[Freedombox-discuss] On small programs

Alex Stapleton alexs at prol.etari.at
Wed Apr 20 08:00:10 UTC 2011

The main reason for smaller libraries is to save RAM. I think that even today a few hundred MB of SLC Flash and DRAM would not make the cost targets impossible and by the time a FB makes it to market...

E.g. I am currently working with an industrial ARM9 SCADA system with 64MB of RAM and 128MB of Flash and no swap. Most of the software it runs is written in standard CPython as shipped with Debian Lenny. It has SSH, Samba and Apache2 running mod_wsgi among other things. Its not at all tight on disk space although an extra 64 MB of RAM would be apreciated and only add a few pounds to the total cost. Or we could just and make some obvious low hanging optimisations.

I dont really think that the memory pressure will be high enough to make the use of embedded libraries a requirement unless you really want to fit everything on a cheap MIPS WiFi AP.

----- Original message -----
> It seems fairly obvious that we want the Freedom Box software
> to run on limited systems but to provide a range of functions.
> To what extent does that mean we should be aiming at
> making everything small? In particular, are their places
> where we should the smallest alternatives available rather
> than the usual choices? Does that even matter in the context
> of Debian, where the packages system offers many choices
> anyway?
> In some cases, aiming small would be a major change,
> for example using dietlibc (http://www.fefe.de/dietlibc/)
> rather than glibc or Minix (http://www.minix3.org/) rather
> than Linux. The size payoff might be large, but that is
> not entirely clear. The amount of work involved almost
> certainly would be substantial.
> In other cases, it is less of a disruption and more easily
> handled with the standard package utilities. Checking
> on my Ubuntu box, I see sendmail, postfix and qmail
> are available; for all I know, there are more. There
> are probably multiple web servers, certainly multiple
> borwsers, multiple databases, and so on.
> Do we need to think about which of these should be
> the defaults for an fbox server? My guess would
> be Linux with dietlibc used wherever possible, with
> one of the variants of djbdns, qmail and some
> tiny web server.
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