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You Can Use the Desktop on a Laptop Now

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Recently, I bought a laptop. I consulted several friends to get a consensus as to which one would work best with Linux. Tallying the results, I decided to go with an IBM ThinkPad. I chose a barely used model T21 with a Pentium III 800, a 20GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM and a DVD-ROM. Prices ranged all over the place, but I found a one for less than $300.

Once the laptop arrived, I began searching around on Google to see which Linux distributions people used on ThinkPads. I even found a ThinkPad mailing list and some distribution-oriented laptop ones. Then, I found a tutorial that convinced me to go with Fedora Core 3.

Although the Fedora tutorial gave me many of hints on how to configure tools to take advantage of the ThinkPad's built-in functionality, Fedora did not work for me. I decided to stay with 256MB of RAM, primarily so I could help Linux users who could not afford to add the memory needed to get to 512MB. Perhaps if I upgraded to a higher level of memory, I could use Fedora. At 256MB of RAM, however, Fedora creeped. I felt like I was using a memory-starved Microsoft Windows machine.

Call it a challenge, but many postings exist on the mailing lists I follow from international users who simply can't afford to upgrade their memory. To an American, it doesn't seem so unrealistic simply to upgrade. To friends in Hungary, the costs seem high.

I spent the better part of two days trying a variety of distributions. Before people start writing comments about how much better their distributions run than the one I chose, let me say I played no favorites. I wanted performance and I got it with Ubuntu. Contrary to what some of you might believe, it's not my favorite Linux distro. It simply performed the best in this case.

Full Story.

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Programming: Python 2.*, Functional Computation, and Plagiarism in CS

  • 1.5 Year Warning: Python2 will be End of Lifed
    The end of upstream Python 2.7 support will be January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01) and the Fedora Project is working out what to do with it. As Fedora 29 would be released in 2019-11 and would get 1.5 years of support, the last release which would be considered supportable would be the upcoming release of Fedora 28. This is why the current Python maintainers are looking to orphan python2. They have made a list of the packages that would be affected by this and have started a discussion on the Fedora development lists, but people who only see notes of this from blogs or LWN posts may not have seen it yet.
  • Why is functional programming seen as the opposite of OOP rather than an addition to it?

    So: both OOP and functional computation can be completely compatible (and should be!). There is no reason to munge state in objects, and there is no reason to invent “monads” in FP. We just have to realize that “computers are simulators” and figure out what to simulate.

  • Why we still can’t stop plagiarism in undergraduate computer science

    The most important goal is to keep the course fair for students who do honest work. Instructors must assign grades that accurately reflect performance. A student who grapples with a problem — becoming a stronger programmer in the process — should never receive a lower grade than one who copies and pastes.


    University administrators should communicate their support. Instructors should know that, not only will they suffer no retaliation, but that the university encourages them to enforce university policies. This might require administrators to acknowledge the inconvenient truth of widespread plagiarism.