Next Question: Is it my lousy gerbil-powered computer?

Andrew Zajac arzajac at
Sun May 15 01:33:37 UTC 2005

On 5/14/05, Daniel Robitaille <robitaille at> wrote:
> > If it matters, the aforesaid Gerbil XX1000 has 2.1 G hard drive, a
> > blinding 48 MB of RAM, and a dazzling 166mHz chip.
> >
> the 2.1Gbytes drive could be a problem.    If you do an install with
> really a minimal set of packages, it is feasible, but it will be some
> work.  For reference my /usr directory contains 2.6 GB of files to
> start; and I haven't installed  a ton of packages beside the defaults
> ones for Hoary. Add to that /home, /etc /var , etc, and you can see
> that 2.1 is quite tight.
> 48 MB of ram WILL be a problem.  I don't think X can even run in that
> small memory.  Actually, it could run, but you will swap to disk
> continously and performance will be miserable.  The lowest I went to
> in recent years was 96MB (for a Fedora Core 1 machine with Gnome and
> KDE), and the experience was not that good.  Just the OS without
> running applications was in the 90-110 MB range; add Firefox, a couple
> of xterm, and the thing was usable but slow.  Changing windows manager
> to PAWM ( was a great inprovement, but
> still it was still very limiting at 96MB.
> Sadly I have to say that you're probably  better of with the older
> Win98 on that hardware than Ubuntu/Linux.   That's the advantage of a
> 7-year old Operating System :)  (unless you decide to run in console
> mode only; then Linux will probably work quite well, but the number of
> applications is limited, and it is not that great visually for the
> users)
> There was a project out there (based on Fedora?) to run Linux on small
> memory machines (mainly for developping countries), but I can't
> remember the name right now.
> --
> ubuntu-users mailing list
> ubuntu-users at

What you could try is to install a lighter system based on ubuntu,

There are several projects with this goal in progress.

You could install with the "server" option.  Once finished, you will
boot into the command line.  Login and enable the universe repository
by uncommenting the appropriate line in /etc/apt/sources.list  (read
the comments)
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install x-window-system-core gdm icewm menu abiword
mozilla-firefox synaptic

This should take up just a little more than 500 megs of disk space.

sudo apt-get install x-window-system-core xfce4 wdm

There are tons of possibilities...

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