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Sunday, February 21, 2010

debian squeeze on netbook uses less than 100 MB RAM on startup

One of the linux distributions optimal for a netbook is debian squeeze. When starting and logging in to gnome, debian hardly uses 85MB RAM (95 MB RAM with swap)! Even when firefox is running, it did not cross 150 MB RAM

RAM usage on startup without enabling swap was lesser than 90 MB

RAM usage after swap enabling

RAM usage when running firefox

After trying various distributions for almost an year, debian squeeze feels the optimal linux distribution for this netbook (Ideapad S10). All applications launch very fast and gives a feel it is running on a core2.

It is hard to install debian testing on to a netbook with wireless, but it is worth the effort.


  1. I've been running Squeeze on my EeePC 900 for a while now. After various experiments I also found that ext4 (including ext4 drives that were converted from ext3) performs a lot better on the SSDs in that model than ext3 (and even ext2) - the kernel from Squeeze supports ext4 well.

    btrfs will be even better, but btrfs support is not quite there yet in Debian (rightly so, because btrfs is still not marked stable).

  2. Yeah true, but I have not tried ext4. I am still using ext3 as this netbook does not have SSD.

    Thanks for the info that ext4 supports SSD well. I guess btrfs should be the best thing awaited in the linux world

    Hope ext4 will be stable soon.

  3. And one more thing, I added sidux kernel after sidux repositories. sidux kernel has 1000 Hz and premption enabled and the feel of responsiveness is great even in a netbook

  4. The following is the sidux repos

    deb http://sidux.office-vienna.at/sidux/debian/ sid main fix.main
    deb-src http://sidux.office-vienna.at/sidux/debian/ sid main fix.main

    did an apt-get update and installed sidux-keyring, sidux-keyrings to add the gpg keys of sidux repos

    Then installed apt-conf-sidux, linux-image-2.6-sidux-686, linux-headers-2.6-sidux-686 from the sidux repos and rebooted to install sidux kernel.

  5. Take a look at http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=48460
    CPU[-Single core Intel Pentium 4 (UP) clocked at 2793.147 Mhz-] Kernel[-2.6.32-8.dmz.5-liquorix-686 i686-] Up[-3 days-]
    Mem[-65.2/493.0MB-] HDD[-160.0GB(15.9% used)-] Procs[-91-] Client[-Shell-] inxi[-1.4.6-]

    Notice how little ram is actually being used?

    This is in Debian sid with lxde, gdm lxterminal+irssi+shell+fm, parcelite, pcmanfm, and all the usual lxde stuff running.
    Fully updated with the latest sid updates.

  6. even with multiple apps running and multiple tabs open, debian does not use more than 200 MB RAM. debian is a definite distro hopper stopper

  7. Liquorix Kernel http://www.liquorix.net/

    this is a debian kernel built on top of the zen kernel sources. the configuration is optimized for a practical desktop experience and features not currently maintained in linus's upstream kernel are included.

    # /etc/apt/sources.list.d/liquorix.list
    deb http://liquorix.net/debian sid main

  8. Thanks for the info, i will try it over weekend

  9. I have squeeze installed on thinkpad R400. Problem is that i have tried all internet hacks for power management but my 9 cell battery only lasts 2.1 hours. Do you have any such issue?

  10. No, I have not faced any such battery issues. I installed laptop-mode-tools in debian, which maybe the reason it is using battery properly.

    Pls try ubuntu/mint and see if it is using battery fast. Also, if you play movies/play games or use your computer intensively, battery will drain fast.

  11. What is the importance of using so little RAM when you have 2 GB (mora than many desktops) of it?

  12. Let us say, your operating system uses 1.8 GB RAM and of 2 GB RAM, won't your firefox will be left just 200 MB. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM and you will complain, your firefox is crashing. As much memory left, as much apps you can run. You can open 30 tabs in firefox if your OS just uses 100 MB RAM. Your eclipse editor or netbeans IDE will get more RAM if your OS uses less memory.

    When I use windows 7 in my desktop it uses 1 GB RAM to itself and if I open firefox, total RAM usage shoots to 1.5 GB RAM.

    If it is acceptable for you go ahead.

    Buddy, think, your OS is not for sucking memory, your OS is just a platform and it should give control to your applications. I think so

  13. Take another case, you are forced to run a GUI on a 256 MB RAM, windows XP will manage to run though it will struggle. You know for sure, your debian will run there!! won't it ?

    You can't bet the same on Ubuntu or some other OS

  14. Take another case. Apple iPad has just 256 MB RAM (from lots of internet sources, it says, iPad has 256 MB RAM) and they have your so called memory hungry OS, can they afford to sell it for 500 USD as they will be requiring atleast 1 GB RAM and it wud have costed another 100 to 200 USD extra

    No it all matters, how less RAM, OS uses. Since you or me have 2 GB RAM, does not always mean, apps or OS should be memory hungry