Ok, so my Dad has finally given up his old laptop, which gives me the chance to play with Linux on it. The only problem is, the hard drive is minute. He estimates it to be 1.2 gigs :\ but it was a long time since he really last checked it, so it could be more..

Basicly, just give me the smallest Linux Distro you know and I'll start my weary job of downloading it....

(I will update this thread if the hard drive is more and I have no need to worry...)

Disk space requirements range from 400mb to 6GB depending on which distro you use and how many modules/extras you put on.

You can get distros from here I quite like

I would think you'd struggle with 1.2gig hard disk though.


With 1.2 GB, you will be hard pressed to install *everything*. Where you go will depend on what you want the computer to do. Since it is a laptop with limited space, I would suggest the following:

256 MB SWAP partition
/var 300 MB partition (this is where the logs are kept, and will prevent logs overwriting the main volume
/ partition with the rest.

Avoid --
* don't need FTP / WEB / NEWS / MAIL server software
* If you can squeeze the compilers in, do it.
* Choose one X manger -- GNOME or KDE. I prefer GNOME for simplicity... KDE is great if you want more bells and whistles on desktop
* Don't need to install source trees if you don't have compliers
* Choose one set of office programs -- either KOffice or Open Office, not both

You can also consider an older Linux distro, such as RedHat 7.3. With your laptop only having a 1.2 GB hard drive, you might also have RAM restrictions. I know RH 9 wants 64 MB RAM for starters, and the RH 7.3 only needs 24 MB. Might want to consider going older distro, so that it is smaller (although less features), but more efficient as the software would closer match the hardware (in terms of year of release).


Well it turns out theres actually 2 gigs of space. Right now im downloading SUSE 9.1 Personal which is about 600 megs. I have about 128 megs of RAM which should do, but if I have any probs I'll post here again. Wish me luck :/

slackware 10. just dont install everything and it should fit perfectly :) all you have to do is not install all the server stuff like apache, mysql and a bunch of others :)

Running GNOME and / or KDE on that laptop isn't going to be very fun. I'd suggest something more lightweight like XFCE if you have to have a window manager. Even then the X server itself is going to kill you on space. Anyway, if the harddrive space is such, I can only imagine how slow the processor, I/O bus, and memory are.

ok ok im taking all this in. Im still looking around.

When I do find an iso, how much will it expand by. SUSE Personal iso is about 600megs, but im sure that space will expand when it is installed. Any idea how much?

I dont recomend giving var its own paritition it tends to cause alot of probelms.


Do you mean /var as it's own partition? That is what you want, actually! Your log files and other variable information will go into /var, and an out of control log can fill that volume before you get a chance to repair it. No computers like it when the root volume fills up on the hard drive. Errors galore. Give /var her own sizable partition if you can!

I have had Linux in the field for years, and have always had /var separated. Not a problem.

Also -- an .iso image is meant to be burnt onto a CD-ROM, and from there you will use that disk during the installation. I have heard of people installing from a hard drive to a hard drive, but I don't think that is what you are trying to do. Typically, the .iso image is going to be anywhere from 600M - 640M or so. That size should not be counted towards the installation size -- the pieces of the OS on that .iso image are compressed, and not configured for "realtime" use.


bootable from a cd.
download the image and burn it to a cd
drop in the disk tray and reboot.
viola. up, running ang ready to surf.
also, you can run it headless and use it for dns & whatnot.
make persistant home directories.. niiiice..

I disagree, this is a comon pratice at theplanet.com and one of the techs who do RHE installs give's /var its own partition of 5-6 gigs, while this sounds nice in theory, it will only cause issues in the long run if you are running a website.

I like gentoo's instructions the best, boot swap everything else. :) 3paritions

Just to let you know there are other versions besides "knoppix" that can run straight from a CD. For a list of "Live CD's" available, here is a site I found.
It has all sorts. It all depends on what you will use it for. Check it out, see what you find. and if you don't like one try another. There are enough out there for everyone to find what they want.

Well, if your a refular visiter to the linux forums, you'll know about my adventures

I tried SUSE. Failed. Some peculaiar and random error
I tried Gentoo. SOB to install. cba to try
I tried slackware. Everything went well but after all the times I had partitioned the hdd the pc didnt boot proberly so I should have got boot floppy, but cba
So now im going to try the distro I swore I would never touch again: Mandrake. Its easy enough -_- I did it before, with the outcome of wiping my hard drive..

Anyway I'll keep looking. Eventually im gonna have a whole library of distros in my CD rack which is never a bad thing :D

Hello Zach,

I run my internet www and ftp applications on their own 27 GB partition called /internet. It gets backed up, and is moving along just fine. The orig writer was looking for a small compact installation, and not a server class setup. I always move the internet applications to their own partition so that they are isolated, and I can spec out different tar commands.

Cup, did you try RedHat? You mentioned this is smaller hardware... perhaps 7.3?


Gentoo is a pain to install but well worth it :)

I read about compresson, well a 650mb ISO fle (what ever the ratio is set at) could be huge, like mentions from 1 - 4 gig's, lol. I used suse 9.1, it came out to 2.5 gigs with everything isntalled, so nvm that. hehe, lol. Stick to live distros till you know whats going on (=. Thats what i do.

If you have problems with other distro's try Damn Small Linux, it has a great "App Get" feature in it's newer versions. Around 50 meg installed will leave you plenty of room for whatever else you need.

Also consider the fact the distro could be currupt to a malfunction in the burning process of the iso image to a cd. If you have it set higher then 24X I cant promise the quality of the disk try to keep it around 18X-24X. It starts off so fast it will miss files or write them to fast and ruin them.

Also consider the fact the distro could be currupt to a malfunction in the burning process of the iso image to a cd. If you have it set higher then 24X I cant promise the quality of the disk try to keep it around 18X-24X. It starts off so fast it will miss files or write them to fast and ruin them.


I burn between 10 and 40 CDs per week on either a 48x or a 52x drive (including Linux & UNIX ISOs) and have never heard of "anything faster than 24x will cause problems." Most of the burning software today caches files before it writes them to the disc, so the possibility of "starting off too fast it misses files" is about the same as getting run over by an elephant while washing windows on the Empire State building.

If you want to make sure the .ISO you download is intact, check the MD5 checksum after the download is complete. If they match, you're good to go. If it isn't, delete the download and try it again from another location.