I want a small linux distribution, that includes the following open source packages:

busybox samba afpd avahi pureftpdftp minidlna transmission

I thought, I can compile one from sources, but it's too complicated for me... I have a Dlink DNS-325 NAS, but the built-in firmware doesn't do everything what I want and with FFP it's a little bit slow.

  • 2
    Why does it matter what size the distribution is? Nobody uses an entire distribution, they just use parts. So if you want a small installation, make it a small installation. Ubuntu server is a pretty accessible, GUI free option. – goldilocks Jul 14 '13 at 18:17
  • Because the NAS have a very little NAND flash (only 128MB), and the u-Boot, the Linux Kernel and the userland image must fit within. – gazsiazasz Jul 14 '13 at 19:36
  • 1
    Don't go with Ubuntu server. It's good, but it tends to be generous when installing optional dependencies. Plus it comes with a bunch of stuff by default. – strugee Jul 14 '13 at 23:22

Basically, any ARM compatible distro is worth a try, it does not need to be small, just configurable.

I would recommend you go with Arch which installs a minimal system but makes it easy for you to expand it by downloading and installing packages, but the choice is yours.

You can find help on installing Debian on your NAS here and a user here reports successful installation of Arch.


If you are limited to ~100MB, you could try one of the following choices depending on your architecture (you have not specified which arm):

  • IPFire (the description blurb is from distrowatch.com):

    IPFire is a Linux distribution that focusses on easy setup, good handling and high level of security. It is operated via an intuitive web-based interface which offers many configuration options for beginning and experienced system administrators. IPFire is maintained by developers who are concerned about security and who update the product regularly to keep it secure. IPFire ships with a custom package manager called Pakfire and the system can be expanded with various add-ons.

    102.5MB ISO image
    Architecture: armv5tel, i586

  • TinyCore Linux (the description blurb is from distrowatch.com):

    Tiny Core Linux is a 12 MB graphical Linux desktop. It is based on a recent Linux kernel, BusyBox, Tiny X, Fltk, and Flwm. The core runs entirely in memory and boots very quickly. The user has complete control over which applications and/or additional hardware to have supported, be it for a desktop, a nettop, an appliance or server; selectable from the project's online repository.

    Architecture: armhf, i486, x86_64

  • Linux from Scratch: A very good clear guide and set of instructions on how to build your own Linux from, well, scratch.

  • Install on a USB stick and boot the NAS from there as described here. I have never tried this so I can't testify as to any possible problems, or whether it will be slow etc. In any case, it is very easy to do so you might as well give it a go and check it out.

  • Is there an arch linux image, which smaller than ~100MB? I know these pages, I Googled through the entire internet :) But I'd like to preserve the u-Boot partition in its original format and the partition scheme too for later restoring the original firmware, when I don't go luck. – gazsiazasz Jul 14 '13 at 19:37
  • @gazsiazasz ah, OK, I see the problem. In the future, please try and include this kind of detail in your question. Also, if you have considered some of the obvious alternatives, please mention that so we don't waste time suggesting options you have already discarded. – terdon Jul 14 '13 at 22:37
  • @gazsiazasz I've updated my answer with some more options. – terdon Jul 14 '13 at 23:16
  • Yes, I'd like to have a linux from scratch. I looked at Buildroot, what would be good choice for me, but I'm not familiar with it. It seems too complicated to build kernel packages, and search for dependencies, cross compile everytheing and when one of the packages updated I must do the whole thing again and again. Therefore it would be great to have a small distro (for example OpenELEC without XBMC) which I can strip down to fit in my NAS box. It's architecture is ARMv5 - ARM9 family (doesn't have VFP in it, so hard float distributions are not a go) In Debian world it's called armv5ej-s. – gazsiazasz Jul 15 '13 at 8:11
  • @gazsiazasz you're welcome. Please edit your question and add all the extra details you have given in the comments, it will greatly increase your chances of getting a good answer. – terdon Jul 15 '13 at 11:37

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