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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!

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I’m pretty sure that most linux users must have been introduced to computers using windows before finally reaching enlightenment, i certainly know I was. So here is a little selection of apps and utils that I put together when I was a Windows user. check it out, because there is some pretty cool stuff here. Word of warning, the stuff on here is a little netbook/EEE specific, but still worth a look even if you’re not on that hardware

Launchy
Launchy is a program that allows applications and directories to be accessed with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Call launchy by pressing Alt+Space, start typing an application, press enter

Simply press Alt+Space, and start typing the name of the application or folder, Launchy will usually guess correctly after just two or 3 characters have been typed. If launchy guessed wrong, just select your choice from a drop down (launchy will remember your choices for next time) or press escape to dismiss the active window. Say good bye to the start button forever!

EEECTL
EEECTL is a utility which allows you to overclock, or underclock the CPU of the ASUS EEE PC.

In addition, it also provides a reading of the CPU temperature, allows control of the system fan, and also screen brightness

Fully configurable - you can set your own profiles for clockspeed, fanspeed and screen brightnessThe software can be modified via a .ini file, allowing individual users to set their own parameters. This means custom profiles can be created allowing users to overclock or underclock as much as they want (at their own risk ofcourse).

The program was written for the EEEPC 700 series, but is compatible with all celeron M based EEEs – head over to http://www.eeeuser.com forums for more advice on this program, as well as pre altered .ini files best suited to your model.

Perfect for squeezing a little extra performance or a little extra battery life out of your machine, depending on your needs.

Be warned, some configurations can lead to system instability

Bat Stats
As all netbook users know, battery life is important. with such a portable device, its very common to find yourself a long way from the nearest power outlet. so for this reason, its important to have accurate battery life indicator.

One problem that many laptops suffer from, is the lack of a ‘smart’ battery, often leading to battery indicators being wildly inacurrate.

One program that overcomes this problem is batstats. It works by profiling a battery once (letting it run down from a full charge, timing it, and recording voltage levels each minute). This allows the software to accurately assess your batterys remaining charge in minutes and percentage by cross referencing it against the recorded data.

batstats was written for the EEE PC, but will work just as well on any laptop (so long as a custom battery profile has been created.

Batstats will also act as a ‘low battery alarm’ and ’emergency shutdown’ – meaning you can disable the Windows power management options for this.

batstats1batstatsThe only shortfalling of this program is that, aesthetically, it is somewhat ugly, but the tray icon is fine, and once configured, you shouldnt ever need to open the main program again.

I highly recommend this program to anyone using a ‘dumb’ battery in their netbook.

More of these coming soon.