Only 500 MHz and 256 MB of RAM

Can OpenSUSE work on a laptop with only a 500 MHz processor and 256 MB of RAM? A minimal Ubuntu with GNOME installation runs at a reasonable speed on such an ancient computer even though the full installation is too heavy. (The process involves starting off with a command line only installation and adding just the necessary packages.)

Is there such a thing as a minimal, stripped-down OpenSUSE installation?

RAM is the main problem you face. You could get used to the slowness if you don’t run many graphics rich programs. You could try the xfce desktop instead of KDE or GNOME. You’d have to install from the DVD, there won’t be much chance of starting the Live CD with so little RAM. Which may make it more difficult if you don’t have a DVD. But then you can do a net install from another machine with a DVD drive.

jhsu802701 wrote:
> Can OpenSUSE work on a laptop with only a 500 MHz processor and 256 MB
> of RAM?

if i were you, i’d give this a try:

SOAD (SuSE On Active Diet), Possibly the most light weight LiveCD
based on openSUSE 11.1, is a Russian effort using an “Enlightenment”
windowing environment. Enlightentment is more light weight than KDE,
Gnome or XFCE. Read/download from here:

but, back to your question…it is already well answered by ‘ken
yap’…i can only add that if you wish to run in that old low powered
machine you probably need to pick a distro crafted with older hardware
in mind (i mean, would you try to run Vista/Win7 on that machine? you
do know, don’t you that openSUSE 11.2 is NEWER than both of those
Redmond offering, yes 11.2 needs less machine, but still!!):

i’ve not actually run any of these more than a few minutes, but i hear
they might do what you need:

-SliTaz <> When it runs, the 25 MB compressed CD
image expands to about 80 MB, so any computer with 128 MB of RAM will
be able to load it fully into memory, ensuring blazing fast program


An update, note SOAD is available now for openSUSE-11.2.

In addition to SOAD which is lightweight and should run reasonable well on a PC with only 256MB of RAM, there is also the installable light weight LXDE live CD which will run well on only 256MB of RAM. Currently while SOAD is available for openSUSE-11.2, note LXDE is only available for openSUSE-11.1 but an 11.2 version is being worked on. More on LXDE here: openSUSE Lizards » openSUSE-LXDE Live CD 1.0.0 and to download Downloads –

For both SOAD and LXDE, you may need install from a TEXT mode. I can’t recall the exact menu selection, … you likley press F3 upon the initial installation boot menu which will take you to a text login , then at that login

  • in SOAD log in as “linux” and enter “soad” (no quotes) for password, and type “su” and enter “soad” (no quotes) for password
  • in LXDE log in as “linux” and press <enter> for password, and type “su” and press <enter> for password
    and in both cases then type “yast” (no quotes) and use the arrow key and the tab key to navigate to “miscellaneous/misc” and then select “installation” option from there.

Your 512MB is within the openSUSE minimal guidelines for KDE or Gnome, but I think your 500MHz is a bit too slow for KDE/Gnome and hence LXDE and/or SOAD are reasonable alternatives. Note they will NOT have the eye candy nor user friendliness of KDE/Gnome.

Another distro you could consider is Crunchbang Linux, which is Ubuntu with GNOME replaced by openbox, the window manager used in LXDE. What you have to give up is fancy icons for starting programs, and get used to keyboard shortcuts. It will run fine in about 128-192MB RAM. I had one on a netbook for a couple of months and it was adequate. I used Chromium instead of Firefox, much zippier. However, like me you will find the CPU busy a lot of the time running the windowing system, my netbook had a 900MHz CPU and you have an even slower one.

Remember that if your hardware is limited you just have to scale your expectations down.

I have an old HP, 450 MHz Celeron, 256 MB, managed to do a text install from a LXDE Live-CD. It ran, but the lap’s battery went berserk last week, it fails after 10 minutes, blocks all electricity. Bit of a waste of time.

I really like Zenwalk as well - might be worth a look.

It’s slackware based, and very quick. Known to work on 128 meg of ram, according to their website.

Try taking the battery out. It might run fine on the adapter power and what’s more the dead battery won’t eat any more power. If it blows up, well, you haven’t lost anything, have you? :wink:

I’m typing right now on an old laptop with a 1.2GHz processor and 256MB RAM running as a thin client. Power consumption is 17W. I might be able to lower it a bit more if I open it up and disconnect the flaky DVD drive.

Have hacksaw will netbook, as they say… :stuck_out_tongue:

But sometimes a networking computer gets turned into a notworking computer. lol!

The laptop does not power up at all without the battery. It used to, but this is broken now too. The thing originally was given to me for experimenting with laptop disassembly. Maybe that will bring some solution, though I consider it as wasted, broken, end of machine.


Especially important that you remember to unplug it first.

i’ve just run across another small distro (found in Linux Format
Magazine #128, February 2010, page 12):

Tiny Core Linux is for those who think Puppy Linux is too heavy. Just
10MB it includes a 2.6 kernel and graphics by the Fast Light Window
Manager. Includes software from the BusyBox bundle. If 10MB is too
much you can go to Micro Core which is under 6 MB.


I Have run 11.2 with KDE3 with no issues with 256MB ram. I wouldn’t recommend KDE4

I have a Celeron Coppermine running at about 950MHz with 256 MB of RAM. It is running 11.3 with KDE 4.4 RC1. I have done zypper dup on it since around 11.0 since I can no longer install openSuse from a live CD (no DVD). Can’t remember the last time I tried a net install.

Anyway, it is about at the end of its rope. It surfs ok and does word processing but screen redraws are the tell-tale sign that it can’t take anymore. Still, if it was my only computer, I could use it. I have been thinking about a RAM upgrade just to see what happens. But, I don’t use it for anything much except to see if it runs. So, 50 bucks is more than my curiosity is worth. :wink:

Note the SuSE On Active Diet (SOAD) project provides both LiveCD and USB-stick images. USB should have a minimum capacity of 1Gb.

Dependant on your PC’s BIOS and USB interface, you “may” be able to install SOAD, which with the Enlightenment desktop should run fast on your PC.


LimeJeos also seems to offer some liteweight possibilities. Haven’t tried it yet. In the middle of getting an old box working as a router, so might. But if Soad or opensuse minimal desktop is easier, I’ll do them 1st.

I’m running a desktop, but here are my machine stats:

Processor(CPU): Pentium II (Deshutes)
Speed: 350.78 MHz

Total memory (RAM): 245.6 MiB

OS: Linux i686
System: openSUSE 11.2 (i586)
KDE: 4.3.5 (KDE 4.3.5) “release 0”

Display Info

Vendor: nVidia Corporation
Model: GeForce2 MX/MX 400
Driver: nv

My machine is a dual-processor machine, but that doesn’t mean my combined 350 MHz x 2 processors is faster than your single 500 MHz.

I installed the nVidia driver and it’s faster than the generic “nv”, but Sys Info still reports “nv” as the Driver.

Speed: Tolerable. Works fine for email with Evolution, web browsing with Firefox 3.6, light image processing with Gimp, and accounting with GnuCash. YouTube stutters like crazy, though mplayer of local files is smooth.

I installed using the full graphical interface and it was fine. The system is completely up-to-date thanks to the new YaST which updates in minutes versus hours(!) with the 10.x YaST releases on my machine.

The machine is about 10 years old now, with only replacements of the power supply and lithium battery. I slowly added CD, DVD, SCSI, ethernet, and USB 2.0 over the years to keep it useful.

I have to say that my netbook, an ASUS 1410, is spoiling me with its speed, so I’m thinking of upgrading… but this machine still works really well.

Doncha hate the waste? It has always bugged me, but, <sigh> oh, well - life goes on!