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Live CD for Low-RAM Systems

The minimum RAM requirement for the SliTaz core Live CD is 160MB (128MB for 1.0). Many graphical applications won't run with such a low amount of memory; so, using the text-mode screen=text boot option is recommended.

The packages slitaz-loram, slitaz-loram-http or slitaz-loram-cdrom can be used to build a LiveCD for systems with RAM larger than 64MB, 32Mb or 24MB respectively. These can be installed directly on the host system, rather than specified in the packages list for the LiveCD you are building.

  • slitaz-loram will compress the /usr tree and the system will still run in RAM. It will not use a cdrom, harddisk or USB key
  • slitaz-loram-http will get the /usr tree from an iso image stored in built using slitaz-loram-cdrom, and pass the 'tiny' keyword while booting from the web
  • slitaz-loram-cdrom will move the /usr tree onto the cdrom

/usr will be read-only. If the package funionfs or aufs is installed you will have read-write access to /usr.

These packages patch /etc/init.d/rcS to mount /usr and install two scripts in /etc/tazlito:

  • loram.rootfs is called by tazlito gen-distro to compress or move /usr
  • loram.extract is called by the slitaz-installer to uncompress or move /usr and install the same distribution as the SliTaz core LiveCD

Let's build a slitaz-loram-cdrom.iso !


We boot the LiveCD and install the slitaz-loram-cdrom package:

 # tazpkg get-install slitaz-loram-cdrom 

tazlito gen-distro will then create an ISO with the packages listed in /etc/tazlito/distro-packages.list or ./distro-packages.list. Since some more packages are installed, we remove these files to force tazlito to use all of the installed packages.

 # rm -f /etc/tazlito/distro-packages.list ./distro-packages.list 

Now we can build the iso image…

 # tazlito gen-distro 

…and burn it.

# wodim dev=1,0,0 /home/slitaz/distro/slitaz-hacked.iso 

Variations of slitaz-loram & slitaz-loram-cdrom

slitaz-loram compresses /usr with cromfs by default, which gives a higher compression ratio but is very slow. You can use squashfs instead:

  • refuse to install cromfs during the slitaz-loram installation
 # yes n | tazpkg get-install slitaz-loram 
  • install squashfs with its dependencies
 # yes y | tazpkg get-install squashfs 

slitaz-loram-cdrom moves /usr uncompressed to the cdrom and produces a 90MB iso. If you install cromfs or squashfs, /usr will be compressed on the LiveCD and the ISO size will be around 30 megabytes.

Let's build a slitaz-loram-cdrom-sqfs.iso!

Install the package slitaz-loram-cdrom and squashfs (sqfs) on the host system:

 # tazpkg get-install slitaz-loram-cdrom
 # yes y | tazpkg get-install squashfs

Now we repeat the latter points of the above process:

 # rm -f /etc/tazlito/distro-packages.list ./distro-packages.list
 # tazlito gen-distro
 # wodim dev=1,0,0 /home/slitaz/distro/slitaz-hacked.iso

slitaz-loram-cdrom and Large Memory Systems

When the slitaz-loram-cdrom LiveCD detects enough memory during boot, /usr is copied from the CD-ROM to RAM. You can eject and/or use the CD drive. The system behaves as a regular LiveCD in this case:

  • a slitaz LiveCD (/usr was not compressed on the cdrom)
  • a slitaz-loram LiveCD (/usr was compressed on the cdrom by squashfs or cromfs)

slitaz-loram-cdrom and Tiny Memory Systems

The boot command line is usually:

 boot: slitaz args... 

Slitaz boots on a 9MB RAM system with the boot command:

 boot: loram single root=/dev/hdc 

Where /dev/hdc is the CD-ROM device, the loram boot entry avoids RAM disk creation and CD-ROM detection.

Note that on a system with such a low amount of memory, the first thing to do is add swap!

You need 10MB to use the boot scripts with:

 boot: loram root=/dev/hdc 

In this case you can add arguments like kmap=, config=, etc.

slitaz-loram Auto-Extraction

Each slitaz-loram* flavor can be extracted into RAM at boot time (if enough memory is available) by using the boot argument extract-loram. You will get a core flavor running without read-only restrictions for /usr.

For example, assuming you boot the slitaz-loram-cdrom-sqfs:

 boot: slitaz extract-loram 

You will get:

  • /usr read-only squashfs on a CD-ROM with a smaller RAM size
  • /usr read-only squashfs in RAM with a medium RAM size (like slitaz-loram)
  • /usr read-write tmpfs in RAM with a larger RAM size (like slitaz-core)

Build a slitaz-loram with tazlitobox

Since SliTaz 3.0, you can now build a slitaz-loram LiveCD more easily:

  • launch tazlitobox
  • click on the Low RAM tab
  • select The filesystem is always in RAM (for slitaz-loram) or The filesystem may be on a CDROM (for slitaz-loram-cdrom)
  • fill the ISO input with your Slitaz flavor (3.0 or more recent)
  • update the ISO output
  • click build ISO

The filesystem root (/) is compressed (not /usr only) and mounted read-write thanks to the aufs package. The mount and df commands will show a strange output, handy to detect that this kind of loram is running.

You can also use the following command in text mode:

 # tazlito build-loram original.iso loram.iso


 # tazlito build-loram original.iso loram-cdrom.iso cdrom

Meta flavors are supported; you can loramize a slitaz-3in1.iso !

And what to do with only 8MB RAM?

Try Tiny Slitaz : !

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en/guides/lowramcd.txt · Last modified: 2011/05/19 10:34 by bellard