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I was wondering how much software needs to be added to the kernel before you have a working OS. As in, for example, how much do you have to do ...
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  1. #1
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    Kernel -> OS?


    I was wondering how much software needs to be added to the kernel before you have a working OS. As in, for example, how much do you have to do if you want to just have a minimal desktop enviroment? Surely it's not as simple as just adding GNOME or simmilar to the kernel.
    And where can I go to research more on this?

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    oz
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    That would really depend on what functions or tasks you'd need from the OS as an end user. You can look at some of the current mini distros to see what they include to get some idea of what others are doing.

    Mini Linux - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    I wasn't refering to functionality, (though that would be a good idea later), but I want to get an idea of what it takes to get a bare bones OS, from the kernel and GUI. Like, is it possible to install (though admittedly it would be command line only with little use) the compiled kernel from a CD?

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    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    The kernel as I understand it is basically low level software that handles system resources, ie, process management, memory management, and device management.

    On it's own, it doesn't do much, until another program calls on its functions. The operating system, as we think of it, is all the software on top of the kernel that utilizes its abilities and asks it to do things. For the linux kernel, enter the GNU operating system, which includes all that basic stuff like the bash shell, GCC compiler, all the core commands like ls, chmod, chown, cat, etc.., as well the bootloader GRUB. List of GNU packages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    To have a graphical environment, you of course need software to provide it. In linux, most commonly this is the X window system, but there are other options. X just provides the basic framework for drawing and moving windows on the screen, and interacting with a mouse and keyboard. On top of X, you have the window manager, such as plasma in KDE or metacity in GNOME, which deal with the appearance and placement of windows, including buttons, menus, titlebars, etc.

    The GNU Operating System

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    Linux Engineer Segfault's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
    X just provides the basic framework for drawing and moving windows on the screen, and interacting with a mouse and keyboard. On top of X, you have the window manager ...
    Have you tried running an app, say Firefox, without a WM? There will be Firefox, but no 'moving windows'.

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    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segfault View Post
    Have you tried running an app, say Firefox, without a WM? There will be Firefox, but no 'moving windows'.
    What I mean is, X provides the framework and API that allow client programs, such as window managers, to draw and move windows, not that X itself has a specification on how to draw and move windows.

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    I think I'll try putting GNOME, X, and the GNU packages in with the kernel and compile it.
    Actually, how do you compile the kernel? And what're the minimum specs, because my desktop is fairly bad at current.

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    oz
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    I don't compile my own kernels anymore but back when I did, this kernel build HowTo always worked very well for me:

    http://www.digitalhermit.com/linux/K...ild-HOWTO.html
    oz

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    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
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    Her is another Guide for installing Kernels, you can never be too prepared. Good Luck.
    Compiling the Linux 2.6 Kernel from Scratch - Associated Content
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    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muscovy View Post
    I think I'll try putting GNOME, X, and the GNU packages in with the kernel and compile it.
    Actually, how do you compile the kernel? And what're the minimum specs, because my desktop is fairly bad at current.
    How bad? The system resource barriers you're likely to run into are first X and then moreso GNOME. I personally wouldn't want to run GNOME with anything less than 512 MB RAM.

    For low spec systems you'd be better off going with just a window manager, or using LXDE. And once you get used to using lightweight environments, you might never go back to GNOME or KDE.

    I use openbox on my main laptop with 3 GB RAM and a T5550 Core 2 Duo processor. It flies and now using GNOME or KDE feels like slogging through mud. This is a fairly "heavy" install with a fair number of services running and currently, I'm topping out at 404 MB of memory usage according to htop, and about 1/3 of that Firefox. At rest its usually 200-300 MB.

    My Dell Mini 9 has a light install with few services running, and pekwm window manager, and I generally use around 92-95 MB RAM.

    Both are running Arch Linux.

    I have a desktop computer with Ubuntu on it, running GNOME, and currently with nothing open, it's sitting at 461 MB RAM.

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