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CLI System Requirements

asked 2011-12-27 20:08:42 +0100

joe gravatar image

Can I run Sage using only the command line (not the notebook interface) on my extremely low end system?

My Specs
cpu: 433MHz Intel Celeron
ram: 256MB
hdd: 13GB
Debian Squeeze LXDE

I currently am running Maxima ( on this computer. I generate scripts in a text editor. Then I run Maxima in a terminal and use a command to run the script. I've been trying to learn/review a couple of classes (signals & systems, analog and digital communications) and Maxima has been an excellent tool. I was getting so bogged down in integration and trig IDs.

I'm not an advanced user but I'm at the point where I would like to tinker some of the Maxima packages. And I found they are written in Lisp which I am unfamiliar with. I've been reading/doing lisp tutorials and stumbled across a discussion about Sage. It is my understanding that Sage uses Maxima and it has a CLI. It is also my understanding that Sage is built using Python (which I know a little better than lisp)...and I could write scripts using python.

I couldn't find Sage in the Debian repo. And after reading some of the Sage website it looks like they recommend 2GB of ram.

Before I go thru the process of installing Sage and all of the programs it needs (without my Synaptic security blanket), I would like to get some input. Especially from folks who use the CLI. My hope is that the command line is much less cpu/ram intensive than the fantastic looking GUI.

Worst comes to worst I'll just have to learn Lisp. I'm sure Lisp is the reason Maxima even runs on my 12 year old system.


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answered 2011-12-28 05:43:35 +0100

I guess Shashank is referring to the Live CD option. (Pls correct me Shashank!) Its very portable solution, IMHO, which requires lot of resources, especially more memory.

I was successful (to compile, install and run) with sage on my 7-year old DELL with Celeron 1.3GHz, 256MB RAM, 40GB HDD with Ubuntu 9.04. (I have about 2GB swap).

I downloaded the tarball (sage-4.5)and compiled it using make. It took almost 13/14 hours for the compilation. (Of course I had already taken care of the dependency issues. Make sure about versions of gcc & m4.)

Here is a small tip to speedup the process little bit. (Got them from sage-support mailing list)


$ export SAGE_CHECK="yes"

$ make

Then after successful compilation, you can try ./sage -testall and wait for few more hours. (I have skipped this step and ran my own code). The only problem with this is it takes too much time and sometimes the process appears to be hanged.

So I am pretty much sure that sage can run your system. Wish you all the best with compilation!

-- VInay

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Never set SAGE_CHECK when building Sage. It is a development option only. Also, don't set SAGE_PARALLEL_SPKG_BUILD if your system is RAM-starved. Less can go wrong if you build everything in a single thread.

Volker Braun gravatar imageVolker Braun ( 2011-12-28 09:55:30 +0100 )edit

@Volker Braun: but as long as MAKE isn't set to something with more than one thread, you should still be ok, right?

kcrisman gravatar imagekcrisman ( 2011-12-28 10:19:25 +0100 )edit

Yes, as long as you don't set MAKE to anything the SAGE_PARALLEL_SPKG_BUILD environment variable should not make any difference. But never set SAGE_CHECK when compiling Sage.

Volker Braun gravatar imageVolker Braun ( 2011-12-28 13:22:15 +0100 )edit

I don't think Shashank was thinking of the Live CD, I think he ment Sage is a self contained meta distribution of software without dependencies. But for completeness about memory consumption of the Live CD solution: The Live CD can run in different modes and can be installed differently to harddisk. Obviously it will be slow to run sage from CD on a 256 MB machine (with swap) For RAM challenged systems (anything below 512 MB), FULL Install of the Live CD is the best option (choose from Menu / "Universal Installer Wizard" ) This will need a dedicated harddisk partition and the files will be extracted from the compressed file system. Even then there might be lots of calculations which will be slow because of swapping, but it might as well be pretty smooth - it depends on the pattern of usage.

Emil Widmann gravatar imageEmil Widmann ( 2011-12-28 13:29:19 +0100 )edit

Yes that is exactly what I meant.

Shashank gravatar imageShashank ( 2011-12-28 15:55:01 +0100 )edit

answered 2011-12-27 23:22:02 +0100

kcrisman gravatar image

Sage has been built and run on very low-end devices. Yours probably doesn't have enough RAM to build Sage, though you could try (ATLAS seems to be a blocking point). It certainly has been built on systems with 512 MB, maybe some sort of swap thing could make it work (I am not an expert on this part at all), you could try.

As to running it, though, you might as well see if there is an appropriate binary on the download page (see Shashank's answer). If that doesn't work, though, don't give up hope! The sage-support email list is a good place to ask questions about whether someone might have the same system as you do, but with a little more RAM so that they can build it, then send you a binary. You should have (just barely) enough memory to actually run it, and certainly enough hard drive to download and unpack it.

Good luck!

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answered 2011-12-27 21:03:00 +0100

Shashank gravatar image

The good thing about sage is that it is a disk image, so there is no dependency I am aware of. I have never tried running sage on a low end machine, but you can give it a try, since the installation is very easy. As you may be aware that Ubuntu is a debian based system, so it should work on a Debian machine well.

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Archlinux is another option. Because archlinux package is .tar.xz (with pkgbuild though), one can unzip it to anywhere. It has sage as well.

tririver gravatar imagetririver ( 2011-12-28 08:58:01 +0100 )edit

answered 2011-12-28 21:20:45 +0100

joe gravatar image

Thank you all for the responses.

Based on your input I am going to hold off on installing Sage on my current computer. In the next 4 to 5 days I want to get through as much of the school material I have downloaded as I can. I'm going to continue to use Maxima for the symbolic math. I'm going to use another program I found for the rest (called Octave). I have used Matlab and the c programming language to some extent in the past so Octave has been really easy for me. Not the setup I wanted but it is working for the moment.

I will have access to another linux box soon. So I see Sage in my future! Thank you again for your input.

P.S. I am very happy I found and posted on this website. Google led me to the and that site led me here. And I thought to myself "Wow, this site looks kinda sketchy...I wonder if it is legit" I almost didn't register, but I'm glad I did.

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Great! It's also possible to ask questions anonymously, by the way.

kcrisman gravatar imagekcrisman ( 2011-12-29 10:09:39 +0100 )edit

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Asked: 2011-12-27 20:08:42 +0100

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Last updated: Dec 28 '11