I attempted to revive a sluggish computer, first running Mandriva 2008.1 and then with a new install of Mandriva 2009.1. This is a supplement to my notes on installing a new distribution and setting up a lightweight workstation.
Hardware is Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 368 MB RAM. Boot menu is accessed by pressing F8 during POST. Even before I finished all proposed tasks the user became happy with the results so I stopped before finishing all I intended to do.
Checked shared memory in BIOS and set it to the minimum.
TODO: Check boot and shutdown messages and system mail for errors.
LXDE was tried, but its lack of a trash bin makes it unacceptable to the user. I installed Xfce. TODO: Try LXDE again, replacing PCmanFM with Thunar, which should provide the needed trash bin.
Installed system monitors (CPU, memory, swap, and network) and watched them as the user worked, to identify bottlenecks. CPU frequently maxed out, so my focus is on reducing CPU load.
Assigned the box a FQDN. Set the box to use OpenDNS nameservers, and installed ddclient and postfix.
Webcam worked out of the box.
Installed Abiword and Gunmeric, and encouraged user to use them instead of heavy applications. Installed Skype (webcam not supported). Installed Pidgin (GTK; no voice or video) and enabled pidgin-msn-pecan.
TODO: Uninstall Gnome components and any other unneeded desktop environments and window managers. In file manager (Thunar), associate Gnumeric with spreadsheet formats.
Installed Rhythmbox (uses 5% CPU and 10% RAM) and LXMusic (uses 1% CPU and 2% RAM). LXMusic, like other light audio applications, does not have advanced file search nor play WMA. Music needs to be organized and converted to common formats. TODO: Uninstall Rhythmbox.
Installed Totem (uses 10% CPU and 23% RAM) and codecs. Gxine might be lighter.
I set up Hotmail access via Claws Mail. It works well but Hotmail’s lack of IMAP support makes this impractical for the user, so I removed it. Opera is the lightest browser that can do Hotmail, so it cannot be replaced. TODO: Suggest that the lighter mail2web be used instead of Hotmail’s native webmail interface.