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bitznarf 07-29-2010 01:36 PM

Minimalist/Thin Distro for an Industrial Embedded PC
Hello folks,

I'm relatively new to Linux in general and I need to build a complete system for an industrial embedded PC in a short time frame. What I'm curious about is if I would be better off starting from something like Linux From Scratch and add what I need from there; or to start with an already existing distro (like DSL or Slackware) and strip it down to what I need?

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

pljvaldez 07-29-2010 01:54 PM

Debian can be turned into a pretty good embedded distro. A quick google also turned up this.

bitznarf 07-29-2010 03:17 PM

I've looked through every distro on that list in the past week and none suit my needs as far as I can tell. Perhaps using 'embedded' was a bit of a misleading term - I'll be using either an x86 or x86_64 processor (likely a Core 2 Duo) for this system so I won't need to do any cross compiling or the like.

linus72 07-29-2010 03:20 PM

I vote Slackware.
Except, can you tell us Exactly what you need?
in terms of hdd space, speed , etc?

pljvaldez 07-29-2010 03:24 PM

Well, if you just want a minimal installation of something, I'd just install a Debian base system (i.e. no desktop or anything) and then build from there.

You can do bare installs of other distros too. Ubuntu has an Alternate CD to install, and of course Slackware, Gentoo, and Arch should easily let you configure a base install that you build up from there.

bitznarf 07-29-2010 03:38 PM

At the end of the day I'll need networking and terminal support, including libpcap. I'm making a custom network protocol converter and multicast rebroadcast 'portal'. I need to be able to read and rebuild a full OSI 7 layer stack and recreate one within 100 microseconds all day long, every day, for years, with no user input. Terminal support will only be there in the event that something goes wrong that the system cannot recover from on its own. Theoretically I'd like the whole OS + apps running strictly in RAM - at the moment I am targeting 1 GB of ram total.

I've just run across ttylinux - it might suit my needs. Anyone with any experience using it care to speak up?

edit: if I can manage to fit a c only compiler onto the system as well to be used at need that would also be good, but that is just gravy

linus72 07-29-2010 03:46 PM


all day long, every day, for years, with no user input.
so, the system you will have will be "frozen", as in no updates/upgrades to system?

best if it runs in ram, using least amount of ram
and it needs to be no X?

I've used ttylinux, its neat and cool
but, as far as long-term who knows?

Debian, Slackware, etc should be around for years...

Fathom's SlaxRemix07 is a remaster of Slax 6.1.2 (slackware 12.2)
Remix is 13.1/current based and I believe that it can run without X/KDE
and it's small (200MB), and can boot to ram....

also, tinycore and microcore(no X) (new DSL) tinycore boots to ram by default

orgcandman 07-29-2010 06:14 PM

Regardless of whether or not you'll be on intel x86, you should DEFINITELY build your own cross toolchains. You can google for the reasons why; suffice it to say it's always a good decision.

Additionally, you can look at the old school 1.44mb linux floppies people build (and also have a look at CHNTPW floppy / cd) for examples of just how thin can be.

jlinkels 07-29-2010 07:25 PM

Debian Stable will do.
The biggest risk is that you forget where you installed the box after 4 years of running, because you won't ever have to access it.

But seriously, depending on the processor power that you need, consider a nettop. The reason being no processor fan, and almost no dust being sucked in because there is little ventilation.


bitznarf 07-30-2010 03:07 PM


Originally Posted by linus72 (Post 4049493)
so, the system you will have will be "frozen", as in no updates/upgrades to system?

best if it runs in ram, using least amount of ram
and it needs to be no X?

Correct. Theoretically there could be future upgrades to the system but they would be few and far between.

Looks like tinycore/microcore is exactly what I was looking for. I'll spend some time working with it and make sure.

Thanks for the replies folks.

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