[FB] Creating the Perfect Linux Box

Posted by flashback on Sept. 20, 2006, 9:34 p.m.

Old computer with Windows 98 or ME, which even microsoft has now abandoned as worthless? Want it to run snappy as a venus fly trap and smooth as butter on a bald monkey? You need a new OS, and not one by Microsoft.

You need a Linux Distro.

And it has to be good.

Welcome to the guide to a perfect linux box. Here I will guide you through how to set up the Linux machine of your dreams, at the low fee of $0.00! Let's start!

Please note that this article assumes you are a novice at Linux. If you feel that a specific distro is better for you, you can skip straight to step 2.

Step 1: Get SimplyMEPIS 6.0

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 is my distro of choice. It has a snazzy livecd, and it runs very quickly on old systems - I have it running exceptionally smoothly on a Pentium 2 that runs at 350mHz.

SimplyMEPIS comes with KDE as its default Desktop environment. This is a very easy to use environment, and good for windows-dependants, as it requires absolutely no modifications to look and feel similar to windows, or as some linux users like to call it the "Redmond Virus".

In any case, I don't use KDE, as I need my machines to be at peak performance. But we'll get to that later. To get MEPIS, go to The MEPIS website, and download one of the ISOs (their onsite FAQ explains about how to get to those). Burn a CD off of the ISO, then put it in your target computer. Boot it up (you may need to change your boot device to boot from CD first in your BIOS).

MEPIS should boot up. It might take a little while, but remember - it's running off a CD here! Once you get to the login screen, select the root account and type in "root" as the password.

You should get to the desktop - you'll notice the KAquarium widget in Kicker (the KDE bar along the bottom which has a system tray etc.), as that's rather an identifying feature of MEPIS, as most distros have that applet disabled on boot-up. On the desktop, there should be an icon labeled "INSTALL ME". Single-click it (Not double-click, that'll open it twice. You can change that in your settings later on if you want). An installation wizard will pop up, it's very well documented right in there - the sidebar displays documentation for the current step. Run through that to install MEPIS. Once it asks you if you want to install grub, say yes, and leave everything as the default.

Once the install of everything is done, shut down the machine (while it's shutting down in the last stages, you should be able to get the CD out of there. If you don't manage it, boot up the machine and either tell the BIOS to boot from the hard drive first, or take the disk out before it gets a chance to fully boot up, then hit the power button and boot up again.)

Boot the machine up. You now have SimplyMEPIS 6.0 running successfully on your computer.

Now, for many of you, this might be enough - you just want to learn KDE first and be happy with that - your machine's decent anyway, and this runs more than quickly enough. However, if you have an older machine, or just plain want a heck of a lot more speed, Proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Install FVWM-Crystal

FVWM was one of the first window managers for the X Window System, and it ran well, was ugly as hell without modding, and kind of petered out after giants like Gnome and KDE sprang up. FVWM-Crystal is a sort of addon, improvement, or derivative of FVWM - it looks exceptional, and runs blazing fast. The entire interface has transparancy.

Here's how to get it:

First, log in as the root user, open up a console (system button on the task tray, then Konsole), and then type in this command:

apt-get install fvwm python imagemagick rox-filer xscreensaver trayer gksu aterm habak mpd mpc

That's ALL ON ONE LINE!

Hit enter to run that command. Now keep in mind that this requires your linux machine to be connected to the internet, otherwise none of this will work.

That fairly lengthy command, once it's done (it may ask you some things), will get all the different things that FVWM-Crystal needs installed.

Next we need to go to the FVWM-Crystal homepage, and download FVWM-Crystal. Put the file wherever you want, and then navigate a console to there and type this command:

tar xvzf fvwm-crystal-3.0.4.tar.gz

Then this command:

cd fvwm-crystal-3.0.4

And finally this command:

make install

You have just installed FVWM-Crystal, but there's more to do still.

Navigate in Konqueror (click the house icon in your system tray) to [where you downloaded the fvwm-crystal tarball to]/fvwm-crystal-3.0.4/addons/. There you will find a file called fvwm-ctrystal.desktop - copy it to the clipboard (this is the same as windows), and then navigate to /usr/share/xsessions/, and paste it. Log out of KDE.

Once you're at the login screen, hit "Menu", then go to the "session" submenu. From there, select "FVWM-Crystal". Then log in to whichever account you want to log in to (you'll have to set the session for every account before logging in the first time).

Voila! You're now in FVWM-Crystal. It's pretty neat-looking, hey? Well you haven't seen half of it yet.

FVWM is highly configurable - the first thing you'll want to do it click the crystal menu button at the top left-hand corner (it has a crystal logo on it), and you'll see a menu with several sub-folders. Go to window decorations, then button style, and click MS-Windows. Then go to the other folder in window decoration, and click on any style in there to selkect it as your window decoration.

The next folder in there that we want to mess with is the Color Scheme one - just select a scheme from there to shange appearance.

Use the background folder to change the background, but WARNING - DO NOT TRY TO OPEN THE BOTTOM FOLDER IN THAT, ONLY THE TOP ONE! TRYING TO OPEN THE BOTTOM ONE WILL HANG YOUR SYSTEM DUE TO HOW KDE ORGANIZES FILES IN THAT FOLDER! YOU WILL HAVE TO WIPE THAT FOLDER MANUALLY THROUGH KONQUEROR OR ROX-FILER TO BE ABLE TO USE IT!

NExt, go to the develpo ment menu, then to recipies. These can change how your display is set up - where the system tray is, the clock, the appearance, etc. Just try playing around, seeing which one is for you (You have to restart crystal whenever you do so, but it prompts you to do that on recipie change, just click the left button in the window it pops up, and it takes maybe 15 seconds to do that). You can configure crystal to look similar to MacOS, Windows, or a ton of crystal-specific layouts.

Congratulations! You have just set up a speedy linux machine! Pat your self on the back!

Please note that I accept no liability whatsoever for damages that may occur to your computer while following this guide- for instance, losing your data by not installing MEPIS correctly, or other issues. It's all your fault, and I am not liable for it, nor is any other member of this site, the site itself, your cat, or the rest of the universe. It's only you to blame. So no sueing people. Or stuff like that.

Comments

Eternal 17 years, 8 months ago

I like the guide. I am personally a Linux fan, but ever since I found GM, I've been sticking to Windows. When I get a new computer, though, I'm definately going to follow this guide.

melee-master 17 years, 8 months ago

Sounds pretty cool. Too bad I don't have my old PC anymore, as I would install Linux on that.

Firebird 17 years, 8 months ago

FEDORA CORE!

flashback 17 years, 8 months ago

SIMPLYMEPIS 6.0!

Warlin 17 years, 8 months ago

Woah, just wow.

sinkhead 17 years, 8 months ago

Fedora Core is best for me, I like RPM and yum.

Arcalyth 17 years, 8 months ago

GENTOO!

I dual boot Gentoo and Windows XP Home on this system with XFCE. It runs very smoothly.

OL 17 years, 8 months ago

XGL FTW.

Firebird 17 years, 8 months ago

I shall convert you all to Fedora Core!

*Gets out pendulum*

Arcalyth 17 years, 8 months ago

You wanna fork out money for hardware for my PC that's compatible with Fedora? Be my guest =)