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I'm looking for a linux distro where I can boot into it via USB, run a script on startup and shutdown. I need bare minimum, but I also need network drivers. Also need to save files across reboots.

I've looked into DamnSmallLinux with networking. Are there any other options? Fastest boot is preferred. I don't need mouse, sound, etc. Bare minimum for fast booting. To save files across reboots, should I create a USB with two partitions and save to the non OS partition? I would have to mount this partition in the OS?

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You can have a look into TinyCore, it's just 8MiB – Marco Aug 5 '12 at 12:23
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The Debian Live Project has a number of pre-built images for use as live-CDs or USB sticks, and documentation for creating your own custom live build based on Debian if you want something very specific or need something smaller/faster (the smallest standard image is ~240Mb, though boot times are not long).

The standard ones can boot to either console or X, and have pretty much the same hardware support as the main distro, and I believe they all support persistence with the right media (though I've not used persistence myself).

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