Followup notes on XO alternate desktops
Some followup notes from our alternate Linux desktop on XO work:
- The README included with the script provides some more specific instructions.
- Your SD card needs to be a minimum of 4GB capacity, because these distributions install more than 2GB by default. We could probably find some smaller distributions, although we require some relatively recent components for some part of the system (e.g. X), so finding a distribution that is both modern and small might be a challenge.
- There are ongoing efforts to create a significantly smaller distro to run on the internal flash, but that is an early project at the moment.
- We heavily recommend using a SD card that is advertised as fast, extreme, ultimate, or whatever! I was previously sceptical of cards advertised in this way – are they actually significantly faster? The answer is YES – we have a ‘non-extreme’ Kingston card and it is so much slower than the others. Installation took 4 times as long. I’m not sure a good way of benchmarking these, the standard “hdparm -t” test showed similar figures on both slow and fast cards.
- I’ve spent most of my time with Fedora. On the whole, it works very well for a machine that is understandably lower spec than most. I do recommend slimming down the services though – turn off all the NFS daemons, cups, bluetooth daemon, pcscd, kerneloops, … In fedora this is done with the ‘service’ command for a one-time stop, and ‘chkconfig’ to prevent things starting at boot.
- When you run a lot of big applications, the machine does really slow down. Sometimes the mouse cursor freezes for a while. Perhaps we should experiment with swap space, currently I have none.
- Sound does not work. In Fedora, it doesn’t work at all, probably a PulseAudio bug. I’m hoping that applying the system updates will fix this, but the Fedora infrastructure is down at the moment. In Ubuntu, sound works at the login screen (you hear the welcome sound) but not after you login.
- On the postive side: wireless works, suspend works (most of the time), mouse and keyboard are good, gnome-power-manager dims the screen when idle, etc. It really acts as a normal fully usable distro with a few quirks identified above.