Installing antiX, a Minimalist Mediumweight Linux, and Xfce4

This is an overview of installing antiX on an older dual core computer. It’s a nice Linux distro that is extremely lightweight and fast. AntiX is based on Debian.

I just sold my first thing on Simbi, and it was an old laptop computer (that I really like, but was getting very little use). Simbi let’s you “sell” things for a fake currency called “simbi”. Simbi are a kind of time-bank/time-dollar DIY currency, except instead of being run by a hippie time bank, some startup got something like a million dollars to create a website where people trade services for this fake money. I’m using it to sell things that are difficult to sell locally, for various reasons, mainly that they are kind of “niche”. This computer I “sold” didn’t have Windows CDs, so that was my niche. There’s also my own laziness about driving to sell things.

If you follow this link to simbi.com, I’ll get a referral bonus of simbi when you do something to either spend or receive simbi.

So, I had forgotten that the last install of Xubuntu I did, 16.04LTS, was booting really slowly, like 3 minutes to get to a login. I totally forgot this. Ugh. It was so unpleasant. So I tried to reinstall, but was having some weird problem with booting into the live installer, as well. I have no idea what the problem was: systemd? LightDM? It was hanging somewhere in there, waiting for some long timeouts.

I went looking for another distro. antiX jumped out, because they named the latest release “Heather Heyer,” for the woman who was killed by the fascists in VA. They also proclaimed, right at the top, that they didn’t use systemd.

We were on the same page, on both things. I got so irritated at systemd that, one time, I actually complained, at length, to a friend about the headaches of Debian and Ubuntu trying to replace the SysV init with Upstart and Systemd. I’m sure he was as annoyed, and baffled, as you are, about having to know this about me.

Here’s How I Installed antiX

Downloading antiX took around 15 minutes on bittorrent. Not bad. The -net version, which is the smallest, is under 200MB.

I had to use “dd” to burn the .iso file to the USB stick, because the Ubuntu USB boot maker doesn’t recognize the image.

dd if=whateveryoudownload.iso of=/dev/sd?

Where “?” is replaced with the letter of the drive you want to burn to. (Use “mount” to list all the available disks.)

Booting into antiX was almost instantaneous. I think it took under 10 seconds. All the BIOS stuff took far longer than actually booting into antiX.

Warming Up the Net

You need to connect the computer to Ethernet, to get a network connection.

Then, you should update apt to warm up all the network caches:

apt update

My first attempt to install failed, and my second failed as well. Warming up the caches helped smooth the downloading.

This -net distro doesn’t come with the usual network tools. It’s really bare. The instructions said to run cli-installer, so I did that. It’s an old “slackware” style installer. When you try installing, you will need a few attempts to get it right.

I set up the disk with a few gigs for swap, and the rest for the system. (Sorry, no instructions on partitioning here.)

I don’t recall the prompts, but use logic and the defaults. The installer downloaded some things, and then copied them to the hard disk.

Then it tried to run GRUB. I recall the installer tried to run GRUB once, but failed; then the installer ran it later, and it worked. It installed a bootloader onto the MBR of the disk, just like in the old days.

Reboot.

Log in as root, and test it. I usually install aptitude:

apt install aptitude

So I can read the repository.

Installing XFCE4

I’m doing this from memory, so it might be wrong. As root, do this:

apt install xserver-xorg acpi-support xfce4 xfce4-goodies xfwm4 lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter

I definitely didn’t do it in that order, but I suspect that order will work better than what I did.

Reboot.

Continuing the Install

Log in as the regular user.

If there are any problems, you should log in as root, then go to /home/youruser and look at .xsession-errors to see what’s going on. Look for some permission or ownership issues with some files X wants to modify.

Open a terminal and sudo -s to get a root shell:

apt install iceweasel vim-gtk gksu xfce4-indicator-plugin

That installs Firefox. In Debian it’s called iceweasel. I like vim. I am not sure if gksu is needed, but I added it to avoid headaches if gksudo is used.

apt install synaptic policykit-1-gnome  

That installs the Synaptic package manager and the PolicyKit agent.

Logout and login. That forces the PolicyKit agent to run. (It raises the password dialog for Synatic.)

Wifi, 1990s Style

The Fujitsu uses the Intel chipset, so wifi is done like this. I’m not using the slicker tool called Network Manager. The wifi controls are under the “Internet” menu in the applications menu.

apt install wicd firmware-iwlwifi

I think you need to reboot after installing this, but I may be wrong.

Try out Wicd. Applications -> Internet -> Wicd Network Manager. It’s hella ugly, but gets the job done.

Bash, not sh

I forgot to note to change the user’s shell.

sudo chsh -s /bin/bash yourusernamehere

Changing the Window Theme

There are window themes to make things look a little more to your liking. I like Breeze.

apt install xfwm4-themes xfwm4-theme-breeze

After setting up the theme, I spent an hour playing with installing CUPS for making PDFs, Okular, and a few other apps. PulseAudio needed to be installed, too. I won’t put the instructions here, because I just poked around Synaptic to find these common programs.

antiX + Xfce4 on a Dual Core is Fast

I swear, this old dual core Pentium from the mid 2000s feels faster than my current desktop, which is a pretty old quad core AMD. The antiX + Xfce4 envrionment is lean and fast. The browser lags a bit, but it plays videos.

antiX is great.

/etc/resolv.conf, resolvconf, NetworkManager (and systemd-resolved?) Not Working

I ran some updates, and the name service stopped resolving. My LAN has a local nameserver to resolve domain names for virtual machines.

It turns out the /etc/resolv.conf file was overwritten, and a program called resolvconf had taken it over. resolvconf centralizes updating the resolv.conf file from several different programs that might want to change the file, like NetworkManager, ifup, ifdown, and dhclient.

There are a couple fixes. The one I chose was to replace resolv.conf.
Continue reading /etc/resolv.conf, resolvconf, NetworkManager (and systemd-resolved?) Not Working

End the Chaos, Get with the Program: Python Logging to Syslog, and Filtering with RSyslog

This article describes how to use Python’s logging
library to send logs to syslog. Then, using rsyslog,
a fancier syslog, we produce a log of pre-filtered
output.
Continue reading End the Chaos, Get with the Program: Python Logging to Syslog, and Filtering with RSyslog