An official copy comes with Firefox, Amarok or Banshee, Evolution, games, etc. Is there a distro that comes with only the necessary packages, like synaptic to make the system stable, and nothing else?


Ubuntu minimal install CD or Ubuntu server. If you then run this script (source):

sudo apt-get -y install gnome-core gdm network-manager-gnome \
  fast-user-switch-applet  human-theme x11-xserver-utils \
  tangerine-icon-theme gnome-themes-ubuntu ubuntu-artwork \
  jockey-gtk gnome-screensaver gnome-utils    

you get the most minimalistic gnome you can get.

From that link

... memory usage from around 250-350mb to about 80-90mb. All of the themes are there, the network-manager, gedit, restricted hardware tool, etc. ...

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  • 3
    You want the alternate cd. The minimal cd is a misnomer; it is actually the network install cd. It downloads all packages over the network as they are installed instead of having them on the cd. The alternate and server cds use the text mode installer that allow you to choose which packages you want to install above the minimum set. The network install cd also does this, but has to download those packages you chose to install. – psusi Sep 14 '11 at 22:39
  • The source link distinctly makes note of the minimal CD (or the server version). The alternate install has more non essential software but is a good start too (too bare is not got either ;) ) Whatever rocks any boot I guess (sometimes even I just create my own installer) – Rinzwind Sep 15 '11 at 5:34
  • Why do you install gcalctool and tsclient? Are these really essential to any system? They seem like user applications to me... – Rich Sep 15 '11 at 8:12
  • Probably a mistake in the source ;) removed it since they are indeed not needed. – Rinzwind Sep 15 '11 at 8:42

The closest that you can get is Ubuntu Core. It is currently in development and will be shipped with Oneiric in October 2011. As per Canonical Engineering Services, Ubuntu Core is "ideally suited for the next generation of embedded devices where Internet connectivity is key". You can use Ubuntu Core to create a Ubuntu Server, Desktop or a customized OS. Ubuntu Core has apt-get, so you can use it to install only the software that you need and nothing else.

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You could take a look at Minimal CD. But then you would have to sit and get all the packages including Gnome and stuff from the command-line.

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Well you dont have to do all that work... You can try iQunix OS which is based on the latest version of Ubuntu.

Sofpedia review:

iQunix OS 11.04 is a minimalistic version of the Ubuntu 11.04 operating system. It is very fast and looks nice, but it only has a few basic applications pre-installed.

iQunix OS 11.04 has no Unity or GNOME Shell interface, it features the old and classic look of the GNOME desktop environment, with two panels, the Clearlooks theme, the Unity icon theme, and a very nice wallpaper. iQunix OS 11.04 includes the following software packages:

  • Gedit text editor;
  • GNOME Terminal;
  • Epiphany web browser;
  • Evolution Mail and Calendar;
  • Totem Movie Player video player;
  • 2click Update: automatic system update and optimization tool
  • BleachBit: privacy and space recovery utility
  • Ubuntu Software Center.

Its purpose is to offer to specialists and experienced Ubuntu users a "bare-bone", GNOME-based, Linux operating system in which nothing is pre-installed.

"You have seen many distributions out there that are fancy, full fledged with lots of preinstalled applications. But none of them are pure Operating System. In contrast, iQunix is just an operating system that after you install it, you are in charge."

iQunix OS 11.04

You can donload it from : http://iqunix.sourceforge.net/

and read the more about it here : http://osarena.net/2011/03/iqunix-os-clean-fast-and-simple.html

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What I recommend to do in such a situation is the manual 'debian way' of install:

  • Boot the minimal / netinst CD
  • partition and format with gparted
  • debootstrap the base system
  • chroot, grub-install and apt-get all the way.

A full walkthrough is available here:


(I'm not affiliated with the vendor)

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