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Tinycore is a nimble 10mb linux distro that I reviewed a little while back. I have been using it on my EEE PC 900 for about 3 months. Over the course that course of time, I’ve learned a thing or two about TC’s extensions, and which are best suited to such a light weight, small distro

Three things I look for:

    1. Few dependencies – installing many apps, with many different dependencies will soon fatten up your system, try to use apps with few, or in some cases, no deps!

    2. Extension size – Pretty obvious, but any extention you install will add to the size of the route file system, and also occupy RAM (even if the app is not running). Therefore, sticking to smaller extensions makes good sense.

    3. Suitablity of ‘On Demand’ feature – When TC boots, it mounts every single extention you have in your ‘tce’ folder (type ‘fdisk -l’ in a console, and you’ll see what I mean. If you install an extension using ‘On Demand’ it will be downloaded from the repo, to your computer, but not mounted – it will only be mounted when you want to use it. Makes a lot of sense for exensions that you know you probably wont use very often (especially if they are large in size!).

So, considering the above I have made a list of worthy extensions. All available from the Appbrowser.

Essentials

OSS for sound, wirelesstools and wpasupplicant for WLAN, 915resolution for widescreen displays, zip/unzip, rar, curl, etc.

File manager – two serious contenders here.

Midnight Commander (mc.tcz) is an extremely light weight FM that runs from the console. 606kb in size, and just 2 deps. Makes light work of navigating files using the keyboard, but also has mouse support. On top of that has a built in text editor for editing scripts and config files. If you are comfortable in the console, this is the way to go.

Browser – again, two apps that i would consider

Dillo (dillo2.tcz) compliments TC in every way. small, lightening fast, offers good functionality, but doesnt support everything. The extension itself is just 1.6mb and has no dependencies!

Opera 9.64 (opera.tcz) Fastest of the full-featured browsers. You’ll be hard pressed to find a website that opera cant handle. The extension clocks in at 8mb with no deps. Opera also supports ‘minimal mode’ to save RAM, which strips out IRC, RSS and email functionality. Opera 10.10 is also available,but is significantly larger, at 11.6mb.

Video/music player

Mplayer-nodeps (Mplayer-nodeps.tcz) There are a few different Mplayer extensions in the repo. My reccomendation is Mplayer-nodeps. This is the command line version, lacking any GUI, as this will save you some space. Mplayer performs very well under TC, and as long as you brush up on the commands for mplayer, you’ll be fine. Nodeps version clocks in at 4.3mb, and of course there are no dependencies! Other versions require a graphical tool kit (GTK1 or GTK2). There is also a version for xorg users.

VLC (vlc.tcz) everyone loves VLC, and of course its availible here. Clocks in at a hefty 11.6mb, but will play practically any file. xorg reccomended by extension creator (eeek!). Depends on QT, amoung others.

System monitor

Conky (conky.tcz) Lightweight system monitor, displaying performace stats on the desktop. Just 116kb 2 deps its delightfully lightweight. A must have on any linux system!

Text editor

Beaver (beaver.tcz) Beaver is a handy text editor that I use everyday. Although not the most featurefull, supports some syntax highlighting, line numbering and auto indent. Only 135kb in size, but does depend on GTK1.

Office tools

Abiword/gnumeric (abiword.tcz, gnumeric.tcz) Two good apps for your office needs. allthough not as full-featured as openoffice, these clock in at a fraction of the size.

So, there it is, a small selection of usefull extentions that wont bog down your system!

I recently reinstalled Linux onto my EEE 900 laptop. Using Ubuntu base installation as a starting point, I am building up a lightweight, super fast system from a minimal ubuntu install. So i’ve installed X, and fluxbox, file manager, rtorrent, iptables, nedit… so i basically have a very nice, very fast working system.

Next it was time to install a browser, again, i want to keep it light, but also capable.

So here is a run down of a few lightweight browsers, and my opinions of them.

Dillo
Dillo is extremely fast and lightweight browser, and in certain situtations, a pleasure to use. Minimal tool bars mean nearly all screen space is devoted webpages, and not the interface – a huge plus on an eeepc.

However, Dillo does not cope well when it comes up against bulky, complex sites. Limitted CSS support and no JavaScript support mean this browser is unusable on a number of sites that I use daily. If I was to make this my first choice browser, I would still need an alternative for accessing certain sites.

A good way to describe dillo, is that it covers a middle ground between fully featured browsers and text only browsers such as w3m. having said that, even w3m has JavaScript support!

A great browser for the simple things, but not enough on its own.

SeaMonkey
which is a WYSIWYG editor as well as a browser, which bares more than a little resemblance to netscape navigator (no accident). I had used this on a Puppy Linux live CD and had been very impressed with the speed – it uses mozillas rendering engine, so it supports sites almost as well as firefox. However, it just felt a bit clunky, and the interface took up a lot of screen real estate on the small eee screen. On top of that, there are a lot of dependencies for this software, and installation required a significant amount of disk space.

Conkeror
Conkeror is a lightweight browser based mozilla’s gecko rendering engine. the interface has been stripped away completely, and all that remains is a text input area at the bottom of the window. Conkeror relies on keyboard shortcuts similar to those in emacs or console based browsers in order to be used.

For example tapping ‘g’ allows a URL to be typed. Tapping ‘f’ results in all hyperlinks on a page being highlighted and numbered, the relevant number can then be entered to visit that link. ‘B’ and ‘F’ keys are used for back and forward, and so on.

All in all Conkeror is very fast and easy to learn. It does away with needless interface items and bloat – which is particularly helpful on a small screen, low spec system.

Links2

Links2 is a command line browser. I covered it before in an earlier post. The coolest feature of this ‘text only’ browser, is that it actually allows images to be rendered  and mouse support in the terminal/tty/ssh session, which makes it my first choice when I don’t have X running. However, a lack of JavaScript support limits it in many ways.

Like Dillo, a nice lightweight alternative, but cant be relied upon for all browsing due to its lack of support for advanced features.

w3m

Another CLI browser, Like Links2, can display graphics in the command line. On top of that, also supports JavaScript. Very fast, but not as pretty as Links2, and mouse support isnt implemented as well as Links2 either, nontheless, a good CLI browser.

So there you go, a quick rundown of some lightweight browsers available on linux. Right now, the crown goes to conkeror, it provides an intruative, uncluttered browsing experiance, and will likely baffle the average windows user who looks over your shoulder.