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I've developed some application which uses a browser in order to run. The usage of the browser is simply for the GUI which is built with html/css/js (there are lot of js animations). Currently, the application runs on a 2.1GHz CPU and 4GB of RAM.

I was looking for linux OS (based on debian/ubuntu) that will use the least amount of resources. After some research, I saw that there is Lubuntu and LXLE which both seems to be pretty efficient. However, the most ideal thing will be running something like Ubuntu Server and then install the least amount of packages in order to get Chrome working on it.

The OS I'm looking for is some OS that when it has loaded, it will use the least amount of resources as possible. For example, I have 2.1GHz CPU and 4GB RAM, when the OS has fully loaded, the OS will use about 2% of the CPU and MAX 300MB of RAM to "stay alive" which then will leave 3.7GB of ram and 98% of the CPU free for other tasks.

Another requirement is to be able to install Nginx, Mysql, PHP and some other small CLI components on the OS.

I want the single instance of web browser that will run to have all of the PC resources except to the OS system's resources.

Are there any distributions that can do this?

  • This is going to be hard to pin down unless you make you requirements very specific. At the moment it's either too broad or opinion based. You could try to edit and explain precisely what you need this distro to be able to do. What kind of resource usage is "light" for you? In the meantime, have a look at damnsmalllinux.org and puppylinux.org – terdon Jun 8 '15 at 16:54
  • By "I want the single instance of web browser that will run to have all of the PC resources", do you mean you won't be running an X server on this system (perhaps running the X server on a remote system)? – Mark Plotnick Jun 8 '15 at 17:00
  • @MarkPlotnick The server and the graphics has to be on the same machine to cut costs. What I mean is, all I need the OS to do is to actually let me run a web browser and queues. I just need to have a OS that consumes the least resources and frees all of the remaining resources to other applications that may need it. In this case, it will be an instance of some web browser. – kfirba Jun 8 '15 at 17:08
  • @terdon I'm not sure what you mean by "too broad question" what other information do you need? – kfirba Jun 8 '15 at 17:08
  • Basically, questions asking about "best distro for X" are not a good fit for the site. It comes down to opinion. Same goes for "lightest". You would need to edit and describe precisely what your minimum requirements are. This sort of thing is much better as a discussion in Unix & Linux Chat than as a question on the site. Did you check out the two distros I suggested? – terdon Jun 8 '15 at 17:11
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The distribution is mostly irrelevant here. You aren't at a scale where you need to squeeze every byte of memory and disk space.

The one part that can consume a lot of memory is the desktop environment. You don't need a fancy desktop environment to run a single application. In fact, you don't need a desktop environment at all: just a bare X server and a full-screen application. It's called a kiosk. You can do this on any distribution.

So just pick Debian or Ubuntu or whatever you fancy as an administrator. And set it up for a kiosk. There are plenty of tutorials on the web, including pointers in this Ask Ubuntu question.

  • Thanks for your reply! Seems to be exactly what I need. However, I read that making a kiosk out of Ubuntu Server is more resource friendly instead of making a kiosk out of Ubuntu Desktop. However, I could only find guides that shows how to create a kiosk from a Ubuntu Desktop. Do you have any resources that will show me how to do so from Ubuntu Server? (Explained in details if possible - chrome preferred) – kfirba Jun 9 '15 at 10:54
  • @kfirba The only difference between Ubuntu server and Ubuntu desktop is the default set of installed packages. A tutorial for one works just as well for the other and there won't be any difference in performance since the end result will be the same. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 9 '15 at 10:58
  • I see. I'm pretty sure that somewhere else I've read that in order to install web browser on Ubuntu server I will need to install some GUI packages? Also, if I get you right, if I do something like apt-get install chrome on Ubuntu server, will I be able to somehow launch it in my server without any additions? – kfirba Jun 9 '15 at 14:11
  • @kfirba Install the xserver-xorg package to get a GUI. It's possible to run GUI applications on a machine without having a local display, if you only use a remote display, so the dependency management for Chrome will not mark a local GUI as required. It might install it nonetheless, because there may be a “recommended” dependency somewhere, but just make sure that xserver-xorg ends up installed and you'll be good. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 9 '15 at 14:56
  • I'm testing it right now. I just can't get it work. Also, even with when installing Ubuntu Server it seems like the server is running 88(!) processes, I think it's a lot. I simply installed a fresh new Ubuntu Server which i've downloaded from their website. Ran: sudo apt-get install chromium-browser and then sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg libexif12 but I still can't get chrome to run. When I try to run chromium-browser it says Gtk: cannot open display Any recommendations how to set this up properly? – kfirba Jun 9 '15 at 18:49

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