Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Slitaz Linux

Lately I've been looking for a distribution of Linux for the sole purpose of running Squeak / Pharo. Essentially it would be a single-application installation of Linux; only the Squeak VM would be running and nothing else is really needed.

Slitaz Linux is a Linux distro which is in total 30MB, which includes the LXDE desktop environment (my favourite) and a credible number of applications. I find that downright impressive. It runs entirely in RAM meaning that it is *very* responsive.

My Laptop is a Dell C640 from the 18th century; I replaced the hard disk with a CompactFlash card and installed Slitaz on it. I customized Slitaz by removing applications I wouldn't use, added Xorg for my hardware and generated a 20MB image. I also installed a "big" version of Slitaz as well which mounts the CF card for the root filesystem so I can run gcc etc.

Now I have a Squeak development machine with a 30 second boot time and insane reactivity.

There were issues. I needed to rebuild the Squeak VM without OpenGL support (because Slitaz doesn't include those libraries, and Squeak won't start without them). For future reference, I needed to install (from memory) gcc, binutils, linux-headers, cmake and xorg-dev. I also needed to modify the VM source to properly include dirent.h somewhere.