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Old 06-18-2008, 03:28 PM   #1
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Lowest possible ram for Debian?

I've got a computer which has 32MB of Ram and a 75MHz processor. Will this system be able to run Debian at all? I've already got a 128Mb Linux Swap partition, which should help. Would it make a difference if I used fluxbox or jwm instead of gnome or kde?

Old 06-18-2008, 04:01 PM   #2
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I once ran Linux with KDE (early version) on 32Meg RAM and 120Mhz CPU. The performance was so poor that I bought another 32Meg RAM. KDE ran sorta OK in 64Meg. I also sped things up by compiling my own kernel.

The main problem that I had with 32Meg is that the graphical installer would not run. I could only use the command line installer.


Would it make a difference if I used fluxbox or jwm instead of gnome or kde?
Yes, You might also consider Xubuntu.

Steve Stites
Old 06-18-2008, 04:04 PM   #3
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You could probably get it to work with fluxbox or jwm (gnome or kde are both utterly out of the question), but it would be frustratingly slow with any gui at all. It would be better for a command-line only system.

Here's the docs:
Old 06-18-2008, 05:12 PM   #4
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As for "frustratingly slow", it depends on what software you're running and what you're expecting. I use my 120mhz Toshiba Libretto for gaming, including some GUI games. It has 32megs of RAM. I just did "apt-get search game|more" and went down the list installing any game which sounded like fun and which sounded like it might actually run on such a pathetic system.

Most games are sluggish and many are not playable at all. But some are fun, and zippy. Bear in mind that some X games date back to when Unix systems had 3megs of RAM and 16mhz 68020 processors.

I'd say the bare minimum amount of RAM you could run a basic Debian install on would be 9megs...maybe 8 or less with a customized kernel. The bare minimum for running X would be maybe 16megs of RAM.

Last edited by IsaacKuo; 06-18-2008 at 05:14 PM.
Old 06-18-2008, 05:31 PM   #5
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Yeah, I'm running DSL right now, I'll probably just stick with it. Thanks all!
Old 06-19-2008, 09:40 AM   #6
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Lightweight distributions

Originally Posted by jmite View Post
Yeah, I'm running DSL right now, I'll probably just stick with it. Thanks all!
DSL is a very good choice for older hardware. You trade off a few things with it. By default, DSL uses a 2.4 kernel versus the 2.6 kernels used in most popular distributions. The 2.4 kernels tend to be smaller though, and for older hardware, they may be more appropriate. I also find that DSL tends to use some aged applications - a fairly old Firefox browser is one example. If that does not bother you, then DSL is a great way to go.

Puppy is slightly larger - around 87 MB for Version 4.0, but you can get a newer kernel and many fairly current applications. Puppy can load straight into RAM if you want to run it as a Live CD, but like DSL, it can be installed to disk. With Puppy you can also get quite a few additional applications beyond what is provided in the base CD - many of which are built by the Puppy user community. On top of that, I believe recent versions will also work with software built for Slackware.

DSL does have the ability to use packages created for Debian, which can eliminate the issue I mentioned above, should you care to invest the time and effort to customize the system accordingly.

These two systems are probably your best bet. However, a Slackware or Debian system, starting with a very simple configuration and a lightweight window manager, could conceivably provide you with other options, should you want to investigate them.


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