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Has anyone tried to build a really light server that uses the least amount of space and memory, while giving high performance?

I would assume that linux kernel can be configured to keep only features that virtualbox, vmware or xen uses.

Gentoo with its USE flags might be the best option. But are there distros that are optimized specifically to run web servers under virtual machines?

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feel free to correct me. I have experience with gentoo but I don't have experience maintaining a web server fro more than few days. –  kirill_igum Apr 26 '12 at 5:18

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Or TinyCore with thttpd.

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Damn Small Linux + lighthttpd

Doesn't get much more anorexic than that. I wouldn't bother with compiling your own kernel or stripping out too much, unless you're a kernel developer or want to be one. Unless you're running a web server on a wristwatch (or perhaps one of TomTom's mobile phones?), DSL should be small enough for you.

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I thought DSL is not update these days. –  kirill_igum Apr 26 '12 at 5:43
    
@kirill_igum You didn't say anything about being up to date. =) mgorven's suggestion for TinyCore would be next best, IMO. –  Wesley Apr 26 '12 at 5:47

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