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Which Linux distro is most lightweight for running virtual machines?

I've been using Linux for a year or two full time. I do a lot of programming, and I'm pretty good at it, so I started making video tutorials. Sadly, one of the languages I've spent a lot of time learning only works on Windows. I can't/won't install a Windows OS to my computer, so I've been using VirtualBox as an emulator. My problem is that it runs quite slowly, which can be attributed to using Ubuntu with GNOME, having a mess of other processes and services running at the same time, and the fact that it's emulation it self. I'd like to eliminate the first two... so my question is:

What are some lightweight Linux distros that will give high speeds to an emulator?

Here are the details of my situation.

  • I have a 64 bit computer, AMD. I typically use 32 bit Linux due to compatibility issues.

  • I almost need a binary of the emulator. I don't think I've successfully compiled someone else's program. Hence me using Ubuntu ;-)

  • VirtualBox, VMWare Player, I don't care. Anything that doesn't cost money, and can run Windows XP is fine.

  • Wobbly windows, etc. don't matter. I just want it to work, it doesn't have to be pretty. Heck, I can deal with just a console as long as the emulator works.

  • It doesn't have to be perfect. I'm just trying to optimize where I can.

Personal experience and hard facts are both encouraged. Thanks.

Need more detail? Just ask!


I have Debian installing on my main computer right now. On a SO question I ran into, it mentions Tiny Core Linux. The site says it's 10mb, which is so small it can't come with much out of the box. Even though I installed Debian already, it's still early enough to change to something better.

If there isn't a great performance kick from TCL, and Debian does what I need it to, this question's probably answered. I'll just answer and accept it.

marked as duplicate by Michael Mrozek Dec 26 '11 at 17:33

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You might face a different problem here. Try to reduce to one CPU in your VM for windows. Is it faster after that?

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