I would like a linux distro for testing reasons. I want to mock a server which is why i am posting here instead of SU. It should have no GUI alike most (all?) VPS and use very little memory. As little as 64mb but i'll be running it as a 128mb VM.

Where can i find something like this? I seen host offer VPS with debian and ubuntu both as a 350mb image. I looked at debian's site and seen a 180 MB disto which i am worried cannot mock a server (maybe it can?) as i cannot find a software list. Then i see a 650mb image which is obviously for desktop users. I am unsure how to install it to use little ram and no GUI.

Does anyone know where i can get a debian base distro suitable for low memory and no GUI?

  • 1
    Aren't you mixing up RAM with diskspace? An image contains all the packages? Or are you talking about Cloud images? – txwikinger Jul 15 '10 at 18:38
  • I see a VPS host offer a 350mb file distro. One VPS i used in the past was a mere 64mb and worked ok (apache didnt like it when i use mysql AND python.) I want to give a friend a feel working with webservers and configuration and stuff. The ram limit is because he has only 1.75gb of ram with VS + tools + firefox taking more then 1gb. Thats not much left for the VM. Also i'd like to give him an exercise on working with little memory so he learns more about tweaking and configuration then sticking with the defaults. – user274 Jul 15 '10 at 18:57
  • "Where can i find something like this?" - All over the Internet. – John Gardeniers Jul 15 '10 at 21:46

There was an older version of Ubuntu 8.04 designed for virtualization that comes in a nice compact ISO without all the bloat called JeOS

I've used it several times and it's good if you can live with 8.04. You can apt-get anything that's missing (Apache, MySQL, etc.)



Define 'mock a server': what services does it need to run? This will definitely impact disk space necessary.

You should probably look into debootstrap, which is used to create base debian installs from scratch. Then just add the packages you need and take out any you know you don't need.


Damn Small Linux is an ultra-compact derivative of Debian.


The sites you're visiting are probably talking about RAM usage; I've never seen a VPS provider only provide ~350 MB of disk space.

With that said, nearly every Linux distribution will work; a VPS is exactly like a real server, except for maybe the kernel. Then you have to look at what services you'll need to run; I've personally run a lighttpd web server with a MySQL DB with roughly 256 MB of RAM, and apache2 with a MySQL DB with roughly 512 MB of RAM, all of which can be tweaked so that they use much less RAM than what's set by default.

I can tell you right now that Debian's default configuration with both apache2 and MySQL will likely not work well with 128 MB of RAM, but that's not to say that Debian sucks in low memory environments, all you'd have to do is tweak the settings on both services to use a lot less memory. I'm sure the same is true with any other distribution.

  • Nah the FS is 2.5gb but the distro is 350mb. I had to up that plan to 128mb ram to run reliability (ie not terminating processes bc of too little ram when 5+ people hit at once). When i look at distos i mostly see ones with GUI and wanted a nongui one to give for testing. – user274 Jul 17 '10 at 13:59
  • If you get either the first full CD of the Debian distro set (usually named Debian-50x-i386-CD-1.iso or something close to that), or the netinst iso, you can boot up the CD in whatever VM, select the console install option in the first menu, and then when it comes time to choose which package sets to use, deselect the Graphical Environment option and leave the "standard system" option checked. Then you'll have your plain server with nothing but the base system installed. – Christian Paredes Jul 17 '10 at 19:26

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