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Running a Linux Live KDE Desktop In 210MB

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the perfect-for-those-trips-to-the-'90s dept.

KDE 106

An anonymous reader writes "Slax 7.0 is a Slackware-based Linux distribution that can provide a Live USB/CD environment complete with the KDE4 Plasma desktop in just 210MB of space. Slax can also be customized with other software modules to provide lightweight Linux installations for varying tasks. For those curious how this lightweight Linux distribution has pulled off the feat of being small and fast, Slax creator Tomá Matejícek wrote a technical article explaining the Slax internals with booting a modern Linux desktop in just ~200MB."

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106 comments

erroneus (253617) FatASS needs PIZZA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398579)

"Oh... to eat pizza again..." by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 22, @05:20PM (#42371769) from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335159&cid=42371769 [slashdot.org] since that disgusting fatbody pig's an obese swine with no dick!

Re:erroneus (253617) FatASS needs PIZZA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398713)

"Oh... to eat pizza again..." by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 22, @05:20PM (#42371769) from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335159&cid=42371769 [slashdot.org] since that disgusting fatbody pig's an obese swine with no dick!

APK you are not just a nigger. Youre a transparent nigger. Thank you for playing, your pitiful attempt was mildly amusing.

Re:erroneus (253617) FatASS needs PIZZA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398865)

APK? Erroneus you psychotic for pizza again? Bad cravings?? LMAO.

You don't know the 1/2 of it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398925)

See erroneus gone mad over pizza here http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3341329&cid=42396495 [slashdot.org] That was funny as shit and most likely true. Erroneus blubber cells are screaming for the taste of fresh sausage, pepperoni, mozarella cheese, basil, garlic, onions (hungry yet erroneus? lol).

Re:erroneus (253617) FatASS needs PIZZA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398897)

erroneus' is pizza psycho again seein illusions. apk isn't there.

This isn't news (0)

Goodyob (2445598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398637)

it's just propagating a distro. But if you want to talk about small distros, I'm gonna suggest Puppy for its usability in a pinch at just under 160 MB

Re:This isn't news (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42401017)

Pretty true. I mean, most distros would either have KDE as their default DE or at least offer it as an option. So if one wants KDE, one can scour all Linux (and BSD) distros, and pick what else they need from the distro collection.

Hopefully, Razor-qt would be as common as LXDE and XCFE going forward.

Re:This isn't news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401595)

But Puppy is fucking hideous. KDE is too, but not so much.
Tinycore is the best

Re:This isn't news (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403083)

And Enlightenment e17 can boot in under 40MB. Can't have anything open at that memory usage level, but you can have a fully working desktop environment with compositing effects (assuming hardware video acceleration is enabled).

Booting with over 200MB of memory usage is not something I would be bragging about....

Impressive (3, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398639)

But it's also a bit sad that 210 MB is considered tiny.

Re:Impressive (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398661)

Well considering computing power and the fact that 8GB of ram is $40 and 32GB of ram is around $130ish, 210MB seems awful small. Since 210MB is roughly around 2.6% of 8 Gigabytes.

Re:Impressive (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398831)

It's still far more just to reach the desktop than most of us used to have as total system RAM. Of course comparing it to the DOS era isn't exactly fair but we sure had a full GUI in far less too.

Re:Impressive (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399345)

There were other options than DOS back then too.

TOS+GEM for one.

But, we did have DesqView for DOS in that timeframe.. ( Or DesqviewX if you wanted something a bit prettier, and network friendly )

Re:Impressive (3, Insightful)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402147)

a GUI without networking support, a javascript engine, composting window manager, an easy to develop for windowing toolkit, etc, etc.

Time moves on. More levels of abstraction require more resources but make more powerful apps possible without the programming being too hard to bother.

RAM is cheap. Programmer time is expensive...

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407129)

I've seen a very usable, modern linux live distro, running XFCE using around 130MB of RAM with kernel 3.6 the Previous generations running XFCE4.8 last year got as little as 99MB of RAM on kernel 3.2

that includes heavyweight network client networkmanager, with all the plugins that make it awesome.(modemmanager + all the VPN protocols)

captcha: excuse

Re:Impressive (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410031)

Where are the apps? Why isn't it mainstream?

I'll tell you why: because 4gb of RAM is worth about $30, and other toolkits are easier to develop for due to pre-existing library use and additional layers of abstraction.

Re:Impressive (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42404367)

I ran OS/2 Warp in 4MB! Now get off my lawn.

Re:Impressive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398891)

210 MB disk space, not RAM.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399415)

No shit Sherlock?

Re:Impressive (1)

sound+vision (884283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399873)

You'd think, but it seems like 80% of the posts on this article are talking about RAM.

Re:Impressive (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400383)

To be fair, the article’s title, "Running a Linux Live KDE Desktop in 210MB" does almost sound as if it's hinting at RAM use ("Running ... in 210MB"). Maybe something like "Fitting a Linux Live KDE Desktop on a 210MB disc" would have been more clear.

I have to admit, even though I know about Slax and have tried the latest version, even I got confused after reading all these comments about RAM and then re-reading the article's title.

Re:Impressive (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400535)

My speccy 48k does that in 16kb rom space. Not saying the two are directly comparible, but it sure does make 210Mb sound somewhat less impressive....

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407239)

when you run a LiveOS you don't always get to "pick the computer". In fact, many times, the reason for running a Live OS is that the installed OS is not working right. More often than not, your working with legacy hardware.

Real world scenarios:
1. Old Machine hits EOL. Need to boot a LiveOS, scrub the hard disk, so it can be safely disposed. I get paid to do this. This assures I have a standard uniform proccess, that works on all computers regardless of whatever OS, many old and crappy the machine has had on it. It also prevents viruses, malware, or crapy OS design of years past of preventing an uniform process, on a kernel, userland, and scrub program that is tested.

2. Machine that is not working. Again, many old and legacy machines. Sometimes I need to do data recovery. Again, get paid to do this. You'd be suprised what old sort of machines exist in the field. No one wants to pay money to add ram to a machine just to do basic near-end-of-life service

3. In library, public computer, friend's computer, donated computer. Many other people use LiveOS for this. you don't pick, nor have access to the hardware, and many ancient systems are still in use. 210 MB is a fuckton of memory usage for an old machine.

A liveOS needs to run on most machines found today, without modifying them, otherwise it defeats the point of having a live os. It needs to be generic and run on as much hardware as possible, making use of the most amount of drivers and tricks.

Re:Impressive (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408033)

And a new motherboard costs more than those 8GB. Why that fallacy that everyone owns a very recent computer? Mine is only three year old and stuck at 2GB.

Re:Impressive (5, Interesting)

datapharmer (1099455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398707)

not all of us consider that tiny. There are still a few programmers out there who recognize that doing everything high-level using huge libraries isn't necessarily the only option for a modern os. My favorite are there guys: http://www.menuetos.net/ [menuetos.net] Not linux, but definitely cool.

Re:Impressive (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402161)

Cool yes. Successful enough to make it mainstream? No. Development time is not cheap. High level languages and libraries exist to cheapen the cost in development time.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42403643)

Development time is not cheap. High level languages and libraries exist to cheapen the cost in development time.

User time is also not cheap but the developers don't have to pay for it.

The sensible thing is to do the performance/development time trade for applications that aren't supposed to be used that much. Perhaps some calendar that only a handful of persons use once every day.

On a program like a web browser?
Firefox has more than 100 million users. If every user loads 10 pages every day then a 1ms longer loading time adds up to 1 million lost user-seconds every day.
If you can make that optimization in less than 277 working hours then it is saved in within the first day of usage.

Perhaps 1ms is unreasonable. 1us might be more realistic.
Well, for an application like Firefox it's worth to spend 27 hours for every microsecond you can cut away form the loading time even if you are releasing on daily basis and your optimization won't carry over till the next release.

The big catch is of course that the end user pays for this time, not the developer.
For free software that is developed on a non-profit basis to benefit society as a whole it makes a whole lot of sense to optimize the shit out of it.

Re:Impressive (2)

Sedated2000 (1716470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403703)

I've been following MenuetOS for years now. I love the fact that it can run uncompressed on a single floppy. It has a fairly modern UI and can do a lot of the same tasks that most major operating systems do, but in a far smaller footprint. It's also very fast. It makes me feel like any other operating system is just being wasteful.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42405107)

The 64bit is not free so it's not cool. The GPL 32bit is interesting but I've got several GUIs that boot a linux kernel and could fit on a floppy.

I agree (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398727)

And most of it ends up getting spent in memory for unnecessary eye candy.

"Running"? (2)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399005)

Running to me would mean "load into RAM" rather than "stored on a plastic disc."

I wanted to see what this was about if it was running in 210 MB of RAM because that would be a bitch to use from my experience but it wasn't running it all.

A live image with KDE4. Whoop-di-fucking-do.

Re:Impressive (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399261)

You do have a point. The first PC I coded on had 1k and I had fun with it. It also didn't have a graphical desktop or other modern software, so your point, while valid, is also somewhat limited.

That being said I ran Linux and OS/2 on a system with 24 megabytes of RAM and 110 meg hard drive. I browsed the web, did email, etc. Software bloat is here to stay though.

Re:Impressive (3, Funny)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399461)

You probably had trouble coding back in the day due to all the pterodactyl attacks.

Re:Impressive (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#42401403)

You probably had trouble coding back in the day due to all the pterodactyl attacks.

Get off my lawn! ;)

Re:Impressive (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403427)

Not too many pterodactyls where I worked, but the first computer I used (a Burroughs B3700 [google.com.au] ) back in the '70s got the job done with less than 128K of usable (core) memory. I'm just glad I wasn't paying for the power bill. The computer was bad enough, but it needed a serious air-conditioning system to keep the room temperature from rocketing to 50+ deg. C in just a few minutes...

Re:Impressive (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403579)

You probably had trouble coding back in the day due to all the pterodactyl attacks.

Nah, they couldn't get into the basement of my parents' cave. Bugs on the other hand were pretty fatal in those days.

Once I had a giant centipede crawling through my rock memory. Nasty critter, always trying to add random bytes. I attached my debugger stick and, after poking for its exact location, purged it with a rock-fill algorithm. I had to clean out my system for weeks after that. Since then I always lit up my fire wall to keep out the worms.

Re:Impressive (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399317)

Yup. I remember having an OS, GUI, and all apps i needed that came in under 5mb. And while it may not have been as 'pretty' as we have now, it ran just fine on the hardware of the day and got the job done.

Re:Impressive (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399411)

We are at a point where that's reasonable to download on 3G. It definitely isn't big.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399423)

The source code to Qt alone is more than 210 MB, so good job!

Re:Impressive (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399717)

I just did a recovery usb drive for WIndows 8. Required min 20GB now that is SAD. Threw on Linux Mint 14/KDE on it and son is happy with his new laptop present. I did the recovery just for warranty purposes.

Re:Impressive (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399839)

Hell it isn't even that tiny, both TinyXP and Tiny7 use less RAM running the full desktop. Sad that the pirate editions run better than the retail, but that has been true of software for quite a few years now.

Of course all this ignores the bigger picture which is that any machine so old that its maxed out with less than 512MB of RAM will end up sucking down more power than it worth therefor won't be worth keeping. Lets face it a good 90% of the old junkers you find are P4s, they cranked out so many millions of the P4s that you practically trip over the things and the P4 was such a power hog its simply not worth keeping. You can buy an ARM stick with Linux on it for less than $40 or if you absolutely HAVE to have X86 support you can get an Atom or Bobcat board for around $100 that gives you several times the speed and uses less power under load than a P4 will use doing nothing.

I was one of the biggest advocates for saving systems from the dump but in very few cases such as old laptops, the AMD single cores and Via CPUs does it make sense and in every other case the power sucked by the system makes it not worth having. Lets face it nobody gave a shit about power usage for a good chunk of the decade.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401897)

Have you actually used a P4 or AMD Athlon recently? ARM is nowhere near as powerful and that's probably why they use less power.

I have a series of videos on my computer that's recorded at 1920x1440 resolution. Using a software decoder on both my ARM v7 (1Ghz, dual core) and my old P4 (3Ghz). The ARM v7 can't play the video well at it, it decodes 2 or 3 frames per second at the cost of dropping audio decoding while a frame is being decoded. The P4 however plays it flawless, sitting at 30% CPU utilization. The software decoder I use on the ARM v7 is way more optimized than the one I use on the P4, I even went in and did a few optimizations to the one I use on the ARM v7 myself because it's just so horrendously slow.

Re:Impressive (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402101)

Yes I have, in fact I keep an AMD Sempron from 04 as a nettop in the shop. it doesn't change the fact that Netburst was a piss poor design, it was made to go through power like shit through a goose and long as the clocks kept climbing. This had 2 major consequences, 1.- it used more and more power, until it finally got too much for even Intel around the Prescott era and they started to scale back, and 2.- Having those crazy long pipes that allowed you to get such high clocks made its IPC really terrible, in fact the first compiler rigging by Intel was NOT targeted at AMD but their own Pentium 3 because the benches were showing a 1GHz P3 stomping a 1.5GHz netburst.

Now I only mentioned ARM because it was a Linux article and if all you are doing is web surfing a basic dual core ARM will handle that alright, but if it were me? Throw out the guts and get an AMD Bobcat board which will get you more IPC processed and dual cores with full HD acceleration while using just 18w on max load and less than 10w when it comes to most tasks. When you look at how much power a P4 goes through compared to a bobcat it really is a no brainer, depending on where you live you could make up the cost of the board and RAM in less than 8 months of lowered cooling and power suckage and after that it'd be gravy.

Re:Impressive (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402169)

No, but Atom IS as powerful. More in fact.

Re:Impressive (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408101)

a dual core Atom will probably win an encoding benchmark but I'd safely bet a Pentium 4 3GHz still is faster for a single-threaded task such as browsing a web page.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42403063)

also keep in mind any thumbdrive or sd card under 4000 MB I toss out because it's hardly worth the plastic it's encased in.
I'm with you, I keep my os's as slim as possible, but with todays space squeezing down space past optimal, is really wasted effort.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42403533)

There's always muLinux [micheleandreoli.it] . That distro is designed to be loaded from floppies. Good luck patching it to modern standards though.

Correct name (1)

sheeryjay (2802763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398805)

Perhaps someone could fix author's name in summary to "Tomá Matjíek" which is much more correct? That being said, I think Slax really is good live distro enabling user to customize it greatly, build and download customized versions (want localization to language XY? want wine? Do not want wine? Slax got it all - or will get once the modules are finished for 7.0 version).

Re:Correct name (1)

sheeryjay (2802763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42398829)

I did not check my preview correctly. So it seems that slashdot eats some unicode characters like S with V accent, E with V accent etc. Pretty sad. Anyway in that case closest we can get correct is to throw away all accents and just use "Tomas Matejicek"

Porteus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398823)

Because of the lack of activity with this distro, I feel, most people would have moved to Porteus who had the same goals as Slax for being small and functional. Also, Porteus offers LXDE as a DE as well.

Re:Porteus (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399047)

Sadly for the people forced to use 32bit Porteus use the trinity desktop instead.

I wanna know something (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42398947)

Why did erroneus do this? http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3341329&cid=42396495 [slashdot.org] (lmao, it's hilarious as hell, and deals with all of his pizza cravings, the blubber cells are yelling 'feed me pizza, feed me pizza' to erroneus, and he goes wild!).

Re:I wanna know something (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399075)

Hahahahaha, man, that shit was classic. fatass erroneus 'live'.

Re:I wanna know something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399385)

also LMAO why am I such a faggot? LMAO pizza thats funny, so is bing a useless prick

pizza made erroneus what he is today: A FatAss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399791)

"Oh... to eat pizza again..." by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 22, @05:20PM (#42371769) from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335159&cid=42371769 [slashdot.org] since that disgusting fatbody pig's an obese swine with no dick!

Re:I wanna know something (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42400759)

I don't know what kind of feud you have going with erroneous, but that does NOT make it okay for you to spew your puke comments all over Slashdot!

Nobody else wants to read that shit; it's irrelevant. You're irrelevant. Please go away now.

Poor editing yet again (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399027)

Reading both the title and summary, it was completely unclear whether "space" refers to random access memory or mass storage. They're not yet one and the same, though you wouldn't know it from reading this summary.

Re:Poor editing yet again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399365)

Well, at least it's not an outright lie. That's a rarity for Slashdot.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399647)

The summary refers to the amount of disc space (on the Slax CD). Most distributions can run KDE with just a little over 200MB of RAM, it's packing the desktop (and all of the distribution's tools) into 210MB of disk space that is impressive.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403499)

it's packing the desktop (and all of the distribution's tools) into 210MB of disk space that is impressive.

Not really, though, if you have to burn a CD. You're left with a whole bunch of space left unused that could be filled with useful stuff.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42406291)

Not really, though, if you have to burn a CD. You're left with a whole bunch of space left unused that could be filled with useful stuff.

Well, you could make a multimedia CD that you could play music in your car or install Linux on your Pi. Or you could use one of those CDs that fit in a pocket.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408119)

CDs are crap anyway, the smaller the size, the less likely you'll get reading errors.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

AC-x (735297) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399729)

For me "space" is always disk space ("I don't have enough space to save that file"), I've never heard RAM referred to as space.

Re:Poor editing yet again (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399905)

Look at some of the other comments; others presumed it referred to RAM and responded to that presumption.

The word "space" alone, in terms of bit storage tech, is simply not an unambiguous reference to mass storage. Personally I have never used the word unqualified as this summary does; it's fucking lazy, careless, and presumptuous, none of which are desirable traits in an editor. At most I might say "disk space", but that *is* sufficiently unambiguous.

Re:Poor editing yet again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401743)

The LiveCD is 212MB, so presumable the 210MB is refering to mass storage.

The minimum requirements for RAM is 48MB/64MB for the x86/x64 text based console, and 256MB if use KDE like any 'normal' person.

In an unrelated thought, has there ever been an x64 computer sold with 64MB of RAM? It almost sounds like they're claiming man walked with dinosaurs.

If you don't need X Window, it could even smaller (2)

the_humeister (922869) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399033)

Besides, what self respecting geek uses a GUI???

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399055)

Or anything other than emacs, for that matter.

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399371)

Those of us who think that running ONE OS at a time is more than enough. We don't need to run two.

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42402151)

Don't make me reboot into emacs and carefully formulate why you are wrong.

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42403771)

Double dare!

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (1)

evandrofisico (933918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399089)

I don't know much about the latest version (7.0), but on previous versions Slax could be reduced to use only the "core" module, which used to be around 50Mb containing only command line tools. It is very handy as a base to build a personalized live cd using slackware packages or a remote boot image.

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42399519)

I have a slax.iso that runs under kvm to provide a VPN proxy to BTGuard. The whole thing uses only 64 megs of ram to provide OpenVPN and a Proxy server.

Re:If you don't need X Window, it could even small (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402179)

Those who... you know... what to do stuff other than work. Like watch star trek.

Why? (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399305)

1gb memory costs less than $5 on the consumer market.

My desktop has 16gb memory. My laptop has 12gb. My phone has 2gb. Hell, even the mk802 has 1gb.

So what's the point?

Re:Why? (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399369)

here is the situation I run into often. User / mom / me has a computer that windows or the hard disk itself has just taken a nasty smelly splatter shit on and wont boot, you need to get in there gather files and settings cause its just good practice before screwing someones machine up. You reach for a linux distro, and you have a modern mint which takes ~20 min to boot from a dvd, or this (I often use DSL) which can get you into a file manager within seconds.

Now if the last thing you want to be doing all night is dicking with a computer, you sure as heck dont want to be sitting there doing nothing while some overbloated OS bogs its way off of CD or USB just so you can drag n drop from A to B.

Re:Why? (1)

balise (82851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400093)

Yes, exactement. You too many times end up "dicking with" a broken computer.

Re:Why? (1)

rHBa (976986) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400961)

If the host computer is too slow to run a full on distro why not spend 5mins removing the drive and plugging it into a faster computer? There are many, cheap USB -> IDE/SATA adapters on the market.

Re:Why? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42401449)

its not a question of if the computer is too slow, its waiting on it to boot, I dont care if you have a brand new cray, CD drives have not gotten any faster, and usb sticks are not that much better.

  removing the drive and putting it in another machine takes almost as long as waiting on a full distro to boot, I carry a 128meg stick around on my keychain and it takes seconds to boot (again DSL) and lets me inspect the machines file structure ... I dont always have another pc to play host on me, nor do I want to disassemble a computer when all I want to do is see what is wrong with it before making an repair estimation.

Re:Why? (1)

rHBa (976986) | about a year and a half ago | (#42403095)

Sorry, I thought you just wanted to recover the data. Personally I just whip out the old HDD (takes 5mins in most cases, probably a lot longer for a Mac though) and plug it into my laptop (which boots in like 1min) via a USB adapter. From where I can run all sorts of recovery tools as fast as the HDD can work and without dealing with a sluggish interface on the host machine.

Re:Why? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399429)

boots fast off an usb drive?

210mbytes has little to do with how much memory it consumes when running(well it has a bit to do with it but anyways.. the 210mbyte is just how much the system takes up space on disc/k).

Re:Why? (1)

evandrofisico (933918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400119)

Also, slax has a "run from memory" mode where the whole distro is loaded to ram, and as such after booting it runs hellish fast. So a computer with 1Gb of ram can still run the whole OS from ram very fast. I already used this mode to boot slax on a whole computer lab/classroom from a single usb drive.

Re:Why? (1)

Caedite Eos (2769585) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400241)

_MY_ laptop is maxed out at 512. Slax, or Slax type distros, are godsends for it. Not everyone can have, or needs, a new laptop with more memory than useful for most tasks.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401179)

Not everyone can have, or needs, a new laptop with more memory than useful for most tasks.

And by "new" laptop you mean one that is from this century?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401557)

says the little boy who's mommy just bought him a brand new acer laptop from wallmart as his first boxen!

5 years ago 512 megs of ram was pretty common cumstain, and jpg's of your mom still look just as good as they did then

Re:Why? (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402193)

In 2012 you can buy a machine with a couple of gigs of ram for under a hundred bucks. Hell, my 2007 built machine has 4gb of RAM in it. Rather than fucking around with hardware from 5-10 years ago, you could buy someone's cast off machine with a couple of gigs and have a much nicer experience.

Re:Why? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400827)

Because, most software today seems to expand outward, consuming more and more resources without getting anything more done or making things any better for the user. It just allows 3rd rate programmers the opportunity to make money. Without all those gobs of ram and disk space, they wouldn't be competitive.

Projects like slax are done, if nothing else, to see if it's (still) possible for software to scale well. An environment that can operate acceptably on 1993 era hardware and still scale to use today's is a damn good design. I wish the kernel and glibc guys still attempted to use their stuff on 486s sometimes, just to get some perspective on what their old code could do with puny hardware. It should be a requirement for new college undergrads to get their code running well on anemic hardware. It would save us the bloated mess that passes for software today.

Re:Why? (1)

smallfries (601545) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402099)

Making the install size of the system smaller enables new applications and ways of using the system. At the moment an operating system is a giant monolithic install tied to a signle machine. I would prefer a single install shared across all of my devices. To make this work the OS would need to be synchronised / reconciled across a network connection on demand. Like a cloud OS but not running on public hardware - just migrating between devices that I own. As size as a direct impact on performance (time to start up, to reconcile) the install size could never be small enough.

There are smaller devices than you acknowledge. Memory and storage are the dominant costs in those devices and reducing the need for both enables cheaper classes of device. The Pi is an interesting machine for $25, but what happens when a desktop-capable machine costs $5, or $1?

Lastly, flash is nice but it still is not as fast as DRAM. Having an entire OS install cached in memory has advantages for performance.

Flashback (3, Interesting)

AC-x (735297) | about a year and a half ago | (#42399617)

Speaking about minimal bootable OSs, I just had a flashback to this 1.44mb bootable QNX tech demo, which includes a GUI, network stack and javascript capable browser [toastytech.com] (also check out the vintage slashdot screenshot at the bottom)

Re:Flashback (1)

smash (1351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42402195)

I remember a friend and I got Windows 3.1 to run from 1.44 floppy before. Slowly.

do they mean disk or mem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42400033)

somewhere from the link is mentioned "SLAX 7 is said to be able to run with systems containing as little as 256MB of RAM." so I guess the "210MB" and/or "~200MB." is refering to disk space? whatever the case it is not much to brag about...
I remember having some RedHat linux installed on my 486 with 12MB ram and it did run nice.
I did prefer my windows 3.11 installation back then though, both running 1024x768 in 24bit color, but I'm not sure I ever got win98 to do it correctly because diamond multimedias sucky graphic drivers for win9x...
ok now you say we did less memory consuming things back then, and it is true that we didn't played any youtube videos, and the webpages I visited with it wasn't pestered with all these javascripts back then, but do really operating system minimum requirements have to be 20x times larger or more for it to be able to support programs for that?

Re:do they mean disk or mem? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400467)

They mean disk. And download size.

But will it run on a 80386? (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400045)

Or did it drop that support like the latest Kernel?

Re:But will it run on a 80386? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42401565)

noting since like year 2000 would support a 386 anyway (even if you scurried up 48 megs worth of simms), I know I checked them all. And to be honest a 1998 distro (both debain and slackware) ran so god awful slow, they were functionless on a pentium.

Re:But will it run on a 80386? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42406143)

> noting since like year 2000 would support a 386 anyway

You didn't try them all.

In 2006 I had a list of over 20 distros that would run on a 386 and many would boot from a 1.44 floppy. Granted some, like Freesco and Tomsrootboot, were specialised for rescue floppies or network routers and terminal/print servers.

The latest Freesco, from May this year, still boots from a 1.44 and run on a 486sx with 12Mb RAM.

who cares (2)

Vince6791 (2639183) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400311)

with multicore cpu's, gigabytes of ram, usb flash stick greater than 16gb, nobody needs to run 200mb linux live distro we can run 4gb+ and we wouldn't see any major hits to performance. I have run small distros to large distros on netbooks and laptops just don't see the benefit of using something as small as this one with no libreoffic or other apps included. This is no longer the 90's or 2000's, we can fit a big ass distro on a usb flash disk with all the software we need.

small AND customizable (2)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42400475)

slax is a nifty little slackware-based distribution that is easily customized -- just copy the extra modules you want automatically added to your flash drive. previous versions have been a go-to for me whenever i need to boot up quick to copy stuff off an ailing system before it takes a dump.

used to be a suse studio-like web-based customizer, dunno if they'll do that again for version 7. but i hope they at least do a new popcorn edition (with xfce instead of kde).

Puppy FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401499)

You should check out Puppy. They've done a better job than Slax for their FS compression.

Re:Puppy FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42401697)

No, don't. It's ugly and awful.

You must have left the Oxygen fonts out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42406621)

I ripped them out of my XFCE box that has a few Gnome and KDE addons. With the installed fonts and the associated cache it used well over 0.5 GB.

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