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Author Topic: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB  (Read 8159 times)

Offline bmarkus

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Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« on: August 31, 2009, 03:46:09 AM »
Size is a frequent discussion topic here, in terms of the system, RAM usage, etc. There is in interesting article about

Kolibri OS at Distrowatch

While Kolibri itself is interesting, TC is used as a reference by the author of article:

"But what if I told you that I was recently running a modern operating system that requires about 5 MB of disk space and about 10 MB of RAM? That sounds like a stretch, doesn't it, even for Tiny Core Linux?"

 ;)
Béla
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Offline curaga

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2009, 03:52:26 AM »
Previous topic about Kolibri (before the DW article though):
http://forum.tinycorelinux.net/index.php?topic=1189.0
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline thane

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 10:46:05 PM »
There may be open source operating systems (e.g. BSD) that in some theoretical sense are "better" than Linux. However, nobody seems to have taken the trouble to make a distro of any of them that is as light and flexible as TCL. When somebody does I'll give them another look.

Offline alu

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 12:43:12 AM »
the review is interesting, and i can imagine that tc/mc could be reduced to less than 5 MB with much more flexibility than kolibri and much more usability. tc/mc would be then unexampled.

Offline nick65go

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2021, 07:12:47 AM »
Necromacy of this thread, abandoned from 2009, so  there are 12 years without a word about kolibri development.

Today Kolibri has English text (menu, docs) or Spanish etc; and google translate is good enough for rusian to english. Its initial mising of appls was corrected, today having a lot of drivers and applications.
http://wiki.kolibrios.org/wiki/Hardware_Support
Even it started to focus on old-windows appls by using wine.

It seams to be good to play with it on / off-line. Especaily for Very-low RAM.
http://websvn.kolibrios.org/listing.php?repname=Kolibri+OS&

Offline nick65go

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2021, 10:02:15 AM »
Just a small summary for KolibriOS, because is no point to make a blog on a TC forum.

Kolibri can boot from BIOS, but also from UEFI (without sh*t secureboot).
It has drivers for REAL devices (acpi, ahci,, VESA, atikms, i915, etc).
atikms = Video ATI KMS, R100-R600, Evergreen, Northern Islands, Southern Islands
i915 = Video Intel i915, all PCI Express video cores from i915 utill Skylake

I do not have real vinatge/old devices , so I used QEMU, for which Kolbri has video (VESA3 and VMware SGA II), many network NICs, audio (AC97 and intel-HDA), etc.
From the few hours that I used it, here are few Progs Associations extracted from KFAR.ini (File manager):
/sys/network/WebView -> htm, html, mht, docx, url
/kolibrios/media/updf   -> pdf
/sys/table                    -> csv

/sys/media/pixie                   -> wav, mp3, xm
/kolibrios/media/fplay_run    -> avi, mpg, mp4, mpeg, mov, flv, wmv, vob, mkv, 3gp, webm

/sys/media/kiv    -> jpg, jpeg, jpe, gif, ico, bmp, png, cur, pcx, pbm, pgm, pnm,ppm, tif, tiff, wbmp, xcf

/sys/TinyPad            -> ams, inc
/sys/develop/cedit    -> ini, c, cpp, h, pas, lua, ob07
/sys/RtfRead     -> rft
/sys/Quark        -> txt

These prove the capabilities for web, image, audio, video, pdf, many compilers, all already built inside it.
Have fun with it off-line. HTTP is OK, HTTPS not yet (/never).
bonus: http://wiki.kolibrios.org/wiki/File:Kernel_includes.png

Offline xor

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2021, 11:57:51 AM »
Question : so why does TCL consume so much RAM space!?

Offline gadget42

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2021, 12:59:43 PM »
Kolibri would boot on the old amd k6-2 166mhz machine but it complained about the processor and the shell wouldn't run.

Tried it on a 12-core xeon workstation and it booted to the main desktop but again complained about the processor.

Decided to shoot for some middle-ground and grabbed a q6600 core2quad machine. Booted and ran fine.
(did need to grab a pci lan card as kolibri didn't want to play nice with the onboard nic)
Definitely not a web-surfing system but it would probably be fine for gopher and gemini.

the games are addicting...shesh...lol...

Offline nick65go

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2021, 02:06:33 PM »
With any program (except some games) less than 1 MB compiled, or a kernel.* less than 200 KB --> anything can be re-build from scratch. So with a little study (actually a lot of learning) the FASM (or tinyC, C--, lua, etc) will make wonders in minutes.

But I am not (yet) keen to learn (again) ASM language, to understand and change the few parameters from .inc /.asm etc. to customize programs / drivers. Anyway, will be fun in next years (or rainy days). Expeciaily because it started to have emulators/ compilers for other architecture (Linux, arm7).
« Last Edit: October 23, 2021, 02:08:09 PM by nick65go »

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2021, 02:29:57 PM »
The reason it is so small is that it is written entirely in assembly language.  Definitely NOT the unix way!

Which means it is non-portable and machine specific.  It is how operating systems were written in the 60's.  Which means it is locked in time and dies with the hardware it was written for. 

Our ATT unix forefathers, nay the earlier MULTICS operating system got away from that and broke ground by being written in a high-level language, PL/I.  Unix followed suit, and instead of PL/I, a transitionary period followed with human-readable languages like BCPL, B, and eventually C.

Contrast this to another OS written at the time, the ITS timesharing system, which was also written entirely in assembly for the PDP6/PDP10 mainframes.  Greenblatt and RMS were maintainers among others.  Where is it now?  DEAD, because in assembly, there is no path forward unless you want total rewrites every time a new hardware environment is introduced.

Our forefathers, Doug Mcilroy, Ken Thompson and many others at ATT broke that ridiculously unmaintainable situation by writing systems software in a higher level language.

This small tradeoff in a larger size with human-readable languages, means that the system has a chance to be portable to other architectures, improved, and maintained well into the future.

So even back then, a small tradeoff in size vs real-world sustainability was realized. 

Kolibri is a throwback to the 60's niche-hack and definitely not the unix way.


« Last Edit: October 23, 2021, 02:41:32 PM by PDP-8 »
That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline nick65go

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2021, 07:28:44 PM »
Unix way, or not, maybe is not important for some people. It is a free world out there, each on his way.
Someone need just an optimized engine for his car. And not a general engine for any airplane or submarine U-boat. Thanks for the history. But Apple with its dedicated devices (restricted components) has won the market, same as google. Even I dislike both, but I use them. Mais c'est la vie, toujours bâtard.

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2021, 09:47:22 PM »
Yeah, sorry about that.  I don't mean to come off like some energy-drink fueled history teacher.  Just can't help it when I see complaints of size.

There's a time and place for it, but systems programming isn't one of them.  However, you did bring back memories of an assembly program I
absolutely *loved* back in my dos days:  Eric Meyer's VDE editor.

Being all assembly, it smoked!  What really blows my mind is that after a TWENTY ONE year haitus, it has returned!

https://sites.google.com/site/vdeeditor/Home/vde-files

If one is still using ms-dos, freedos, or maybe even an older version of windows on ancient hardware - this editor is for you!  Columnar editing in
something this small and fast blew my mind, and I whipped out the shareware fee back when it wasn't free.

Caution:  if you like this, you may be able to transition to the portable JOE editor, which can be called by either joe (native keybdindings), jstar (wordstar)
or jpico (pico / nano) keybindings. 
That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline xor

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2021, 02:04:33 AM »
Considering that ASM has left its place to LLVM, a portable language !
What are the chances of this project coming back to life!?

The reason it is so small is that it is written entirely in assembly language.  Definitely NOT the unix way!

Which means it is non-portable and machine specific.  It is how operating systems were written in the 60's.  Which means it is locked in time and dies with the hardware it was written for. 

Our ATT unix forefathers, nay the earlier MULTICS operating system got away from that and broke ground by being written in a high-level language, PL/I.  Unix followed suit, and instead of PL/I, a transitionary period followed with human-readable languages like BCPL, B, and eventually C.

Contrast this to another OS written at the time, the ITS timesharing system, which was also written entirely in assembly for the PDP6/PDP10 mainframes.  Greenblatt and RMS were maintainers among others.  Where is it now?  DEAD, because in assembly, there is no path forward unless you want total rewrites every time a new hardware environment is introduced.

Our forefathers, Doug Mcilroy, Ken Thompson and many others at ATT broke that ridiculously unmaintainable situation by writing systems software in a higher level language.

This small tradeoff in a larger size with human-readable languages, means that the system has a chance to be portable to other architectures, improved, and maintained well into the future.

So even back then, a small tradeoff in size vs real-world sustainability was realized. 

Kolibri is a throwback to the 60's niche-hack and definitely not the unix way.

Offline nick65go

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2021, 03:10:37 AM »
@PDP-8: I tested a "distro" (KolibriOS), not made by me, and I shared my opinion about few technical things about it. I do not advertise it, because I have no gain from this and I did not contributed to it.

The tempting goals (for me) from Kolibri are its speed and size. For QEMU (secured environment) with standardized "devices" (video, audio, network, fdd / hdd / cdrom / usb) it makes sens (same as Apple made the decision to have strict specialized /optimized devices).

PS: I dislike when someone blog here, hijacking the subject. There are other ways "to teach others your way of doing things". Especially when in the last two post you did nothing constructive about Kolibri. I understand (and disagree with) your opinion about some languages (ASM) and their bright future (as seen by you). It is no need to write another 100 posts to repeat the same ideas. Or maybe you like to have the last word / impression in the forum. Why don't you open an off-topic for yourself about what is important to you, and live this alone?
« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 03:12:43 AM by nick65go »

Offline xor

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Re: Kolibri - a desktop operating system in under 3 MB
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2021, 03:43:36 AM »
artificial intelligence will one day make dreams come true. :D