samedi 3 août 2013


The frugal installation is possible on many Linux distributions. 

This tutorial is an example of making "frugal" install with AlphaOS, a minimalist Linux distribution based on Puppy Linux and Arch. This very light distribution is perfect for an old computer that has still more than 128 MB of RAM. This method can be in principle used for any other distribution, but search on Google whether it is possible or if there are some differences.

Sorry for my English language which is probably not ideal ...

Why "frugal" installation?

  • This lets the user bypass the sometimes lengthly and messy full install procedure. Not all distributions are set up to do such a thing. But for those that are, they need only a handful of files to be copied to the hard drive, making for a very simple and fast install.
  • A frugal install is similar to running a live cd or live usb, except that it is running from a hard drive (or SDHC or USB stick). 
  • Space is saved: standard installation to hard drive typically is 4 times the size of the iso, whereas with frugal it is the size of the iso. 
  • Frugal from USB stick, SDHC or even hard drive partition is faster than a live-usb and above all than a live-cd. 
  • No change to your usual Operating System.
  • Great for testing (once set up). 
  • Great for Mobile use.

What you need:

  • Download here the AlphaOS iso.
  • A Live-CD AlphaOS or other distibution.
  • A USB stick with at least 4GB or better SDHC card with 8 or 16 GB Class 10.  Here I use a Class 10, 16GB SDHC. You can also use a specific partition of your regular HDD (even faster).

An easy method

  • From your usual Linux or any Live CD if you're on Windows, format and partition the USB stick or SDHC card with Gparted *. The "boot" partition can be sized to 3-4 GB or even less, the other partition will store your documents and other files.
  • Create a alphaos folder in the first partition.
  • Then copy these files alpha.sfs, extra.sfs, vmlinuz and initrd.gz from the AlphaOS CD in the "alphaos" folder on your stick or SDHC card. It may last a minute or so. 
  • Restart your AlphaOS Live CD
  • Once on the AlphaOS Desktop,  go to the menu (right click on the desktop) and looking at grub4dos bootloader config and run it.
  • Localize your drive (sdc1 maybe) and choose "search only in this device" option. This will create a new file: "menu.lst"

Et voilà !

Now,  just have to reboot your computer from your USB stick or SDHC card.

* Caution! I found Gparted is sometimes buggy on some live-cd like my "Ultimate CD".  It's a shame!
  • Do not put the boot flag to the main partition (that contains the OS) because it may not work properly.
  • If you plan to use it as a mobile OS,  prefer to install AlphaOS on a USB stick because you are not guaranteed to find a computer with an SDHC card reader (or use a portable USB SD card reader).
  • AlphaOS is lighter than Puppy Linux, that's saying something ...

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