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#1 2022-05-11 19:00:06

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

I'm not sure if this deserves its own thread, but I'll risk it anyway.

I had an unexpected (and unwelcome) freeze in Mint 20 today, so I set myself the goal of devising a set-up that would be both minimalist and also bomb-proof (so I could completely trust it to not let me down if I'm *working on an important document, such as an application form for a job I really want when the deadline is short).

I decided on Slackware 15 for the distro, Blackbox as the window manager, GKrellm, Firefox and LibreOffice, none of which I've had any stability or freeze up problems with (at least not recently).

I've had problems in the past with Thunderbird so am investigating more stable alternatives such as mutt, although Thunderbird is fine if I remember to run it with the -debug switch.

I tried twm as the window manager, thinking something so old would be OK, but even that appeared to freeze up at some point. So Blackbox it is. I may add to this thread later.

* Thankfully I wasn't this time.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-11 19:01:31)

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#2 2022-05-11 19:11:25

DeepDayze
Like sands through an hourglass...
From: In Linux Land
Registered: 2017-05-28
Posts: 1,543

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

Why not plain BL with only what you need installed. Openbox hasn't let me down yet and I try to reduce the number of apps auto-starting so as to reduce the risk of any freezes. if using LO (say for preparing your application), saving documents often may be another good idea so as not to lose any work in the event of a freeze or total crash. For browsers I would also suggest keeping  a profile around that has no extensions or tweaks but with all your bookmarks and passwords.

Perhaps a hardware issue causing the freeze? Try reseating RAM and the hard drive connections as well as checking the fans for dust. Scan the hard drive for any errors. Even try an LTS kernel.


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#3 2022-05-12 12:21:31

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

Yeah, thanks for replying. Maybe I should just bail on this thread or something. I pick up machines cheaply and then try to keep them working for as long as possible (the motherboard of this one for example dates from 2010), and that probably means that I get problems that others don't. The problems I've been having with Cinnamon (and which no one else seems to have) are another case in point.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-12 13:42:23)

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#4 2022-05-12 17:06:43

Martin
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From: Stockholm, Sweden
Registered: 2015-10-01
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Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

That's how old my main computer is. Works like a charm and fast enough for my needs.

/Martin


"Problems worthy of attack
prove their worth by hitting back."
Piet Hein

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#5 2022-05-12 17:16:47

Bearded_Blunder
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 978

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

2010 isn't that old compared to some machines I've loaded BL onto, I have Beryllium running pretty nicely on two boxes that are older.  Cinnamon can be a bit of an issue with what they consider "ancient" graphics though.


Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed...
If there's an obscure or silly way to break it, but you don't know what.. Just ask me

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#6 2022-05-12 17:40:32

DeepDayze
Like sands through an hourglass...
From: In Linux Land
Registered: 2017-05-28
Posts: 1,543

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

I have a 12 year old HP Elitebook and KDE based MX-21 runs fine on this machine.


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#7 2022-05-14 06:54:00

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

DeepDayze wrote:

I have a 12 year old HP Elitebook and KDE based MX-21 runs fine on this machine.

OK, cool (and Martin and Bearded Blunder who have also replied). Maybe I've just been unlucky compared to you; my previous computer had given up the ghost suddenly and I needed a computer urgently, so I went down to the owner of my local computer shop and asked him to put together a machine for me as quickly as possible. He did so using old parts (apart from the DVD drive, which was new) that he already had in the shop.

What I ended up with is a machine which has its flaws and foibles but which basically works; as long as I stay within its limitations, there isn't much I can't do with it that I actually want to do. And for me that's the main thing. It was only supposed to be temporary until I got the money together for a newer one, but I've had it over two years now.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-14 06:57:31)

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#8 2022-05-14 11:36:51

Sun For Miles
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Registered: 2017-04-12
Posts: 219

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

Colonel Panic wrote:

I set myself the goal of devising a set-up that would be both minimalist and also bomb-proof (so I could completely trust it to not let me down if I'm *working on an important document, such as an application form for a job I really want when the deadline is short).

These were my requirements when I was choosing workstation (laptop) OS at one of my previous companies:
- minimalist: OpenBox prefered, easily customizable keyboard shortcuts, clipboard manager was a must because I was frequently checking and converting hashes from multiple systems, some of which had only web interface and were impossible to automate
- bomb-proof: conservative distribution, so either Debian or Fedora base

I was lucky to be in a position that lets me choose an alternative to Winows OS and Active Directory integration, so I went with lower spec laptop and installed BL. It served me well during those 3-4 years, 2-3 months uptime was a normal thing and I don't remember any major hickups. All the performance issues I had were related to hardware or hardware limitations, e.g., Firefox filling up RAM - solved by restarting browser (I am one of those guys who turns off swap), system temperatures rising - solved by blowing out the dusty vents with compressor. Having Conky setup helped me monitor all of those potential issues easily.


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#9 2022-05-14 20:41:14

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

I largely agree except that I find Debian 10 too "beepy" on my system (and it also throws random characters out over the terminal). I'm currently posting from Crunchbang++, which is based on Debian 11 and doesn't seem to have that problem.

One way of stopping Firefox filling up too much RAM is to use a utility like OneTab (https://www.one-tab.com/), which converts all the tabs you have open in a window to a list so that you can click on them individually to open them.

I agree too about the OpenBox keyboard shortcuts, which are very comprehensive and can be easily modified; the same with the mouse ones (I've changed mine so that a double left click on a window's titlebar moves it to the next workspace on the right, for example). I'd prefer it though if the configuration and menu files were written in .txt format rather than .xml, for ease of reading and modification, although I daresay there's a reason for that.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-14 21:13:49)

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#10 2022-05-14 23:53:16

Bearded_Blunder
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Posts: 978

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

Generally when speaking of Linux, anyone asks me what's bomb-proof & won't go wrong unexpectedly, my answer tends to be "Debian Stable, as long as you stick to the Debian repos & don't install random shite from elsewhere.".

For an old machine Xfce, or LXDE are good choices.. More powerful machines, more options, all the DE's in tasksel are pretty good (apart from GNOME which utterly stinks, it's clearly designed for use on a tablet, not a PC, even though it's painful to get working on a tablet.), though LXQt is still a little bit "unfinished".


Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed...
If there's an obscure or silly way to break it, but you don't know what.. Just ask me

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#11 2022-05-15 07:22:23

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

I agree; I think Debian 11 (bullseye) is a very good operating system. I installed LXQT in Mint, where it works well but I can't understand why the devs threw out the clock from razor-qt, which was one of the best things about it.

I remember XFce being called Windows 98 done right, and I agree. It doesn't have things like animations and visual effects and isn't optimised for use on tablets, but it's a simple, unflashy desktop that anyone who's used Windows can easily get started with and use when they try Linux.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-17 06:00:29)

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#12 2022-05-15 12:11:09

eight.bit.al
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Posts: 1,287

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

^ In Xfce4, one can turn off the desktop icons (we doan neeed no steekin icons) and have a right-click menu, a-la Openbox.

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#13 2022-05-15 16:03:49

Martin
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From: Stockholm, Sweden
Registered: 2015-10-01
Posts: 639
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Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

In the early days xfce was heavily inspired by CDE. I was used to CDE at work (SUN Solaris) so was an easy sell for xfce when I got myself a private computer.

I don't have very strong feelings when it comes to WM or DE (as long as it isn't Windows) so I have no issues with Openbox the way it is configured in BL and very few issues with Gnome on my current company computer running Linux based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

/Martin


"Problems worthy of attack
prove their worth by hitting back."
Piet Hein

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#14 2022-05-15 16:30:56

Sector11
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From: Upstairs
Registered: 2015-08-20
Posts: 6,942

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

eight.bit.al wrote:

^ In Xfce4, one can turn off the desktop icons (we doan neeed no steekin icons) and have a right-click menu, a-la Openbox.

and or remove the xfce4 menu and add OpenBox.


The sun will never set if you keep walking towards it. - my son
Being positive doesn't understand physics.
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#15 2022-05-15 17:38:36

Colonel Panic
Member
Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

eight.bit.al wrote:

^ In Xfce4, one can turn off the desktop icons (we doan neeed no steekin icons) and have a right-click menu, a-la Openbox.

I like the icons in XFce, particularly when I'm in my root account and want to access a partition quickly. It's much quicker to just click on an icon on the desktop than it is to have to open a terminal and type in something like

udisksctl mount -b /dev/sda7.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-05-16 05:38:24)

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#16 2022-06-02 07:57:46

Colonel Panic
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Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 547

Re: A system for when you absolutely can't afford anything to go wrong

An update; just had another freeze up in XFce, so I installed Spectrwm and am using that instead at the moment. Spectrwm has its faults (and I've mentioned them on its own dedicated thread), but it works well, is light on system resources and doesn't freeze up as far as I can see. And, like most tiling managers, all the settings fit on one configuration file.

Last edited by Colonel Panic (2022-06-02 17:56:35)

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