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Author Topic: Crazy idea / suggestion  (Read 13988 times)
M0E-lnx
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« on: January 04, 2008, 09:13:32 pm »

This occured to me about 2 days ago, when I was trying to run VL on one really old machine
PIII 500mhz
64mb ram
2 X 4gb hard drives

I tried VL, but it seems too heavy for it. It takes about 5 minutes to boot and I end up with a non-gui boot.

So I dloaded a DSL iso, and booted that.
That seems to work ok (somewhat)
* boots fast ( <20 secs)
* ships JWM & Fluxbox both are fast

The bad part with DSL is the poor selection of installed software.

So here is the idea I had.
Can we produce a "really light" version of VL that would be aimed @ even older boxes than STD is?
Here is a a couple of things I have in mind

* Keep the ISO under 300mb (DSL is only 50mb)
* Ship JWM and FLux (configured like in 5.9std)
This ISO would only contain the most basic but useful applications
* One browser (make it dillo to keep it light)
* one good terminal app
* light Office apps (gnumeric, abiword (or even other lighter ones))
* No kernel src

I could really use something like this to rescue this old piece of junk here.
I'd like to see what everyone thinks about this... I know VL is already aimed at old hardware, but you have to admit that in order to stay up-to-date with new technology (visual effects, new applications, etc), VL is not as light as it used to be. So I really do think we should consider this.
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saulgoode
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2008, 11:46:43 pm »

So here is the idea I had.
Can we produce a "really light" version of VL that would be aimed @ even older boxes than STD is?

I support this idea. At the time VL 5.1 was being developed, I commented on the system requirements being slightly more than what was typically available in machines found by "dumpster diving". Even now, there are a lot of discarded Win98 or early XP machines which have 300-800MHz processors but only 32-96Mb RAM. SIMM memory modules of 32Mb can be had for next to nothing, but larger ones are rarely available used and are not particularly good values when purchased new. The fact that most motherboards only offered three memory slots means that populating a board with more than 96Mb of RAM exceeds the point of diminishing returns.

There IS a "market" for a GNU/Linux which targets resurrected machines and I think that Vector should offer a version which targets that market. The reason to do so is to encourage further development of Vector. Not only would you gain the ambassadorship of users receiving machines distributed from people like Lagnanon (who refurbishes older machines for the disadvantaged), but current VL users might be more likely to resurrect an old freebie than to risk their understandably treasured primary installation for purposes of experimentation.

The goal of attracting new developers (not to mention new users) by offering a basically "no-cost" platform upon which to experiment should make MOE-lnx's idea well worth pursuing. I, myself, have had little interest in contributing to Vector development but would be very interested in dedicating some time towards the goal of producing a minimalist version.

Here is a a couple of things I have in mind

* Keep the ISO under 300mb (DSL is only 50mb)
* Ship JWM and FLux (configured like in 5.9std)
This ISO would only contain the most basic but useful applications
* One browser (make it dillo to keep it light)
* one good terminal app
* light Office apps (gnumeric, abiword (or even other lighter ones))
* No kernel src

I agree with you other than I think Dillo (as much as I like it) is a little too barebones and an additional option should be offered. Also, terminal apps typically consume only tens of kilobytes on a CD and little is gained by limiting available options (though if the default menu setup only presented one terminal, that would be fine).

Likewise, there are quite a few window managers available which require well under a megabyte of disk space and I would suggest that if a developer volunteers to package and maintain one of these, it should be a valid candidate for inclusion (for myself, I would offer to maintain a UWM package requiring 50Kb on the CD). Again, the default installation could focus on just one or two, but I see nothing wrong with the CD including a couple of megabytes of lightweight WMs.



One thing that should need to be addressed in creating a ultralight VL version is a refactoring of the Vector bulk tarballs. The current bulk tarball for core functionality (no X11) is 80Mb, which seems to be a somewhat bloated starting point for minimalist version.

To be honest, I wonder if it might not be prudent to reconsider the utility of the bulk tarball approach to installation. Back when I first used Vector (version 2.0), the space savings (on the CD image) by the bzipped bulk versus the original gzipped Slackware packages was significant -- with the advent of Vector packages being offered with LZMA compression, I fail to see a benefit to bulk tarball installation methodology. It would seem to me that a return to individual package installs, with the appropriate use of SW's tagfiles, would provide some welcome flexibility to installers (custom and repeatable installations, network installs, installs from non-standard devices). Is there some benefit offered by bulk tarballs which I am missing?

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uelsk8s
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2008, 11:52:25 pm »

Quote
Is there some benefit offered by bulk tarballs which I am missing?
installing individual tlz packages is much slower.
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Xeon
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Posts: 115


« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2008, 01:27:48 am »

Does it really take 5 min  Huh
I run it on a pentium 2 machine 340mhz, 128mb ram. Stripped 5.8 std install, no gui, no unneeded stuff. Compiled apache mysql and postgresql to load on boot and it takes 57 seconds to load the system. I now added X with ion for users without console knowledge and the gui boots in 5~6 seconds.
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Joe1962
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2008, 01:39:56 am »

Even 5.9 Std should work pretty decent on that machine. I did some testing on a 64 MB vm and it was ok. Could be the HDDs are way too slow or not getting DMA mode. Fluxbox without wbar would leave some RAM for lightweight apps, maybe leave out kdm too. Some swap will inevitably occur once you run Abiword, dilo and a terminal, but not much (might be smart to use xterm instead of the xfce terminal, as well).

Also, support for older hardware is a sliding window. There comes a point where you will have to stick with VL4 or earlier on some of them, like you wouldn't put XP or even 2K on that example PC, for instance.
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O'Neill (RE the Asgard): "Usually they ask nicely before they ignore us and do what they damn well please."
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Running: VL 7 Std 64 + self-cooked XFCE-4.10
saulgoode
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Posts: 340



« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2008, 02:13:58 am »

installing individual tlz packages is much slower.

True, some quick benchmarking suggests that bulk installation is nearly twice as fast as individual packages when using LZMA. But Vector took a much higher hit in regard to installation speed back when it used BZIP2 bulks: at that time the bzipped bulks took over twice as long to install as individual gzipped packages. I shouldn't foresee a big problem if Vector stayed with bulks for the Standard and SOHO versions, but it would seem an ultralight version should need concern itself more with flexibility than installation speed (which would still be less than that of Standard by virtue of its smaller footprint).



FYI: my benchmarking used the Inkscape package and my harddrive for both source and destination (I didn't think to use a tmpfs until afterward).

GZIP (15M compressed)
- Bulk: 1.787s
- Inst: 3.698s
BZIP2 (11M compressed)
- Bulk: 10.212s
- Inst: 20.624s
LZMA (5.7M compressed)
- Bulk: 2.932s
- Inst: 5.790s
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A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
nightflier
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 05:39:57 am »

Couldn't this be done as a how-to? Instruct the user to do a bare-bones install, then post slapt-get commands to add more.
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rbistolfi
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 05:51:02 am »

Given the fact the difference is mostly in the packages (is this right?), perhaps the installer could be in charge.  But as Saulgoode pointed, a minimal version (I think nubcunubdo proposed a VL Lite before) could give Vector some more exposure.
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exeterdad
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 07:06:12 am »

We can name it DSVL.
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M0E-lnx
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 07:13:06 am »

it really does take 5 minutes... literally 5 long ones
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easuter
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2008, 07:29:40 am »

Xorg is also partially responsible for this IMO. My desktop VL 5.8 and VL 5.9 installs have practically the same setup when it comes to running services (no HAL), and the thing that really stands out in htop as a resource hog on VL 5.9 is Xorg.

On VL 5.8 its consuming about 1-2% CPU while idle and 2-3% of ram while idle (my box is a P3 900mhz with 256mb ram). But on VL 5.9, xorg uses 10% CPU while idle and about 10 to 20% ram idle... and that goes up when a lot

Maybe Volkerding was not crazy by sticking to Xorg 6  Undecided
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 07:31:51 am by easuter » Logged

Joe1962
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2008, 11:02:55 am »

Check out these screenshots of VL 5.9 taken in a 64MB vm, with fluxbox and xfce, showing a full-screen htop. You can see that xfce terminal is a "resource hog" at this RAM level. All the different XFCE "parts" make up quite a bit too. On fluxbox, wbar becomes noticeable, as does the xfce-mcs-manager. However, you can see that xterm is much lighter than terminal. CPU usage is pretty much nothing on both cases though.


   


   
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 11:35:46 am by Joe1962 » Logged

O'Neill (RE the Asgard): "Usually they ask nicely before they ignore us and do what they damn well please."
http://joe1962.bigbox.info
Running: VL 7 Std 64 + self-cooked XFCE-4.10
Triarius Fidelis
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Domine, exaudi vocem meam


WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2008, 11:33:05 am »

Blowzilla browsers have always been the greatest memory hogs for me.  Roll Eyes
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Joe1962
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Vectorian
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WWW
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2008, 11:35:14 am »

Yes, I wouldn't run those or OOorg on 64 MB RAM... Wink
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O'Neill (RE the Asgard): "Usually they ask nicely before they ignore us and do what they damn well please."
http://joe1962.bigbox.info
Running: VL 7 Std 64 + self-cooked XFCE-4.10
M0E-lnx
Administrator
Vectorian
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Posts: 3185



« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2008, 11:46:52 am »

that's why this would be a very thin release. Including just the essential stuff. In case the user decides the want more they can always install what they need via gslapt
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