[Nottingham] Linux in 18 MBytes?

Penfold Q penfoldq at penfoldq.co.uk
Tue Nov 20 17:28:34 GMT 2007

On Tue, Nov 20, 2007 at 01:38:14PM +0000, Martin wrote:
> No X11 needed, no GUI at all in fact. It's just an experiment to see if
> I can get a Linux system to run ssh and Boinc-s at h in a terminal to show
> off Linux on minimal hardware.

Boinc-s at h is a heck of a lot of number crunching in 18MB of RAM. Are you 
sure the Boinc client can work in such an environment?

As it is a standard x86 just in a small memory footprint, you might find 
DSL (damnsmalllinux as mentioned previously) to be a better and easier 
proposition. If you are fitting capacious storage, you technically have 
unlimited swap but I'd be careful how much you give it. Boinc will 
probably exhaust as much memory as it can get and so you'll be swapping 
constantly putting a heck of a strain on the USB disk (if it is 
solid-state) and/or being held up by USB bandwidth.

As a proof-of-concept rather than a useful addition to the S at h project, 
it is worth doing, despite the limitations of such a machine.

Given storage is not a major limitation, embedded kernels using busybox 
and uclibc are not really required. For the brave, you can do even 
smaller than DSL with a custom linux from scratch (linuxfromscratch.org) 
but this will take a lot of time and will force you to learn about 
toolchains and how to build Linux purely from source. It is a lot of 
learning if all you want to do is a demo machine.

As always, the choice is yours. The easiest option is likely to be DSL.
> > BTW I'm trying to get together material for a talk on embedded linux and 
> > now I have a Linksys WRT54GL router, this makes for a better example to 
> > use for why anyone would want to try squeezing the penguin onto such a 
> > resource-limited environment. Look out for a talk in the new year, 
> > sometime.
> Now that sounds very interesting. Can we book you in on the calendar???

As long as it is after the end of January, I'm happy to arrange a time. 
Suggest dates to me offlist and I'll let you know what I can do.


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