I need to install a Linux distribution on a PC Engine ALIX 1D board. The main storage device of that board is a 2 GB Compact Flash card.

My aim is to use this board as a middle device between two network gateway devices connected on a Virtual Private Network. This middle device will be running Wireshark to sniff packets traveling through the VPN. Any suggestions for a CF card installable (lightweight) Linux distro?

I would really appreciate a distribution that is easy to install and has good community support.

  • With CF card capacities way beyond several gigabytes and an x86-compatible processor, your choice of distros is virtually unlimited. You can use the CF card like any hard drive, but you should be aware that as a solid state memory device, it will only endure a certain number of write cycles per cell (usually about 10^6).
    – n.st
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:38
  • When you value an easy installation process and extensive community support, I would recommend Ubuntu (but that's just a personal preference, there might be others that are just as user-friendly and well supported).
    – n.st
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:41
  • My CF card is only 2 Gigabytes of capacity. Ubuntu won't fit in. Mar 21, 2014 at 17:56
  • Do you need a graphical environment? If yes, you'll be hard pressed for space. If not, Ubuntu Server might fit. If it doesn't you can use Debian (the distro Ubuntu is derived from) -- if you don't mind very stable and thus old packages.
    – n.st
    Mar 21, 2014 at 18:01
  • Also, I've added the 2 GB requirement to your question, since it's crucial for recommending a distribution.
    – n.st
    Mar 21, 2014 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


Try Xubuntu. I have had success running Xubuntu from 4GB CF in my Habey devices. I was also able to install Ubuntu server in the 4GB CF as well. I seem to recall successfully installing Ubuntu 10.04 server on a 2GB CF originally, but switched to 4GB (SanDisk Ultra 30MB/s) to have more space.

  • I am currently thinking of Debian for ALIX. The project wiki says that it can be installed on a 2 GB CF card. If I installed it successfully, I would answer my question myself. Mar 22, 2014 at 11:32

2 GB is plenty, you just need a distribution which does not install a full KDE/Gnome plus Office, Webbrowser, Mail, etc. suite by default. If you need some GUI programs you can install them individually later on. Debian for example lets you install a fairly minimal system, and so does Suse and quite a few others.

More important is the choice of the root filesystem. I would not rely on the SD card hardware to do wear leveling for you, so a copy-on-write filesystem like btrfs is recommended. Ext3/4 might write to identical sectors constantly and reduce the lifespan of the card significantly.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .