obviously your experience disagrees. :-)
What I always lusted over was the early Sony multisyncs. Those were beautiful monitors.
Posted Mar 26, 2011 23:37 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599)
Yup, my early-1994 ones were like you describe, and the one I excerpted still has equivalent commented-out lines like that:
# ModeLine "1280x1024a" 110 1280 1320 1480 1728 1024 1029 1036 1077
# ModeLine "1280x1024" 110 1280 1288 1472 1712 1024 1025 1028 1054
Was that an X11R5-vs-R6 change, maybe?
As you say, it was very easy to get wrong, which is why, in slightly later releases, the bundled text file(s) showing other people's working configs for card/monitor combos were so valuable.
What I always lusted over was the early Sony multisyncs. Those were beautiful monitors.
That they were. I eventually bought a used Hitachi 21" with the same (Trinitron-style) shadow mask; it's still sitting on my desk behind the LCD. :-)
Posted Mar 26, 2011 21:36 UTC (Sat) by jcm (subscriber, #18262)
Posted Mar 26, 2011 22:54 UTC (Sat) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
There's still plenty of brain-bending stuff in Linux these days -- a great deal more of it, in fact. Things must be a hundred times as complex, overall, as they were back then. You don't need as much knowledge to use the system at a basic level, but becoming truly expert is far more difficult than it was, simply because there's so much more to know.
Posted Mar 27, 2011 4:50 UTC (Sun) by jcm (subscriber, #18262)
Posted Mar 27, 2011 7:20 UTC (Sun) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
You'd rather see people monkeying around with VESA tables instead of working with Linux? You advocate FORCING people to learn this antiquated stuff?? You should force them to key in the bootloader using front-panel switches instead, at least then they learn the machine architecture.
Posted Mar 27, 2011 17:38 UTC (Sun) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841)
Posted Mar 30, 2011 5:01 UTC (Wed) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
No... not *yet*.
Just kidding. I don't think Linus would take that new arch. We've got enough archs that are pining for the fjords already...
But seriously, someone did write a UNIX for commodore 64 from scratch in the 1990s. It was called LUnix:
Apparently it was written in pure assembly language. Wow...
Posted Mar 27, 2011 18:13 UTC (Sun) by jcm (subscriber, #18262)
Clearly I'm exaggerating. But I don't always like the world we live in because things are sometimes getting a bit easy. This is why I think occasionally doing something arcane or forcing yourself to skip the fluff for a few minutes can only be useful education.
Posted Mar 25, 2011 22:22 UTC (Fri) by cry_regarder (subscriber, #50545)
I started with SLS and SWiM Motif way back in the day.
It's been nice long ride!
Posted Mar 29, 2011 10:46 UTC (Tue) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646)
But then, having Slackware was so much better than compiling everything by hand. (I used SLS before Slackware, having used original Version 7 and BSD Unix before; and was quite happy when Slack came out in 1993.)
Posted Apr 7, 2011 17:09 UTC (Thu) by stevem (subscriber, #1512)
Then the mess I had left caused me to switch to Debian later that year IIRC...
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