Greetings, one and all.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to my blog. Not that I haven’t had anything to post about, but mainly because of this global pandemic crisis.  I’ve been keeping myself busy with personal tasks and this blog has taken a major backseat in my list of things to do, even for fun.  That said, I aim to change that and bring back some content in spite of this crisis.

As for all of us in this household, we are fine.  Dealing with a lack of toilet paper rolls, hand sanitizers, meat, eggs, and other items for the past two weeks like everyone else, but we’re all fine.  We’ve limited our outings to just riding bike and enjoying the outdoors near home as well as “grocery raids” (which is basically what it’s come to lately).  We don’t have any “shelter-in-place” orders in our county just yet, so we can still move about as needed.  I have been home for the past two weeks on paid leave as is everyone else, but this past week was meant to be Spring Break which was already covered. Teachers have been conducting distance-learning classes with students and will do so for the foreseeable time (April 15th, for now).  While most of us will be paid during this time out of work, not everyone is as lucky.  A few people I know are fine now, but they are depleting their financial reserves and while this relief package was passed into law, it may not be enough as we continue with this crisis.  Nevertheless, we are fine here.

The only positives are, as I briefly mentioned above, enjoying time outdoors nearby.  I’m also spending more time doing the things I love at home.  I actually have some time to catch up on some video games, neglected shows, and music, something that has been rather tough until this stay-home-from-work situation.  The only thing I haven’t done yet is pull out my vintage computers and do anything with them, something I hope to change in the near future depending on what happens with work.

I’ve also added my Fedora desktop to the Folding@home project in the fight against COVID-19.  It’s nice to know that you’re part of this monumentous project that has, in just a couple of weeks, become more powerful than the top 7 supercomputers combined!  If you can participate with your computer, please do so.

I’ll do my best to post my doings on here again.  The above is only some of what I’ve been up to, but I have a few more things to post about, like my Raspberry Pi 1 model B project I covered recently on HPR.

Until next time…

On my last post, I talked about how I installed OpenBSD on my old Asus EeePC 901 after receiving the EeePC 900a from my friend and left you wondering about the 900a. Well, wait no longer!

The 900a came with Debian 10 “Buster” installed by my friend and that seemed to run quite well (as most Linux distros do on these devices).  Nevertheless, I decided to go a different route with my newly-acquired 900a and install Haiku. If you’re not familiar with Haiku, it is a free operating system that keeps the spirit of the venerable Be Operating System (aka, BeOS) from the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s while improving its feature set to make it current to today’s needs. BeOS’s history is beyond the scope of this blog post, but you can read about it on Wikipedia. Next to the Amiga, and almost in the same spirit, BeOS was way ahead of its time.  I even got it installed on my old Motorola StarMax 4000 MT (a Power Mac clone from that era) as you can see on this YouTube video below and was quite impressed with it (I had run the x86 version in the early 2000s, but this was the first time I experienced the PowerPC version).

Anyway, back to the 900a! As mentioned, I decided to put Haiku (the open source successor of BeOS) on it.  I downloaded a Haiku nightly image for x86, dd’ed it to a USB flash drive, and proceeded with the install which went through very easily and quickly after I prepared the drive with its Drive Setup utility.

As much as I’d like to say that it was a roaring success on the 900a, the truth is that there were some issues. While it did install successfully, not everything was working as expected, mainly the screen resolution. Also, the trackpad wasn’t working as it should. I mean, the trackpad itself worked, but the buttons didn’t. Seems as though it uses the standard mouse driver, and I can’t seem to find anything to support the Elantech touchpad properly in HaikuDepot (the GUI package manager for Haiku). At least WiFi works, and that’s really what’s most important. I’ll likely keep tweaking what I can to put it in a useful state.

 

Given BeOS’s history in multimedia, maybe I can use this EeePC with Haiku for some MIDI sequencing and composing since my synth setup won’t work on the 901 with OpenBSD. Since the 900a and the 901 have almost the same dimensions, the 900a should sit on my Yamaha S08 just as nicely. If this all works out, I’ll have a reason to replace the damaged LCD display.

You’d think this would be the end of my “Eeexploration”, but not quite! In the near future, I will have my old, grubby hands on a practically-new EeePC 701, the one that started it all. Tune in next time to find out where that adventure will take me!

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ASUS EeePC 701 c/o Red at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0]

Back around 2007 or so, the low-cost netbook debuted on the computing scene. Starting with the ASUS EeePC 701, you could get a very inexpensive laptop that was low-powered and could be used for very light web browsing and e-mail. It was meant to be a secondary device to your desktop or laptop computer. Following the release of the 701, many PC manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and came out with their own, competing netbooks. Unfortunately, due to poor marketing (especially in terms of the OS), Windows XP being shoehorned on them due to demand as a consequence of said poor marketing, and the introduction of Apple’s iPad, the netbook met its demise. The stigma from all those factors still lingers today when it comes to netbooks.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. Many people, especially Linux users at the time, flocked to these cheap devices because Linux ran so well on such meager hardware (4-16 GB SSD hard drive or a slightly larger spinning hard drive, 2 GB RAM maximum). They made great portable systems in spite of their cramped keyboards. I, myself, was one of those Linux users that was (and remains) a big fan of the netbook.

At around 2009, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a black ASUS EeePC 901. I absolutely LOVED this device and it became my main portable machine for home and work. I purchased the 1 GB RAM, 4+16 GB revision with Xandros Linux and, after a small stint with Xandros and becoming frustrated (just like those Windows users), I decided to back up everything, wipe the drives, and install Ubuntu (my distro of choice at the time). I don’t recall if everything worked out of the box, but it worked for the most part, even better than Xandros did. I even ran Slackware on it and it, too, worked very well. A few years later, I would test Fedora 13 on it and that would eventually become my distro of choice on the 901 until I upgraded to my Toshiba Portege M400. The 901 was then relegated to running Lubuntu and playing Pandora via pianobar for when I wanted to play music outside while grilling. Sometime around 2014, I started getting errors on the drive and never bothered to fix it since I was now using my old phone at the time (LG Optimus L9) as a media player. So, the EeePC 901 sat unused since then in storage with the hope of resolving that issue one day.

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The white EeePC 900a sent by my friend, still in the box.

Well, fast-forward to November 2019, and an old friend of mine sends me his old EeePC after I tooted an article on Mastodon regarding the EeePC and how I was hoping to resurrect the old 901. The package came and it was a white EeePC 900a, the predecessor to my 901. Though it arrived with a crack screen (possibly from delivery abuse), it didn’t matter since I planned to use it for parts, especially for it’s power adapter. At this point, I grabbed “ye olde 901” from storage, plugged it in, and fired it up. To my delight, it booted! However, it soon reminded me of why I stopped using it. Apparently, BTRFS (yup) had gotten corrupted and was spitting out errors. I decided to open it up and reseat everything, and that seemed to have resolved the problem (had I known to do that after all those years, but I digress). Happily and quickly, the Eee booted to Lubuntu 14.10, but it was high time to install something new.

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My black EeePC 901 sitting to the left of the white EeePC 900a sent by my friend.

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My EeePC 901 with the previously-installed Lubuntu 14.10.

Since I was already into the BSDs at this point (with OpenBSD being my preferred BSD), I decided to drop OpenBSD on it. Installation went through quite well as it did when I installed it on my Toshiba and on other systems at work. Since I don’t have anything similar to LVM in OpenBSD, I just used the 4 GB internal SSD for the root directory and the 16 GB removable SSD for my /home directory. Although Bluetooth wasn’t working (not supported in OpenBSD), everything else was detected perfectly and was working without issue. After performing the base installation, I managed to grab a list of installed packages from the Toshiba and used that with pkg_add to install everything I needed on the 901: Fluxbox, Firefox, irssi, Chocolate Doom, etc. One “doas sysupgrade -s” later and I was at the cutting edge of -current.

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OpenBSD 6.6 i386 installing on the EeePC 901.

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OpenBSD 6.6 i386 on the EeePC 901 with the FVWM window manager (default) and XTerm.

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OpenBSD on the EeePC 901, now with Fluxbox and my usual apps installed. Sysupgrade is running to upgrade the system to a 6.6-current snapshot.

So how did it perform, you ask? To all the people that have always shat on netbooks for performance, I fart in your general direction! 💨 😀

I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the EeePC 901 was (relatively speaking, of course)! Granted, it’s not going to take trophies even when put up against my aging Toshiba Portege M400 and definitely not against my HP ProBook 4540s with a 3rd generation Core i3, but it holds its own. It’s a great little machine for SSHing to SDF or elsewhere, IRC, streaming radio, and a few other things, and its portability is unmatched for me. You can see for yourself at the link below.

https://imgur.com/KHJj8lK

Heck, even Firefox ran usably. Yes, Firefox! Of course, I can only run a maximum of two tabs, but even that is more than I expected from this 10-year-old, low-end laptop. So long as I can check my Mastodon timeline and view other web pages in the second tab, I’m happy.

As a final touch (now that it’s running a BSD), I added a RUNBSD sticker on the back of the screen to accompany the other existing stickers on it. I think it looks pretty sweet, especially sitting next to the Toshiba also running OpenBSD and showing off its RUNBSD sticker. 🐡

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The EeePC 901 proudly wearing the RUNBSD sticker (like the Toshiba to the left of it) on the back of the LCD screen along with all the other stickers already on there.

So, what of the 900a that my friend sent me? You’ll have to check back soon to find out! 😉

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2019

 

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Even though it’s still 2019 in my neck of the woods and in some other places as of this post, I wish you all a very happy, safe, and prosperous New Year in 2020!

Out with the old, and in with the new!

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I’ll do my best to keep this blog fresh with content. Got something that I plan to put out maybe tomorrow or on the 2nd of January, so keep your eyes “pEeeled”. 😉

A OnePlus Christmas Miracle

December 25, 2019

Hello, OxygenOS 10.3!

After all the waiting, my OnePlus 6T got it’s OxygenOS 10.3 update today! This update brings in Android 10 (most importantly) plus a slew of updates and patches since the dot-zero release. Big thanks to OnePlus for finally pushing this out. I know it was a staged update, but the chances of it falling on Christmas hardly seem coincidental. 😉

So far, I have noticed a few changes in the few minutes I’ve been using it compared to OxygenOS 9.x. Dark mode overall for sure, but I’ve noticed that the text seems…bigger than before. I also notice the big space under the keyboard where the navigation icons would be. I can only guess that this is only visible to those using gestures like me.

Dat gap…

I guess I can deal with it, but it just looks like a kludge. From what I’ve read, it seems like all Android users are experiencing this, but I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, I do like what I see thus far even though I still have to spend more time with it.

Anyway, a nice, unexpected Christmas gift for me. Hope you all are enjoying your Christmas as well! 🎄

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2019

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from UTC -5:00!

10 Cool Christmas Tree Lights (3)

Gone, but Not Forgotten

December 22, 2019

Five months ago, …

Yes, it’s been five months since my last blog post. Why? Well, sometimes, life gets in the way and those changes tend to make other things, sometimes even those things and hobbies that you love (unfortunately), take a backseat. Work also contributes to that, but not as much since that can sometimes bring material for a decent blog post. And then, there’s just the truth that sometimes I get a bit lazy.

Nevertheless, it is something that I usually bounce back from even if it does take a hiatus before it happens. So, fully dusted off and on my feet, I press on. Thus, you can look forward to some posts in the near future. I’ve got an interesting one waiting in the wings, but I just have to put the content together.

Anyway, if I don’t do so beforehand, have a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate it! 🙂