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So, I want to have a VM of a very minimal x86 Linux install, with networking support so I can download packages. All this VM is going to be used for is to learn NASM assembly, since all of the other Linux installs I have anywhere area all x86_64 installs.


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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Any distro will have an x86 version. If you really don't want to run X or anything like that, there are plenty of distros that offer minimal versions. Ubuntu and debian have minimal installs if you want to go that route.

I think what you'll get the most recommendations for is arch. It's got a good community with lots of tutorials and recipes for stuff. Also there's slackware and gentoo

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+1 for Arch. Perhaps easier to set up than Slackware or Gentoo, but doesn't install much of anything until you ask it to. – frabjous Nov 12 '10 at 17:18
Yeah arch will probably be the easiest to set up that gives you the most minimal install. – Falmarri Nov 12 '10 at 17:21
Yeah I asked around to a hardcore Linux friend of mine, and he said Arch as well. Installing now. Thanks mates :) – Chiggins Nov 12 '10 at 17:22
Another +1 for Arch Linux. – iamsid Nov 12 '10 at 19:17

Debian netinstall is really simple to use: http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/ It may look like it's hard to use but installer asks you a bunch of questions and all you have to do is to answer them and voila: you will have minimal system (it uses 36-38 mb of ram in idle mode with irssi on my pc without X).

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+1 for netinstall. You literally have nothing installed except what is absolutely necessary to run Linux, package management tools, and nano. This is why I chose it myself in 2005 to turn a 500Mhz/256mb RAM PC into a router. – LawrenceC Sep 15 '11 at 1:43

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