My Low-End Set Up

I’m finding set ups that really work well for me and my low-end hardware. My present little piece of ancient computing nirvana is the following environment:

  • running gnu screen within X (kdrive from DSL)
  • using vifm by itself and within vim
  • elinks most of the time, Opera when I need graphics
  • snownews for rss
  • mplayer (no gui) to stream audio

This isn’t my first time to enjoy the combination of vifm and screen. What’s so special about it? By issuing the “:screen” command within vifm, it will open new “windows” in the current screen session. Click on a text file (or any file without an association in the configuration file) and it opens in vim or whichever editor you choose. Set up a MIME association and it opens the app in another screen window.

The “mplayer” tab was opened when I selected the highlighted PLS stream.

The best part of all of this: I was only using 53MB of RAM to run all the normal processes (default DSL 2.4.31 kernel, modules, basic services, sshd, etc.), X, dwm, screen, vifm, zsh, elinks (two tabs open including gmail), naim, and a high-definition audio stream.

mplayer is the pig, but it’s still consuming a lot less resources than XMMS does. I can trim it all down further by running my custom kernel but I need to reinstall it (packaged from last hard drive install).

The console apps I selected give me just about every feature I could need — except support for images and video (just haven’t gotten that far with it yet). I compiled elinks with bittorrent and ftp. I also downloaded spidermonkey to add javascript support, so I’ll have that when I recompile. Now I just need a better-developed console spreadsheet and I’m set. I’m not setting all this up for this particular computer. It’s for something I’m taking on vacation this summer; I’ll have more details shortly (and explanations for why it needs to use as little power as possible).

Even though it appears vifm is no longer being developed, it works very well if you’re used to vi/vim commands. It’s certainly not as feature-rich as midnight commander or other file managers. It does most ordinary file management jobs very well. It can launch executables or open them in vim (or your choice of editor). It can be set up with MIME types as noted above. It can sort files by all the usual variables like name, size, date, etc. It can even accept shell commands. About the only thing I don’t like about it is the default white border and panel dividing the two panes (which can be set to one pane as well), which I set to black. Unfortunately, it only has eight-color support. I may see what I can do to get 256 (I need to update my version of screen.uci in MyDSL for that, too).

I like the combination of vim, vifm, and screen so much I compiled it as one UCI for personal use in DSL. I’m also considering using those as the basis of the user interface for my next DSL remaster, which is on hold until I get a chance to play with the next major version of DSL (2.6-based “tiny core”) since that may serve my purposes even better than stripping X apps from the current base.

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