In my search for Linux distros that can run on extremely modest resources, I found the following alternatives:

  1. TCL - Tiny Core Linux
  2. DSL - Damn Small Linux
  3. TTY - ttylinux
  4. Feather - Feather Linux

The comparison between these various options is mind boggling. It's like comparing between apples and oranges. I don't have the time to install and become proficient in all of them. I must chose only one.

Is there a recommended process for selecting the most suitable tiny linux distro?

  • 1
    "Extremely modest" suggests OpenWrt or other distributions targetting the embedded sector. – sr_ Nov 21 '11 at 14:26
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    As @sr_ seems to be hinting at, what level of "modest" are we talking about here? A laptop with 500MHz/256MB? A router? A webserver on a toaster? (that last one was done with NetBSD IIRC) And do you want just a command line or X11 too? – Kevin Nov 21 '11 at 15:59
  • You are both correct. At this point @sr_'s answer satisfies me as I do need X11 and I don't want it for a router. – ateiob Nov 21 '11 at 16:29

A first step is determining what you want...i.e. a complete Desktop environment with X11 and a graphical web browser?

[ttylinux] provides a complete command line environment and is ready for Internet access.

Forget this, then.

Comparing the other three via their Wikipedia entries, I'd first drop Feather Linux as it seems dormant.

Then see this note on DSL's page:(1)

Due to infighting among the project's originators and main developers, DSL development seems to be at a standstill, and the future of the project is uncertain, much to the dismay of many of the users.

By exclusion and from these four, I'd end up with Tiny Core (or maybe Micro Core without the graphical desktop but then you need another reason to exclude ttylinux). Also note that their core concepts are interesting and probably differ from one is used to with other distributions.

Of course, many general-purpose distributions can probably be trimmed down to be resource-friendly, so Debian (especially Emdebian) (or Arch) could be a winner, too. (Not to mention non-Linux OSes, e.g. {Net,Free,Open}BSD)

(1) Edit: DSL "is once again being actively developed" (as an anonymous edit request pointed out)

  • I couldn't expect a better answer than this. Thank you! – ateiob Nov 21 '11 at 16:30
  • What about just busybox? – CMCDragonkai Jun 3 '14 at 0:42

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