For ridiculously small hard drives (8GB), what Ubuntu Based (although not necessarily official) distribution offers the smallest installed size?

Let me clarify: I still want a certain amount of personal file space, preferably a few gig. I also don't have a problem with performance, while it is mediocre, a 2.6GHz single-core and 1GB of ram suffice to run ubuntu fine, but i find that it uses 6-7GB of space. I am aiming for closer to 4GB.

  • 1
    This may be getting close to off-topic, if not already there. Nov 15, 2011 at 18:25
  • 1
    I don't understand how this is off-topic (or nearing there). Nov 15, 2011 at 19:07
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    Per the FAQ, your question can only apply to Ubuntu or an officially recognized derivative. We cannot provide you with any help outside of that; if you need to expand your options further and have questions about other distros, you may want to try unix.stackexchange.com instead, where it's more appropriate. But so long as you stay with the official stuff, it's fine here. Nov 15, 2011 at 19:11
  • I was looking for anything Ubuntu based, official or otherwise. I understand that it's probably borderline. Nov 15, 2011 at 19:19
  • I'm using a fairly default install of Ubuntu 10.10 here (installed a few extras for work), and the sum of everything outside of /home/ is 3.5 GB
    – Izkata
    Nov 15, 2011 at 19:38

7 Answers 7


Try Ubuntu minimal ISO from here.

Choose the packages you want to install and you are done. You can try using LXDE or Openbox Desktop environment as they are not heavy on resources.

If you want just a simple Web browser and few cloud based services try an OS called xPUD.


  • 4
    You can also install a minimal command-line only system from the alternate CD, and then customize it from there by installing whatever additional packages you need. Nov 15, 2011 at 18:55
  • @EliahKagan Yes, the alternate CD actually is the mini.iso.
    – mchid
    Oct 24, 2015 at 23:48

8GB is not a small size. You can use Ubuntu with a 8GB hard disk. But If you are still looking for a more lightweight Ubuntu based distro check this out. I am not sure which ones among them are still active but I suggest those personally.

  • Lubuntu which runs with LXDE desktop.
  • Bodhi Linux which runs with Enlightenment window manager.
  • CrunchBang++ Ben Young's continuation to Crunchbang Linux. Debian + Openbox
  • BunsenLabs Linux Community continuation to Crunchbang Linux. Debian + Openbox

Remove /usr/share/doc or something like that. I've never used help files for graphical applications, so I've cleaned about 400MB of disc space. :) (I use Kubuntu 11.04)

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    Do not remove the docs. They're there for a reason.
    – Thomas Ward
    Jul 6, 2012 at 17:12
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    What if you don't want to read them and are just testing something for a VM? Should it present a problem? Mar 27, 2013 at 5:01
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    docs can always be installed on a need to read basis and they are always available from apt-get if you need them
    – mchid
    Oct 24, 2015 at 23:50
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    I'd disagree with "Do not" too - it's often inadvisable, and shouldn't be done without a reason, but that's not equivalent to "Do not". If you have a good reason to delete them... delete them.
    – Jon Story
    Nov 2, 2015 at 14:24

I agree with Dejans' answer:

Try one of the many Lightweight Linux distribution, see list below: Make sure, that your hardware requirements are met, before deciding on one of the distros. I also suggest you to definitely buy "1GB of RAM" or maybe "2x1GB of RAM" on ebay for a small amount of money, so you can't go wrong with Lightweight Linux and also it is a huge improvement in your work flow!!

  • For your current 512MB RAM option, please see: List of Linux distributions that run from RAM - which shows you the required RAM specs.

  • Also antiX (see link below) seems to be a good/fair option for old/older computers, to be considered!

enter image description here

Alpine Linux - A security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution based on uClibc and BusyBox. Mini download is 66 MB; base system (excluding kernel) is under 5 MB.

antiX - Lightweight version of its parent distribution MEPIS Linux, based on Debian testing. Core Install: 128 MB, Base approx 300 MB. Package Manager: Synaptic

BasicLinux - A very lightweight distribution capable of running on an Intel 386 and 3 MB of RAM

Bodhi Linux - A lightweight and minimalistic distribution, based on Ubuntu 12.04

CrunchBang Linux - A relatively large (771 MB) Debian based distribution designed primarily for speed and ease of use.

Damn Small Linux - Download 50 MB. Additional software available as "DSL Extensions" and using the Debian APT tool, which has to be installed. "Light enough to power a 486DX with 16 MB of RAM"

Feather Linux - Lightweight Linux Distribution derived from Knoppix. Now dormant.

Lubuntu - Lightweight in comparison to Ubuntu, it uses the LXDE desktop.

Nanolinux - 14 MB distribution based on Tiny Core Linux.

Peppermint Linux OS - Peppermint Linux OS based on Lubuntu

Porteus - It weighs in at under 300 MB, making it a lightweight contender, comes with the LXDE and KDE desktops

Puppy Linux - Lightweight relative to most other Linux distributions Download: 133MB. Package Manager: Synaptic (Lucid Puppy Ubuntu Compatible version)

Semplice Linux - lightweight, fast and simple, based on Debian Sid

SliTaz - 35 MB distribution; Package Manager is Tazpkg with its repository of packages

Tiny Core Linux - 12 MB distribution; Software repository: TCZ packages

Trisquel Mini - Lightweight version of Trisquel with LXDE

enter image description here

  • this is an ubuntu forum so I feel we should at least limit the suggestions to debian based operating systems if anything
    – mchid
    Oct 24, 2015 at 23:49
  • questions and answers for other distributions go here instead: unix.stackexchange.com
    – mchid
    Oct 31, 2015 at 15:31

This one is pretty cool for a small hard drive http://www.ubuntu-mini-remix.org/


Updated information April 2018

This updated information is relevant for Bionic Beaver, to be released as 18.04 LTS during this month, April 2018.

With 1 GB RAM it can be a good idea to create a swap partition with 1280 MB (1.25 GiB). That way no swap file will be created automatically, and the following amounts of drive space will be occupied in the root partition.

With a HDD swapping is OK but slow. With a modern SSD swapping is OK and faster. With a USB pendrive swapping is only for very special cases, because it will wear the memory cells and can damage the drive.

Installed systems in 8 GB

  • Lubuntu occupies 2.8 GiB in the root partition.
  • Xubuntu occupies 3.6 GiB in the root partition.

Both of these systems will run well in a drive with 8 GB size.

Persistent live systems in 4 GB

Standard Ubuntu and all Ubuntu community flavours will run well in a persistent live drive with 4 GB size, but in a computer with only 1 GB RAM you need a flavour with a light desktop environment, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu.



Boot Ubuntu from external drive



For ubuntu official distros, ubuntu server installs at around 1.2G (for Trusty) and can be a good match if you don't need desktop packages.

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