I'm looking for an OS which:

  • At least boots to the console by default
  • Preferably has no GUI included at all
  • Will fit on a 1 GB SD card

Is there an OS like this available, and are there any additional steps or requirements to install it?

  • Is there a technical reason it needs to fit on a 1 GB card, or is that just what you have available currently? As indicated below, larger SD cards are relatively cheap and you may run into problems with smaller ones.
    – ramblinjan
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:45
  • yes but i need it to produce a large ammount of devices. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:48
  • Ok, so you're mass producing a Raspberry Pi-powered device and the 1 gb limitation is an attempt to minimize total cost?
    – ramblinjan
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:49
  • 2
    it's quite difficult to find a distro that doesn't fit in 1gb without the desktop environment
    – Bogdacutu
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 12:05
  • What about puppy? puppylinux.org/main/Overview%20and%20Getting%20Started.htm you can remove the window manager and use cli only? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 12:19

6 Answers 6


You could could run the filesystem on a USB drive, and then you only need a 16MB (yes MB) SD card:


But for a distro all on a 1GB SD card, take a look at MINIBIAN:


  • let me try it first. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 23:52
  • well it fit . thank u, i wish i can mark both answer as acceptable . thank u once again Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 1:30

You can use TinyCoreLinux. At the moment of writing this one was the latest one with just command line and SSH, having a little more then 18MB zipped. Versions having X in it's name are with GUI. And yes, there are QEMU (virtual machine) images to try too. There are many packages ready to be installed, and you can also make your own or install from source.

  • let me try it first. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 23:52
  • well this is good, Console by default + SSH and very small image size. thank u if i can mark this as acceptable i will accept both answer Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 1:30

I am using Moebius[1] on my raspberry pi. It's a Debian derived minimal distro. Because i am using raspberry pi as a headless server i don't need GUI like you.

[1] http://moebiuslinux.sourceforge.net


you may use Raspbian, run raspi-config and disable the desktop, it will boot straight to the command line.

regarding the 1Gb size -- you are free to remove unnecessary parts and may eventually end up with sub-1Gb image, but there's absolutely no point, because 8-16Gb SD cards are now a commodity and the bigger SD card is, the longer it will live. so, unless you're going to replace SD cards on a weekly basis, I would not recommend using anything smaller than 4Gb.

  • 2
    raspbian must be 2GB isnt it? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:27
  • yeah but which part for example to be removed? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:28

Have a look at Nard SDK The "minimal" example will fit a 16MB card. However the standard "skeleton" example, which requires a 2GB card, will probably boot with a 1GB card too (due to most of it free space).


I don't know the actual size of my Arch Linux install for Raspberry, but I believe it to be much smaller than 1G. It does not have a dektop environment by default, nor any stuff installed you probably won't use. It is pretty bare, therefore exactly suited for your use case. You are easily able to get all the packages you still need as soon as you have an internet connection. There is an image that can be dowloaded and dd'ed to an SD card to take out for a spin.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.