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I'm looking to install an extremely light-weight flavour of linux on a USB stick. It also needs to be basically only CLI. Has anyone ever looked for something like this? Ever found something good?

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closed as not constructive by Canadian Luke, Indrek, Randolph West, Renan, 8088 Oct 12 '12 at 20:36

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If you don't want to go from scratch, Gentoo is also a good start. – Tom Wijsman Oct 12 '12 at 16:29
up vote 13 down vote accepted

To be particularly minimal, you could roll your own. Fair warning: this is an endeavor of many hours, but you'll better appreciate what goes into getting your OS pieced together.

Linux From Scratch is a very actively maintained step-by-step guide on just that:

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wow this is awesome! I'm definitely going to be going through this. Great learning experience. – n0pe Apr 1 '11 at 21:54

Red Hat or Debian are probably what your looking for. You could also install Ubuntu as command line only.

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Visited this page: and trying that. Thanks – n0pe Apr 1 '11 at 17:31
This suggestion is wrong. Red Hat and Debian are built to support a wide range of software configurations. They are anything but minimal. – Ярослав Рахматуллин May 1 '13 at 0:20

ttylinux is extremely lightweight and CLI only-- busybox utilities built off of uclib.

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Back in the day there was Linux On A Floppy (LOAF) and Tom's Root Boot. However I suspect they are too super light weight for USB drives :-)

Nowadays I suppose the equivalent is Damn Small Linux which will install onto a bootable USB flash stick.

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MicroCore is a command-line only variant of Tiny Core Linux.

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Tiny Core Linux is awesome. – William Sep 3 '15 at 16:20

Ubuntu Server might be what you are looking for. Because servers are usually headless, the basic setup does not contain any GUI parts.

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