Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I looked all over the internet and couldn't find the answer to my question. If you use a source based distro, does that lower download sizes, compared to binary? If so, how significant is it? (Provide an example if you could).

I have slow internet and I would like to cut downloading time and rather use that time to compile.


share|improve this question
Binary packages are smaller than source packages, everyone knows that. – Ярослав Рахматуллин Oct 29 '12 at 7:38
@ЯрославРахматуллин everyone must learn it once to then know it – Enigma Nov 6 '13 at 17:03
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The answer you ask has a catch you seem to ignore: You can not boot a source file.

The core (installer, kernel, C compiler, other essential programs) will need to be downloaded as binaries. Additional package can be either pre-compiled or as source.

The best goal to minimize downloading would be to only download what you need. Start with a minimal installation set. Then decide which programs you want to add and how you want to manage them. Either via download as source (e.g. via a BSD ports tree or via Gentoo portage) or a pre-compiled binary. The last preferably in a package format such as rpm so you can not just install your system, but also keep it up to date without significant overhead.

As for an example: Those depend a lot on which examples you choose. The only fair comparison would be from a full system install (with average used programs) and to compare those. And then we need to start a discussion (with no clear answers) on what average installed programs are.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.