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Hi I'm looking for a suitable linux server distro that:
- Doesn't use much RAM.
- Relatively easy RAM disk setup (plus if the OS out of box can run directly from ramdisk)
- GUI isn't needed, but if it supports a lightweight one then that is okay :)
- Got a x64 and x86 version, supporting more archs is an added bonus.
- Well documented.
- Got a lot and well maintained extensions.

So far I have looked at:
1. SliTaz (since there isn't a x64 version, it is a no-go)
2. Porteus
3. CrunchBang Linux
4. Puppy Linux
5. Unity Linux
6. CentOS
7. Debian

I want to use it as a base for a specialized install, the applications I need to run are webserver (Cherokee), php-fastcgi, database (MariaDB), ssh, ftp server, VoIP server (teamspeak 3), python, java applications, own developed apps and scripts..., and I also an easy way to change the installation procedure, so I can add custom configuration steps.

So in short should I take an already very specialized distro and customize it (include some bash scripts to install/configure applications)? Or should I take a larger "mainstream" distro and customize that (if it is the way to go, how is it then done)?

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If you're comfortable with compiling your own software, Gentoo offers the Catalyst project that lets you build a completely customized system from scratch. – Handyman5 Oct 15 '11 at 8:13
Slackware. – adaptr Oct 18 '11 at 14:57
up vote 0 down vote accepted

In fact you can use whatever distribution you are confortable with, the only thing you should think about is how far from your result you decide to start.

If you want a practical hint: minimal Debian installation is ~ 150 MB, you can strip it down removing unused locales and /usr/share/doc. You can compile your custom kernel (as in any other linux distribution) to use specific cpu-feature and save more space not compiling modules you don't need.

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Since Porteus is modular in design, you should be able to reduce your RAM usage by deleting the modules you don't need. In the /porteus/base folder, you could go with just the kernel and core modules to get a text-based system up and running (keeping the xorg and lxde modules would get you a GUI). You can create and burn a customized ISO with the included tools once you add your custom software. You can have it run from RAM using the "copy2ram" cheatcode, and you can also use the "ramsize=" cheatcode to play with how much of your RAM is set aside for the root aufs partition. If you'd like more info, feel free to visit the porteus forum, at

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