2020 LiveCD Memory Usage Compare

Time for a 20.04 LTS LiveCD memory comparison with a bunch more distros. I last did one in 2016.

Using Lubuntu as an example base memory usage approximately doubled from 2016 (251M) to 2020 (585M). Those numbers aren't strictly comparable because I'm not using the exact same setup as in 16.04 and I enabled more modern features (virtio graphics, EUFI, 4 cores).

Memory usage compared (in G) 33300Elementary 5.1Endless 3.8Fedora 32KubuntuLubuntuManjaro 20.0.3 XFCEopenSUSE Leap 15.1Solus 4.1UbuntuUbuntu BudgieUbuntu MateXubuntu0.822.259000436946966356.3326446313486Clear 333000.869.95685851611904356.3326446313486Elementary 5.11117.6547165952911337.5288111415677Endless 3.81.25165.35257467446323314.02401927934153Fedora 320.8213.05043275363525356.3326446313486Kubuntu0.585260.7482908328073376.54676563286307Lubuntu0.9308.44614891197944346.93072788645816Manjaro 20.0.3 XFCE1.25356.14400699115146314.02401927934153openSUSE Leap 15.11403.84186507032354337.5288111415677Solus 4.11451.53972314949556337.5288111415677Ubuntu1499.2375812286677337.5288111415677Ubuntu Budgie0.9546.9354393078397346.93072788645816Ubuntu Mate0.6594.6332973870118375.1364781211295Xubuntu1.536.250372140170775290.51922741711536Clear 333001.2583.94823021934286314.02401927934153Elementary 5.11.5131.6460882985149290.51922741711536Endless 3.81.5179.34394637768705290.51922741711536Fedora 321.25227.04180445685907314.02401927934153Kubuntu0.7274.7396625360311365.73456137623907Lubuntu1.5322.43752061520325290.51922741711536Manjaro 20.0.3 XFCE1.75370.1353786943753267.0144355548892openSUSE Leap 15.11.5417.83323677354736290.51922741711536Solus 4.11.5465.5310948527194290.51922741711536Ubuntu1.5513.2289529318915290.51922741711536Ubuntu Budgie1.25560.9268110110635314.02401927934153Ubuntu Mate1.25608.6246690902356314.02401927934153Xubuntu1.7550.24174384339459267.0144355548892Clear 333001.7597.93960192256667267.0144355548892Elementary 5.11.75145.63746000173873267.0144355548892Endless 3.81.75193.33531808091084267.0144355548892Fedora 321.75241.03317616008286267.0144355548892Kubuntu0.9288.73103423925494346.93072788645816Lubuntu1.75336.4288923184271267.0144355548892Manjaro 20.0.3 XFCE2384.1267503975991243.50964369266302openSUSE Leap 15.11.75431.8246084767712267.0144355548892Solus 4.12.25479.5224665559432220.00485183043688Ubuntu2527.2203246351154243.50964369266302Ubuntu Budgie1.75574.9181827142874267.0144355548892Ubuntu Mate1.5622.6160407934594290.51922741711536XubuntuMemory usage compared (in G)Boots to DE that can start somethingBrowser load simple websiteYouTube plays Big Buck Bunny maximi…YouTube plays Big Buck Bunny maximized

Lubuntu is able to work with less at least partially because of Zram. The other distro that has Zram enabled is Endless, but they also use the Chromium browser which generally uses more memory than Firefox (also Elementary uses Ephipany). My guess is if Xubuntu enabled zram it's profile would more closely match Lubuntu.


  • Time limit for each applicaton launch is approximately 30 seconds.
  • Accuracy over 1G is by .25G increments. Under 1G, I tried to narrow it down to at least .1G.
  • Getting out of full screen on YouTube apparently is an intensive task. Dropped testing that.
  • Screen size was set to 1080p/60Hz.
  • Sample qemu line: qemu-system-x86_64 -enable-kvm -cdrom clear-33300-live-desktop.iso -smbios file=/usr/share/ovmf/OVMF.fd -m 1024M -smp 4 -cpu host -vga virtio --full-screen
  • All Ubuntu derivatives were from 20.04 LTS

Quick Rust Comparison

I've been wanting to try out Rust with something very simple as a first pass through the language.

Rust Impressions

Although I didn't do much with functions on this quick pass - I love the ability to not have the order of main in a program to matter.

Super helpful error messages. Here is an example:

warning: value assigned to `temp` is never read
 --> src/main.rs:4:13
4 |     let mut temp=0u32;
  |             ^^^^
  = note: `#[warn(unused_assignments)]` on by default
  = help: maybe it is overwritten before being read?

I know others have said this, but the Rust compiler feels like it was designed to help me code, rather than just throw errors.


I decided to write a simple unoptimized version of the fibonacci sequence. My goal was to take enough time to be noticable...

On my first pass:
  • Rust runs took 1m34seconds (using cargo run)
  • Python took more than 6 minutes
  • C got 7 seconds

Clearly I must have done something wrong...

It turns out that by default it has debug info and checks that slow Rust down. So a

cargo build --release

Then it was faster than C.. and I realized I need to turn off C\'s debug bits too with:

gcc -O2 -s -DNDEBUG to gcc helped. gcc  fib.c
The final results (all approximate):
  • Python: 6+ minutes.
  • C: 1.101s
  • Rust: .95sE

The Rust

fn main() {
    let mut previous=0u32;
    let mut current=1u32;
    let mut temp;
    let maxvalue = 2000000000u32;

    for _n in 0..2000000000 {
            if current >= maxvalue {
                previous=0; current=1;
        temp = current;
        current = previous + current;
        previous = temp;
    println!("{}", current);

The C

#include <stdio.h>
int main() {

    unsigned long int previous=0;
    unsigned long int current=1;
    unsigned long int temp;
    unsigned long int maxvalue = 2000000000;
    for ( int n=0; n < 2000000000; n++ ) {
        if (current >= maxvalue) {
                previous=0; current=1;
        temp = current;
        current = previous + current;
        previous = temp;
    printf("%lu", current);

The Python3

temp = 0;
maxvalue = 2000000000;

for n in range(2000000000):
    if current >= maxvalue:
        previous=0; current=1;
    temp = current;
    current = previous + current;
    previous = temp;

3 Malaysia MPEG-2 Patents left

With February 13th passing it would appear there are only 3 Malaysia patents left:

  • MY 128994 (possible expiration of 30 Mar 2022)
  • MY 141626-A (possible expiration of 31 May 2025)
  • MY-163465-A (possible expiration of 15 Sep 2032)

These two just expired:

  • MY 118734-A - Exp. Jan 31, 2020
  • PH 1-1995-50216 - Exp. Feb 13, 2020

I am very much not a patent lawyer, but my reading indicates all the 3 remaining are really all the same expired US Patent US5565923A with varying Grant dates causing to expire far in the future.

I've started a detailed tracker for those who want more details.

Hack Computer review

I bought a hack computer for $299 - it's designed for teaching 8+ year olds programming. That's not my intended use case, but I wanted to support a Linux pre-installed vendor with my purchase (I bought an OLPC back in the day in the buy-one give-one program).

I only use a laptop for company events, which are usually 2-4 weeks a year. Otherwise, I use my desktop. I would have bought a machine with Ubuntu pre-installed if I was looking for more of a daily driver.

The underlying specs of the ASUS Laptop E406MA they sell are:

Unboxing and first boot


Included was an:

  • introduction letter to parents
  • tips (more for kids)
  • 2 pages of hack stickers
  • 2 hack pins
  • ASUS manual bits
  • A USB to Ethernet adapter
  • and the laptop:

Laptop in sleeveLaptop out of sleevefirst open

First boot takes about 20 seconds. And you are then dropped into what I'm pretty sure is GNOME Initial Setup. They also ask on Wifi connections if they are metered or not.

first open

There are standard philips head screws on the bottom of the laptop, but it wasn't easy to remove the bottom and I didn't want to push - I've been told there is nothing user replaceable within.


The options I'd like change are there, and updating the BIOS was easy enough from the BIOS (although no LVFS support..).

bios ez modebios advanced

A kids take

Keep in mind this review is done by 6 year old, while the laptop is designed for an 8+ year old.

He liked playing the art game and ball game. The ball game is an intro to the hack content. The art game is just Krita - see the artwork below. First load needed some help, but got the hang of the symmetrical tool.

He was able to install an informational program about Football by himself, though he was hoping it was a game to play.

AAAAAmy favoritewater color


For target market: It's really the perfect first laptop (if you want to buy new) with what I would generally consider the right trade-offs. Given Endless OS's ability to have great content pre-installed, I may have tried to go for a 128 GB drive. Endless OS is setup to use zram which will minimize RAM issues as much as possible. The core paths are designed for kids, but some applications are definitely not. It will be automatically updating and improving over time. I can't evaluate the actual Hack content whose first year is free, but after that will be $10 a month.

For people who want a cheap Linux pre-installed laptop: I don't think you can do better than this for $299.


  • CPU really seems to be the best in this price range. A real Intel quad-core, but is cheap enough to have missed some of the vulnerabilities that have plagued Intel (no HT).
  • Battery life is great
  • A 1080p screen


  • RAM and disk sizes. Slow eMMC disk. Not upgrade-able.
  • Fingerprint reader doesn't work today (and that's not part of their goal with the machine, it defaults to no password)
  • For free software purists, Trisquel didn't have working wireless or trackpad. The included USB->Ethernet worked though.
  • Mouse can lack sensitivity at times
  • Ubuntu: I have had Wifi issues after suspend, but stopping and starting Wifi fixed them
  • Ubuntu: Boot times are slower than Endless
  • Ubuntu: Suspend sometimes loses the ability to play sound (gets stuck on headphones)

I do plan on investigating the issues above and see if I can fix any of them.

Using Ubuntu?

My recommendations:

  • Purge rsyslog (may speed up boot time and reduces unnecessary writes)
  • For this class of machine, I'd go deb only (remove snaps) and manual updating
  • Install zram-config
  • I'm currently running with Wayland and Chromium
  • If you don't want to use stock Ubuntu, I'd recommend Lubuntu.

Dive deeper

Stop changing the clocks

Florida, Tennessee, the EU and more are considering one timezone for the entire year - no more changing the clocks. Massachusetts had a group study the issue and recommend making the switch, but only if a majority of Northeast states decide to join them. I would like to see the NJ legislature vote to join them.

Interaction between countries would be helped by having one less factor that can impact collaboration. Below are two examples of ways this will help.

Meeting Times

Let's consider a meeting scheduled in EST with partipants from NJ, the EU, and Arizona.
NJ - normal disruption of changing times, but the clock time for the meeting stays the same.
Arizona - The clock time for the meeting changes twice a year.
EU - because they also change their clocks at different points throughout the year. Due to this, they have 4 clock time changes during each year.

This gets more complicated as we add partipants from more countries. UTC can help, but any location that has a time change has to be considered for both of it's timezones.

Global shift work or On-call

Generally, these are scheduled in UTC, but the shifts people actually work are in their local time. That can be disruptive in other ways, like finding child care.

In conclusion, while these may be minor compared to other concerns (like the potential health effects associated with change the clocks), the concerns of global collaboration should also be considered.

Now powered by GitLab, Nikola, and Cloudlfare

I just finished moving my website from Wordpress to Nikola (static site generator), GitLab (git and hosting), and CloudFlare (CDN, HTTPS and more).

Why Nikola

Their attitude in the handbook is "DON'T READ THIS MANUAL. IF YOU NEED TO READ IT I FAILED, JUST USE THE THING." That's my kind of software methodology. Don't blame the user, make the system better.

It is also a great handbook that has had pretty much every question I've asked. Documentation is still essential, but it's nice if the commands are self explanatory.

It just worked to import my Wordpress site (minus comments which I "inlined" or deleted for various reasons). I did do some manual HTML to markdown conversion for pages I want to edit more.

Why GitLab

I first tried and had Nikola working with GitHub, but GitLab gives me:

  • Automatic building - I don't have to have a separate branch for output, I just git push my changes (or change on the website) - and GitLab will run a job to create my website. I know this is possible on GitHub, but GitLab just makes it easy.
  • The option to upload SSL Certs. If I need to drop CloudFlare for some reason, I can have GitLab maintain my website using HTTPS (Which I need to because I'm on the HSTS preload list).
  • Easier drive by contributions. GitLab lets you sign in with Google, Twitter, GitHub, or BitBucket. I'm thinking for suggesting changes to say a paper (or even this blog post!), that will make for a lower barrier to entry. (Of course, I'd prefer any OpenID but it's better than requiring a new account)

I absolutely love that they have their company handbook maintained in Git and public to the world (with merge request welcome!).

Why CloudFlare

CloudFlare's free plan rocks. And if I ever need to be able to handle more traffic faster, I can upgrade/downgrade as necessary.

  • Free (Good) SSL with TLS1.3 Beta too
  • Free IPv6
  • Free HTTP2

Who we trust | Building a computer

I thought I was being smart.  By not buying through AVADirect I wasn't going to be using an insecure site to purchase my new computer.

For the curious I ended purchasing through eBay (A rating) and Newegg (A rating) a new Ryzen (very nice chip!) based machine that I assembled myself.   Computer is working mostly ok, but has some stability issues.   A Bios update comes out on the MSI website promising some stability fixes so I decide to apply it.

The page that links to the download is HTTPS, but the actual download itself is not. I flash the BIOS and now appear to have a brick.

As part of troubleshooting I find that the MSI website has bad HTTPS security, the worst page being:

Given the poor security and now wanting a motherboard with a more reliable BIOS  (currently I need to send the board back at my expense for an RMA) I looked at other Micro ATX motherboards starting with a Gigabyte which has even less pages using any HTTPS and the ones that do are even worse:

Unfortunately a survey of motherboard vendors indicates MSI failing with Fs might put them in second place.   Most just have everything in the clear, including passwords.   ASUS clearly leads the pack, but no one protects the actual firmware/drivers you download from them.

Main Website Support Site RMA Process Forum Download Site Actual Download
MSI F F F F F Plain Text
AsRock Plain text Email Email Plain text Plain Text Plain Text
Gigabyte (login site is F) Plain text Plain Text Plain Text Plain text Plain Text Plain Text
EVGA Plain text default/A- Plain text Plain text A Plain Text Plain Text
ASUS A- A- B Plain text default/A A- Plain Text
BIOSTAR Plain text Plain text Plain text n/a? Plain Text Plain Text
A quick glance indicates that vendors that make full systems use more security (ASUS and MSI being examples of system builders).

We rely on the security of these vendors for most self-built PCs.  We should demand HTTPS by default across the board.   It's 2017 and a BIOS file is 8MB, cost hasn't been a factor for years.

RSS Reading - NewsBlur

Bye Tiny

Some recent hacking attempts at my site had convinced me to reduce the number of logins I had to protect on my personal site.   That's what motivated a move from the -still- awesome Tiny Tiny RSS that I've been using since Google Reader ended.   I only follow 13 sites and maintaining my own install simply doesn't make sense.
  • None of the hacking attempts appeared to be targeting Tiny Tiny RSS ~ but then again I'm not sure if I would have noticed if they were.

Enter NewsBlur

My favorite site for finding alternatives to software quickly settled on a few obvious choices.  Then I noticed that one of them was both Open Source and Hosted on their own servers with a freemium model.

It was NewsBlur

I decided to try it out and haven't looked back.  The interface is certainly different than Tiny (and after 3 years I was very used to Tiny ) but I haven't really thought about it after the first week.   The only item I found a bit difficult to use was arranging folders ~ I'd really prefer drag and drop.   I only needed to do it once so not a big deal.

The free account has some limitations such as a limit to the number of feeds (64), limit to how fast they update, and no ability to save stories.   The premium account is only $24 a year which seems very reasonable if you want to support this service or need those features.  As of this writing there were about 5800 premium and about 5800 standard users, which seems like a healthy ratio.

Some security notes: the site get's an A on  SSLLabs.com but they do have HSTS turned explicitly off.   I'm guessing they can't enable HSTS because they need to serve pictures directly off of other websites that are HTTP only.

NewsBlur's code is on Github including how to setup your own NewsBlur instance (it's designed to run on 3 separate servers) or for testing/development.   I found it particularly nice that the guide the site operator will check if NewsBlur goes down is public.  Now, that's transparency!

They have a bunch of other advanced features (still in free version) that I haven't even tried yet, such as:

  • finding other stories you would be interested (Launch Intel)
  • subscribing to email newsletters to view in the feed
  • Apps for Android, iPhone and suggested apps for many other OSes
  • Global sharing on NewsBlur
  • Your own personal (public in free version) blurblog to share stories and your comments on them

Give NewsBlur a try today.  Let me know if you like it!

I'd love to see more of this nice combination of hosted web service (with paid & freemium version) and open source project.  Do you have a favorite project that follows this model?   Two others that I know of are Odoo and draw.io.

Comments: Mihai

NewsBlur is awesome. I have been using it since the demise of Google Reader with no issues and almost no downtime. It has been getting better and better, especially the Android app.

teh 1

I tried NewsBlur a blue moon ago. How it may’ve changed I don’t know, but I’ve kept steady with CommaFeed (with a few hiccups in between with service availability in the first few years and loss of all starred items) since the demise of Google Reader. It’s open-source too: https://github.com/Athou/commafeed


When should i386 support for Ubuntu end?

Are you running i386 (32-bit) Ubuntu?   We need your help to decide how much longer to build i386 images of Ubuntu Desktop, Server, and all the flavors.

There is a real cost to support i386 and the benefits have fallen as more software goes 64-bit only.

Please fill out the survey here ONLY if you currently run i386 on one of your machines.  64-bit users will NOT be affected by this, even if you run 32-bit applications. http://goo.gl/forms/UfAHxIitdWEUPl5K2

Ubuntu 16.04 LiveCD Memory Usage Compared

The latest Ubuntu LTS is out, so it's time for an updated memory usage comparison.


Boots means it will boot to a desktop that you can move the mouse on and is fully loaded.  While Browser and Smooth means we can load my website in a reasonable amount of time.


Lubuntu is super efficient

Lubuntu is amazing in how much less memory it can boot in.  I believe it is still the only one with ZRam enabled by default, which certainly helps a bit.

I actually did the memory usage for ZRam to the nearest MB for fun. The 32 bit version boots in 224 MB, and is smooth with Firefox at only 240MB!   The 64 bit boots at only 25 MB more (251), but is needs 384 MB to be smooth.

If you are memory limited, change flavors first, 32-bit won't help that much

Looking just at "Browser and Smooth" because that's a more clear use-case.  There is no significant memory  difference between the 32 and 64 bit varients of: Xubuntu,  Ubuntu Gnome, Ubuntu (Unity).

Lubuntu, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu Mate do have significant deltas, which let's explore: Kubuntu - If you are worried about memory requirements do not use. Ubuntu Mate - It's at most a 128MB loss, likely less.  (We did that to 128MB accuracy). Lubuntu 64 bit is smooth at 384MB.  32 bit saves almost 144 MB!  If you are severally memory limited 32-bit Lubuntu becomes your only choice.

Hard Memory Limit The 32-bit hard memory requirement is 224 MB. (Below that is panics) The 64-bit hard memory requirement is 251 MB.  Both of these were tested with Lubuntu.

Check out the 14.04 Post.   I used Virt-Manager/KVM instead of Virtualbox for the 16.04 test.

Extras: Testing NotesSpreadsheet