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OldAdamUser2 Wrote:

Installing Tiny Core Linux on the Eee 900 20 GB (or other similar computers)

A strong argument can be made that Tiny Core Linux is the fastest-booting and most efficient operating system currently available–especially for netbook computers that are used for web browsing and cloud computing. The following paragraphs describe my installation of Tiny Core Linux on an Eee 900 20 GB netbook, but they should be applicable with minor variations on a wide variety of other netbooks and laptops.

Assumptions: You have access to a working version of linux. You have about 100 MB of free space on sda1 (or your computer's boot partition).

Steps: 1. Create two directories on sda1 for your Tiny Core installation. Name one of them “tiny” and name the other “tce.” Within the “tce” directory create another directory named “optional”.

2. Download the Tiny Core iso from http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/tinycorelinux/2.x/release/. The advice in this tutorial is based on Tiny Core 2.3. It works with very few (and largely self-evident) changes on the most recent versions.

3. Use an archive manager (FileManager in Xandros) to extract “bzImage” and and “tinycore.gz” from the Tiny Core iso. Put both of them in your “tiny” directory on sda1. If you don't have access to an archive manager, you can download “bzImage” and “tinycore.gz” directly from the following site: http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/tinycorelinux/2.x/release/distribution_files/

4. Use a file editor with root privileges to find and open your GRUB “menu.lst”. You should be able to locate it in /boot/grub on sda1. Check that the GRUB menu is set to display during boot-up by commenting-out the “hiddenmenu” entry. (I.e., put a # at the beginning of that line.) Next give yourself some time to select your choice of operating system during the boot process; initially, I recommend that you set “timeout=5”, but you can later reduce that to 1 or even 0 to speed boot time. Then, scroll to the end of the file and type in the following text:

title Tiny Core Linux
root (0x80,0)
kernel /tiny/bzImage quiet tce=sda1 home=sdb1 opt=sdb1 nodhcp
initrd /tiny/tinycore.gz

(NOTE: “root (0x80,0)” is the sda1 partition on my Eee 900 and it is used in each of the other three grub entries for the standard Xandros installation. If the boot partition is described in some other way on your machine, then use that designation. For example, on some hard drives it is “root (hd0,0)”. Use whatever is the standard for your other grub items.)

At this point, save the changes you have made to menu.lst and reboot your computer. If all has gone well, you should be able to reboot into Tiny Core Linux. To add software and continue building your operating system, you will need to have a wired (ethernet) connection to the internet. Usually, this is as simple as plugging the appropriate wire either into the ethernet ports on your Eee and your router, or into the usb ports on both machines.

Now you are ready to build a fully functional system. I am going to recommend the smallest setup that provides wifi access, a browser, a couple of text editors, a couple of file managers, a music player, a video player, and a flashplayer. Tiny Core Linux uses two different types of packaged programs: tce and tcz. While both types still work, tcz's are preferred for version 2.4 of Tiny Core.

So, begin by using Apps (the gears button at the bottom-center of your display) to mount 915resolution.tcz (for better screen display on some Eee pc's with Intel chipsets), opera.tcz (a browser), mc.tcz (a file manager and file editor), wireless-tools.tczl (wireless), wireless- (wireless), wpa-supplicant.tcz (wireless), OSS.tczm (sound), beaver.tczl (a graphical editor), conky.tcz (systems reporting), and xmms-musepack-1.2.1.tcz (for music), and fbreader.tczl (an ebook reader). This will download the relevant files (and their dependencies) to the tce directory on your sda1 partition.

Now, click on Aterm (the screen button at the bottom-center of your display) and type in “sudo mc” without the parentheses. This will open Midnight Commander your file-manager/file-editor. Find your way to the /opt directory and highlight the bootlocal.sh file. This is a file that automatically executes commands every time you reboot your computer. We will use it to connect to wifi and to set the cpu speed. Push the F4 key to open the file for editing. Enter the following lines:

sudo iwconfig wlan0 essid any
sudo udhpc -i wlan0
sudo mount -t auto /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1

Push F2 to save the changes you have made to bootlocal.sh. The first two commands assume that you are going to be using a public wifi signal (i.e., no password needed). If you will normally be using a password-protected network, you can modify the lines appropriately. For example, to connect automatically to a wep-wifi, you will need the following:

sudo iwconfig wlan0 essid your-essid-name
sudo iwconfig wlan0 mode managed key your-password
sudo udhcpc -i wlan0

Having made these changes to bootlocal.sh, shut down your computer. Note that the first time you shut down Tiny Core, you will be prompted to select a location for a backup file. You can select any location–sdb1, for example.

Reboot your computer. If all has gone well, it will automatically connect to wifi. (If it doesn't immediately connect, open a terminal and type in “sudo iwlist scanning.” It should show either ath0 or wlan0 with an ESSID name and other info. Based on what you find, edit your bootlocal.sh and try again. You may also try changing the setting in wbar > Panel > Netcardconfig.) Try out your Opera browser, your graphical editor (Beaver), and your mp3 player (Xmms). Now we are going to reboot the computer one more time before installing your flashplayer, your pdf reader, and another file manager. While we are at it, we will also set up conky to monitor your computer's performance.

By now you should be getting used to how quickly Tiny Core Linux boots up. (On my Eee 900 it takes less than 25 seconds to boot and acquire a wifi signal.) Once again, use Apps to mount the following files: getFlash10.tgz, emelfm.tgz (a graphical file manager), Mplayer-nodeps.tcz (a video player), and xpdf-3.02p12.tcz. These are some hefty applications and they may take a bit of time to download and mount. Once they have done so, you should open a new desktop (hit Ctrl-F2) and put your mouse somewhere on the screen. Then click the right mouse button, scroll down to Applications, and run getFlash10. After it does its thing, switch back to your first desktop (Ctrl-F1) and shut down your computer. Boot again, go to youtube.com, and test your ability to play flash video.

The three somewhat bulky programs you installed in the previous paragraph may have somewhat slowed your computer's boot time and/or eaten up too much ram. You can cure this by moving these programs and their dependencies into the /tce/optional directory. After you have done that, they will no longer load into ram when you reboot your computer, but you can invoke them at will by using Apps>File and mounting them from their directory.

Now there is a little more tweaking to be done. First, let's set up Opera so that it invokes xmms to play streaming audio. Start Opera and go to Tools>Preferences>Advanced>Downloads. Click Add and insert in the Mime box “audio/x-scpls” – and insert in the Open box “xmms %s” (without the quotes). Use Opera to go to www.publicradiofan.com and see if you can play streaming audio through xmms. While we are configuring Opera, let's reduce its demands on flash drives. Go to Tools>Preferences>Advanced>History and change Memory Cache to 40 megabytes, switch Disk Cache to off, and tick the box for Empty on Exit.

Next we need a good default configuration for conky. Create a new file with Beaver and paste in the following text:

# maintain spacing between certain elements
use_spacer yes

  - set to yes if you want tormo to be forked in the background
background no

  - X font when Xft is disabled, you can pick one with program xfontsel
  - font 5x7
  - font 6x10
  - font 7x13
  - font 8x13
font 9x15
  - font *mintsmild.se*
  - font -*-*-*-*-*-*-34-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

  - Xft font when Xft is enabled
xftfont Verdana:size=12:bold

  - Text alpha when using Xft
xftalpha 0.8

  - Xft font when Xft is enabled
use_xft no
  - Draw shades?
draw_shades yes

  - Draw outlines?
draw_outline no # amplifies text

  - Draw borders around text
draw_borders no

update_interval 10

  - Text alignment, other possible values are commented
alignment top_left
  - alignment top_right
  - alignment bottom_left
  - alignment bottom_right
${color #FF0000}$nodename - $sysname $kernel
${color #FFFF00}Uptime: $uptime
RAM: $memperc% ${membar 8}
Swap:$swapperc% ${swapbar 8}
CPU: $cpu% ${cpubar 8}
CPU Temp: ${acpitemp}C
CPU Speed: ${freq}MHz
${color #FFFF00}/       ${fs_used /}/${fs_size /}${alignr}${fs_used_perc /}%
${fs_bar 8 /}
/home   ${fs_used /home}/${fs_size /home}${alignr}${fs_used_perc /home}%
${fs_bar 8 /home}
${color2}Battery ${color1}${battery}
NAME $alignr PID    CPU
${top name 1} $alignr ${top pid 1} ${top cpu 1}
${top name 2} $alignr ${top pid 2} ${top cpu 2}
${top name 3} $alignr ${top pid 3} ${top cpu 3}
${top name 4} $alignr ${top pid 4} ${top cpu 4}
${top name 5} $alignr ${top pid 5} ${top cpu 5}
${top name 6} $alignr ${top pid 6} ${top cpu 6}
${top name 7} $alignr ${top pid 7} ${top cpu 7}
${top name 8} $alignr ${top pid 8} ${top cpu 8}

Save this file as “.conkyrc” (without the quotes, but using the period at the front of the filename). Open a terminal window and type in “conky” (without the quotes). Close the terminal window. Now you can monitor cpu temperature and speed, as well as other features of the operating system. Many different configurations of conky are possible if you do a bit of reading on the internet.

Finally, I recommend one final modification–but it is entirely optional. Each time you shut down your computer, Tiny Core makes a backup file. But we have installed it in a way that creates persistent directories so that it is unnecessary and undesirable to load the backup file each time you reboot your computer. I recommend that you copy your current “mybackup.tz” to a removable usb stick and change the installation so that backups are not automatically made and loaded with each boot. To do so, open a terminal window, type in “sudo mc”, scroll down to “.profile” and highlight it. Push F4 to edit the file. Scroll down to the line that starts “export BACKUP” and edit it to “exportBACKUP=0.” Push F2 to save your changes. Bingo. Tiny Core will no longer automatically backup and reload your system, but can still be made to do so if you desire it.

This is the way I have set up my Eee 900 for optimal use for most daily tasks. Enjoy modifying your own installation. If you make a mistake, it is easy to reinstall everything in this small, efficient Linux version.

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