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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.

marked as duplicate by PersianGulf, Volker Siegel, chaos, cuonglm, Anthon May 17 '15 at 14:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


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
  • 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

Try Debian netinstall OR businesscard iso. http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/

  • 1
    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 ... :) – Abhishek A Aug 31 '11 at 7:54

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.

  • 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

You could use "Debian Live" to create your custom live Debian image.



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

  • 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

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.


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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