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[linux-help] Re: Low Memory strategies....

[linux-help] Re: Low Memory strategies....

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To: linux-help@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [linux-help] Re: Low Memory strategies....
From: Nate Bargmann <n0nb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 20:04:43 -0600
Reply-to: linux-help@xxxxxxxxx

* Lars von dem Ast <mrprenzl@xxxxxxxxxx> [2002 Jan 10 16:17 -0600]:
> I have a memory-weak laptop: 32 mg RAM. I loaded RH7.2 with KDE and it could 
> barely crawl, hardly able to open an app. Can I still use 7.2, but with a 
> less demanding windows manager? 7.2 seems to only give you the choice of 
> Gnome or KDE. What about another lighter manager on 7.2; they don't seem to 
> be offered on 7.2.

There are many things you can do to make a low-memory box more
efficient.  You're on the right course with evaluating a
full-blown desktop such as KDE.  Mention has been made of IceWM and
Blackbox in this thread.  I'm hooked on IceWM having used it now for
about three years.  Even on this machine with 160 MB of RAM, I don't
touch the swap file too much even with Mozilla going with Java.  I've
not tried Blackbox, so I can't comment on it.

The next place to look is slimming the system as much as you can before
X even loads.  By this I mean you should carefully evaluate the services
and daemons Red Hat has installed by default.  For example, on a laptop,
would it make sense to run Sendmail as a daemon?  Lpd may be another
service that may not be needed full time, or not at all if you don't
plan to print from the laptop.  Most networking services won't be
needed, so there is more memory saved.

The kernel is another area where savings can occur.  Are modules loaded
dynamically, or is the system loading a bunch of them on startup (are
all of them necessary)?  Building a custom kernel with only the support
you need and building everything you can as a module (except things like
ext2 filesystem support and the ide support, or it won't boot!) and then
using the kernel module autoloader will help.  All these things may not
add up to more than a Meg saved (top is your friend), but it will also
free up CPU time for your X apps.

You can do a lot with 32 Meg.  Until last March my main machine was a
486 DX/100 with 28 MB of RAM. I ran (still run it as a router and other
server) X on it and while a bit pokey it did fine even with two or three
Netscape windows.  I would not try to run Mozilla on this setup as it
loves RAM!  I also ran Windows programs on it from time to time with

You may also consider using character based apps for certain chores.  I
use Mutt for email and Midnight Commander for file management, each in
its own rxvt window (rxvt is said to be lighter than xterm).

Finally, as aluded to in another message, is the choice of distribution.
I've used only Debian for two years now, and I think the next Stable
version will be tough to shoehorn into a small machine.  This leaves
other distros (perhaps Slackware) which are lighter weight.  Another
option, if you stay with Red Hat, is to be careful to run apps that use
the same graphics libraries to get as much benefit from shared libs as

There are no magic wands when using a later distribution on a limited
resources machine.  Just some homework and elbow grease.

Good luck!

- Nate >>

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