Why not use a minimal distribution?

In a comment on my previous post, Zod asked:

We do you try to strip down your fedora and not just build a minimal linux distribution with tools like t2?

There’s nothing wrong at all with using one of the many minimal linux kits around. Using busybox and a replacement libc it’s possible to squeeze Linux down to a floppy disk, or into the 4 MB of flash on a router. However there are also reasons to use a mainstream distribution such as Fedora (or Debian) as a basis.

  1. We can write code against glibc, using ordinary compilers and tools.
  2. We can reuse any existing package. They don’t need to be rebuilt or compiled in a special way.
  3. We can reuse existing packaging tools, like rpm and yum.
  4. We get the benefit of all the testing, bug reports and fixes from the distribution. In particular, we won’t get our own “special” class of bugs appearing. If we see a bug, it’s likely the bug would also happen in Fedora, and we can report it back to the Fedora maintainer.
  5. Any minimization benefits we make (both size and boot speed) can be pushed back into Fedora.

I’m aiming for a small, but not super-minimal, image, in the region of 16-48 MB, containing an NFS server, LVM tools, and some tools of my own.

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One response to “Why not use a minimal distribution?

  1. Pingback: Quick win « Richard WM Jones

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