I've tried to install a new system with the help of a mini.iso and ran into wireless configuration issues. I found it pretty weird that the mini.iso mostly seems to be working fine although despite pretty basic commands like the following:


were missing when I tried them from the command line.

This is the extended version of my question:

  • Which commands are available on the mini.iso?
  • Where can I find documentation about the available console commands?
  • Where can I find what software packages are present on the mini.iso?

Update: (clarification about the question)

To be clear about the question: with "command line" I mean the console that becomes available when you

  • perform "manual" configuration steps during setup (like wireless, disk, serial device setup) or

  • when you access the menu point "Execute a shell"

The question is specific about the mini.iso or netinstall.iso as these are provided seemingly without further documentation. This is not a question about what is generally available under busybox (or any other mini Linux distro). If the shell on the mini.iso is based on busybox, I'd like to see where this fact is documented.

The question is not just about the above four commands. It's about where to get documentation about what is available as commands.

Some years ago, there used to be documentation about this. And documentation about how to configure devices during install. These seem to be gone without replacement.

  • I hve no idea what is meant here by "the command line". Two possibilities are the busybox command-line interface available during the installation, or the installed system, but lspci is available in both...
    – fkraiem
    Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 23:23
  • @fkraiem OK, what about the other commands? lshw isn't, as far as I can tell. Do you have a list of what's available?
    – muru
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 6:31
  • @fkraiem, I've updated the question to clarify. You may be correct that lspci is available busybox. However on the command line from the mini.iso it was not. (I've tried all possible combinations /bin/lspci /sbin/lspci /usr/bin/lspci /usr/sbin/lspci)
    – user23573
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:19
  • Which version of Ubuntu are you using? On a mini.iso for Trusty 64 bits, lspci is in /usr/bin.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:30
  • @fkraiem, Wily Werwolf or Vivid Vervet. According the documentation of busybox, lspci is not included there. For the normal installation, it is only included in the pcitools package.
    – user23573
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:32

2 Answers 2


There is no documentation because:

  1. Developers hate writing documentation
  2. It's kind of self-documenting:

    The mini.iso can be mounted with:

    mkdir /media/DVD-ISO
    sudo mount -o loop /tmp/mini.iso /media/DVD-ISO

    Now you can inspect the data of the iso itself:

    ll /media/DVD-ISO

    and it contains a number of files, of which one is of particular interest:

    -r--r--r-- 2 root root  21M Apr 15  2014 initrd.gz

    which is a gzip compressed file which we extract like this:

    cd /media/DVD-ISO/
    mkdir initrd
    cd initrd
    gunzip ../initrd.gz

    Which finally give us the boot image initrd which we extract using:

    mkdir temp
    cd temp
    sudo cpio -id < ../initrd

And now you have all the updated documentation you need! (answering your questions one by one)

  1. This gives the full list of commands included in the iso: ll bin&ll sbin&ll usr/local/bin
  2. Just type man szCommand where szCommand is the command whose documentation you want.
  3. See step 1 as there are no additional packages present...
  • Someone somewhere decided the ISO would contain these commands and packages. Surely they would have documented that?
    – muru
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 21:58
  • @muru: Ah! Telepathy! ;-) Read edits please
    – Fabby
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 22:00
  • That would be true of usual devs, but this is Debian and Ubuntu we're talking of - higher standards apply. :P
    – muru
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 22:12
  • @muru :D :D :D Let's continue this discussion in chat
    – Fabby
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 22:22
  • 1
    @kos Yup, that's why #3 points to #1! ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 1:54

I assume that "the command line" in this question means the command-line interface one can obtain by pressing left Alt + F2 or by choosing "Execute a shell" in the installer menu (which can be accessed by pressing Esc). This interface is based on Busybox, which "combines tiny versions of many common UNIX utilities into a single small executable". As usual, two kinds of commands are available.

  • Commands built into the shell. You can get a list of them by typing help, and they are documented here.
  • Binaries located in directories listed in the PATH environment variable. You can see the contents of PATH as usual with echo $PATH, and list their contents with ls.

However here there is a slight complication, because there are also two kinds of binaries.

  • The binaries for many basic utilities, such as for example ping or od are just symlinks to /bin/busybox. Here too those commands are built into Busybox and they are documented in the link above. They are usually much more minimalist than the versions of those commands you are used to, in order to save space.
  • Other binaries (i.e., those which are not symlinked to /bin/busybox) such as for example nano are the same as in a normal Ubuntu system. The manual pages are not available in Busybox, but you can consult them on http://manpages.ubuntu.com.
  • To me, this sounds like a pretty wild claim that this interface is based on busybox. Do you have any hint of a documentation - preferably from ubuntu - that would point me into this direction?
    – user23573
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:33
  • Uh, it has busybox written on it?
    – fkraiem
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:33
  • Although maybe it has changed in newer versions, let me look.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:34
  • no, busybox was not written anywhere. This would have given enough of a hint. But busybox itself may also be a dead-end: the documentation says: "BusyBox is extremely configurable. This allows you to include only the components you need, thereby reducing binary size." Where can I find documented which commands exactly are included in the mini.iso distribution?
    – user23573
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:38
  • Have you read my answer?
    – fkraiem
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:39

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