First, a brief history of TinyMe.

In 2005, I found an old computer sitting in the basement of our house. It was our first computer, an IBM Aptiva e26, with 288 MB of RAM and a 3.2 GB HD. We had purchased it at RadioShack in 1998 for $1000, and that was a steal at the time.

Problem was, I couldn’t find the Windows 95 installation disk. It was then that I remembered “Oh yeah, isn’t there this thing called Linux?” Some distro-hopping later, I settled on a distribution called PCLinuxOS. In 2007, PCLOS released a smaller edition called “MiniMe”, which was a 300MB ISO image. I jokingly said on the forums that it was too fat and we should make a 100MB ISO image. Well… I actually started to become serious about it, and one thing lead to another, and in 2008, I released a 200MB “TinyMe”. This edition contained minimal productivity tools, such as a word processor, text editor, terminals, web browser, etc. After a while, I released a 150MB edition (labeled 2008.1) which was “stripped, not equipped”.

In 2009, there was a split in the PCLinuxOS developer group, and I left with the fork. The fork eventually became a non-fork, re-basing on Mandriva, but ultimately, never achieved the stability I was looking for (Mandriva experienced its own instability during this period too). In July 2013, I finally closed up shop with TinyMe. I never achieved more than an alpha or beta release after departing PCLOS.

So was it a bad idea to fork from PCLOS? No, I don’t think so. In some ways, PCLOS is stuck behind the curve. I understand their choices, they’re trying to keep things stable, but at the same time, it makes upgrading just that much more painful. Also, at that time, Texstar, the lead PCLOS developer, was MIA for some time, only reappearing when the situation between developers was already irreparable.

If I were to start up TinyMe again today, what would I use? I think I would probably use Arch Linux. It’s rolling release, pretty stable, and has fantastic documentation. It does have a few downsides, such as lack of newbie friendliness and lack of configuration tools (the documentation is supposed to handle that). I think I would try to keep TinyMe light while filling in those gaps of newbie friendliness and configuration tools. I created a small configuration center for TinyMe 2008, and I think I could do it again.

So is there a chance TinyMe could be revived? I suppose there’s a Tiny chance (hee hee hee). I would love to see a TinyMe-esque distro for the RaspberryPi. PiBang comes close. PiBang is actually targeted to be heavier than TinyMe, but it ends up with a lot of the same applications. TinyMe takes what’s big and strips it down; PiBang takes what’s small and sees what you can pile on top, while maintaining a modicum of usability.

So if I were to create TinyMe today, here’s what it would look like:

  • Small, ~250MB ISO image
  • LiveCD
  • Boots to a usable desktop
  • Comes with Openbox, Abiword, SpaceFM, other lightweight applications
  • Comes with custom configuration tools
  • Available for the Raspberry Pi

Economics, Part 4: Help!

This post is going to be a bit simpler, practical, and less abstract. I’m going to share a few things from my own life about how I’ve found ways to live for less than living wage. I have no affiliation with anybody I’ve linked to– these are just resources I’ve found helpful.

1. Share housing.

Housing is my largest monthly expense and unless you own your house free and clear, it’s probably yours too. Get a roommate– the more, the better. One person on minimum wage earns $14.5K, but 2 earn $29K. Two people can live on $29K/year. Two can share housing, internet, maybe a phone, maybe a car. Three would earn $43.5K. Four would have $58K(!!) between them. At that point, you’re not talking about simply scratching by, you’re talking about the power to invest.

2. Be ruthless in cutting waste from your life.

Sell possessions. Not only will you get money, you’ll free yourself from the burden of caring for stuff, and you’ll have more time for caring for people. A minimalistic spirit is awesome. (You are forgiven, however, from having to get rid of books. Books are good.)

Eat rice and beans. It’s a filthy cheap meal that fills you up and is good for you.

Ride your bike instead of driving.

You get the idea. I will say, however, take a little bit of the money you save by doing this and set it aside to have some fun, like going out for bowling and pizza with friends. Money is a tool for -not the goal of- life, and you should treat it accordingly.

3. Make a money plan.

Oh yeah, I just went there. I told you to make a budget. Listen, it doesn’t have to be super specific. One of my college roommates simply gave himself X amount to spend each week and when the money ran out, the money ran out. The most important thing is to have a plan so you don’t have too much month left at the end of the money. Crown Financial Ministries (started by Larry Burkett) is the only name I feel comfortable recommending right now.

4. Invest your own time and effort in finding ways to make it work.

Since it’s your skin on the line, you’re going to do the best job for you. I’ve found that necessity is the mother of creative inventions. If you need some ideas to “prime the pump”, I highly recommend Amy Dacyzyn’s “The Frugal Zealot”.

5. Give.

Find something that motivates you to sacrifice. First, of course, give to your church. After that, support a child through Compassion International. Help people get clean water. By placing the needs of others above yourself, you will gain far more than you give out.