I need a small distro, that is stable. I don't need a full X server or window manager, I only need it to run one single application with a basic UI that consists of a viewport.

I would like for the distro to be as small as possible. 700 mb or less would be ideal.

Is their a base distro of ubuntu or similar that I can add whatever I need to it from the command line. Which basically is the kernel and some way of graphical output. I was thinking of putting Direct FB on it to render the application. Even a live distro would work.

  • Note: you do need X (or Wayland) no matter what to run graphics.
    – strugee
    Oct 16, 2013 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


Have a look at TinyCore Linux. It comes in two variants, one CLI and one including X.

The X version including a window manager and a simple desktop is about 12MiB. If you don't need a window manager, you can just start X and your application. A window manager is not required.

  • Hi Marco. I think this is exactly what I will use. It is the perfect size an allows me to build up. I already downloaded the microcore and tinycore to get things moving. Thank you. Oct 17, 2013 at 0:30

You could also try the aptly named Damn Small Linux:

Damn Small Linux is a very versatile 50MB mini desktop oriented Linux distribution.

Damn Small is small enough and smart enough to do the following things:

  • Boot from a business card CD as a live linux distribution (LiveCD)

  • Boot from a USB pen drive

  • Boot from within a host operating system (that's right, it can run inside Windows)

  • Run very nicely from an IDE Compact Flash drive via a method we call "frugal install"

  • Transform into a Debian OS with a traditional hard drive install

  • Run light enough to power a 486DX with 16MB of Ram

  • Run fully in RAM with as little as 128MB (you will be amazed at how fast your computer can be!)

  • Modularly grow -- DSL is highly extendable without the need to customize


I recommend Arch Linux.

Doesn't include X or any kind of graphical interface, but you can easily install if you like, it is also tiny (529 MB), it has great support and the flexibility to whatever you want.

  • 3
    529 without x Is too large for my purpose. Thank you though. Oct 17, 2013 at 0:28

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