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alpage2
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 5:15 pm    Post subject: below minimum RAM requirements Reply with quote

I have a very old laptop that I have been able to keep running with lightweight linux distros, and would like to try gentoo on it, if I can:

Hardware specs:
K6 CPU (i586)
192MB RAM
6GB HD

I am aware that the 192 MB of RAM is below the 256 minimum specified, but I am hoping there might be a way around that.

With the minimal install CD and stage3 tarball, and following the installation instructions, I have got as far as chrooting into the new environment and installing a portage snapshop by running:
Code:

emerge-webrsync

Downloading the snapshot appeared to go well, and then it began expanding the archive. After running for some time, it got as far as listing a Haskell package and then reported that there was insufficient space left on the 'device'. Since a subsequent check on the root partition revealed 3.2GB of unused space, I am assuming that what actually ran out was the available RAM?

Am I trying to do the impossible with only 192MB RAM? - or is there a way to complete the installation, and also be able to run portage successfully after the installation is finished?

Thanks in anticipation
Alan
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpage2,

Do you have another system the can help out with the install?

I suspect you ran out of inodes on your root partition.
Try
Code:
df
and
Code:
df -i

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chithanh
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 5:22 pm    Post subject: Re: below minimum RAM requirements Reply with quote

alpage2 wrote:
insufficient space left on the 'device'. Since a subsequent check on the root partition revealed 3.2GB of unused space, I am assuming that what actually ran out was the available RAM?
If you used ext4 as filesystem, you probably ran out of inodes. Check with "df -i".

You need to re-create the filesystem with a higher number of inodes (portage tree is around 150k files), or switch to a filesystem that dynamically adjust the number of inodes.

As NeddySeagoon suggested, if you have a fast computer you can use that to help you build packages. Here is a discussion how to export the computer's root filesystem over NFS and chroot into it on another, faster computer to build packages.
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alpage2
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks to both of you for pointing the way forward. It will probably be next weekend before I have the time and opportunity to try this again. In the first instance, I'll see if increasing the number of inodes is enough, and if not, I'll set up a connection to a faster machine. I'll report back the results in due course.

Thanks again
Alan
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The disk space is what is going to get you one that one. I know from experience that 60 MiB is enough ram to get Gentoo up and running, with X. I think I had 8 GiB of disk space, so slightly different. Also, consider ext2. The journal is going to take up space that you may not have.

Using an nfs portage would also be a permanent solution to storing the portage tree with minimal room on the hard drive.
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alpage2
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Doc - ext2 it shall be.

Rather than nfs, would an external hard drive (usb) be another option for running portage? I have a spare 17GB drive that just needs slipping into a usb caddy.

Regards
Alan
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schorsch_76
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpage2 wrote:
Thanks, Doc - ext2 it shall be.

Rather than nfs, would an external hard drive (usb) be another option for running portage? I have a spare 17GB drive that just needs slipping into a usb caddy.

Regards
Alan


Yes of course is this possible.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpage2,

A USB HDD might work. It depends if you have USB2 or not.
On USB1 you will only get 1Mb/sec transfer rates (on a good day) so its so slow as to be impractical.
What does lspci say about your USB ports.
Code:
00:12.0 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] SB7x0/SB8x0/SB9x0 USB OHCI0 Controller
00:12.1 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] SB7x0 USB OHCI1 Controller
00:12.2 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] SB7x0/SB8x0/SB9x0 USB EHCI Controller

OHCI=USB1
EHCI=USB2

Is it practical for you to build the packages on another system, then install the binaries on the laptop?
I know that fits into 6G with Gnome 2 as its what I used to do on my netbook with an 8G SSD.

If you have a more capable PC with Windows on it, you can install Gentoo into Virtualbox on Windows and build your binaries there.
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eccerr0r
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have Gentoo running on a 64MB machine, but no, 64MB is not enough to let you build gcc and glibc in any reasonable amount of time. I built the rootfs on my 486DX4/133 (SC520, 2GB root disk) on a different machine. This is not enough space for the install and portage, and still have enough space to build additional software - I use a VM on a faster machine with a separate virtual disk to upgrade this setup.

Agreed, 192MB/6GB is marginal. Do not try compiling Firefox on this. Newer GCC will be very unpleasant. I will also have to agree if you can just use ext2fs and save a bit of ram from journalling code and metadata structures, it would leave more RAM and disk space for you to use.

A machine of this age will likely not have USB2 (if it has USB at all)... Though I think that 1MB/sec is better than swapping. As long as it's not swapping to 1MB/sec.

(I tried compiling Firefox 9 on a machine with 384MB RAM in the past. It needed around 1.5 GB of swap to finish, fortunately disk space was not an issue on that machine. Disk was thrashing for at least an hour before it finally finished. Then again this is nowhere near my first kernel compile on my 386DX with 4MB RAM and 500KB/sec HDD. The slow HDD was the killer.)
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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think nfs is a good solution. You can configure kernel to allow swapping via nfs.

Put also DISTDIR, PORTDIR, (PKGDIR), /var/tmp and /usr/src there. It is slow but it works for me in a similar situation.

If you create a VM on a powerful machine you can prebuild almost everything there if you share PKGDIR on nfs.
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cwr
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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've run Gentoo on a machine with 128MB of RAM, but I didn't use any sort of GUI. I built some stuff on
the machine by mounting /usr/portage via CIFS, though NFS would be just as good. These days crossdev
is more reliable, and I'd cross-compile everything and just copy it across.

Will
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alpage2
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks to everyone for the continuing suggestions - much appreciated.

Yes, on this ancient machine, it is USB1.1.

A slow compile is not an issue for me - I'm happy to let it compile overnight, if necessary, so I'll just try the external hard drive first, but if that really proves a problem, I can fall back on the nfs method. I have a reasonably modern and fast windows PC and have had debian running in a virtual machine, on that. I guess I could set up gentoo on that, also.

It must be all of 10 years since I last used gentoo - I had it on an old machine with a 133MHz CPU, and ran portage every Friday night. On the odd occasion, it would still be compiling on the Monday morning!

Regards
Alan
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cwr
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you'll be in for compiles of days rather than hours, depending on what you build. ISTR that
a 1GHz PIII with 512MB took 2 hours to build X, and 15 hours to build Gnome. Still, provided that
the builds succeed you should be OK; just don't try building LibreOffice.

Will
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bstaletic
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The hardest thing would be having enough RAM for compiling. I would rather suggest you try Arch, as it is minimalistic (as minimalistic as you want) and require 64MB, though that means no xorg. For xorg you could do with 128MB.

Gentoo on my machine requires 60MB for xorg, but as I said you would have difficulties compiling.
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alpage2
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, cwr, for the compile time quotes - yes, I can see the benefits of compiling packages on my modern desktop PC.

Thanks, bstaletic for mentioning Arch Linux. I took a quick look at the install page, which states that it is designed for an x86_64 or i686 system, and as mentioned in my first post, my K6 CPU is an i586.

However, I am open to suggestions of other lightweight systems. Lubuntu dropped support for the K6 some years ago, and since then debian lxde and openBSD have both been used. I am currently using Puppy Linux (wary 5.5) which loads from a CD each time. Not bad, but a bit limiting in terms of software availability. I am interested to see if Gentoo, with a lightweight window manager (no gnome or kde) will give me a lean system with reasonable speed, coupled with a wide range of software applications.

Regards
Alan
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your 192 MB sounds like 128+64, I'd go and see some local computer guy, they may have a RAM upgrade for you. I had Gentoo on an i586 once, I used i486 tarball and changed CHOST to i586.
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eccerr0r
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also make sure distcc is setup. Once I wanted to emerge a really small package (might have been gnu screen or something) on my SC520 (486DX4/133 64MB RAM) and having distcc setup, it was able to build it without too much issues. But be expected to still need swap.

I didn't bother putting localhost in distcc/hosts, and still ran with -j1 or -j2. I just had to hope that the linker doesn't run out of memory.

I might have to see what my K6-233 desktop can do now (it has 128MB RAM that exceeds the cacheable memory space of the chipset).




... Probably will crash and burn :-(
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yea, even with distcc in pump mode building gcc may let the smoke out of your box.
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpage2 wrote:
I am interested to see if Gentoo, with a lightweight window manager (no gnome or kde) will give me a lean system with reasonable speed, coupled with a wide range of software applications.

I would be surprised if it does give you reasonable speed. At the end of 2013 I finally retired my old Gateway Solo 9300 (Intel Mobile Pentium III Coppermine 800 MHz with 288 MB RAM and 10 GB HDD) which was running Gentoo x86 with Xfce with the X.Org ATI Rage128 video driver at 1024x768. It was just about acceptable to do a little light Web browsing and typing the occasional note, but that's about it. Even though I made sure the HDD did not fill up and that Gentoo was up-to-date (emerge --depclean always worked fine) and kept /usr/portage/distfiles/ almost empty, the installation got slower and slower for some reason (not that it was zippy to begin with). That laptop did run Tiny Core Linux quite well, though. I would have thought that would be a better bet.
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i586 Distros
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi eccerr0r

Thanks for the compile tips - very useful.

Hi Jaglover

Yes, very perceptive :wink:

This was originally a 64MB machine, running Windows 98, which was then replaced by linux when MS dropped support for Win98.. I subsequently added 128MB to the RAM to help speed up xubuntu.

I'd like to see what I can get out of the current system first, but if necessary, another RAM upgrade is an option - I could chuck the 64MB and add a second matching 128MB SIMM or DIMM (can't remember which) to make it 256MB - I guess that would help speed it up. Or would it pay to push the boat out for 512MB? Would it make very much difference?

Regards
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpage2,

Its probably SDRAM in the SODIM format. Thats about the only format I don't have in my parts box.

You know that 64M and 128M sticks work. Don't invest in 256Mb modules unless you can test them before you pay for them.
Dynamic RAM has a feature called the geometry which describes the addressing grid. The addresses are broken up into Rows and Columns.
Your memory controller needs to work with the geometry of the memory chips you fit. If it doesn't, you can get all sorts of strange effects from only a fraction of the memory being seen to non booting.

Worse, not all RAM sticks of the same RAM size have the same geometry, so some may work and others not. Testing is harmless to the RAM but not to your pocket.
A tell tale sign is the number of RAM chips on the stick.
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alpage2
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks NeddySeagoon

That's very helpful. If it does come to a RAM upgrade, I'll seek expert help to ensure that it is compatible.

Regards
Alan
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
i586 Distros


Thanks for the link to Distrowatch - I didn't know it was possible to search distros in that way - I can make good use of it.

And thanks for the link to units - duly noted :D

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Alan
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can also try FreeBSD (or Gentoo-FreeBSD) and use clang as default compiler, which is much faster than gcc.
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