I require some basic utils like ls, dd, zip, and fdisk so that I can clone a HD of a Windows Machine.

I will be using Linux only for this dd clone, then shutting down.

Rather than booting up a rather heavy Linux Distro(like Ubuntu) from a Live CD, I am wondering is there a very lightweight way of going about this, Perhaps I can install this "Lightweight" distro to a USB and boot from it?

I have heard of Linux From Scratch, but I think thats too deep for my level of knowledge.

  • Any installation or rescue disks will satisfy those requirements. I would personally choose Gentoo. – Julie Pelletier Aug 25 '16 at 13:33
  • Looks like some busybox based system might suffice for you. – phk Aug 25 '16 at 13:35
  • @phk I have never heard of busybox, will google it now, Is there any specific busybox you can recommend of the top? – PapaDontPreach Aug 25 '16 at 13:38
  • @JuliePelletier Ok I will keep it in mind. – PapaDontPreach Aug 25 '16 at 13:38

Boot up the LiveCD. It is by far the easiest method - trying to find something "lightweight" will take longer than it would to simply boot, clone, and shut down. Building something would be even worse. The live CD won't need to be installed anywhere, just boot it and go.

  • can you recommend the lightest LiveCD? – PapaDontPreach Aug 25 '16 at 13:37
  • @PapaDontPreach it's probably not the smallest available, but I like GRML for this kind of task — its "small" variant is only 230MB and can be booted from a USB key. – Stephen Kitt Aug 25 '16 at 13:42
  • I've always used RHEL, CentOS, or Fedora systems. Pick whichever distro flavor you're most comfortable with - for what you need to do, there's no real difference between any of them. – John Aug 25 '16 at 13:52

I've run into enough situations under which I desperately needed a good live-CD, for just a basic thing, which later was heavily expanded to need some follow up. I know it's hated, but as long as it's a stable version of it, you will never need to update. I am of course taking about Arch. Takes about 10 minutes from download to boot, and gives you with the bare package everything needed for re-partitioning, and data allocation, actually comes with extensive partitioning utils, seeing as a lot of people I know use if for Partition management.


I'd suggest looking at a single-use distro, like GParted.

It's a rather minimal distro, but comes with the standard set of utilities, that you mentioned (and a couple more). Fits nicely on a small USB drive, too.

Another such tiny distro is TinyCore. At just 16MB in size, it's a minimal, but complete distro, with everything you might need, when you know what you're doing. Even at that small size it comes with a graphical interface. There's an even smaller release simply called "Core". At just 11MB, it comes with just command line interface, but it otherwise a small but decent OS.

TinyCore and its variant TinyCore Plus (106MB) are my go-to distros for very old computers. Like mid-90's laptops, or early 90's desktop computers (think 486'es).

All TinyCore variants boot from USB sticks or optical media.

Fli4l is another niche distro, geared to work as a small server for home use. It's supposed to support telephony, etc. Similar to OpenWRT, so not sure if you'd be happy with it.

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