Running #Moodle on an Old Laptop

Source: http://goo.gl/EGhGA

Thanks to this question shared to the MoodleMayhem email list....
I've come across an old laptop (Fujitsu Lifebook, 1.7 Ghz Pentium M with 512 MB of RAM) and I installed Ubuntu server with Moodle 1.9 with no theme.  I've got it plugged into the LAN right beside my desk.  It won't be open to the outside world, just to my lab.  I was wanting to use it for a class I'm doing that only has a max of 28  concurrent users.  I've found that I've been able to get about 8-10 on it no problem but it REALLY chugs when I put more than that on it.  Can this laptop do the job or is this a lost cause?  Would adding RAM help? Are there tweaks I can do to apache, moodle, or some other software that could help?  Thanks!Source: Email from anonymized source (feel free to identify yourself in the comments)
A few responses were forthcoming that actually helped solve the problem:
In our place- africa that is still a laptop with acceptable. To answer your question it will run the Moodle i have done it
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I want to say it's the RAM but hate for you to base a purchase decision on my recommendation for more RAM. That said, if you don't have other options--like a newer machine--then load up the RAM.
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I'd say your issue is RAM more than anything else.  Moodle recommends 50MB of RAM for each concurrent session.  At 512MB, once you take away the RAM used by the OS itself, you're looking at 300-ish MB left over for Moodle.  That fits with what you're seeing; more than 6 users and you run out of resources.
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 that's a very clear/concise stat (one that I had not heard before).  I did a little digging, here's the page of origin: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Installing_Moodle#Hardware
Thanks for sharing that! very useful in trying to ascertain the costs of a Moodle setup for anyone using a service like Rackspacecloud.com.
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Well, I bit the bullet and ordered the RAM.  Two GB for $40.  I hope that does it. Crucial.com says it will take 2 GB.  I hope they're right!
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I got the RAM installed and tested out with my kids today.  I was able to handle 28 kids no problem!  Thanks for all the help.
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Comments

Josh said…
I saw this in my twitter feed and thought, "That sounds just like my problem," and it was! Thanks to Moodle Mayhem for all the help!
Andrew Chlup said…
RAM is always good, but PHP caching makes an even bigger differance. If you haven't used APC caching then check it out.

apt-get install php-apc

Then check out http://docs.moodle.org/en/Installing_APC_in_Windows#Customizing_APC_settings_for_Moodle for optimal configuration tweaking.

:)
Josh said…
Andrew, you're right! I just tweaked my server using your info and it was like slamming down the gas pedal on the box. The whole site is noticeably faster even with a full class on it.

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