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what about Micro Core Linux? Haven't tried it yet, but it's on my own list for the near future to revive an old PC/104 board (a complete PC on 4" x 4") with a Pentium/133 and 32MB RAM. Windows 98 works on that biscuit, anyway ...
I don't know lots of distros, so I can't say which is the best, but I can recommend a general approach.
Ubuntu, and several other distros I think, have a "minimal install" version. It's like 10MB. (use whichever distro's package management system you like best.)
Install this, and then add the necessary packages ssh and openvpn. apt will pull in just the dependencies you need - possibly quite a lot, but nothing unnecessary.
This checks all your requirements, unless your "old PCs" have very limited RAM - I wouldn't count on this running in 64MB of RAM without very careful tweaking of startup services etc. But you could try it out in a virtual machine first.
If you then need to install it on multiple servers you could use something like remastersys.
I would go with Debian (very good for low ram) or Slackware/Salix, Salix having dependency resolution.
Smallest install would probably be Slackware/Salix, and easiest to maintain I think.
Slackwares standard installation however, uses about 6GiB of HD space. Even if you strip down X it still uses more than 2GiB. So you would have to hunt down the dependencies for a minimal system before installation.
I have a non-gui Slackware system that takes up only about 300MB of space, ...
that's not really what I would call a "small" or "lightweight" system. Using that description, I'd rather expect something that fits in considerably less than 100MB disk space and runs with 64MB RAM or even less. Like the ttylinux you suggested two or three posts earlier.
Ubuntu, and several other distros I think, have a "minimal install" version. It's like 10MB.
You will never get a "normal" distribution down to 10 MB.
To the original question: Try it with the base (non-GUI) flavor of Slitaz, it is about 8MB in size and packages for SSH and OpenVPN are available. You can use the tools delivered with the full version of Slitaz ((about 30MB, with GUI) to make your own flavor, so that you have a minimal distro with the packages you want, which can easily be booted from harddisk, CD, USB and network (PXE boot).
Last edited by TobiSGD; 01-05-2012 at 01:36 PM.
Reason: fixed errors