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Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 05:27
by asifnaz
Debian LXQT is running very slow on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM . In 2010 I could use Debian Gnome 2 on same hardware very well .
Why its been bloated over these years .
Any Suggestions

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 06:37
by Deb-fan
Just the same old suggestions, profile the system with "systemd-analyze blame" and similar, disable unneeded services, substitute lighter weight alternatives for any apps/progs possible, recently put a how-to up in the Tips, tricks section related to using the links2 browser in cli-mode along with terminator, thing isn't just ridiculously light and fast, actually getting to where I now prefer using this arrangement over Firefox, mpv is a really kickbutt media player, are lighter too someone can still go lighter than lxqt, I wuv Openbox, do a bare minimal netinstall and get rid of bloat, chuff and overhead everywhere possible, lower swappiness to 10. Use a 32bit version if you aren't already ... If setup right someone can still barely get away with a fairly full featured Debian install on 512mbs and a single core, it's pushing it though. A person would have to be mindful of how they're using it, can't be trying to do much multitasking if graphical tools are involved esp. To a big extent it'd be living in command-line on such a system. Which hey, gnu/Nix has amazing cli programs for pretty much everything imaginable.

Done that way, 512mbs could still work decently. That type of hardware is ancient by current standards, software developers are not designing for 10yr old pc's, they're focusing on todays avg hardware spec's. People can't expect the open source world to stay 10yrs behind because they don't or can't upgrade their hardware to something more reasonable. All this awesome software, gnu/Linux, everything else open source are basically gifts to all of us. End of the day, it's up to each of us to make it work and learn to use it all. There are also distro's which specifically cater to that niche "old hardware" and distro's better suited to that usecase if you won't or can't get Debian trimmed down, check distrowatch for them. Jmo ... but for a comfortable experience all the way around with a fair amount of gui(gooey) software running on it, have now started believing minimum is 1gb-RAM. My system is ancient too, thing still has 4gbs and a dual-core though. The way I prefer setting up a Debian OS, could get by on 512mbs. Everything would mostly have to be command-line.

Curious what's your output for the "free -m" command on that pc ? The "uptime" command ?

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 06:47
by sickpig
asifnaz wrote:Debian LXQT is running very slow on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM . In 2010 I could use Debian Gnome 2 on same hardware very well .
Why its been bloated over these years .


They launched spaceship on the processing/memory capacity of a calculator. So go figure.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 14:05
by Hallvor
You need a hardware upgrade.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 15:21
by LE_746F6D617A7A69
Deb-fan wrote:That type of hardware is ancient by current standards, software developers are not designing for 10yr old pc's
... actually it's 15-19 years old, depending on the CPU model - it's a dinosaur ;)

@ asifnaz
I think that the main problem is low RAM capacity - what is the swap usage? (check the output of free -m command).
If You could add another 512MB module, or better buy a 2x1GB kit (if the chipset supports such modules), the system will work much faster (the SDRAM and DDR1 modules are still available on e-bay, and they are quite cheap).
Another problem can be the HDD - You should check the SMART report and run extended self-test (using GNOME Disks or smartctl)

But anyway, it's amazing that Debian can still run on such old HW - try that with win10 - probably it won't even boot :lol:

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-07 19:36
by Head_on_a_Stick
Alpine Linux & OpenBSD are both less resource-intensive than Debian. Use a simple window manager rather than a full desktop environment (OpenBSD has several in the base system and Alpine works well with sway) and don't bother with a graphical browser, the internet is too bloated for 512MiB of RAM.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-08 04:25
by asifnaz
LE_746F6D617A7A69 wrote:
Deb-fan wrote:That type of hardware is ancient by current standards, software developers are not designing for 10yr old pc's
... actually it's 15-19 years old, depending on the CPU model - it's a dinosaur ;)

@ asifnaz
I think that the main problem is low RAM capacity - what is the swap usage? (check the output of free -m command).
If You could add another 512MB module, or better buy a 2x1GB kit (if the chipset supports such modules), the system will work much faster (the SDRAM and DDR1 modules are still available on e-bay, and they are quite cheap).
Another problem can be the HDD - You should check the SMART report and run extended self-test (using GNOME Disks or smartctl)

But anyway, it's amazing that Debian can still run on such old HW - try that with win10 - probably it won't even boot :lol:


You are right it is 16 years old computer . :D .I have doubled the RAM and now its running smoothly .I have created the SWAP partition of 1 GB .

Another question . Debian boots to commandd line and I have to write my username and password . After that I have to give command
Code: Select all
startx
to boot into GUI . how to solve the issue

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-08 09:20
by arochester
The startx method is not a great hardship. Some people use it all the time.

Either
Install a Desktop Manager (dm)
Something lightweight like slim (available from Repository)
where you will still have to input username and password.

Or
Enable autologin
If you are sole user
when you will NOT have to input anything.

Look at e.g. https://vitux.com/how-to-enable-disable ... s%20option.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-08 10:19
by sickpig
asifnaz wrote: to boot into GUI . how to solve the issue

Code: Select all
echo "[ "$(tty)" = "/dev/tty1" ] && exec startx" >> ~/.profile

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-08 20:49
by Deb-fan
Here comes a monster, mostly pointless post, but typed it, so posting it ... enjoy. :D

Want to comment a bit more, that's one thing about minimal gnu/Nix that's been bugging me, modern browsers have gotten a tad ridiculous in terms of the resources they use, in many ways totally understandable, as again .. they aren't developing for a time when the avg user of their software is restricted to 512mbs + single proc anymore. So they develop the browsers they put out to use more resources, add features, multi-threaded/process-core and can clearly be very beneficial.

Though Firefox and am assuming Chrome/ium can also be tuned to a ridiculous extent, can be config'ed to be much lighter/faster. If someone were to setup a minimal profile to use with FF, disable auto-image load, javascript, tuned general settings etc could still be a candidate on really low-spec too, there's also numerous forks of FF and has to be same for based on Chrome's which no doubt are lighter regarding sys-overhead. I just prefer actual FF directly from Mozilla or the actual code having come from Mozilla. They are pros when it comes to web browsers and all that's involved in that field. Been dealing with developing a very popular web browser for a long time. I trust their ability/judgement. Not so much a small team of hobbists playing browser maker, maintaining whatever forks ...

Links2 + xterm could be a dang fine solution for low-spec hardware and several other circumstances, like being on a crappy internet connection or worse an expensive + crappy metered connection etc. Didn't really focus on it, as am way more intrigued by the links2 cli-mode + terminator thing I've been playing with. There's no shortage of open source developers and projs which aren't going with the hey, the system resources are there, why not, let's use ALL of them outlook. That's of course in all things Nix, the sheer number of amazing tools is mind-numbing, including what can be done with browsers.

Also to point out the obvious, though the braindead FUDinista's will endlessly whine and give dire warnings of disaster and certain doom about using dated software, the whole it's no longer getting bug/sec fixes, blahblahblah. Great software doesn't stop being great because new versions with higher version numbers come out, all those previous Debian iso's + assoc software pkgs are still archived and available for use indefinitely, as are all the former versions of FF, Mozilla maintains an online archive. All that software is still awesome, still accessible, still available freely and would run great for as long as whomever chose to use it. Provided they apply some common sense. Hades ... there's still gazillions of people running WinXP, still works great for them and can/will for a long time to come. That even more so applies to gnu/Linux ... Many more options, better quality software etc etc.

When Stretch or whichever goes EOL, my OS is not going to look online and go, Oh ... I'm declared end-of-life, sorry going to stop being awesome and running great now, it's been fun dude, BINK ... stops working. Could honestly keep using Stretch for many, many years after EOL no problemo or even install something from further back and the same thing. Remember having a #!(Crunchbang)Statler install(which was based on Debian Squeeze)idled at 38mbs-RAM, had whatever was latest FF at the time and could open 70tabs and still not be touching swap on a 512mb-mem, P4(single-core) Dell desktop, thing blazed and could still fairly easily recreate it and such a setup would blaze indefinitely. Noted time and again, when someone tells you almost anything is impossible with tech, often means they just don't know how to do it, never tried, not uncommon for the same with the OMG you shouldn't do this-that, you can't do that crowd, they simply don't know what they're talking about or are referencing materials which were provided by someone else whom also had no idea what they're talking about. While of course sometimes they're right too. The devil as they say is in the details and YMMV. Use your brain ...

Again... someone can't expect Debian to design it's stable release in such a way as it'd be less user friendly for 99.993% of users which have more current avg spec'ed systems to benefit that tiny minority stuck with a single core, 512mb-mem pc, that's clearly why they've made the netinstall iso's available. So somebody whose willing to learn, invest effort etc, can tailor a Debian install to be anything they want, including an OS which could run great on an ancient system too.

Someone isn't willing to devote time/effort, learn what's possible with Debian gnu/nix ... then yeah, use one of the gazillion niche distro's who try to do xyz thing for users. Plenty of amazing distro's out there too.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-10 00:52
by Deb-fan
More random observations related to this or even just gnu/Nix in general.

Would custom compile a kernel for such a system, compile out chuff someone doesn't need or plan to use, cook much of the hardware support into the kernel. Just generally slim it down and make it faster. Are also kernel's more appropriate to such a system in the stock repo's, someone should use them.

Might explore reclaiming shared video memory, though doubt there's much to reclaim there, it's fairly small on this old dinosaur laptop but if every MB-RAM counted, would still check it out and fiddle with it.

Another thought, choice of filesystem, they have different strengths/weaknesses, think remember JFS is the kindest in terms of cpu overhead, however someone could also go the other way, btrfs with compression enabled, means more core-overhead and no doubt tad more memory used for de/compression but also means faster disk i/o operations, thus should be better overall performance on a dated mechanical drive and setup properly even a single core system's cpu should be staying idle majority of the time anyway. That means extra processor headroom, why not use some of it to boost performance etc. :)

Something like systemd-networkd + wpa_supplicant for managing networking too but that's already covered as noted in former posts for substituting mucho lighter( I think better) alternatives for bloatware. Oops, though honestly can't say Gnome's network-manager isn't kickbutt too, only that there's much lighter alternatives to it available.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-10 12:05
by metreo
I think MXLinux under Fluxbox is quite a light distribution these days.
Unfortunately I've experienced installer errors which makes it unusable for me.
I do wish there were more options for really nice minimalist builds but they
don't seem to be all that popular.

Re: Running Debian LXQT on Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM

PostPosted: 2020-10-10 22:52
by Deb-fan
^ Ask on the Mx forum, seems fairly active and nice enough people over there. :)

The thing about wishing there were more, no shortage, someone does have to go looking though(hint: distrowatch.) Then the next problem faced, they'll have to wade through them to figure out which they like the most and don't be surprised if they wind up with 4-6-10 vm's or multiboot partitions. :D