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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:17 pm

Quote from kme on October 3, 2011, 15:46
This is where you go completely wrong. It's NOT the RasPI team's goal to make cool servers. Their goal make a platform that makes kids interested in programming. The kids have some minimal expectation for such a computer: A GUI that's not completely ridiculous (forget TWM), a GUI IDE is a must, and contemporary browser is a must too to look up compiler error messages and programming examples. And then you add gcc (or friends) and gdb - and think that can be done in 256 MB RAM. Riiight...

RasPI will become successful, but not for the intended purpose. We grown up males (sorry Liz) with money will love it, the kids will return to their Playstations and get on with their stuff.


I'm just a guy who has a board, so all that follows is my own personal view. First of all, thank you for sharing your opinions. Although these forums are obviously going to be frequented by those excited about the project, it's important it doesn't just become an echo chamber.

I think you're wrong about lack of memory being a limiting factor and it's totally feasible to have a compelling experience in 256MB of RAM (and I have hands-on experience, as I have an alpha board). Until it died a couple of years ago, my father used a Windows 98SE machine with 128MB of RAM for email, managing photos from his digital camera (with third party USB mass storage driver) and internet browsing.

Of course I'll be pleased when 512MB is possible at the Raspi's price point if we're lucky enough to see a Raspi Mark 2 (and with whatever specs can be bumped at the same time), but I think the device as it stands will be very compelling for educational purposes.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:26 pm

@jamesh
Yes you do need an IDE. I learned to program in seven-bit ASCII and just failed punch cards. That's more than 30 years ago and I can manage that setup today. But not kids that thinks the internet always has been here.

You third world argument is plain wrong.You expect these people to have USB keyboards and mice and HDMI monitors and SD/USB disks laying around in the woods?

The Raspi (is this the official way to nickname it?) has an audience among westerns and we love it. The Raspi is an important tool to break into the legacy (over-)loaded x86 marked and is most welcome. But the Raspi PR doesn't match the product.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:30 pm

Uh... Guys... You're telling this to a dev that's been doing Linux work professionally for the better part of 15 years. I do stuff within the memory profile we're talking about here all the time.

If the IDE can't fit in a 256MB profile...there's something wrong with it. Seriously. The main reason you need 512MB or more for development, even on Linux is because we've got all these glitzy UI's like GNOME and KDE that have taken a position that you need that much memory to do anything on it.

Again... Saying that RAM's cheap...YES it is. So long as you're talking for a PC where the thing's designed to take it. Let me ask you a good question... Most desktops from 5 years ago...what was the maximum RAM you could wedge into the machine? 8GB. Can't get any more in there. Why? Parts couldn't support more and the memory controller configuration was designed with only 8GB max in mind. Even if your DIMMs could support 16GB, you'd never get it with most motherboards. This is a similar situation here- and making it such that you could get all that wedged on there including all the uber IDEs and glitzy UIs...would make the device about as expensive as a PandaBoard or an Igloo. Not $25. $150-180.

If you're looking for that. R-Pi's not going to fill that gap. If you think you're not going to get IDEs onto the platform...well...I beg to differ with you on that score. If you think that it's a simple matter to raise the RAM amount...reality's a cruel harsh mistress.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:42 pm

Quote from kme on October 3, 2011, 15:46
The kids have some minimal expectation for such a computer: A GUI that's not completely ridiculous (forget TWM), a GUI IDE is a must, and contemporary browser is a must too to look up compiler error messages and programming examples. And then you add gcc (or friends) and gdb - and think that can be done in 256 MB RAM. Riiight...
I've got a Powerbook G3 with 256MB of RAM and a 300Mhz processor that says "yes, we can". It runs both OSX 10.3 with full developer tools, or linux with full developer tools quite happily. With the latter setup, I was using it for full-on web development, twin-headed, using Enlightenment with all the eye-candy turned on. I always had a PostgreSQL instance or two up in the background and usually had Mac-On-Linux (emulation of the older MacOS) running as well. OSX, of course, doesn't give you the option to turn off the eye candy, but it was quite acceptable as a developer box.

RasPi has a full-on modern GPU that can take all the effort out of graphics tasks, leaving the CPU (which should be at least twice as fast as my powerbook's PowerPC) for actual work. I'll accept that Linux UIs generally look like crap, but that's hardly the fault of the processing power available.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:45 pm

Well, a couple things. First, as someone who learned programming after IDEs became truly versatile, as someone who grew up "thinking the internet (well BBs) has always been here" I can confidently say that no, IDEs are not needed. I ditched all the IDEs I've ever touched and just use notepad. If I do use some form of programming assistance then I use Notepad++. An IDE is a very helpful and useful tool, no doubt, but it's not a "oh my goodness you can't program without it" tool like you're making it out to be.

I would even go so far as to argue that a device like the r-pi which will force users to consider things like memory usage is a vital first step. I mean, lets get realistic here. The r-pi will be a great device for teaching kids programming, but we're forgetting that what that really means is they're starting at the beginning. They won't be doing super fancy programming right off the bat. They'll being doing "hello world" and freaking out about how awesome it is. They'll be writing text programs, guess what number I'm thinking of, dare I even say a good old fashioned text adventure game?

Keeping this in mind, not only do they *not* need an IDE, but an IDE at the very beginning of their learning with gobs of memory will just further this horrible cycle of lazy programmers. Programmers like the ones that came up with Vista, a crappy OS that uses 1.5 GB of memory just to sit there and do nothing.

All that said, ARM != x86 or x64 in terms of memory usage. We're seeing some pretty amazing stuff from the people with the alpha boards, stuff that I wouldn't have really considered plausible with 256 MB of RAM.

Finally, as has been discussed at great length, the r-pi foundation will be doing a buy one/give one deal. The people in the third world countries will have their entire system donated to them. They're even looking into low power (and therefore smaller) monitors that could be run off a solar panel so that they could possible reach children even where there isn't electricity. For the rest, the r-pi has composite video out, not just HDMI, and as someone who's visited third would countries, as long as there is electricity people tend to have TVs. So jamesh's argument for the third would is actually spot on... you just have to dig around the forum a little to get the background to understand why it correct (except for the it has composite video out too thing, that's mentioned all over the place and it always amazes me when people get their knickers in a wad about it only having HDMI :? )
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:16 pm

@Tide

Pure assembler based OSs are just toys at this point. On an ARM platform assembler is even more dangerous than x86 since supported cpu features vary so widely even among arm systems currently in production.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:36 pm

Quote from bnolsen on October 3, 2011, 18:16
@Tide

Pure assembler based OSs are just toys at this point. On an ARM platform assembler is even more dangerous than x86 since supported cpu features vary so widely even among arm systems currently in production.

Really? You have at your disposal...

ARMv4
ARMv5
ARMv6
or
ARMv7 to target right at the moment.

If you're not trying to do Thumb stuff (Jazelle's mostly moot...you'd not be coding to THAT anyhow...), so long as you're not doing NEON or VFP, you'll find that ARMv4/5 code will run just fine on an ARMv6 or ARMv7 machine- regardless of whether or not you're doing it in Assembly or C/C++. If you're doing VFP code, ARM6 will run on ARM7. NEON's only on ARM7 and above.

Is this ANY different than worrying about not issuing 386 instructions on a 286? Which, by the way, was the same rough class of minefield you talk to- and there was quite a few that managed it anyhow...

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:01 pm

@abishur
"First, as someone who learned programming after IDEs became truly versatile, as someone who grew up "thinking the internet (well BBs) has always been here" I can confidently say that no, IDEs are not needed. I ditched all the IDEs I've ever touched and just use notepad. If I do use some form of programming assistance then I use Notepad++."

Right - you did so AFTER you learned to program with the support of an IDE. That's a no-argument. Anyone can cherry-pick once they know the field, not as a newbie.

I continue to disagree on the third world argument, but maybe we just are talking about different third worlds.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:10 pm

@abishur

I think all this depends on your take on programming and what it's about and where it should be going. I began by learning ASM in standard notepad (not old enough for punch cards but my old man can tell stories of them being dropped and put back together out of order and 2 weeks later the programmer finds out there's an error that had nothing to do with them), I moved onto command-line C++ and eventually Visual Studio. I can say without a doubt that you don't need an IDE for simple programs typical on embedded or single functionality systems, however when it comes to managing large projects, working with others, importing lots of libraries, you can very quickly scope where you're at with an IDE and elements like auto-complete allow you to very quickly use libraries and code you've never been exposed to with less time spent debugging. An experienced programmer may think "well I don't need this", but the biggest lesson I've learned since I left education is that time is money and IDEs save time, not just for the programmer, but for the designers, the teams, the testers etc. As RaspberryPi has proven, you can now pack a lot of power into a very cheap board, and so the trend has ever been leaning more towards the programmers and manpower being the primary costing factor and so to a business, time saving devices like IDEs are a 'must have' item. Their user friendliness also makes it easier for junior programmers to familiarise themselves with workflow, APIs etc and that helps make a business case to take on juniors which is also something I think very important (this is also why .NET is so popular).

The case I was making regarding RaspberryPi is with 256MB it's difficult to get a responsive GUI and IDE in-place for efficient workflow (I know this from running very slowly a stripped down Linux on the PS3, which also has a similar amount of memory - a fast CPU doesn't help one bit). For me this has resulted in trying to set-up a cross-compile environment with my Windows PC, which is proving difficult to work with as it doesn't seem like every library.

As I've become more experienced with programming I've actually found myself favouring things like Windows for the consistent binary libraries and packaging systems, even scripting with visual feedback, as it allows me to focus on what I want to happen, not how to make it happen, and I honestly think this is the way forward. I'm able to take on projects I'd have never dreamt of in command-line C++ for fear that I'd never reach the end of the tunnel.

I think yes, a lot of programs are very wasteful of memory and that new programmers need to learn good practises and better understand the impact of their code on the underlying hardware but that there's a strong business case to balance this with productivity and that your GUI, your IDE are important development tools to help maintain productivity, sure, write good memory efficient programs yourself, but don't sacrifice your development environment and productivity on principal that it's another example of wasteful programming, it's useful so use it. I would suggest the most appropriate solution would be to follow suite with console makers and have a development model with more memory and a model with less memory for use in production, of course the problem here is that RaspberryPi advertises itself as something to learn to develop with as opposed to being a device suitable for use in larger scale projects/production.

I do also hope that RaspberryPi go ahead with supporting a primary OS (and announce it soon!) as it's another factor that will make the development process much smoother. Linux has always been strong for its low footprint, scalability and performance, but that flexibility can also be a great weakness when trying to introduce someone to a tool that gets the job done and doesn't time-waste as you're dancing around each distribution's unique habits and systems and compiling libraries that don't have a pre-built binary for the specific distro.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:13 pm

Oh, let me add I've been teaching programming to chemical engineering students for 17 years using DOS, AIX and Windows with and without IDEs. I do have a weak idea what works and what doesn't.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:18 pm

Quote from kme on October 3, 2011, 19:13
Oh, let me add I've been teaching programming to chemical engineering students for 17 years using DOS, AIX and Windows with and without IDEs. I do have a weak idea what works and what doesn't.

Also a part-time lecturer here much less patient kids here for 16+ CG and Interactive Media, the idea of not using an IDE upsets me greatly when I think of the consequences!

I went through the whole command-line on Solaris at university and though it was part of a bigger problem left before finishing, after slowly losing my love for coding, I gained most of my experience from self-learning and industry work after that.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:01 pm

Just as anecdotal evidence, the majority of the code on the GPU (millions of line of C and assembler) was written without the aid of a IDE - in fact a straw poll around the office of a few people shows quite a disparate selection of editors - Emacs, Ultraedit, Notepad++ etc. But few IDE's. I tried Eclipse on our codebase and it choked (they fixed the bug when I reported it!). On a 4GB Quad core machine, but then Eclipse is quite memory hungry. I do use it here at home - horses for courses.

IDE's do make some stuff easier, granted, but they are not essential.

That said - anyone have any recommendations for low memory foot print IDE's? Eclipse is a no go in my opinion - too hungry.
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:14 pm

Eclipse is a hungry hungry beast (Java!). In the past I always found code-blocks to be very friendly and multi-platform, for now I have the luxury of a high spec. hex-core PC.

I agree it's very possible not to use an IDE, I never used one when I did ASM and as I say low-level device work doesn't really require one, for example I've never really needed Atmel's AVR Studio, but I'm still very much of the opinion that it's vital for a world of increasingly high-level code.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:15 pm

Quote from jamesh on October 3, 2011, 20:01
That said - anyone have any recommendations for low memory foot print IDE's? Eclipse is a no go in my opinion - too hungry.

I've been meaning to try out Geany.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:17 pm

and one of my jobs during college was tutoring programming students, not the same as teaching I know, but they did leave my tutoring actually understanding the material

@kme - my point was actually that I ditched the IDE right away... that is to say *before* I learned anything on it. I used it for about an hour on the first day of college then promptly uninstalled it and never looked back :)

I think there's some sort of disjunction between what we both think we're talking about third world countries. I was responding to the fact you were wondering where the people would get all the equipment needed to run an r-pi in a third world country. My response was the foundation is giving a complete set up to them (or such is my understanding), the keyboard, the mouse, the SD card (with OS), the only thing lacking at this point is the TV, but if there's electricity to run the r-pi itself, then amazingly TVs are fairly common in third-world countries. I was also saying that last I heard they were actually trying to go one further and provide a solar panel and low cost/power screen to use where there isn't electricity, but that's putting the cart before the horse ;)

@scribe - I hear what you're saying and I don't disagree with that. I actually made a point of stating that if this device meets its goal of getting kids into programming, then this will be an introductory device. You're talking about the usefulness of an IDE in a professional environment which I don't disagree with, but I'm talking about a bunch of kids at the very beginning of the programming road. They don't need an IDE and frankly, IMHO, it's a good thing if they don't have the memory to run one for learning the basics of programming. Programmers need to be able to get down and dirty with just a notepad and a command prompt, once they've earned their bones, so to speak, then let them branch out and use IDEs :) Shoot, I've been in situation on headless linux servers where even notepad would have been a luxury. I've had co-workers who have been at a complete loss because they suddenly found themselves trying to tweak a program on a headless linux server and didn't have their IDE to finish variables for them, remind them of semi-colons, remind them to include specific headers.

I recognize the usefulness of an IDE, but I also recognize that a little memory restriction for beginning programmers is a good thing. It teaches them good programming techniques makes them more versatile then someone who has only done programming with netbeans, or visual studio
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:20 pm

Oh also I'd again like to point out that ARM != x86/x64 when it comes to memory usage and I'd like to hear from people with alpha boards on how gnome runs on debian before throwing in the towel and saying there's not enough memory to sufficiently run it all ;)
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:22 pm

Quote from abishur on October 3, 2011, 20:17
Programmers need to be able to get down and dirty with just a notepad and a command prompt, once they've earned their bones, so to speak, then let them branch out and use IDEs :) Shoot, I've been in situation on headless linux servers where even notepad would have been a luxury. I've had co-workers who have been at a complete loss because they suddenly found themselves trying to tweak a program on a headless linux server and didn't have their IDE to finish variables for them, remind them of semi-colons, remind them to include specific headers.


Good point about auto complete, and one which hadn't occurred to me. Similar to the poor spelling used by many nowadays because they rely too much on spell checkers. If you rely on an IDE to do too much, when you are in a situation where you don't have it.....and it will happen....you are rather stuck.
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:55 pm

Quote from abishur on October 3, 2011, 20:17

@scribe - I hear what you're saying and I don't disagree with that. I actually made a point of stating that if this device meets its goal of getting kids into programming, then this will be an introductory device. You're talking about the usefulness of an IDE in a professional environment which I don't disagree with, but I'm talking about a bunch of kids at the very beginning of the programming road. They don't need an IDE and frankly, IMHO, it's a good thing if they don't have the memory to run one for learning the basics of programming. Programmers need to be able to get down and dirty with just a notepad and a command prompt, once they've earned their bones, so to speak, then let them branch out and use IDEs :) Shoot, I've been in situation on headless linux servers where even notepad would have been a luxury. I've had co-workers who have been at a complete loss because they suddenly found themselves trying to tweak a program on a headless linux server and didn't have their IDE to finish variables for them, remind them of semi-colons, remind them to include specific headers.

I recognize the usefulness of an IDE, but I also recognize that a little memory restriction for beginning programmers is a good thing. It teaches them good programming techniques makes them more versatile then someone who has only done programming with netbeans, or visual studio

Likewise, I understand where you're coming from, I began in a very similar manner and it has helped my understanding and habits, but then programming is one of my biggest passions and even I'm more willing to convince a client to work with another platform than to stick with something that's going to be a hassle, if you can make a financial case, it's logical to do what's easiest.

Having taught, very recently, students fresh out of school, not far from RaspberryPi's target age, I can say there has to be an element of universal appeal. They have to see two main things:

- Results: They need to see the fruits of their efforts. For me animating pixel graphics used to be fine, but most now feel disappointed if they're not seeing a powerful use of 3D graphics on the screen.

- A future: They need to be able to see how the programming will help them in the future. If we're suggesting excel is a sorry excuse for "programming" then we need to show them something both more powerful but also equally a time-saving and handy tool.

I found that if I provided a high level scripting introduction that could teach them to enjoy the subject, those who were so inclined would ask to progress further into deeper C++ coding meanwhile everyone was happy.

I did try the approach of non-visual text-based products in C++ as well, I found that the students had more concern for the importance of syntax and structure in order to avoid compiler errors, but after reviewing their progress the following year they had the least knowledge retention, even though they had the simplest tasks and less passion to continue with programming.

I think it's easier to teach C++ as opposed to scripting as it's well structured and so you can teach it in a structured manner, but in the long run it misses the primary most basic need of making sure the students might ever put what you're teaching them to practical use, which is a goal that must be met before any other learning has relevance.

My personal opinion is that in the same way we think excessive memory usage is a bad thing, I believe that not promoting the use of modern tools, simpler, unified, platforms and APIs is against progress and it doesn't promote well the infinite potential of programming.

I guess it all comes down to are you going to drill it into them at an early age vs are you going to let them enjoy it and make the drilling a little more optional. Modern teaching (at least for 16+) says the former is the wrong approach, which I don't agree or disagree on but this has created attitudes and expectations in current students that make following through with the former much more difficult and less effective. I myself left my own education from displeasure with this approach, even though once I was given the freedom I pursued a very similar path. My experience has also told me the latter approach is most effective, even if you have to put-up with bad coding practises at first.

I think for an IDE free approach to work, you'd have to catch them in year 7 and 8 before they've had time to form opinions big enough to question what they're taught in order to see a good return. From the point of view of a new coder old enough to have an opinion but who doesn't fully understand programming, not using modern tools just seems highly illogical and it's hard to convince them of anything else at this stage.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:05 pm

Also Notepad++ is a little bit of an IDE in reality =P

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:25 pm

I think different teachers, and different pupils, will have different needs. but to me, the issue is not productivity, nor learning -especially not *syntax*-, nor being able to hack it on even more limited hardware, but motivation. Even more so since the Pi's use will be mainly voluntary (own time, club, or elective). And even it if weren't...

I remember my first bike had little side wheels so I wouldn't fall over. And I probably stayed on them a fair bit too long, too. Didn't teach me much about riding bikes, but sure got me to like riding around, and later to appreciate how much more I could do on a real bike... after the quite hurtful first weeks. I'm fairly sure going straight to a big boy bike would have at least delayed my biking, at worst turned off on the whole biking thing.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:31 pm

Sorry, I'm writing under the assumption that the ultimate goal for RaspberryPi is to bring programming into the core curriculum (ie assumption of more involvement beyond just clubs etc).

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:33 am

I found on a SheevaPlug, running VNC and a Gnome Desktop used around ~100MB of RAM. That was with Debian Squeeze as well. ARMv5 CPU.

Don't forget you can simply make a swap partition on your SD Card and use that as RAM... I'd even look into compcache (a driver (?) that makes your swap compressed in RAM, taking up less RAM). So, in the case of the Model B, I could almost achieve 1GB of RAM (Physical + SD Swap). Although, there goes the life cycle of the SD Card...

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:46 am

Running compression in memory is really going to lag out the ARM. Using the SD card or better yet a USB HDD will work much better. Fitting it all into the available RAM is going to be the best performer.
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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:34 am

Quote from Tide on October 2, 2011, 16:01
@hippy

Looking for a challenge? Run a full fledged x86 GUI OS in as little as 8MB of RAM: KolibriOS. Written in Assembler and boots from floppy. Yes, that's a 1.44MB floppy distro!
I used to have that on my PC.
The only problem was there was no Wifi and it hasn't been updated in ages (the lead developer is thinking of shutting down the project, but MenuetOS is still going).
Just to clafiry too, it's not based on Linux but Assembly meaning it's incredibly thin.

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Re: [Request] Please add some more Ram, they are really cheap right now.

Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:01 pm

Quote from Scribe on October 3, 2011, 21:05
Also Notepad++ is a little bit of an IDE in reality =P

Is it now? Well I stand corrected then, I have found an IDE I like. Course it was a program that just barely counts :P
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