About me: My name is Solène Rapenne, pronouns she/her. I like learning and sharing knowledge. Hobbies: '(BSD OpenBSD Qubes OS Lisp cmdline gaming security QubesOS internet-stuff). I love percent and lambda characters. OpenBSD developer solene@. No AI is involved in this blog.

Contact me: solene at dataswamp dot org or @solene@bsd.network (mastodon).

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The Old Computer Challenge: day 1

Written by Solène, on 10 July 2021.
Tags: #openbsd #life #oldcomputerchallenge

Comments on Fediverse/Mastodon

Report of my first day of the old computer challenge

1. My setup §

I'm using an Apple iBook G4 running the operating system development version of OpenBSD macppc. Its specs are: 1 CPU G4 1.3GHz, 512 MB of memory and an old IDE HDD 40 GB. The screen is a 4/3 ratio with a 1024x768 resolution. The touchpad has only one tap button doing left click, the touchpad doesn't support multiple fingers gestures (can't scroll, can't click). The battery is still holding a 1h40 capacity which is very surprising.

About the software, I was using the ratpoison window manager but I got issue with two GUI applications so I moved to cwm but I have other issues with cwm now. I may switch to window maker maybe or return to ratpoison which worked very well except for 2 programs, and switch to cwm when I need them... I use xterm as my terminal emulator because "it works" and it doesn't draw much memory, usually I'm using Sakura but with 32 MB of memory for each instance vs 4 MB for xterm it's important to save memory now. I usually run only one xterm with a tmux inside.

Same for the shell, I've been using fish since the beginning of 2021 but each instance of fish draws 9 MB which is quite a lot because this mean every time I split my tmux and this spawns a new shell then I have an extra 9MB used. ksh draws only 1MB per instance which is 9x less than fish, however for some operations I still switch to fish manually because it's a lot more comfortable for many operations due to its lovely completion.

2. Tasks §

Tasks on the day and how I complete them.

2.1. Searching on the internet §

My favorite browser on such old system is w3m with image support in the terminal, it's super fast and the render is very good. I use https://html.duckduckgo.com/html/ as my search engine.

The only false issue with w3m is that the key bindings are absolutely not straightforward but you only need to know a few of them to use it and they are all listed in the help.

2.2. Using mastodon §

I spend a lot of time on Mastodon to communicate with people, I usually use my web browser to access mastodon but I can't here because javascript capable web browser takes all the memory and often crash so I can only use them as a last joker. I'm using the terminal user interface tootstream but it has some limitations and my high traffic account doesn't match well with it. I'm setting up brutaldon which is a local program that gives access to mastodon through an old style website, I already wrote about it on my blog if you want more information.

2.3. Listening to music §

Most of my files are FLAC encoded and are extremely big, although the computer can decode them right but this uses most of the CPU. As OpenBSD doesn't support mounting samba shares and that my music is on my NAS (in addition to locally on my usual computer), I will have to copy the files locally before playing them.

One solution is to use musikcube on my NAS and my laptop with the server/client setup which will make my nas transcoding the music I want to play on the laptop on the fly. Unfortunately there is no package for musikcube yet and I started compiling it on my old laptop and I suppose it will take a few hours to complete.

2.4. Reading emails §

My favorite email client at the moment is claws-mail and fortunately it runs perfectly fine on this old computer, although the lack of right click is sometimes a problem but a clever workaround is to run "xdotool click 3" to tell X to do a right click where the cursor is, it's not ideal but I rarely need it so it's ok. The small screen is not ideal to deal with huge piles of mails but it works so far.

2.5. IRC §

My IRC setup is to have a tmux with as many catgirl (irc client) instances as network I'm connected too, and this is running on a remote server so I just connect there with ssh and attach to the local tmux. No problem here.

2.6. Writing my blog §

The process is exactly the same as usual. I open a terminal to start my favorite text editor, I create the file and write in it, then I run aspell to check for typos, then I run "make" to make my blog generator creates the html/gopher/gemini versions and dispatch them on the various server where they belong to.

3. How I feel §

It's not that easy! My reliance on web services is hurting here, I found a website providing weather forecast working in w3m.

I easily focus on a task because switching to something else is painful (screen redrawing takes some times, HDD is noisy), I found a blog from a reader linking to other blogs, I enjoyed reading them all while I'm pretty sure I would usually just make a bookmark in firefox and switch to a 10-tabs opening to see what's new on some websites.