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We're looking for a rather lightweight, but at the same time easy to configure Linux distribution, which would have just one job - to host a VM - one at a time (others would be just stored there). At first i thought that ESXi would be perfect, but it has 2 drawbacks - it seems it doesn't support wireless NICs (our network is wireless) and you can't use VM locally. Advantage is VM could be accessed via local network.

Any suggestions? Is there a huge performance difference between for example Linux Mint as host and Gentoo as a host?

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What do you mean by "lightweight" and why do you need "lightweight"? – Bananguin Aug 27 '13 at 14:17
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Well, you can always make a distro leaner, by installing less, and only the essential packages.

It also depends on what type of VMs you're planning to run. Most VMs I run, is on Fedora, but that might not be what you need, if you plan on using XEN-based VMs.

When in doubt, I'd advise testing several distros over a period of maybe two or three weeks, and giving it some performance and security testing.

You might also want a more hybrid approach, and regarding the cluster of hosts and guests as a VM realm.

If security is a big issue, personally, I'd use an OpenBSD firewall (with pf) managing access. If you need many different VM solutions, for instance some running on VMWare some with KVM, some XEN or VirtualBox, I'd choose what's best, even if that means having different VM solutions running side by side on several machines.

I suggest you take a distro, that's easy to manage at first, for instance Debian, many packages, but you can install a minimal system. This will make it easier dealing with drivers, as well as giving you the selectability, so you can trim the system down for maximum performance.

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You probably should look at distrowatch.com, every time when you are looking for exotic distributive.

The one of the tiniest distributive, but with X, is a Tiny Core Linux, it is 12Mb. Even have a repository. Compare to debian's lenny(412 mb minimal), it is smallest one.

Download this linux from official page.

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I'm not gonna vote this down, but distrowatch is "a website tracking itself", it's not gonna tell you which distro to use, or even which one is the most popular. Tiny Core Linux as host OS for VMs? Well, I use Tiny Core on very old laptops, but I wouldn't use that for things like VirtualBox... – polemon Aug 27 '13 at 12:28

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