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Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 07:01:45 +0200 (CEST)
From: "J.B. Lethbridge" <>
Subject: Re: Owl-based desktop environment

DEar ALl:

I have used OWL as a basis for a full desktop before (no su). The
great advatge of OWL as a base system is that it is small and
efficient. A basic Debian or whatever is vast, and runs an awful lot
of processes you don't need. Apart from the resources it hogs, it is

It took a long while to get all the sources by compiling and seeing
what dependencies were missing, but it was a beautiful, lean system
when it was done. Back then I had old computers and more time than
money. Now I have a better computer and less time (sadly not more
money of course), I have put a full system on one of the computers,
and not chosen, or removed, programmes I don't need. The trouble is
that weeding out programmes I don't need or want took just as long as
compiling as above. So-called dependencies get broken and so on. More
trial and more error.

OWL is marvellous and I use it for a server/firewall and on two other
computers on my network and at work.

One half-solution is to copy over a few needed programmes from the
full system (Debian in my case), to an OWL computer (desktop, not
server), the X server executable for example, then run it. When it
complains about missing libraries copy them over -- and so on until an
X server actually works (you need a few fonts, too). Then X -query
desktop, and you have the full desktop on your OWL screen without its
taking up space and resources on the OWL computer. It takes about half
an hour to get this going. In effect, the Debian computer is also a
server, serving only X far behind the OWL server/firewall. This way,
you need three computers of course: Owl server/firewall, X server, and
desktop running OWL plus a basic X. Moving files between systems is
then a necessity, and a bit of a nuisance: but with cron, ssh, scp, a
script or two, and above all cvs, I have no problems (almost all my
work is with text files, Latex and such-like). One more thing: on the
desktop (X server) running Debian, I have found KDE faster across a
network than Gnome, but I usually use twm, very fast, very clever,
nice and minimal.

I don't know if this helps? It counts as a hack I expect.

Since I hardly ever write, can I say thank you to those of you who
spend time on OWL so that the rest of us can use it in peace and quiet
and safety.

All the best to all,


J.B. Lethbridge
English Seminar
University of Tuebingen
Wilhelmstrasse 50
72074 Tuebingen

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