Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ubuntu Light

I wanted a new distribution that sported a nice Gnome desktop, but without the many additional programs that come installed by default in a standard Ubuntu installation. I thought about giving Debian unstable a go, but I never really got to do it. I spent quite a few days scouting distrowatch for a nice distro. I tried Pardus, a nice Turkish distribution, and it was everything I wanted, except that it used KDE, which was not bad, but I couldn't get acquainted with it.

So, the distro had to be debian based, I'm really fond of apt and the whole package management system, it was a must. What did I do in the end? I re-installed Ubuntu, but I didn't go the usual way. I got a minimal install CD. The main difference between this install disc and the standard one is that it gives you a little bit more control, and it downloads all the packages it needs instead of pulling them from the disc. The image is just 34 MB large, so its a nice alternative for us who like the latest packages from the get go and have a broadband internet connection.

So, I did a "server" install with this minimal CD. This doesn't install LAMP applications as you might think, it justs installs a base system that you can build upon. This, of course, means no fancy graphics or anything, just the necessary to boot and drop you to a terminal screen.

But, I did want a nice Gnome desktop with just the applications that I wanted. So, after getting the base system installed I installed the following packages with aptitude:

sudo aptitude install x-window-system-core gnome-core gdm gnome-media gnome-system-monitor gnome-system-tools gnome-volume-manager gnome-utils gnome-app-install gnome-screensaver synaptic firefox usplash usplash-theme-ubuntu ubuntu-artwork

That got me a very nice and lightweight Gnome desktop with just the essentials that used about 1GB of hard drive space. I installed usplash and usplash-theme-ubuntu to prevent some rather nasty GDM errors from happening. ubuntu-artwork is entirely optional.

As you can see, creating your own flavor of Ubuntu is very simple and has many advantages. You have only the programs that you want, it boots faster and its less bloated. And what's more, you don't depend on those nasty metapackages like ubuntu-desktop. The steps mentioned here is all you have to do to get a lightweight and functional system. I hope this is useful to you or someone out there, cheers!

20 comments:

lucien said...

Did the same today and it's great!

Arturo said...

It sure is! :D

speedygeo said...

I wish to remaster Ubuntu with my favorite packages so I could simplify the reinstallation of a clean system. Have you heared about something like that?

Anonymous said...

hmm...debian based distrobution without all the extra applications of ubuntu, and with a gnome desktop...

why didn't you try...i dunno...debian?
It's probably the best candidate for what you're talking about

Arturo said...

Yeah, I know, I just thought that ubuntu would sport some newer packages than debian unstable, although I'm not telling you this for a fact. I just had the minimal ubuntu CD at hand so I went with that and never got around to download a netinst image of debian. I will try it at some point though.

Regarding the "remastering" thing, yes, there is such an application, its called Reconstructor, google it.

Thank you for your comments! :)

DierRe said...

Well, I have a question. What is the kernel used by the minimal cd? I mean Ubuntu, for example, has the loading bar at startup. Is this loading bar in the minimal cd? I'm asking this because one of the reason I don't use Ubuntu is the kernel dimension.

Mika said...

"Yeah, I know, I just thought that ubuntu would sport some newer packages than debian unstable"


Well it does not. Debian unstable is always more uptodate than latest Ubuntu release. Debian testing is also most of the time more uptodate than latest Ubuntu. Don't forget that Ubuntu is based on Debian and most of the development is done on Debian.

Arturo said...

Well, the thing with ubuntu is that its easier to find 3rd party packages and repositores than in debian. Although that might be due to my lack of experience when I used debian.

Regarding the kernel stuff, and the usplash (loading bar), there is none of that on the minimal cd, unless you install it. The kernel is the same as a normal ubuntu install. The ubuntu kernel loads the necessary modules dynamically, so it doesn't load extra stuff you don't need.

DierRe said...

Tnx, I've installed it on virtual box and it's like a debian netinstall. Very good.

Arturo said...

Well, I'm glad someone actually tried this out, and even more that you liked it!

Cheers,
Arturo

paul said...

Wish i had seen this before i installed ubuntu-desktop on my server. Any ideas if i was to remove ubuntu-desktop and install just the basics as above whether this would cause problems. Have Mythtv backend installed and really dont want to mess that up but would be good to switch to " Ubuntu Light"

Arturo said...

My advice here would be to uninstall ubuntu-desktop. Don't worry, its just a meta-package and won't remove anything. After that you could start to remove the things you don't need.

Of course, a clean install is always better, but this is the way to go if you don't want to reinstall everything. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

after doing this, is it possible to install beryl and all the things you like via automatix2?
itll still be very "streamlined" since its not a default full ubuntu 7.04 cd install right?
binskipy2u at gmail dot com please let me know..

Anonymous said...

after doing this, is it possible to install beryl and all the things you like via automatix2?
itll still be very "streamlined" since its not a default full ubuntu 7.04 cd install right?
binskipy2u at gmail dot com please let me know..

Arturo said...

Yes, its perfectly possible. But my advise is to just build the latest Compiz from source. Everything can be installed without using automatix2, which is evil.

rul said...

I had been looking for this solution before. Hope this can help me having my ubuntu distro into a usb flash drive.

Nice note!

dennyhalim.com said...

check this extreme light ubuntu on diet:
http://wiki.dennyhalim.com/ubuntu-minimal-desktop

actually, all you need is:
sudo aptitude -y install xserver-xorg-core xinit menu menu-xdg fluxbox synaptic

off course, that if you like fluxbox.
otherwise, there're tons of other desktop to choose from...

nadia bizniz said...

Anonymous said:

"hmm...debian based distrobution without all the extra applications of ubuntu, and with a gnome desktop...

why didn't you try...i dunno...debian?
It's probably the best candidate for what you're talking about"

Correct me if I am wrong but
Debian "stable" uses an older version of Gnome than ubuntu
"stable", does it not? If
you want to use a more current
version of Gnome, you will not
get it from a stable Debian install.

Nadia Bizniz

nadia bizniz said...

Anonymous said:

"hmm...debian based distrobution without all the extra applications of ubuntu, and with a gnome desktop...

why didn't you try...i dunno...debian?
It's probably the best candidate for what you're talking about"

Correct me if I am wrong but
Debian "stable" uses an older version of Gnome than ubuntu
"stable", does it not? If
you want to use a more current
version of Gnome, you will not
get it from a stable Debian install.

Nadia Bizniz

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This article was very useful for me.