Welcome From The Chief Editor (September 2011)

It’s here! Well … almost. The 64-bit version of PCLinuxOS has hit the testing phase. Texstar has been extremely busy building a fully functional 64-bit version, along with a corresponding 64-bit repository. To date, there are over 7,000 applications in the 64-bit repository. Remember that this is still considered to be in testing, so it’s recommended that you not use this as your every day, go-to version of PCLinuxOS.

In other news, Sproggy has finished up not only the new release of Phoenix, PCLinuxOS’s Xfce version, but he has also finished up a “Phoenix Mini” version, re-branded as Phinx. A Phinx is the baby of the legendary Phoenix, so it’s only fitting that the trimmed down Xfce offering be named after the Phoenix offspring. More than that, Phinx offers native Xfce applications as defaults whenever possible. The entire Phinx LiveCD weighs in as a 410 MB download.

Also, melodie has released the latest, updated version of the Openbox LiveCDs in two flavors: the “full” version (a 638 MB downoad), and a new version of the lighter Openbox Bonsai (a 263 MB download). The updated Openbox LiveCDs come with the latest Openbox release, Openbox 3.5. Also, with this release, the default panels used in the respective versions have been flip-flopped: the “full” version uses lxpanel, while Bonsai uses tint2.

Of course, all of the recent releases use the latest Linux kernel,

Texstar has also been busy trying to build a PCLinuxOS version of Gnome 3. You can follow his progress via his Twitter posts.

To be honest, I didn’t think we’d get as much mileage out of the Openbox series of magazine articles as we have gotten. It just seemed inconceivable to me, when we started, that there would be that much to write about for such a lightweight environment. Boy, was I ever wrong! Not only do we have three more Openbox articles in this month’s issue of the magazine, but there will also be three Openbox articles for the October issue of the magazine as well, bringing the number of Openbox articles to a total of twelve. That’s three a month, for four months! All of you LXDE users should also find the Openbox articles interesting and relevant, too, since LXDE uses Openbox as it’s window manager.

One thing that I’ve discovered that I like about running Openbox is that is literally sips the power from the battery of my test laptop that I have it installed on (I installed the “full” version of Openbox). It’s an older IBM Thinkpad T23, with a 1.13 GHz Pentium III processor, 512 MB RAM, 8 MB video RAM, with the DVD-RW drive removed and a secondary battery pack inserted in its place. To connect to the ‘net, I am using a PCMCIA DLink WNA-1330 wireless 802.11g networking card. Even with the wireless on, I’m finding the the battery time in this older laptop lasts close to four hours!

Now mind you, this is not a laptop that was built at a time when you could expect to get more than a couple of hours running time using the battery. Even with Xfce installed, I used to get only about three hours of running time when using the battery combination. So, with Openbox, I’ve further extended the amount of time that I can run off of the battery by 33%. So the reports of Openbox being a power miser are definitely not over-exaggerated.

Plus, even as old as this laptop is, I find that Openbox runs quite fast on it. There is hardly any lag. I just have to be careful to not launch too many memory intensive applications (such as Chromium and Firefox) simultaneously, since the meager-by-today’s-standards 512 MB of RAM gets filled up soon. When that happens, the disk-based swap partition gets utilized, bringing my system to a crawl. Still, I’m finding the Openbox releases to be a very good choice, especially for users wanting to get more mileage from older equipment they may have sitting around the house.

Well, that’s probably about enough from me for this month. I hope you enjoy the continuing coverage of the Openbox releases, along with all of the other informative articles and columns we bring you each month in the magazine. Until next month, I wish each and every one of you unlimited prosperity, serenity, tranquility, and peace.

Paul Arnote