A helpful script for installing Ubuntu minimal

Posted in Computers, Howto, Linux, Ubuntu on April 22nd, 2010 by Andy
Yin Yang symbol

Wishing you a harmonious minimalist experience

I’ve blogged before about how cool Ubuntu minimal is.

The one problem is that you have to know exactly what packages to install to get your system set up. So i’ve written a script that should take some of the guess work out of it and make installing a useful Ubuntu desktop from the minimal ISO as simple as answering a series of yes/no questions.

You can go from a command-line system, to a fully up-to-date and usable Ubuntu desktop in one step. Or you could use it to install a bare-bones system with a variety of desktop environments such as Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or LXDE. You can also install Myth TV. All of this from a single 13MB disk image!

How to use the script

  1. Install a command line-only system using the Minimal ISO
  2. Download the script:

    wget www.andyduffell.com/perfectminimal

  3. Make it executable:

    sudo chmod +x perfectminimal

  4. Run it:


  5. Profit!

Ubuntu Minimal project page, comments and suggestions welcome.

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Ubuntu Minimal: Build an ultra-lightweight portable OS

Posted in Computers, Howto, Linux, Ubuntu on September 9th, 2009 by Andy
This system is so light you might need a paerweight to keep it on your desk

Ubuntu Minimal is so light you might need to watch out for strong breezes

Ordinary Ubuntu LiveCDs are pretty portable and useful things, but come with all the same hardware requirements as the full desktop install. I’ll show you how to create a fully-functional Ubuntu system that will idle at 80MB of memory and use 1.2GB of disk space.


  • You could install Ubuntu Minimal onto a 2GB USB stick and still have room for more.
  • Want to create an Ubuntu guest VM to run Ubuntu apps? This one will boot in about 30 sec and not take up your whole hard drive.
  • You’ve got a netbook with a small SSD, and want to have the smallest OS possible.
  • You’ve got some crusty old hardware with a tiny sliver of RAM that needs the lightest system possible.


The secret:  the Ubuntu Minimal image!

    1. The Ubuntu Minimal CD image is a 30MBish download that can boot you up into the installer. From there you can choose one of a whole slew of different types of system to install, from servers to the regular KDE or Gnome desktops. What we want to install though, is the basic command line system.
    2. From there, use the command line to add packages until you get the system you want.  To do this really easily, you can use my Perfectminimal script.
    3. If you don’t want to use the script a good suggested list of packages for a fairly minimal Gnome desktop is:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gdm xorg gnome-core gnome-codec-install indicator-session-applet update-manager firefox-3.5-gnome-support gnome-themes network-manager gdebi dkms

  1. The dependencies from these packages will cascade down and install a very minimal Gnome system that punches well above it’s weight.
  2. Enjoy!

Put it on a 2GB+ USB stick

If you want to put Ubuntu Minimal on a USB stick, then you can install Remastersys. Run Remastersys in backup mode and it’ll generate an .iso of your customised Ubuntu minimal system, which you can then feed to Ubuntu’s regular “USB startup disk creator”, or the cross-platform LiveUSB creator Unetbootin.

If you use the former to create a “persistent” LiveUSB you can allocate a couple of hundred MB for persistence on even a 2GB USB stick. That’s enough room to store files, perform updates, install new software, and generally do everything on a USB stick that you’d do on a hard drive.

One word of caution though: USB sticks have a limited lifespan, and running an OS off them will reduce that. Make sure that you’re safeguarding your data. A good solution would be a could-based file storage system, such as Ubuntu One, which gives you 2GB of remote storage for free, and integrates nicely into the Ubuntu desktop.

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