Minimum Memory for OpenSolaris ?

Dear Lazyweb,

Alec has been bugging me to try OpenSolaris with ZFS on something (a small laptop he suggested) but I’ve run into problems. My only spare box is an ancient Olivetti Netstrada, about 10 years old with 4 (yes, four) Pentium Pro 200MHz CPUs and a whopping (for its time) 256MB RAM.

Problem is that whilst Linux happily boots and runs on it the two OpenSolaris LiveCD’s I’ve tried (Nexenta and Belenix) both fail. Nexenta says that there’s not enough RAM to unpack the RAM disk (not surprising as their site says it needs 512MB to run) and the Belenix one just leaves the screen in a mess of pretty colours as soon as Grub tries to run the loaded kernel.

Solaris Kernel Crash on Olivetti Netstrada quad 200MHz PPro, 256MB RAM boat anchor

I then tried to boot the Nexenta install CD (they claim it can run in 256MB, though no mention of its installers needs) and got the same pretty pattern of colours when the kernel executed. 🙁

I do have one other PC, the only problem is that’s got even less RAM and the CD drive doesn’t appear to want to open any more, grrr..

6 thoughts on “Minimum Memory for OpenSolaris ?

  1. feedback from a mate who knows:

    why not try Solaris Express. IIRC 256Mb is the minimum for Solaris Express – if that doesn’t work it is a bug.

    The minimum for S10 FCS was 128 we bumped it up to 256 at U1 IIRC

    he will need to do a tty based install though rather than a gui one.

    Solaris Express is an OpenSolaris distribution too. it isn’t any secret what is closed source in Solaris Express; there really isn’t any more closed source in Solaris Express than what there would be in Belenix or Nexenta – a couple of drivers plus things like the IKE daemon if using IPsec.

    and Solaris Express has StarOffce vs OpenOffice.

  2. You could try using Solaris Express rather than Nexenta or Belenix. With Solaris Express I think you will be able to do a tty based install – you won’t get a GUI one but the questions are identical anyway. You should still be able to run X after the install, but like on any machine with only 256Mb RAM GNOME won’t be quick.

  3. I am running Nexenta Alpha 6 on Toshiba Satellite Pro 4280 laptop with Pentium III 500 MHz processor and 256 MB memory. I use BlackBox as a window manager and do small programming tasks with Eclipse 3.2 and JDK 1.5. Everything runs perfect.

  4. Alec, Darren – thanks for that, I’ll look into it when I’ve got some more time.

    I.N. – was there anything special you needed to do to get the installer to function in that amount of RAM ?

  5. Nothing special, I think. But I did have problems during install. I didn’t manage to do desktop install at once. Segmentation fault near the end,
    then brocken gdm and broken package dependencies. I can’t say if my laptop is to blame or install script self is broken or CD-RW isn’t good for reliable install. I had to do minimal install and then I installed X server manually. If you have network connection, you can do it easily with apt-get. I didn’t have it. I had to install X server manually from CD. Then I installed Blackbox from Nexenta website. Now I choose 1 or 2 punkt of boot menu and boot into command line with multi-user environment. Then I start X server manually with startx command. With alpha version I prefer to get running system step by step. So I can control the whole boot process. The whole system with X server and Blackbox occupies about 140 MB memory. So I have about 110 MB for Eclipse and Java VM. Opera 9.02 runs perfect too. I hope this helps.

  6. I tried Solaris Express CD#1 and I get exactly the same crash as with Belenix and the Nexenta Live CD – I’ve updated the original post with a screenshot of what it looks like. So according to Alec’s “mate who knows” this is a Solaris bug. 🙁

    I’ve checked the live CD’s on my main box (1GB RAM) and they boot OK, so it’s not that the CD’s themselves are corrupt. I also know that the machine itself is OK as I can happily boot the Ubuntu Edgy (6.10) live CD with the Linux 2.6.17 kernel.

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