4th June 2008 under How To do Stuff

LFS - My Linux Last Stop

Four years ago, when I first entered the university, I really wanted to learn a lot before I was taught so I decided to try the new craze everybody was talking about... LINUX. It sounded very cool to tell someone that you have Linux on your computer (and trust me it still does). There was however a problem getting started with Linux. I didn't have the bandwidth to download any of the major distributions and I even didn't know anyone who could physically give me a copy, so I decided to try some minimalistic Linux distributions. The first one I laid my hands on was muLinux.

It was a very small download and I just couldn't wait to get home and try it on my 200Mhz Pentium powered HP Vectra which had 128MB of RAM and a very small hard disk. I had printed out the booting instructions so that I could work faster. I booted my machine in Windows 98's MS-DOS only mode and then I used the batch file supplied to start the Linux kernel. I was so happy, my face lit up and then I started feeding in diskette after diskette of packages to get the system properly set up. When I was done, I tried to get myself acquainted with the shell. It was a lot of fun and it was very difficult. After weeks of trying to get the system to be cool I was convinced that muLinux was not what I needed. I just couldn't do anything with it. The only thing I remember doing which I enjoyed was actually compiling and running the rapidq example programs for Linux. I knew it was time to move on the next distro I found was SLAX.

I remember sitting at the cafe for about 4 hours just waiting for the almost 200MB SLAX download to finish. When it was done I burnt it unto a CD and went home to test it. It booted fine but I wasn't satisfied. My computer just couldn't take the stress. It was then I figured I needed a new computer. After all it was 2004 and what was I doing with a 200Mhz pentium. I did my best and got a PIII 700MHz with 256MB ram and trust my the SLAX was just flying. Boy! I was just living the Linux life. A beautiful KDE desktop with all the nice applications you can think of. I was trying to do almost everything in Linux. I download a large number of the SLAX modules and I was remastering my SLAX CD almost every weekend. My problem with SLAX was the live CD aspect. I mean it was slowing me down. I prayed for a solution and I had one. I figured out how to get SLAX to boot off my hard disk but this was still not very fast because it was like copying the live CD unto your hard disk and telling a boot loader to load it when the machine starts. It was still compressed so I was still bound to get some performance set backs. In search for a better alternative I found Ubuntu. The Ubuntu CD was given to me by a friend who had just ordered it on the internet and didn't know what it was used for. This CD was like an answer to my prayer.

For the first time in my over one year experience with Linux I was now going to install Linux unto my hard disk, the proper way. I erased everything on my hard disk and I installed my shiny new ubuntu system. When it finally boot I was happy but that was short lived. I found out that I couldn't play MP3's and videos. I thought the was a mistake in the installation so I did it again. Still the MP3's didn't play. Well I then found out that the system was not supposed to play MP3's by default. I had to install some extra stuff. I didn't have an internet connection at home so I had to carry my computer to the internet cafe and install all the needed files. Now I was happy but the question was; am I going to go to the cafe anytime I needed extra software...well the answer was yes. It was however not a problem.

After a few months of using ubuntu, I discovered Linux From Scratch a project which teaches you how to create your own distribution. Well this sounded like what I had been waiting for. I downloaded all the needed packages and then I started building. It took me almost two weeks to get the base system up. During this period I had to restart the project over five times. After I had the text only environment, I started adding my gui's and other stuff. The Beyond Linux From Scratch project was even bigger it allowed me to add all the extra stuff. When I bought my new computer, I rebuilt the latest LFS and I added the following:

  • XFCE for the desktop
  • MPLAYER and XINE for videos
  • Audacious for audio
  • OppenOffice
  • Eclipse for devt
  • Adobe Reader (Not Open Sourced but who cares. It is still the best PDF reader)
  • Gimp, Inkscape, Blender for Graphics
  • FireFox (I only use this for offline stuff)
  • XAMPP
  • Many More.

Enjoy a screen shot of my current configuration. I would also advice that if you really want a Linux system you would be passionate about. Build an LFS. It is fun and educative at the same time. Trust me I really don't fear downloading source packages anymore. But you would need a lot of patience if you are going to get it right. Screen shot is below, have fun!

My LFS desktop