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KDE Linux

Running a Linux Live KDE Desktop In 210MB 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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Running a Linux Live KDE Desktop In 210MB

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  • Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:12PM (#42398639)
    But it's also a bit sad that 210 MB is considered tiny.
    • 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.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        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.

        • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

          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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by smash ( 1351 ) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @04:10AM (#42402147) Homepage Journal

          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...

          • You could run SunOS on a Sun-3 with 4MB of RAM, though it was a lot happier with 8-16, networking worked fine, choice of NeWS or several X11 window systems. Javascript has always been dangerous (not that NeWS's Postscript was exactly safe), and while I've used several window managers that deserved to be composted, I don't see why that would be a positive feature...

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

        210 MB disk space, not RAM.

        • 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....
      • 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.

        • that is your own fault for not doing research in regards to upgrades. You shouldn't have bought a computer 2 years ago that only supported 2GB. The board in my wifes pc is from 2006 and supports 8GB.
    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

      by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:20PM (#42398707) Homepage
      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.
      • by smash ( 1351 )
        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.
      • 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.
    • And most of it ends up getting spent in memory for unnecessary eye candy.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • by craigminah ( 1885846 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @07:51PM (#42399461)
        You probably had trouble coding back in the day due to all the pterodactyl attacks.
        • You probably had trouble coding back in the day due to all the pterodactyl attacks.

          Get off my lawn! ;)

        • 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...
        • 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.

        • Those were only a problem on the 3-D Virtual Reality game thing in the mall. The headsets were large and clunky and didn't fit me very well, so the 3D looked even worse to me than to most users.

          And yes, it was uphill both ways through the snow to get to the computer center where the keypunches were, but most of us wore hiking boots rather than going barefoot - why do you ask?

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      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.

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

    • 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

  • 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).
    • 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"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:56PM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • 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.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          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.

    • by AC-x ( 735297 )

      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.

      • by macraig ( 621737 )

        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.

  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:57PM (#42399033)

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

    • Or anything other than emacs, for that matter.
      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

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

    • 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.
    • by smash ( 1351 )
      Those who... you know... what to do stuff other than work. Like watch star trek.
  • 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?
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      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 ni

      • by balise ( 82851 )

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

      • by rHBa ( 976986 )
        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.
        • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

          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

          • by rHBa ( 976986 )
            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.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      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).

      • 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.
    • _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.
    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      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 i

    • 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 st

  • Flashback (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @08:07PM (#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)

    • by smash ( 1351 )
      I remember a friend and I got Windows 3.1 to run from 1.44 floppy before. Slowly.
  • Or did it drop that support like the latest Kernel?
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      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.

  • 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.

  • by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @09:53PM (#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).

Forty two.