Installing Linux Mint on 256MB RAM without an alternative install CD (text based)

December 18, 2008 - 01:49
We recently had to install GNU/Linux on 40 computers at the regional Police Training College(PTC), Trivandrum. This was part of a Free Software Training Program that PTC is conducting currently for police personnel in Kerala. Zyxware was proudly part of this initiative both in training and in setting up GNU/Linux GNU/Linux on all 40 computers in the training lab. We had also prepared Linux Mint cds to be given to the trainees given their non-technical backgrounds.

Linux Mint is a very good distro for a first time GNU/Linux user as it comes pre-packaged with all what you want to get up and going. It is true that the distro actually packages proprietary codecs with the cd but that is something that we can enlighten the user about once they start using it. Linux Mint does not have an alternate installer like Ubuntu does and we were expecting at least 512MB in the machines.

However all the machines in the lab had only 256MB RAM each. The live CD booted fine but we could not get the installer up and going given the 256MB RAM. We had no other option and give this a shot by tweaking around the set of running programs. We finally got around to getting the installer up and going by doing the following

1) Taking out everything on the GNOME Panel including the Mint Menu. You can do this easily by right clicking on all icons and separators on the panel and clicking on 'Remove from Panel'

2) Open up a terminal and run the following
sudo bash
cd /etc/init.d/
./pulseaudio stop
./bluetooth stop
./cron stop
./cups stop
./networking stop
./NetworkManager stop
./samba stop
top

Once top opens up sort by memory usage and kill any of the following processes that are still alive

trackerd
cupsd
smbd
nm-applet
bluetooth
gvfsd-trash
gnome-screen-saver
gnome-power-manager

You can do this by pressing 'k' and then the process id of the process you wish to kill once inside top. You can send signal 9(to force) or 15 to kill the process.

Another thing you can do to speed up the process is to partition the disks using fdisk from the terminal, create a swap partition and then turn on the swap partition using swapon.

We had 20 discs with us and we completed the whole process within 3 hours using this hack. We had tried to install without this but it was taking forever for the installer to start and respond to the user inputs and we had several pseudo-freezes where the system wouldn't take any input at all.

Post your comments / questions

thanks for ur hack
we r unable to install mint becoz of this problem at Police hqrs