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I've been trying to find a Linux distribution to fit my needs but I need something that seems to be more minimal then "minimal" distributions (Eg: Microcore Linux) seem to provide.

I don't need X, I don't need networking, I need something that can launch a bash script, which runs a modified version of dc3dd, which talks to a serial device and outputs information to a user via the normal console and nothing else. It'll be booted from read only media (Probably a disc but could also be write protected SD card) and will run on x86 platforms. It'll need to access SATA/IDE hard drives. I don't have any memory limitations but anything that isn't being used needs to be gone.

Can anyone point me in the right direction or perhaps to a tool which can build something I am looking for? I'm hoping to spend as little time as possible on altering an existing distribution so I can focus on the application itself.

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6 Answers

This is my first post on stackexchange. I've not heard about tinycore|microcore|multicore linux before, i'll try to check 'em out.

Back to your question ryan: take initramfs of microcore and do following. (NOTE: i haven't tried this with microcore distro but i've used this long time back with DSL and Knoppix)

# check if your initramfs is gz compressed
# proceed only if it is gz or ASCII cpio file

file /path/to/initramfs.img

# if it is a gzip compressed rename it as .gz while cp'ing (see below)
# otherwise if it's cpio skip the rename and gzip/gunzip steps
# if its none of gizp or cpio, ignore my answer

mkdir -p /tmp/x/ramfs
cp /path/to/initramfs.img /tmp/x/initramfs.img.gz  # refer comments above
cd /tmp/x
gunzip initramfs.img.gz
cd ramfs
cpio -i -d < ../initramfs.img

# At this point you'll have complete FS including /bin

cp /path/to/dc3dd bin/

# make sure you're in /tmp/x/ramfs
find . | cpio -v -o -F ../initramfs.img # careful you've just overwritten
cd ..
gzip initramfs.img
mv initramfs.img.gz initramfs.img

Hope this helps.

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Thanks for this, I just have to identify dependencies and remove everything else I don't need but if I base it on microcore that shouldn't be difficult. –  ryan Aug 31 '11 at 0:02
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Try Debian netinstall OR businesscard iso. http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/

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Those are heavier then Microcore Linux. –  ryan Aug 30 '11 at 6:49
    
never heard about Microcore before... just 6MB thing... should solve your purpose ... :) –  greenmang0 Aug 31 '11 at 7:54
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Take Debian and put the dc3dd binary into the initrd archive. Then you don't need a Linux partition at all, just basic files for USB booting on FAT.

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I think this is the way to go but I'm struggling to find relevant information on how to do this. –  ryan Aug 30 '11 at 10:08
    
@ryan check out mkinitramfs and the tree under /etc/initramfs-tools –  Steve-o Aug 30 '11 at 10:12
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You could use "Debian Live" to create your custom live Debian image.

http://live.debian.net/

http://live.debian.net/devel/live-build/

Packages: live-build, live-magic (GUI)

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I tried this first off but I wasn't too happy with the results as other distros were already smaller and lighter. –  ryan Aug 30 '11 at 12:58
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I think that SliTaz GNU/Linux is something that may interest you. It's mini distribution. Base system - 30 MB ISO, after installation 60 MB, minimal version - 8 MB ISO, after installation 30 MB. In minimal version there is no X server, but there is support for networking. Both versions are LiveCDs with possibility to install on disk.

Slitaz have their own package management system - at this moment there is about 3000 packages in repository so it shouldn't be a problem to install apps that you need.

Distro is still developed (I recommend to use cooking version not stable), so there are updates for packages.

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There are many small distros, small enough for a USB, yet rather complete. Look around on DistroWatch

Damn Small Linux

Puppy Linux

Search for tiny linux distro

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