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How to get your system really lightweight, yet functional ?
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CkoTuHa
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Joined: 27 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:22 pm    Post subject: How to get your system really lightweight, yet functional ? Reply with quote

You use ubuntu when gentoo is too hard for you :)
So, of course, just like any asshole out there, with enough ego in (him/her)*self and counting self as a decent human being, I have been having my hands full of it with gentoo from circa 2008. "Five years later..." Today is 2013, I am pretty happy with my systems running gentoo. The boxes behave reasonably well and each system as a whole is on par with what the computer comes from the factory pre-installed(some crappy windows), but without the feature that windows is famous for where each year it runs exponentially slower over time.

Of course, the wireless ( iwlwifi, 5300 ) is still not as good as it is on windows though. But I decided to live with it, just like we do with all the bacteria and pathogens in ourselves.

So at this point I trying to take a look around and see if there anything else I might be missing out there. Presented with so many options with gentoo I am sure I can't be missing a lot if at all. BSDs are just not good enough the hw support is one thing, the suspend-to-ram and wake up is another. Other popular linux based distros are pretty much the same. So, all in all I am happy where I am now.

But,
I have been looking at Slax, a full Linux system in just ~ 210 MB and it is amazing that all in all you get a full functional KDE environment with only abysmal amount of resources needed. As far as I know it is a slackware derivative by someone with a lot of karma and time in their hands.

So I am feeling playful and adventurous enough to make my system as lightweight as it goes with too much effort.
I am not swaying here for the superlative "the most lightweight" or any other extreme, as I believe the law of diminishing returns is as universal as that of conservation of energy.

Any one can share their tips on how to make a gentoo system that is comparable in size to some lightweight distro ?

My current gnu/linux/gentoo/KDE when loaded consumes infinite amount of memory. I know it loads many applications from previous sessions and in each virtual desktop I have bunch of documents opened, pre-loaded, so that it blows up to 1.5-2GB memory used up just after login.

How do I tweak the system so that the executables are smaller, memory footprint is smaller and etc ???

It is not that I am running a system that needs > 2GB of memory on a box with 512MB of memory ( in fact it is roughly average box with only 8GB ) rather it is a theoretical and conceptual issue.

So, what I am looking for is some tips from gentoo fans on how to make the gentoo system reasonably lightweight.
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audiodef
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Joined: 06 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some basic tips:

Use Pappy's Kernel Seeds. This brings it down to basics and ensures you have to add your exact hardware drivers to get things working (among other cool things).

Avoid desktop environments. No Gnome or KDE. If you REALLY want a DE, use XFCE or LXDM (which is based on Blackbox). For smallest footprint, you want a window manager such as Awesome, Flux/Blackbox, IceWM, etc.

Keep the doo-dads to a minimum, obviously. Do you really need a beefed-up X-clock on your desktop? Put a clock in your WM's task bar or in your system monitor if you use one. And so on.

If you have another Gentoo server somewhere, you could use distcc.
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geki
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you can reduce datasize footprint by CFLAGS="-Os".

next to audiodefs tips for resource footprint there is room for reducing harddisk data footprint.

CkoTuHa wrote:
But,
I have been looking at Slax, a full Linux system in just ~ 210 MB and it is amazing that all in all you get a full functional KDE environment with only abysmal amount of resources needed. As far as I know it is a slackware derivative by someone with a lot of karma and time in their hands.
though, that requires a buildbox to serve as a binary package server for your other boxes.
with that you can manage all boxes to some degree at a single point, etc. pp.

so, if you got only one gentoo box it is quite nonsense. ;)


why a binary package server?
you can provide a portage profile without silly build-time dependencies like gcc, linux-sources and whatever there is wasting diskspace.

edit #1
though, some packages may be a bit tricky to remove like some gcc libs are necessary.
but having a look at these, it is possible. :o

http://gentoo-portage.com/virtual/libstdc++
http://gentoo-portage.com/sys-libs/libstdc++-v3
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CkoTuHa
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okie dockie ( have you ever heard such nonsense phrase for something simple expressing "hmm, okay" )

For starters I guess, you really have to be a linux ninja ( "ninja" - yet another nonsense ).
Perhaps I need to take a closer look at what is going on around projects like damnsmallinux for instance. Anyways, thanks for your replies.

It seems I will have to readjust my contemplations and prioritize my time and energy :)
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roravun
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CkoTuHa:
If you are into "functional minimalism", here is what I do:

- I do not use DBus and most of GNOME stack, no UDisk, POLKIT, etc. etc.
- I do not use proper DE, just WM. In my case it is Xmonad. If you know what is the endless Window manager cycle, then I believe Xmonad allows
you to break off the chain.
- And of course I use hand-crafted kernel.

You might be interested in reading antidesktop manifesto. A bit dated, but I believe still relevant :-)
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duby2291
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course for some, there is such a thing as "too minimal". I found that LXDE is probably the best light desktop out there, but pcmanfm is buggy, and a few of the panel applets are broken. At this time I'm using XFCE. It was a pain in the ass to be very careful not to let it pull in a bunch of gnome dependencies. There were a few application choices I had to make so that it would pull in the least amount of dependencies. ..... But I'm currently happy with it. My system is now booting up to only 65MB of memory usage. If I stripped out build dependencies and portage it would probab;y be less than 1 gig harddrive usage.

EDIT: The guy who made SLAX.... I'm am absolutely convinced he must have went through some nasty dependency hell. He probably went through every single binary one at a time with ld to get the thinnest system he could. I'm sure it was a nightmare. I'm also sure he probably compiled every single binary with make and carefully combed through every single configure option to get the thinnest binaries he could. Clearly it's possible to make an insanely thin linux system, if you are willing to work outside the realm of a package manager.
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have some experience parring down KDE, which seems to be at least part of what you want. The following is unsupported by upstream, but I have not had any issue since I did this at least 6 months ago.
1) save the output of emerge --info
2) change to the desktop or other profile. This is the easiest way to remove the "consolekit" use flag requirement on KDE.
3) use emerge --info and these descriptions to re-enable relevant flags.
4) add "-semantic-desktop -consolekit -upower -udisks" to your flags.
5) emerge -auvND world
6) run emerge -ac
7) (optional) mask consolekit, upower, and udisks. This prevents them sneaking back in during updates.

These features seem to be the major slow down in KDE. Doing the above will nuke auto mounting and power management. You can recover the auto mounting features using uam. There are also numerous lighter power management systems if needed.

Of course, disable unwanted features such as restoring your last session and desktop effects to prevent them from consuming memory.
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