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Is anybody familiar with how to go about frugal installations of different linux distributions? The information I have is mostly from a poster on (here's the thread), and installation worked for me on one particular distribution.

But I haven't been able to find any general information on how this method of installation works, and how to apply it to other linux distributions. I'm also clueless about the relative advantages and disadvantages of this over other methods.

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The method will obviously differ based on the distribution. Some distros have easily selectable minimal installations (like the amazing new, while others, like Red Hat Enterprise (CentOS/Scientific) need custom kickstart files files created to craft the installation to your exact specifications.

That assume that you know what the exact specifications are, though. I'm a huge fan of System Management by the Least Bit Principle. It's a good policy, and determining what that least bit is becomes difficult.

Design your server to have a purpose, and ensure that the only software and libraries installed directly support that purpose. Ensure that you've got configuration management in place (like Puppet or cfengine) to make changes in the future.

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You already have a DLS reference.
And with TinyCore too.
Could get some more references at DistroWatch (maybe by category).
USB Installations of Ubuntu are quite small and pretty quick to boot.

What is your target exactly?

  • Do you want a record-size-small distribution?
  • a record size fast-bootup?
  • or, just a good small install?
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Just a good small installation is fine, for development purposes. But I mainly wanted to try out other linux distros in a simple way, without having to set up the partitions correctly etc. So I wanted information about the installation method. As to USB installation, I don't want it on USB, but on my harddrive's root. So I don't know how to go about setting that up, given instructions are always given assuming USB installation. – ehsanul Aug 8 '09 at 13:09

What are you trying to do? Do you have a small computer on which to install? Are you trying to achieve a particular purpose?

Most popular distributions are pretty large on average, but you can get them to run in smaller configs (like Xubuntu on instead of Ubuntu cuts back a little...I've heard people running it on systems with 128 meg of memory without much problem).

Otherwise you could install something really small like DSL (Damn Small Linux). But none of this really helps without knowing what you're trying to achieve.

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I just want to know more about this installation method. It seems awfully convenient. I wanted to use it as a way to try out as many distributions as possible, while I keep my main distro as Ubunutu still. And uninstalling would be as simple as deleting the files, and editing the grub configuration file, no mess with partition editing. – ehsanul Aug 8 '09 at 13:04
Then you might want to consider VMware Server ( or VirtualBox ( or one of the other virtualization options. That way you can try the distros out on one system. – CoverosGene Aug 8 '09 at 15:18
You could look at Cobbler, a deployment installation tool made for rolling out Linux onto VM's and barebones systems. – Bart Silverstrim Aug 8 '09 at 23:51
I had thought about virtualization, but I just have 1GB RAM for now, it's an old laptop. So until I upgrade, I don't really have much of a choice. – ehsanul Aug 9 '09 at 11:02
Virtualization in 1 gig is slow, to be sure, but you can do it. I did it for quite awhile (XP in a virtual 512 meg system). A stripped down distro, especially with no or a lightweight GUI (DSL, maybe xubuntu) can run at a slow but acceptable rate. All you lose in trying it is time... – Bart Silverstrim Aug 9 '09 at 13:48

Debian's base installation is < 250MB, installing straight off the CD.

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