I'd like to do some IPv6 testing at home, using VirtualBox. I could create a few VMs and leave it at that, but I feel that to really test IPv6 you have to scale up to many nodes.

So I wonder: what's the smallest distribution of Linux or BSD that I could use for this? I only need IPv6 support, a shell and a few net utilities (ping, telnet, nslookup/dig, and little more).

My aim is to create many small VMs, ideally with RAM-backed storage (I've got 12GB of RAM, and using multiattach images I should be able to store them in tmpfs for quicker access) and little RAM (<=64MB). Then I'd unleash them against some radvd and/or dhcp6 server to test IPv6 stuff.

  • You need approximately two nodes for testing basic IPv6 connectivity and routing. Unless of course you're trying to do load testing, but then again a single computer isn't up to that task. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 22:17
  • Why VirtualBox, rather than virtual environments on Linux?Something cgroups-based would be lighter-weight. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 23:25

4 Answers 4


You can try following Linux Distros

There are many more and most of them have IPv6 support. You will need to check them individually.

Also mind looking this Wikipedia Page.

  • Tiny Core Linux seems to be quite what I'm looking for. The 8MB version is just a BusyBox with some tools, and works directly from RAM (no install needed). Thanks!
    – rsuarez
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 7:54

You could look into NanoBSD. It is a build of FreeBSD designed for embedded systems so it requires very little memory and is designed to run from small read-only media.

As an added bonus you can build FreeBSD without IPv4 support.

  • Linux from scratch is the smallest and lightest, but it requires a lot of prep work.
  • KIWI\SuSE Studio offers the flexibility as you can test drive it and specify which packages you want\don't want.
  • A ramfs with BusyBox is a hack, but it is fast and small.

It all depends on how much work you want to put in it. I think LFS is fun, but SuSE Studio is easy. The ones that peril brain mentioned are prebuilt.


I suggest Debian.

Using the net installer and deselecting all of the tasksel options (e.g., Desktop System, Web Server, etc.) gives you a very small base installation. You can add on what you need, only what you need and you have access to everything Debian offers.

My minimal Debian VM (which I built exactly the way I described) is using only 28 MB of RAM without even spending any effort on optimizing it.

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