10+ Linux Based Smallest Operating Systems That Can Run From USB or Live CD

by on September 1st, 2013

A flexible operating system enables you to manage or use your computer in many useful ways. Linux being most flexible operating system, offers many choices and flavors to choose from to use it as a fully functional operating system for any computer from high powered super computers to notebooks to embedded systems such as aircraft entertainment systems. If you are looking for a smallest boot-able fully functional operating system to access computer, Linux can offer its few distributions. You do not need to install these operating systems. You can just make a bootable CD or even USB to access and use computer data. You can use hard disks, use internet and more without even installing any operating system on the hard disk of your computer. In case your installed operating system crashes and you need to access your hard disk data, these tiny operating systems can help a lot with it. Ease of use, privacy and data protection are major benefits, these operating systems offer. You can carry these operating systems in your pocket. these are very easy to boot, resource-efficient, and contains all of your own programs and settings. And of course you can configure these to your specific needs.

Our favorite are the followings:

Tiny Core Linux

Tiny core Linux starts with a 3.x Linux kernel. Tiny Core has a flexible and fully-customizable Graphical User Interface Desktop. Mouse, keyboard, and screen support basically works out-of-the-box. It lets you quickly and easily compare, select, download, and install your preferred web browser, word processor, music player, and other software. It is unusually stable because every time Tiny Core loads, it is like brand new. That means Tiny Core just doesn’t get a blue screen. Instead of installing programs into the system file space and risking damage to the system files, Tiny Core uses program ‘extensions’ that are re-prepared at each reboot and they are prepared fast. It can run completely from RAM (only 48 MB RAM is required). You can run Open Office and Firefox fast. It almost always finds your network card right right away to make internet accessible for you.


TinyCore is not a complete desktop nor is all hardware completely supported. It represents only the core needed to boot into a very minimal X desktop typically with wired internet access. TinyCore becomes simply an example of what the Core Project can produce, an 12MB FLTK/FLWM desktop.

You can choose which hardware to support. You can elect to have certain software enabled at boot up. During installation it allows choice of supported desktops, and includes wifi, all this while maintaining the Core principal of mounted extensions with full package management. The official download page offers three choices to download from.

  • Core (8MB)
  • Tiny Core (12MB)
  • CorePlus (64MB)

Get Tiny Core Linux

Feather Linux

Feather Linux is a Linux distribution which runs completely off a CD or a USB drive and it takes up under 128Mb of space. It is a Knoppix remaster (based on Debian), and tries to include software which most people would use every day on their desktop.


Download Feather Linux

Damn Small Linux (DSL)

Damn Small is small enough and smart enough to boot from a business card CD as a live linux distribution (LiveCD), boot from a USB drive, boot from within a host operating system, can run inside Windows, run from an IDE Compact Flash drive via a method we call “frugal install”, transform into a Debian OS with a traditional hard drive install, run light enough to power a 486DX with 16MB of Ram, and run fully in RAM with as little as 128MB.

dsl linux

Download Damn Small Linux

Lubuntu Linux

The core of the system is based on Linux and Ubuntu. Lubuntu uses the minimal desktop LXDE, and a selection of light applications. It focuses on speed and energy-efficiency and it has got very low hardware requirements. With many LXDE components, Lubuntu also uses well-known applications, such as Chromium, Openbox, Pidgin, to name a few.


Download Lubuntu

Porteus Linux

Porteus is a complete linux operating system that is optimized to run from CD, USB flash drive, hard drive, or other bootable storage media. It’s small (under 300Mb) and amazingly fast which allows you to start up and get online real fast. Porteus comes in both 32 & 64 bit and it also supports several different languages.

porteus linux

Download Porteus Linux

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is easy to install to USB, Zip or hard drive media. It can boot from CD (or DVD). It is extremely friendly for Linux newbies, boots up and run extraordinarily fast, have all the applications needed for daily use and it can load and run totally in RAM for thin computers with no hard drives.

puppy linux

Download Puppy Linux

Other Small Linux Distributions

Alpine Linux, AntiX, BasicLinux, Bodhi Linux, Semplice Linux, SliTaz, Trisquel Mini Linux, Peppermint Linux.