What is the best Linux (or at least ABI-compatible) OS distribution to use for building a custom image for small 1GB 1cpu VMs?

Hello. According to DO’s online docs, the following things are true:

  • If a VM has less than 3GB of RAM then a 32 bit OS is the best option for it.
  • There are no longer any 32 bit standard DO-supported (non-custom) OS images available.

Additionally it seems like there’s the issue of what software (especially closed source) will continue to support 32 bit systems.

So, uh, what to do? Is the 64 bit memory waste really that bad?

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Site Moderator
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November 18, 2023
Accepted Answer

Heya @robertstone,

It seems that is some outdated information right there which we’ve passed to the relevant team to resolve.

As for your other question, no, the 64 bit memory waste isn’t that bad and you can use a 64 bit OS with a Droplet that has less RAM than 3GBs.

Having said that, if you are doing so, I’ll recommend you to check SWAP and how to add it to your Droplet

It should help ease any concerns of that sort.

Site Moderator
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November 22, 2023


Overall, it is recommended that you use a 64-bit OS, even if you have a VM with less than 3GB of RAM. This is because 64-bit OSes offer several advantages over 32-bit OSes, including:

  • The ability to address more RAM
  • Improved performance for certain types of applications
  • Increased security

Additionally, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find software that supports 32-bit systems. This is because most software developers are now focusing on developing 64-bit software. As a result, you may have trouble running some software on a 32-bit system.

Hope that this helps!

Bobby Iliev
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November 17, 2023

Hey Robert,

Faced with a similar challenge, I had to get a bit creative with my VM setups. For 1GB 1CPU VMs, 64-bit has become quite efficient these days.

While there’s some concern about the memory overhead with 64-bit, in practice, it’s not usually a dealbreaker. With 1GB of RAM, the difference can be negligible, unless every megabyte counts for your application. Plus, with the way things are going, 32-bit support is becoming rarer, and you might find yourself with a better long-term path sticking to 64-bit.

You can always add a swap file for some extra memory buffer:

If you still want to try out a custom image, I’ve used Puppy Linux in the past, as it is a lightweight OS. Given its minimal resource needs, it’s perfect for VMs that don’t have much to spare.

I will pass your feedback internally as well!



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