LinuxQuestions.org
Go Job Hunting at the LQ Job Marketplace
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie
User Name
Password
Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 05-27-2009, 04:21 AM   #1
Maxxi
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 5

Rep: Reputation: 0
Distro with the smallest memory footprint?


Hey guys,

I'm looking for an operating system with an extremely small memory footprint that can run either windows or linux command line apps. I would settle for a DOS-prompt, but the fact that it can't address all of my memory rules it out, so I turned to Linux.

I downloaded Slitaz and Damn Small Linux (both latest versions). Damn Small Linux doesn't recognize my southbridge and therefor won't even boot. I tested it in a virtual environment, where it actually worked and with only 23MB of RAM usage it seems to be perfect for my need.

Slitaz booted without a problem, but could only address 3 of my 4GB RAM. Also, with 68MB it used three times as much memory than DSL.

So my question to all you Linux gurus is: Which other distro has an extremely small memory footprint and can address at least 4GB of RAM? If it was an x64-version that would be even better. Any suggestions?
 
Old 05-27-2009, 04:57 AM   #2
shpenat
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2008
Distribution: LFS
Posts: 95

Rep: Reputation: 21
Hi and welcome to LQ

You need to have x68_64 architecture and system supporting it to be able to address full 4GB of RAM. If you have only x86 architecture, you wouldn't be able to do it no matter what system you use.

I would suggest build your own distro with LFS so you can minimize the memory usage as much as you want but they support only x86 architecture. So I actually don't have any particular distro to suggest. Maybe someone else will.

Last edited by shpenat; 05-27-2009 at 05:02 AM.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 09:17 AM   #3
Maxxi
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 5

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Hi shpenat,

thanks for your answer. Of course I have a computer with x64 architecture, or else I wouldn't have stuck 4GB of RAM into it, or asked specifically for an x64-distro

Your suggestion with LFS is great, but that goes far beyond what I need. First of all I'm on 56k, so downloading a large distro just to slim it down myself later is no option. DSL and Slitaz were all small enough to grab in a decent amount of time. Also, I haven't been working in Linux for a decade now, so I want to keep it simple. Using LFS would require me to look far deeper into the workings of Linux than I care to. I don't want to study chemistry, just because I need to take a pill. After all, I just want to run a simple, memory-hungry commandline tool. Building a custom Linux for that is just way overdoing it.

In the meantime I found Tiny Core, which is an even more slimmed down distro, but it also seems to be unable to access more than 3GB of RAM. After browsing through tons of pages, it seems that the Linux community sticks rather to x86 architecture. I can't believe that there isn't at least one slim distro that has x64-compatibility, or support for 4GB RAM in a x86 environment. I'll search some more, but as it looks now, I'll be much better off using an XP x64 lite.

Last edited by Maxxi; 05-27-2009 at 09:19 AM.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 11:54 AM   #4
shpenat
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2008
Distribution: LFS
Posts: 95

Rep: Reputation: 21
Maybe try basic installation of ArchLinux or Debian (without any graphical interface). We used ArchLinux on machine used for numerical simulations. But 56k modem is quite limiting factor. So if you know win64XP will do fine, use them. There is no need to use linux at all cost
 
Old 05-27-2009, 01:22 PM   #5
H_TeXMeX_H
Guru
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: $RANDOM
Distribution: slackware64
Posts: 12,928
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269
This has been asked before, but in a different way, anyway check here:
http://www.linuxlinks.com/Distributions/Floppy/
http://www.linuxlinks.com/Distributi...Distributions/

Here's one that supposedly needs only 4 MB RAM:
http://natld.berlios.de/

Last edited by H_TeXMeX_H; 05-27-2009 at 01:24 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 01:40 PM   #6
Quads
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2008
Location: Indiana
Distribution: Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware
Posts: 203

Rep: Reputation: 34
Just out of curiousity, what are you doing with this machine? I'm just curious what you are doing with a powerful machine like that that would cause you to want virtually no operating system.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 02:04 PM   #7
Saptech
Member
 
Registered: Nov 2000
Location: Third Stone from the Sun
Distribution: Sourcemage
Posts: 132

Rep: Reputation: 19
I to say try a minimum debian 64 and install only what you need. Even though you're using dialup, maybe you can do your downloading at night when you're sleeping.

http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/...64-netinst.iso

Also there are others such as Archlinux & Crux to name a few.

Last edited by Saptech; 05-27-2009 at 02:06 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 02:30 PM   #8
shpenat
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2008
Distribution: LFS
Posts: 95

Rep: Reputation: 21
H_TeXMeX_H: I know that similar questions were already raised, but this one is special in requiring x86_64 architecture. Most of these small distros (if not all) are designed with old machines (i386) in mind. Nobody expects anybody with 4GB RAM to require minimalistic OS. I personally really don't know any existing minimalistic distribution with x86_64 support.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
H_TeXMeX_H
Guru
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: $RANDOM
Distribution: slackware64
Posts: 12,928
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269
Of course then the question is why ? Why do you need such a thing ? There is no need for such a thing, which is probably why nobody made it.
 
Old 05-27-2009, 07:36 PM   #10
Quads
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2008
Location: Indiana
Distribution: Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware
Posts: 203

Rep: Reputation: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
Of course then the question is why ? Why do you need such a thing ? There is no need for such a thing, which is probably why nobody made it.
I figured there had to be a good reason, that's why I asked.
 
Old 05-28-2009, 11:09 AM   #11
Maxxi
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 5

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Thanks for all your answers guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quads View Post
Just out of curiousity, what are you doing with this machine? I'm just curious what you are doing with a powerful machine like that that

would cause you to want virtually no operating system.
I have to compress 2TB of data. I'm using 7zip for the job, which is very efficient, but also very memory hungry. To max out the program, it needs at least 8GB of RAM. Since I have only 4GB, I'm bound to use smaller dictionaries, which results in lower compression. I have already been working on better equipped machines with it and so I know how much more compression I would gain from a bigger dictionary. Anyway, I'm currently running Vista 64, where I can only free 3.5GB of my 4 GB RAM. Thanks to Window's memory management, 7z can only assign about 3.2GB for the job. To get the most out of it, a simple, yet powerful command shell without any bells and whistles would be best for this task.


Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H
This has been asked before, but in a different way, anyway check here:
http://www.linuxlinks.com/Distributions/Floppy/
http://www.linuxlinks.com/Distributi...Distributions/
Thanks, those are some very extensive lists, but downloading all those just to see whether they can address 4GB of RAM is just out of question. I already mentioned that I'm on 56k. That's why I asked if someone could actually name a small distro, which supported that feature.


Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H
Here's one that supposedly needs only 4 MB RAM:
http://natld.berlios.de/
Very impressive! But this distro is far too old. It uses an ancient kernel that is incompatible with my comp. I assume it would also lack support for more than 3GB RAM thanks to its age. The memory footprint is really secondary. If I can't access the range after 3072MB, then even the smallest memory footprint won't make upfor that wasted gigabyte.


Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H
Of course then the question is why ? Why do you need such a thing ? There is no need for such a thing, which is probably why nobody made it.
There's a first time for everything, isn't it There was a time when there were no small x86 distros either and someone had to start making them There are more memory hungry apps that would profit from a slim OS on a powerful rig. Check out the lugdunum server for example. It's a server for the edonkey network. The more RAM you have, the more users you can handle. So the gain is even more obvious in this case.
Oh and I found a post at the Tiny Core forums, where someone showed interest re-compiling it for x64 architecture. So it's really just a matter of time until people like me will find what they need


Quote:
Originally Posted by Saptech
I to say try a minimum debian 64 and install only what you need. Even though you're using dialup, maybe you can do your downloading at night when you're sleeping.
Thanks a lot! It's small enough to try it out In the meantime I downloaded finnix. It's also pretty slim and supports x64 architecture! I already tried it out and it was actually capable of addressing the full 4GB plus it recognized both of my CPU's cores So, thanks for all your help guys

Just for the record, in case someone has a similar request in the future: I tried DSL, DSL-N, Slitaz, Puppy, TinyCore, Syslinux, and some other minor distros and all were limited to 3GB RAM. In this case, an x86 distro would have sufficed, as those can actually address 4GB. I found some of those, but they were all in the realms of 600+MB, so they were no option.

Last edited by Maxxi; 05-28-2009 at 11:18 AM.
 
Old 05-28-2009, 11:19 AM   #12
H_TeXMeX_H
Guru
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: $RANDOM
Distribution: slackware64
Posts: 12,928
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxxi View Post
Very impressive! But this distro is far too old. It uses an ancient kernel that is incompatible with my comp. I assume it would also lack support for more than 3GB RAM thanks to its age. The memory footprint is really secondary. If I can't access the range after 3072MB. Then even the smallest memory footprint won't make up for that wasted gigabyte.
I'm sorry, but there is absolutely NO WAY you can get a 2.6 kernel and Linux OS to run with 4 MB of RAM (I dare you to try), the kernel is just too big, it depends on large libs that can only be trimmed to a certain point, etc. It's not possible, IMO. You'll have to use 2.2 or 2.4 for such a low amount of RAM.

But then why do you want support for 4 GB of RAM if you want to run it with 4 MB of RAM ? Was there some typo somewhere ?

I think you need to think about what you really want a bit more.
 
Old 05-28-2009, 11:45 AM   #13
shpenat
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2008
Distribution: LFS
Posts: 95

Rep: Reputation: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
I'm sorry, but there is absolutely NO WAY you can get a 2.6 kernel and Linux OS to run with 4 MB of RAM (I dare you to try), the kernel is just too big, it depends on large libs that can only be trimmed to a certain point, etc. It's not possible, IMO. You'll have to use 2.2 or 2.4 for such a low amount of RAM.
You got my attention. That's something to try! I let you know if I were successful. Though it will probably have to be one purpose kernel.
 
Old 05-28-2009, 02:04 PM   #14
H_TeXMeX_H
Guru
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: $RANDOM
Distribution: slackware64
Posts: 12,928
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269Reputation: 1269
Make sure to compile it for compact size, there is such an option ... but my money's against you
 
Old 05-28-2009, 02:09 PM   #15
farslayer
Guru
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: Willoughby, Ohio
Distribution: linuxdebian
Posts: 7,228
Blog Entries: 5

Rep: Reputation: 189Reputation: 189
So by the time you are running a 2.2 or 2.4 kernel, you'll not take advantage of the features in your CPU that would boost your performance. So what performance you gain in RAM you may loose in CPU capability probably hurting yourself more.

You might be better off just installing something like a barebones Debian 64 install as suggested.

You might want to do a search for 32 bit vs 64 bit Linux compression benchmarks
 
  


Reply

Tags
distro, linux, memory


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
php memory footprint display frieza Linux - Server 1 10-07-2008 05:55 PM
Different memory footprint on RHEL 3.0 and 4.0 prakashmodi Linux - Software 2 09-30-2008 12:02 PM
Check memory footprint Ephracis Programming 7 01-04-2008 02:16 AM
X11 memory footprint otoomet Linux - Software 4 09-30-2007 05:03 PM
small memory footprint grcunningham Linux - Software 1 05-26-2004 08:38 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:12 AM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration