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I have a very simple question that I am pretty sure the answer is obvious but anyway. I have been using ubuntu very much for coding, using a number of languages. I can't imagine myself going back to windows. now that they have introduced Unity thing, I switch to Lubuntu which seems great. My question is, that, each distribution is 700mb big. I read somewhere that linux kernel is at around 35mb! Is that true? so does the other ~650mb go into the desktop environment? in extra apps? or into drivers?

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help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/MinimalCD Just the Kernel, it will download the programs later... That's the base size :) –  HackToHell Apr 9 '12 at 11:59
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Why don't you check the downloads and see for yourself? –  Daniel Beck Apr 9 '12 at 11:59

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700mb is actually the size of the base installation for most distributions. The installation includes setup program, a selection of base packages you need and documentation. When you install the actual distribution it may require more disk space since you will want to install additional packages.

Binary kernels are small, even smaller then 35mb. You can examine your /boot directory to see sizes. Files named starting with vmlinuz are your kernel images and files starting with initrd are system dependent initialization images, which are technically part of kernel. Typically multiple versions of kernel exist in an installation.

So as you stated, most of the distribution size is made of other linux packages. They include base system packages (coreutils, fileutils,..) that provide fundamental functions, applications, libraries, desktop environments, visual components (background images, system sounds,..). Typically fundamental drivers are included in kernel tree, but additional drivers can be distributed as separate packages too (such as linux-firmware package).

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