ThinkPad X32 and Linux space optimizations

Thinkpad *3 line was produced from 2002 to 2006, and it was the second line that featured model letter as laptop's model first character - this created such iconic lines as T and X. All models from the X3 line were very similiar in looks and had only a few slight changes, mainly CPU and GPU wise. X30 and X31 were introduced around 2002, while X32 got released in 2005, after release of ThinkPad X40 and X41.

Besides the weird model number (ThinkPads usually come only in *0 and *1 flavours with small changes in the specs; for example X40 and X41), it was basically a laptop faster than many from X4 line (mainly because it had a faster and more power-efficient CPU), but it was still housed in a smaller, X3-style case - those two things made it a really sleek laptop that was a fast one at the same time. Unfortunately, it didn't catch on and it got discontinued a few months after the release.

My X32 runs off a 4GB CF card and has an additional 8GB SD card in PCMCIA slot for storage, thus it's solid-state. Computing power wise, it runs a lower-end (but still, useable) 1,6GHz Pentium M processor, and 2GB of PC2700 RAM from Crucial (chips are branded as Hynix), which is curiously detected as PC2100 RAM - it turns out that X32 chipset can't handle anything higher than 266MHz.

As I wanted to make it my carry-around laptop, I decided to install Linux on it. Currently, it runs Devuan with some packages from Debian repo (yep, I could do that more efficiently by using Devuan backports or just some other repo with a lot of Debian packages dedicated for Devuan, but I didn't know that these existed when I've setted up the OS). I'm currently using it with Xorg and WindowMaker with a heavily-customized theme (changed colors, fonts, added some dockapps). I was able to use SeaMonkey for web browsing, but it was a little bit too slow for my taste; Currently, I'm using Midori for normal web browsing and NetSurf as a default browser when I need to display a random image from a direct link or just anything less complex, and those two work just fine. I've also tried Dillo, but it was like a text browser, but in Xorg - not useable as a semi-main browser in 2017.

A quite big problem I've had to overcome was space. I've had only 4GB on my main HDD, which left me not-so-much space for apps after Devuan was fully installed; In fact, by default I've had about 100MB free space with just base system, Xorg and a few graphical apps, but I found a way to increase free space to about 1,5GB.

First things first, every Linux user should know that almost every distro has at least a few log files, man files, and leftovers from its package system. For example, my one had about 400MB in old apt archives (of which curiously about 1/4 was only partially downloaded), about 200MB in man files (I could be wrong on this one, I've done it a few months ago) and a few more megabytes in log files. Besides that, I found out that licenses take up.. well, a significant amount of space - it was another 30 or 40 megabytes.

To make changes more permanent, after deleting those manual pages I've added the following to `/etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg.d/01_nodoc`: path-exclude /usr/share/doc/* path-exclude /usr/share/man/* path-include /usr/share/man/man* path-exclude /usr/share/groff/* path-exclude /usr/share/info/* path-exclude /usr/share/lintian/* path-exclude /usr/share/linda/* .. which will just simply disable extraction of documents to these paths. Unfortunately, thing isn't as simple for other space-savers I've mentioned - usually, you'll need to clean `/var/cache/apt/` for apt cache and `/var/log` for log files - theoretically you can turn off some services to stop logs from appearing, but I didn't succeed trying any documented on stackoverflow, and it's really a wise idea to keep some logs in case something goes boom and we don't know what it was.

As for the performance I wrote about earlier - it's really quite nice for a laptop of that age. I've been able to run ZSnes without a problem, even going as far as using a fancy anti-aliasing algorithm, and it still stayed on a stable ~60fps framerate. I've also tried Touhou 07 (Perfect Cherry Blossom), and it runs at playable 30-35fps through wine. I also couldn't resist, and tried to run Minecraft.. and well, I was quite surprised with the results - even considering that I had to switch to 640x480 to make it more playable.

Aaand as we can se, it can play 720p videos through mpv/mplayer. Pic from Debugging Under Fire, a really nice presentation

In the next blogpost about this laptop, I'll write on how to install Windows 2000 with patches and Extended Kernel and try to make it usable enough for this laptop to remain a carry-around.


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