Old Computer Challenge 2023 day 1


Today I'm starting Solene's Old Computer Challenge V3. This is the 3rd year she's run it, but the first time I'm participating. The main idea the first year was to use an actual old computer, and she gave some specs. The second year she limited her internet. This year she suggested if you use a modern computer to limit the cores, speed, etc.

Old Computer Challenge V3 Part 1 (Solene)

I'm using a Chip Computer, originally from Next Thing Co, RIP.

The Chip I'm using was sent to me compliments of winduptoy (THANK YOU!) about a year ago, and it's taken me this long to use it. I have a specific project in mind, and I hope this week will be a good test to show this thing works, and then I can use it for the project.

First I tried using my old PocketChip, a handheld device with the Chip computer. Next Thing Co folded back in 2016 or 2017 I believe, and the servers are down, and it's really hard to find and flash the original OS. I didn't feel like doing all that. I booted up my old PocketChip and it was half functional, like the screen was a bit out of wack, not displaying my icons correctly. Then I tried my old Raspberry PI 1B but when I tried to download void linux for that pi to a SD card I ran out of space. I'll have to hunt for a larger SD card another time.

OK, so that brings me back to this additional Chip computer sent by winduptoy. He had warned I'd have to flash it. When I tried plugging into a monitor, I couldn't get it to boot. I suspect a power issue. I powered it through a usb phone hub, but i remember this thing being finicky back in 2016 when I taught some workshops with the Chip. Next I pulled my old Chip out of the back of the PocketChip case and placed this Chip computer and pressed the bottom center button to power it on. I saw a light go on, a delay, and then wow, it turned on! I see the Debian bootup logo and maybe 30 seconds later I'm in.

I used my phone just once, to search for and find the default name and password. Thankfully, it worked. winduptoy had loaded Debian Buster. I'm very familiar with Debian/*Buntu's so I set up internet:

sudo nmcli device wifi connect NETWORK_ID password PASSWORD

Then I sudo apt updated

I downloaded man-doc since I didn't have the man pages, git and neovim. Then I downloaded fish shell, tldr and the gemini and http browser offpunk and w3m and links.

sudo apt install git man w3m links fish tldr neovim

git clone https://git.sr.ht/~lioploum/offpunk/

I also git cloned my dotfiles which has a number of fish functions I like, and my gemini log so I could start writing this.

I don't miss the old GUI PocketChip software. I'm sure I could just download another GUI anyway, probably, though I don't know if the touchscreen is easy to set up. We'll see about that later. Right now, I have a Dvorak default keyboard plugged in (DigiPlanet), which is perfect for times like this. The command line is plenty fast enough on this 7 year old computer, except that sometimes compiling takes a minute or two, so I have a book open next to me since I can't just open another tab and keep going.

One annoying thing, I usually use the CAPS LOCK key as escape, so I am accidentally hitting it. Unfortunately, that causes the keyboard or computer to freeze and I have to force a hard shutdown with the power button when it happens. Thankfully neovim/vim autosaves to swap. I set fish as my default shell: chsh -s /usr/bin/fish

That's it for set-up. I'm off and running. I have some web browsers, git, text editors and I think I'm good with that for now. We'll see how the week goes. I'll report back later in the week how it's going.


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