View Full Version : Micro Fedora

28th May 2008, 07:59 AM
OK - there was a BSD troll thread a few days ago. The guy didn't understand that modern Linux is really built from set of packages (plus an installer). So I decided to see how low I could go - how minimal a Fedora install I could create.

I started with the F9-i386 installer, and when it got the packages I selected customize now.
I deselected Gnome & all Apps and all the extra sysadm utilities. The installer claimed is was installing 253 package, but when I rebooted and did a yum list | I found 305 packages actually installed and about 600MB in use. Oh yeah - I selected busybox for installation too.

I typed a shell command that tried to remove each package - but I prevented removal of critical bits; kernel, yum, busybox, grub and the bits these depend on. I ended up with only 78 packages left. I rebooted to check I hadn't gone too far.

Next I make links for busybox and editted a new strtup script & inittab for busybox syntax. It took a few tries but I got the system to reboot using busybox startup.

I removed the initscript, coreutil. Then the big enchilada - I tried to do a yum erase on one of the low level dependency libs for yum. It *should* have removed all but 4 of the remaining packages - but as you would expect yum failed once the rpmlibs were removed. It seemed to leave abt 4 or 5 packages incompletely removed.

Anyway after a little manual janitorial work I had it down to kernel+busybox.
(note - busybox is statically linked so I dumped glibc).. Busybox is a great little embedded tool - a functional version of 100+ utilities. I got the network up w dhcp, the busybox shell was OK, getty on the other console ttys - the entire userland was busybox - really pretty functional.

The minimalFedora system weighed in at 67MB. 58MB was in /lib/modules. I could easily pare that down to a few MB, remove unused drivers with a little work. Another 6.5MB was in /boot and 1.7MB in busybox. Aside from the homemade inittab and rcS (init script) it was all from the Fedora distro,

I've done the opposite (built an embedded Linux up from nothing) dozens of times, but I've never stripped a distro down so far. It is possible and not even very hard even.

A few odd things. I de-selected Gnome & X, but there were still half a dozen gnome- and xorg- packages installed. Yum has a *lot* of dependencies ~55-60 packages. Actually busybox has an "rpm" feature but it doesn't support the "-e erase" option ... too bad would have been easier.

Too bad the package selector in the installer doesn't have a list feature like pirut. I believe you could just install kernel, grub, busybox, then reboot the installer DVD in rescue mode and make the busybox links & the inittab & initscript.

28th May 2008, 08:55 PM
I thought this thread was gonna be a F9 rant about microwaving the install disk after numerous frustrations.

So it was only slightly more crazy then :)

28th May 2008, 09:02 PM

So, when can we expect the re-spin to be available? :D


28th May 2008, 09:15 PM
yeah :P i would also love to try it ;)

28th May 2008, 09:30 PM
How much RAM does it need? I have an old laptop with a 3 Gig hard disk, maxed out at 96Meg RAM. I'd be vastly amused to be able to use a reasonably-modern Linux on it instead of Win98SE.

29th May 2008, 02:08 AM
Sounds like a good candidate for my new EeePC 900. :)


29th May 2008, 02:34 AM
Sounds like someone who develops embedded systems. Oh, you do. :)

Wow, that is a small install. It would be interesting if you made it into a spin. If you do, please post it.

Off topic, re that thread you mention, it might be worth pointing out the official FreeBSD position on such things, taken from their advocacy "Myths" page, since I think that left a bad taste for many people.

*BSD is better than (insert other system)
This is user opinion only.

(insert some other system) is better than *BSD
This is user opinion only.

Just so folks know, that really isn't typical.

This is user opinion only.

28th August 2008, 03:58 PM
Hello everybody,

I tried this yesterday. Or nearly this. I didn't do the total lobotomy that was done here. I hatched the idea when I decided to try a lightweight DE such as XFCE and thought while I was at it I would try to lighten the whole system. I remembered this thread was here.

I started with "Customize now" in Fedora 8's anaconda package selections and unselected everything (and I really mean everything). About two minutes later it was over and anaconda reported that it installed 124 packages instead of my usual 1000+ packages. I used a LiveCD and its yum with the --installroot=root option to install yum and dhclient. After that I could log in and ping the Internet from the command prompt. Yum installed the XFCE and X Windows groups. After editing the runlevel in /etc/inittab and rebooting, I went through the firstboot stuff and had a desktop and a user account. Next came the packages that I wanted. I use only about two dozen apps with any regularity. After the final adjustments and tweaks to config files, I had a good looking and functional system.

I'm keeping my big systems, but so far I kinda like installing this way. It's considerably smaller package-wise than usual, and I didn't try really hard to control or minimize extraneous packages (I used the wildcard on some package names). I haven't really studied or compared any other differences like disk space, memory use, etc. Anyway, if anyone ever wants to try trimming down, this is a good way to do it without busting things. For example, deleting stuff like Gnome after it has been installed is not as trouble-free as not installing it in the first place. If other things need Gnome packages, they will bring them with them.

28th August 2008, 06:59 PM
I hope you don't mind I post this topic to Fedora development mail list (http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2008-August/msg01304.html). You may be an asset. =)

29th August 2008, 04:34 AM
Hello again everybody,

I just wanted to add to the record that I did this Micro Fedora thing again today just like I described earlier but this time with Fedora 9 and XFCE. I probably am missing stevea's point in this thread entirely because he is always talking way over my head, but it won't matter because I like what it's doing for me and Fedora 9 anyway. I gave up on F9 early on. I just didn't think I had the patience for all that busted Gnome stuff and everything else going on this time around. But my Micro Fedora 9 XFCE is working nicely so far. I think this is going to be okay, and I will probably migrate my work over to it soon. I have all my usual apps and utilities installed and updated. Everything seems to be normal. It's just XFCE instead of Gnome which I have used for years and liked. Maybe the Gnome rewrite will smooth out soon, and I can go back to it for version 10. But for now I'm happy and keeping up with everybody.

P.S.: I am aware of the fact that I can customize the package selection somewhat by going through all those package groups in Anaconda and checking and unchecking stuff. But for now, I just kinda like doing it this way for several reasons. First, even if only a single optional package is wanted and selected in one of those package groups in Anaconda, several to many other non-optional packages in the group may also be installed. However this way, I can install just that single optional package if that is all I wanted from that entire package group. Second, I like to maintain a local repository of the RPMs that I have installed, and this method allows me to possess all but the initial 100 or so packages by configuring yum to keep the downloaded packages. I wouldn't have those packages if I used Anaconda to install them (until and unless they get updated later). Third, installing many packages from the DVD usually results in a giant update download anyway (especially when installing later in the version's life cycle). This method installs the latest packages from the very beginning.

UPDATE 9/3/2008: Just for the record, I wanted to say that this lightweight system is still doing well, and I use it everyday. It boots faster. It halts faster. And in between those two events I can do everything that I always have done with Fedora day to day. A couple of the most annoying issues have been settled down: 1) sound and the sound mixer GUI for an ordinary user, 2) auto-mounting and ejecting DVDs. I have used Gnome since forever and still think it is a wonderful and sophisticated DE. But I have no intentions of abandoning this neat lightweight F9 operating system.

UPDATE 11/4/2008: Still using it. All work, files, emails, etc. migrated over. I initially thought my Micro Fedora 9 XFCE experiment was just that (only an experiment). Not so now. I like it so much now that I intend to repeat it with Fedora 10. My affections for Gnome and the bloated Fedora installed by default have faded enough now.

UPDATE 8/12/2009: I'm still installing by this method. And I did use it for Fedora 10 with no problems. Now it's Fedora 11 and the only difference is my LiveCD idea doesn't work any more because of version incompatibilities in the two systems' yum packages. Since this computer is a wireless desktop on the other side of the house from the router and modem, this time I had to establish a wireless Internet connection the old fashioned way with iwconfig, ifconfig, and dhclient in runlevel 3 to do the yum install steps for the packages I wanted. No problems. In fact, it was kinda fun.

UPDATE 7/10/2011: Still using it. Fedora 15 now.

29th August 2008, 04:39 AM
I hope you don't mind I post this topic to Fedora development mail list (http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2008-August/msg01304.html). You may be an asset. =)

No problem at all.
"asset" - I'm sometimes called something similar.

David Quigley
29th August 2008, 03:56 PM
I'm just wondering if you stripped out the SELinux support in this spin. We have heard from a lot of people who want small spins like this but with SELinux support included for embedded devices. If you have kept SELinux support it would be interesting to see how much space and memory it is taking up for you. Also since you have slimmed down the spin quite a bit it might be possible to cull a lot of the policy that comes with Fedora by default to get a smaller footprint on disk and in memory.

29th August 2008, 05:23 PM
micro fedora...my dream @,@
audio + fluxbox @,@

24th February 2010, 03:30 AM

Did you ever produce a spin for this micro-fedora? I have a laptop from 2002 that I'm having trouble installing anything on due to graphics (I think). I would really like to try a spin of what you created if you have one.


24th February 2010, 03:48 AM


24th February 2010, 03:56 AM



I tried it, but it tries to boot to the gui and that's were my problem begins. I know my graphics are fine -- I used to have RH7 on this laptop. But, none of the newer live installs will boot correctly. They appear to boot, but there are no graphics. Can I boot a live disk to text mode?


24th February 2010, 04:04 AM
Can I boot a live disk to text mode?Yes: just append the numeral 3 to the kernel boot line.

I suggest that you start a new thread, and first: post your hardware specs. We'll be able to help you better if we know what the situation is. The more detail, the better.


P.S. F12 LXDE works fine here on a Celeron 466 MHz with 256 MB RAM and an ATI Rage Pro. Unless your hardware specs are significantly below this antique, something else must be wrong.

24th February 2010, 04:16 AM
Hlinger is right.

My post#1 was never a realistic candidate for a spin - it was stripped so far down that you couldn't add packages with yum and there was no possibility of X11. I can recommend lxde as a lightweight desktop.

What might be nice is a headless server oriented Fedora release, something like Ubuntu Server.
Lot's of package options, but absolutely minimal defaults.

24th February 2010, 04:40 AM

I agree on the new post. If I can't get the text install to work, I'll be posting my issues. Thanx for the info.


I also would like to see a minimalistic spin of Fedora, or at least official instructions on accomplishing such from the normal install media.