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I would like to have an Ubuntu VirtualBox vm to develop in Java. Though, it seems somewhat an overkill to run only the JVM, IntelliJ, Grails, Git, Maven... as I am new to Linux, I would like to keep on using Ubuntu. What do you recommend as distro of choice? Xubuntu? Lubuntu? Any other? Thanks!

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Tiny core linux is the fastest distro I have every used that is linux based. The desktop version with gui is roughly 12mb in size. –  Liam William Mar 7 '13 at 0:48
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Unity 2D, Xubuntu and Lubuntu are pretty lightweight, I recommend any of those. Even a KDE desktop minimal installation is fast enough (no effects and other tools).

Also with a bit of patience you can use the Ubuntu minimal CD to make your own desktop without all the bloat and extra unneeded tools.

I had a similar question some time ago, have a look for ideas, on the question itself there is also a link for information on how to get a minimal installation CD

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Bruno, were you able to create the VMs using the minimal Ubuntu installation? To me it installs and hangs upon rebooting... Furthermore Lubuntu hangs during installation. The only distro I was able to install in VM was Xubuntu. what is your experience on this? t –  Pomario Feb 3 '12 at 13:51
    
I had no problems what so ever with the installation, maybe the systems is having some issues with the booting (trying to load a graphics driver that should not, etc), add nomodeset on the kernel options before boot. Another thing, did you enable 3D in the vbox options? About Lubuntu, I have installed it on a vbox but that was the LiveCD version, not a minimal install. Give it another go and open another question with problems found, I am sure it already exists or someone will help you asap. –  Bruno Pereira Feb 3 '12 at 14:17
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I am using Xubuntu for my netbook and am very happy with it. Especially after switching from default Ubuntu installation, Xubuntu is really the most lightweight you can go. I'm also using VMs with Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Debian at work and never had problems with booting loops or hangs as you described - I sugguess updating your VirtualBox.

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