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Best OSs with low RAM usage?

I am soon going to buy a single-board computer, but I don't know if I should get a 4 GB RAM Raspberry Pi 4 B (it's 250 usd in my country 😞) or a 1 GB RAM Orange Pi PC2 for just 65 usd. If there's an OS that can run decently with 1 GB RAM and supports Orange Pi PC2, then it would be unnecesary for me to get the Raspberry Pi 4 B. So, can you guys recommend me some low RAM usage OSs?

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Your options are limited due to SoC on those devices. Armbian with GUI will easily saturate 1G ram. Your safest bet is Armbian and XFCE (dont expect your experience to be even 1% nice on OrangePi devices though).


That being said, I never used GUI on any of my SBCs because they are not great as full on computers and in that case even 512mb ram is enough.

mY s YsTeM iS Not pErfoRmInG aS gOOd As I sAW oN yOuTuBe. WhA t IS a GoOd FaN CuRVe??!!? wHat aRe tEh GoOd OvERclok SeTTinGS FoR My CaRd??
 HoW CaN I foRcE my GpU to uSe 1o0%? BuT WiLL i HaVE Bo0tllEnEcKs? RyZEN dOeS NoT peRfORm BetTer wItH HiGhER sPEED RaM!!dId i WiN teH SiLiCON LotTerrYyOu ShoUlD dEsHrOuD uR GPUmy SYstEm iS UNDerPerforMiNg iN WarzONEcan mY Pc Run WiNdOwS 11 ?woUld BaKInG MY GRaPHics card fIX it?
 MultimETeR TeSTiNG!! aMd'S GpU DrIvErS aRe as goOD aS NviDia's YOU SHoUlD oVERCloCk yOUR ramS To 5000C18


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Does it need to be a single-board computer?


Can you get a used full desktop computer for the same price or less than the Pi 4?

Dell owns my soul.

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What do you want to do on it? that might give us some scope for trying to help.


Eg running dockers.


I personally am using an Rpi 2GB with armbian and OMV.... It runs really well, I am using a 5TB USB 3.0 drive for storage, and running the OS on microSD (OMV has some settings for not blasting the flash cards and killing them). Have got plex and a few NZB dockers running on there, and trying others on there too... I'm impressed with how well everything runs on there.

I am waiting for the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W to come back in stock, or newer model if stock continues to be a problem for longer than I hope.


Here's my dashboard of OMV, it's idle at the moment as I am not actively using plex or anything, but the dockers are still running and ready.


I'm using just over half of the memory, and using dockers for what I need is a great way of keeping that memory usage down.



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Void Linux uses about a 3rd of the RAM my Arch  system does, and it supports ARM. Though Void isn't exactly a newb friendly distro. Probably not what you'll end up going with, but it's the lightest ARM suppoted distro that I know of.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you don't run GUI you'll save some RAM. There are also most probably some processes that you don't need and can kill/disable.

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So Linux can be setup to be the lightest OS, to make a truely usable system though on a Orange i your gonna have problems the moment you open a web browser (the Pi not so much, but it'll still be a bit slow).


So here the solution for you.

1. Dont use Xorg, run a wayland compositor if you can. This is because wayland and it's compositors are actuslly more lightweight than even Xorg with a window manager. The tradeoff is... wayland (reference this website for wayland tools).

2. Dont use a web browser as fully features as firefox or chrome/chromium (avoid this one in particular) instead use something like midori or even epiphany.

3. Lean to use the terminal for basic file management and such. This is because the terminal is the lowest level experience the average user gets and as a result it will be faster on a system like this. You can use a GUI file manager, but unless its somehting like pcmanfm, or thunar you'll have some trouble. Honestly for every GUI application, theres 3+ terminal solutions to do the same thing more predictably (NOT more efficiently like some others might claim).

4. Use a DIY distro, liek Arch, gentoo (maybe not this one though), Armbian, and Void. This is because distros like Ubuntu package a lot of tools into the base image that are either server focused, or more or less straight up bloatware thats not needed on a constrained system.

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