Solved! Reduce Linux memory usage

solidsnake1298

Senior member
Aug 7, 2009
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I recently installed Linux Mint on my Acer C720 chromebook, which no longer receives OS updates from Google.

I have the 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD model. Even while still running ChromeOS the 2GB of RAM was showing its limitations.

But now that I have Mint running I was wondering what my options are for reducing OS memory usage. Mint does not advertise itself as a "light weight" Linux distro and I was wondering what makes a distro "light weight". Do they use different GUIs? Do they turn off certain services or features? Or light weight variants of those services or features? All or some combination of the above?
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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This was my recommendation for the OP to try Mint Xfce, but it appeared twice, so I edited the second post. But something is wrong, both posts got edited. I don't know if everyone else is seeing two identical posts, or just me...
 
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crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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This was my recommendation for the OP to try Mint Xfce, but it appeared twice, so I edited the second post. But something is wrong, both posts got edited. I don't know if everyone else is seeing two identical posts, or just me...
 
Last edited:

solidsnake1298

Senior member
Aug 7, 2009
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Woooow. Just switching to Xfce made a huge difference. So much more responsive. But it has been a pain to install all the packages to do simple things like display the battery charge level and adjust display brightness. Ah, the joys of Linux.

Thanks, though. I will figure out all the packages I need to install to regain the needed functionality.
 
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crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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Yeah, when I looked at the specs of your Chromebook, especially at the images of the hardware which shows the DRAM soldered to the motherboard, it was clear that you would be better off with a lighter weight desktop instead of trying to customize Cinnamon. My first thought was that 2GB is not enough for a modern OS, and that you should add a stick of RAM. Ha!
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
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Conky is a lightweight 'displayer of things'. You kind of have to set it up yourself, but there's a lot of configs around the web to give you a head start, even if they aren't perfect for your use.

Xfce should have everything essential as a panel option though. Might not be installed as default. Search your package manager for "xfce", and see if anything looks interesting.
 

senturion

Junior Member
Jun 12, 2021
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If you like docks like what Gnome presents, you could install Plank. It is easy on RAM and works great with XFCE. My favorite setup was Manjaro XFCE edition. XFCE is the best desktop environment for RAM and ease of use. I remember having to install several apps as well - like the battery plugin for XFCE panels, bluez plugin (for bluetooth), sticky notes, etc.
 

damian101

Senior member
Aug 11, 2020
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Cinnamon, the default desktop environment for Linux Mint probably uses more memory than any other Linux desktop environment.
The least memory is used by LXQt. KDE Plasma also uses astonishingly little RAM, even less than Xfce according to some more recent tests.
 

amd6502

Senior member
Apr 21, 2017
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My first thought was that 2GB is not enough for a modern OS, and that you should add a stick of RAM. Ha!
I think it's ridiculously little. Even many telephones have more RAM. Your standard Rasperries have about that much, which is a big limitation. Older branches of the linix kernel seem to be much less bloaty (and hence also generally more secure, assuming branch is updated). I don't know if chromebooks are somehow locked down or proprietary in booting from the bios, but I would see if you can get AntiX a try; it's still running a 4.* kernel which avoids the U-ring open sores bloat and security concern of the > 5.0 kernels.
 

fralexandr

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Apr 26, 2007
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This was my recommendation for the OP to try Mint Xfce, but it appeared twice, so I edited the second post. But something is wrong, both posts got edited. I don't know if everyone else is seeing two identical posts, or just me...
It's the same post. When your post is marked as the best answer by the thread creator it's also shown right after post #1 so that people with similar questions can see the marked answer right after the question. Since you were post #2 it looks sort of like a duplicate post.
 
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solidsnake1298

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Aug 7, 2009
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.....

I don't know if chromebooks are somehow locked down or proprietary in booting from the bios, but I would see if you can get AntiX a try; it's still running a 4.* kernel which avoids the U-ring open sores bloat and security concern of the > 5.0 kernels.
Chromebooks are locked down with their stock BIOS. But there are custom BIOS written for many Chromebook models that "jail break" them and allow for other OS installs. Which is how I now have Mint Linux running with the XFCE desktop environment running on my old Acer C720 Chromebook.
 
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CU

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Aug 14, 2000
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Chromebooks are locked down with their stock BIOS. But there are custom BIOS written for many Chromebook models that "jail break" them and allow for other OS installs. Which is how I now have Mint Linux running with the XFCE desktop environment running on my old Acer C720 Chromebook.
I have an old Acer C720 that we still use for basic web stuff. How hard was it to put Mint w/ XFCE on it? I haven't really looked into it, but if you have a link to the howto you followed that would be nice to have. Thanks.
 

solidsnake1298

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Aug 7, 2009
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Give me a day or two. I have to scrub through my browser history from a couple months ago to re-trace my steps because finding RECENT instructions was not a simple task.

What I do remember of the general process is as follows:

1. Backup any locally stored files
2. Enter developer mode (wipes out all local files and accounts)
3. Enter Linux bash shell
4. Enable debug mode and disable software write protect
5. Power off
6. Remove bottom panel and remove "write protect screw". It is a literal physical screw.
7. Boot back into ChromeOS and install custom BIOS.
8. On a Windows PC, download a Linux ISO and write it to a USB drive or SD card.
9. Power off chromebook.
10. Plug in USB drive/SD card with linux ISO, boot up, enter BIOS, boot from USB drive.
11. Install Linux (recommend XFCE desktop environment).
 
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amd6502

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Apr 21, 2017
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That is a bit of work, but great that the chromebook hacker community has managed to make it possible for people to stretch their hardware to the max. Even a low end machine can be very practical to have for extra specialized uses and another spare system laying around. Give antix a shot; depending on whether it supports your hardware, it could be total hit or total miss (for me I could not get the latest 2021 antix to support the newer iGPU, nor my usb mouse), but it still is good as a virtual box system.
 

solidsnake1298

Senior member
Aug 7, 2009
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6 month update. I've opted to switch to CloudReady Chromium OS. Xfce on Mint Linux definitely helped but it was still slower than I would like. I found that I wasn't using my old Chromebook as much. Once I switched to CloudReady, the laptop was much snappier and I found I wasn't avoiding using the laptop anymore.
 
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