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I want to install Ubuntu, with the minimal packages for web browsing. Installation should be under 2GB.

Any ideas? Where can I start?

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1  
use the minimal cd, and manually install whetever packages you want. –  Uri Herrera May 31 '11 at 8:53
    
It depends on what exactly you consider minimal. On your ideal system what exactly would be there? Browser you already mentioned. Just the basic GUI or the fancy Unity without all the softwares you'd never use? –  Oxwivi May 31 '11 at 9:33
    
Most basic GUI with a browser, preferably Firefox. –  Iradrian May 31 '11 at 10:07
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

From the Ubuntu wiki sytem requirements page: Xubuntu seems to be as close to your demands when you want a GUI:

  • GUI.
  • 2 Gb.
  • has a browser.

Lightweight GUI alternative (Xubuntu)

If you have an old or low-spec computer or want to get the most out of your hardware, using a lightweight desktop system such as Xubuntu is recommended, as it should make more efficient use of your system's resources. Of course, even if you have the newest equipment out, you could still use Xubuntu.

If your system has less than 192MB of system memory, use the Alternate Installation CD.

Note: If you have a low-specification computer, certain features may be automatically turned off to conserve system resources. For example, if you have a graphics card with only a small amount of video memory (VRAM), the boot-up screen may not be shown.

Follow this link for detailed instructions: Installation/LowMemorySystems.

Minimum system requirements for Xubuntu would fall roughly between Ubuntu Server and Desktop:

256MB of system memory (RAM)
2GB of disk space
Graphics card and monitor capable of 800x600 resolution 

Regarding processors, a recent thread on the Ubuntu Forums describes a 500 MHz Xubuntu machine as being "too slow" and discusses alternatives: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1267443

Alternatives but not getting closer to your pre-requisites so it would require manual labour from your part:

You can download the i386 here: Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" Minimal CD (others you can find at the minimal CD install link above.

To install, boot your computer from the the Minimal CD and type "cli" (command line
install) at the prompt. You can then follow the instructions from the text-based 
installer. After the base system is installed, log in, and type "sudo tasksel" 
to select the system to install. 

Instead of tasksel you can do a sudo apt-get install chromium-browser on command line. apt-get will figure out what needs to be installed and will install the minimal required software to get chromium running (replace with firefox if you want that or with a lighter browser to save some more space ;) )

Regarding browsers: a very light one is Ephipany. So

sudo apt-get instal epiphany-browser

instead of chromium-browser might be better.

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1  
+1 - Great answer. Definitely the mini.iso is worth looking at. –  boehj May 31 '11 at 9:05
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The minimal ISO doesn't save you much time, in my experience. It's a small image but you still have to download the packages at some point. Doing them one at a time is technically more expensive and slower than having them bulk-downloaded at once, on the server CD, especially if you can download the full ISO overnight. If you require a GUI to trim packages, I suggest you skip any customisation and find a minimalist project like Xubuntu or ElementalOS where they've done the heavy work for you. –  Oli May 31 '11 at 10:01
    
@Oli if time was the main target I'd ended the answer just after finishing off the part about xubuntu ;) But the 2 Gb seems to be the main problem. If xubuntu doesn't want to play with 'under' 2 Gb minimal is probably the only viable option (and yes that is the most time consuming method ;) ) –  Rinzwind May 31 '11 at 11:02
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If deployment size is the key factor the right answer is probably DSL or Arch. The Ubuntu desktop (when pulled through apt-get install <browser> is pretty flabby. You might want to suggest --no-install-recommends too because Firefox and Chromium can pull in hundreds of packages, left to their own devices... I've done it. –  Oli May 31 '11 at 12:18
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Have you tried lubuntu? –  nitstorm Jun 1 '11 at 15:07
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Last I checked, the normal desktop install clocked in under 2gb.

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@Mitch, perhaps I did not spell it out clearly enough. The answer is that you don't have to do anything since it is already less than 2 GB. –  psusi Aug 27 '12 at 18:24
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