[EDIT: Well…phooey. It turns out that my system had 8GiB originally, not 4GiB, and I didn’t realize it. I thought it was 4 because I used the wrong command to check. (The correct command is
xl info not
free.) I even went and bought an 8GiB stick thinking all I had was 4GiB. It didn’t work much better if at all. I then realized that this stick was also saying 4GiB because of the wrong command I was using; got that sorted out…but never went back and checked the original stick until today (7 March '23). And it was an 8 GiB stick. Therefore, the entire premise of this post is BS; I was NOT running qubes on 4GiB with minimal templates. My apologies.]
I decided to take my Librem 13 v 3 and switch it to Qubes OS, using (initially) the same ISO from last March’s testing repository as I did with my “main” (desktop) computer. I stuck an old 1TB SSD into the laptop, divided it into two partitions (one for Qubes, the other for not-really-offline storage), then let Qubes reclaim the first partition (so now there’s a boot partition and all the other stuff LUKS needs).
I was able after a couple of days to largely duplicate my desktop’s setup. (I use salt, but I control it with bash scripts…so I was able to bring over the entire subdirectory under /srv/salt and use most of it. [The laptop has no ethernet, so I couldn’t do that; other things I didn’t do because they didn’t make sense.] I’ll be backporting that because I made changes to make it easier to use on both systems.)
One thing that surprised the daylights out of me though: I would occasionally get messages that I didn’t have enough memory to start another VM. On further investigation, I discovered my laptop only has 4 GB of RAM!!!
(The bare minimum for Qubes to work is supposed to be 6 with 16 recommended.)
Thanks to minimal templates, I’m able to run sys-net, sys-firewall, sys-cacher and a browser VM, but not much more than that. (I need to try cutting the browser VM’s memory.) I could probably run multiple non-browser qubes as long as it’s not video or image editing.
Anyway, I found it really cool I could get something functional in only 4 GiB of RAM! I’m sure it has everything to do with using minimal templates. (If anyone is curious, they’re Debian 11 based.)
(Note: Some will suggest I get more RAM. I would love to. In fact, I’ve tried that. It wouldn’t boot off a 16 Gib stick, but there’s an 8GiB stick in the system right now. The OS still only sees 4GiB of RAM even though the mem test clearly shows 8 GiB. I’m about to head over to the Purism forum to try to figure that one out. EDIT: Nope, I was an idiot. Should have used xl info to check memory.)