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I want to get the cheapest netbook possible. I figure I should go with linux since it's free.

What I wanted to know is which linux os will run with the least amount of ram and processing power?

I've heard you can run linux from a 256mb flash drive, would this reduce the amount of things I would require for my netbook to run?


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Even the cheapest, slowest netbook available will be WAY WAY WAY more processing power than is needed for the most lightweight distros. Even the cheapest netbook available can run Windows 7 just fine. –  OverloadUT Sep 30 '09 at 18:11
my EEE 701 can't even take the Win7 install (4GB SSD) :-p –  Chris_K Sep 30 '09 at 18:21
Haha okay well there is that limitation. ;) So he might need to specifically look for an OS with a small storage footprint, but I don't think he'll need to go out of his way to find one that runs on slow hardware. –  OverloadUT Sep 30 '09 at 18:24
Closely related to: superuser.com/questions/38919/… , and gettng the same answers –  dmckee Sep 30 '09 at 19:41

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Here's the recommended hardware requirements for Damn Small Linux (guess why they call it that)

Recommended Specs

  • Pentium 200mhz
  • 64mb ram
  • 8x CDROM
  • 1.44mb floppy drive (for boot floppy, if needed)
  • VGA monitor and video card capable of handling at least 16 bit color
  • a mouse with a scroll wheel

Though I'm sure any netbook will run Ubuntu, Moblin or any other Linux distro just fine, but those two at least give you a nice GUI.

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Ubuntu now has a "netbook remix" - that would DEFINITELY be worth looking into.


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Puppy Linux is very lightweight.

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Amen on ivo's DSL post. But I think my Linksys WRT54GS beats it for "least amount of RAM and processing power":

  • OpenWRT
  • 200MHz CPU (runs on slower hardware too, 125MHz or less)
  • 16MB RAM
  • 4MB Flash storage

Not exactly "desktop-friendly", and you'd be insane to try running it on a netbook, but it is a linux OS.

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If you are somewhat experienced, the best way to get a minimal working environment would be to build your own with Linux From Scratch. If that is not an option at the moment, definitely look into the previously mentioned Damn Small Linux and Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

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aww, now i'm all misty-eyed, rememberin' installin' Slackware from floppies... :) –  quack quixote Oct 2 '09 at 18:18

The other posts look good. I'd recommend Moblin or Ubuntu Netbook Remix even though they aren't DSL small. Also, a good place to look at the distributions available is DistroWatch.

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