Looking for a fast CLI Linux distro

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Problem :

I’m looking for a fast Linux distro to put on a USB key.

The goal is to be able to boot in as few seconds as possible, with just enough to mount a hard drive and do some basic operations in there (bash would be enough).

I do need:

  • x86 and x86_64 support
  • EXT2/3 and NTFS mounting capabilities (read & write)
  • Networking support (/etc/network/ config is fine, no need for detection)
  • Bash (another shell would also work, but I would have to modify some of my scripts ^^)

I would prefer if I didn’t to have to build these programs for the selected distro, but that’s always an option.

I do not need:

  • X, or any form of GUI
  • more languages (english is enough)
  • anything not mentioned

I don’t care about the size on the USB key, but the bigger it is, the longer it will take to load…

My research pointed me towards these distros, but I not sure which one to choose:

I also found these tools I could use to build my own distro (as a last resort):

Does anyone have experience with such distros ?

Solution :

Why not try out Arch? You build it from scratch and can stop building as soon as you have enough stuff.

Although there’s a little bit of time investment, what you get at the end is exactly what you want They have an outstanding wiki and good community support.

try grml, you can pick between different sizes and put it onto an usb-stick:

  • distribution for sysadmins and users of text tools
  • Debian based distribution [use existing infrastructure]
  • usability by the visually impaired right out of the box
  • geeky community

Well, while its primarily a distribution meant for GUI use (at a whopping 30 mb) slitaz does have a 8mb version that’s text only, and has its own repository system.

I’ve tried ttylinux, and its a little too minimal to be of any use. IMO.

How about the “System Rescue CD” (that also works from a Usb Stick)?

I don’t know about boot time thou…