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I want to make a barebone install of Ubuntu. I really only need the items to get the system up and running, such as a boot loader, the default bloated kernel that I'll later compile down to my own kernel to only use the modules required for my hardware (Ethernet, VGA, USB Keyboard). Then I only really need apt, sshd and nano. I plan on installing nginx and php-fpm from there. Does anyone have and recommendations on how to get to that point? Should I use a JeOS install of Ubuntu Server, or a Minimal Install? Should I go a completely different route and put all of these items together manually and how would I do that?

I've seen servers manage to fit themselves into about 20 MB of RAM, using only 10 processes, enough to get up to where I mentioned above. I would like it fit into that envelope.

The problem seems to be that even the Minimal Install even installs extras that are not really needed, and this has been confirmed again here. Even more annoyingly, JeOS seems to always lead to a dead end. Even the Server-Minimal option found in the Server Install is fairly large giving it around 80MB of RAM used, and starting over 60 processes.

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Did you try the "Minimal installation" option in the boot menu? This is about the same as JeOS, and probably the reason for why it's dead. And have you considered preseeding the installation to include only the things you need without questions being asked? You can then even include the custom kernel for example. Please also note that a minimum medium (eg. minimal CD) is not the same as a minimal installation. (seems like you're confused by the links you provided). –  gertvdijk Jan 28 '13 at 12:18
I had no idea what preseeding was, yet alone what it did. But a quick Google Search fixed that. I did do a server install with the minimal things selected, but I might of missed the Minimal Installation" option in the list. I'll give that a go and see if it's any better. +1 –  Mark Tomlin Jan 28 '13 at 22:56
@MarkTomlin The "F4 Minimal Installation" for ubuntu-13.10-server-amd64.iso, setting "C" as locale, including opensshd and automatically installing security updates, results in 942M of disk space used on the root when measured with df -h | grep /dev (uname -r = 3.11.0-12-generic). Same installation from ubuntu-13.10-mini-amd64.iso using the Expert install where choosing linux-generic kernel (uname -r = 3.11.0-15-generic) measures 959M used disk space. –  Pro Backup Feb 9 at 19:13
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