mdev and Xvesa for ultralight systems

If you remember Blice of the Ubuntu Forums as the author of fttps, the command-line download manager, you might be interested in keeping an eye on his notes at

These days he’s been carving away at system start times and overall system requirements by relying on mdev instead of udev, and building Xvesa independent of the full X arsenal.

The net effect, to hear him describe it, is quite exciting. Those changes, coupled with some hard-wiring of the system startup (mostly compiling the startup scripts, if I understand it correctly), is resulting in some extremely lightweight systems that boot in single-digit start times with memory profiles under 16Mb. And those are Openbox-plus systems, not my ultra-slim Awesome systems.

If you’re the owner of an old machine (sigh … or a netbook owner, I guess :roll: ) you might want to take a closer look. Most of it sounds no more difficult than compiling a few programs and building a few scripts, and I can vouch for his helpfulness if you run into a problem.

And think how much you could do by relying only on Xvesa, instead of all of X? It would almost be like a personal version of SliTaz. Hmm. This makes me want to get out the Pentium again. … :|

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6 Responses to “mdev and Xvesa for ultralight systems”

  1. 1 Mike 2009/03/01 at 8:36 PM

    This sounds interesting, unfortunately I can’t use Xvesa as I use Catalyst, but replacing udev with mdev sounds like a good idea. I’ll try it and see what happens.

  2. 2 abud 2009/03/01 at 10:01 PM

    nice article bro…

    thenks for your article. its help me.


  3. 3 Blice 2009/03/03 at 3:04 AM


    When you follow the compile instructions I gave, it doesn’t just give you Xvesa. I should have mentioned that.

    You get:


    And finally, Xsmi.

    These are all lightweight X servers with specific drivers built in (As specified by the binary’s name..)

    So you might want to give Xati a try :]

  4. 4 mulenmar 2010/03/16 at 12:15 PM

    I rediscovered this post in my search for “Arch Linux mdev” — unfortunately, the website seems to no longer exist. :(

    • 5 Blice 2010/03/17 at 7:38 AM

      My dreamhost account was cancelled rather abruptly and I lost just about everything- Except for a couple of choice blog entries. I’m in the process of remaking my website. You can get to the mdev article here: It’s poorly written and I plan on rewriting it before I launch my new website, but I hope its some help to you anyway. If you have any questions you can e-mail me at

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Some recent desktops

May 6, 2011
Musca 0.9.24 on Crux Linux
150Mhz Pentium 96Mb 8Gb CF

May 14, 2011
IceWM 1.2.37 and Arch Linux
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

Some recent games

Apr. 21, 2011
Oolite on Xubuntu 11.04
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