which distro for fast and small studio + server?

I have a Pentium 4, 2.0 GHz with 256 MB of RAM that I’d like to turn into an ardour station (also planning on getting a new sound card, but that’s a different story). Because of my low memory, I want to use a really small, light (and low latency) distribution.

I was considering dyne:bolic, but I’m concerned about the fact that it runs everything from root, since I also want to run a web server in the background. I plan to use lighttpd for this so memory usage shouldn’t be TOO much of a problem, but what are your suggestions for a good distribution to use?

Also, is there any big reason not to run a web server on an ardour station?

Thanks a lot in advance,

If you try ubuntu, you can install another window manager, sometimes I use blackbox, openbox and others and these really run on low memory. Let me advise that if you want to use kernels and you have Nvidia card, it will be a little harder to install the driver since you have to install in one kernel and then just compile the module for the other and make sure it gets loaded properly in both.
I have not tried pure:dyne, will check it out soon. Someone might point you to the right direction with other linux distros.

Hi hochtar, and welcome. The machine where I use ardour is an ubuntu 8.04 LTS with 1 GB RAM, AMD Athlon 64 2.0Mhz (but I run ubuntu 32 bit), I have apache, MySql, PHP, Python and all that running at the same time, I have two kernels installed one is realtime (low latency) and the other generic, when I record in ardour I just reboot to rt mode, but webserver and all run there also. I have never experienced any problems or high memory usage with this, I think you should be fine. I think you should try ubuntu. It has gotten a little more stable (that is 8.04).

Good Luck!

after installing Ubuntu (I’d suggest using UbuntuStudio), install xubuntu-desktop to use XFCE instead of gnome

Hey Joe, thanks a lot for your advice. It’s excellent to hear that you have success running a server at the same time as ardour. I was also very interested to hear about your two kernels. Sounds like a very workable idea, I’ll have to check that out.

As for the distro, I’d like to find something even less memory-intensive. Does anyone know of anything?

EDIT: I just found pure:dyne, a true multi-user version of dyne:bolic geared for audio production, and Musix, an extremely light live distro which even comes WITH ardour. Does anyone have experience with these? Or with something better? Thanks again for the help.

@joegiampaoli: Thanks for the tip. Fortunately, I have an old Matrox G400 that I was planning to swap in – is that easier to deal with than NVIDIA? (the Ardour system requirements page recommends them, at least.)

also, I’ve used blackbox with FreeBSD before, I liked it. Can you tell me how much RAM Ubuntu uses minus the window manager, or at least with a lighter one like blackbox? Because like I said, I only have 256 MB, and I’m going to be running a web server in the background, and I’d like ardour to run as cleanly as possible. Even with just blackbox on FreeBSD (which runs light, at least my configuration did), things like GIMP ran slow.

I’ve been looking more at pure:dyne and Musix. They both seem pretty good – pure:dyne comes default with a RT kernel, and Musix can be upgraded to one pretty easily. I’m probably going to try them soon. Does anyone have any other possibilities?

Thanks for your help, everyone.

Well it’s kind of hard for me to tell how much RAM ubuntu uses without X or a window manager but here’s a comparison between blackbox and gnome with 1 GB RAM:

gnome : about 700 MB ~ 780 MB free
blackbox: about 900 MB free