Saturday, March 28, 2009

Giving new life to the Alpha 400

I recently purchased a Belco Alpha 400 from geeks.com. At the time, it was a great deal, but I have since been underwhelmed by the software it came with. But, there is hope. Some industrious hackers have figured out how to update the entire operating system and give new life to the little computers.

First, you have to update the operating system. Here's how to do that.
Next, I needed to make a few customizations. It had a default keyboard setup of en-eu. I want a United States keyboard layout. Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf (vi is installed) and change: OPTION "XkbLayout" "gb" to OPTION "XkbLayout" "us".

And, to make xwindows start automatically, I also added the following to the very bottom of /etc/init.d/rcS
/usr/X11R6/bin/startx&
And, I did't like the clock format set to 24 hour mode, so here is how to set it to HH:MM pm. Edit /etc/jwm/jwmrc and change "Clock Format" to "%I: %M %p"

Making the mouse less sensitive:

in /etc/jwm/jwmrc inside "autostart" add the line xset m 1 10 &

Lengthening the double-click wait:
/etc/jwm/jwmrc change "DoubleClickSpeed" to 700


Now, you have a fully functional $100 linux laptop with Firefox 3, a terminal with python, and SSH (three things missing from the original).

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