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I've had Ubuntu for a year now, like it but it doesn't match my needed configuration for my old laptop. So...

I am using Linux mainly for webapps so I don't care much about user interface. What I need is a distro which is small enough to install on a SD memory card (or USB) since I am removing the hard drive, all my data is in the cloud. I also want it to have as short boot time as possible.

I tried Puppy Linux and it seems ok but it had preinstalled looots af small apps I don't need, I would really like to have a distro with minimal preinstallations and add them on my own.

So what are my choices and why would you recommend these?

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10 Answers

try crunchbang linux

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Cannot agree more with that, I've tried several distros on my old NX6110 trying to make it live again, and crunchbang seems the one who pleases me in every way. Debian based, very lightweight window manager and a set of basic tools as their motto is "if you want something, install it yourself". By far the fastest booting distro I have ever experienced after ChromeOS –  MacK Oct 6 '13 at 8:22
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I've always preferred ArchLinux

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+1 for Arch Linux. It installs with only the necessary programs and leaves it to you to install anything else. –  starofale Dec 29 '10 at 23:03
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Well, there are a few "obvious" choices: DSL (Damn Small Linux), Puppy Linux and Feather Linux. There are really small ones.

Apart from those, if you're willing to a little bit of tinkering, Arch can be very nice (not so small by default but can be made pretty tiny).

And the last, but not the least, Google OS ?

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SLAX is also very small (about 200 MB) and highly customizable.

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How about building your own using Suse Studio?

You can either try stripping down a full distro or build up from a very basic version, you will be able to access everything in the OpenSuse repositories, enabling to add just about anything you need.

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Consider SliTaz, which is only ~35 MB in size and can boot from removable media entirely into RAM, which makes it extremely fast.

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Get the ubuntu minimal installation cd from here
Run this post installation script from here for the gnome essential apps

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Try Google Chrome/Chromium OS. It is open source, based on Linux, and was designed for your exact requirements.

You may have to search for a build, though, as it is still in beta (like all google's other products).

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Basic Linux 3.5 is the answer for old laptops. You can fit it on 2 floppy disks. Like DSL, BL3 uses JWM as the default, but you must build a bit more from the ground up. It is built around an old kernel, but it works well as a rescue or salvage OS. Good luck with this, whatever one you choose!

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With gentoo you can make any system you want. A year ago I used x86 version on Pentium 120MHz with 64Mb RAM. Just install gentoo xorg-server, jwm and anything you want.

Compilation is very time consuming but you can previously compile everything in some virtual machine or use distcc .

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