"Minimal Linux Live" is a set of Linux shell scripts which automatically build minimal Live Linux OS based on Linux kernel, GNU C library and BusyBox.
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Latest commit 17ee9c2 Feb 20, 2017 Ivan Davidov Website: fixed typo.


Minimal Linux Live

You can find the main website here:

Minimal Linux Live

If the above link doesn't work, website mirrors are available here, here and here.

The DAO of Minimal Linux Live - this tutorial explains step by step what you need to do in order to create your own minimalistic live Linux OS. The tutorial is based on the first published version of Minimal Linux Live.

Component Architecture of Minimal Linux Live - this publication describes the high level components included in the "03-Apr-2016" version of Minimal Linux Live.

You can experiment with Minimal Linux Live directly in your browser by using JavaScript PC Emulator. Here is a screenshot:

Minimal Linux Live JavaScript Emulator

Did I mention the YouTube channel where you can watch some of the cool Minimal Linux Live features? No? Well, now you know about it! :)

This is a screenshot of the current development version of Minimal Linux Live:

Minimal Linux Live

Current development state (29-Jan-2017)

  • Linux kernel 4.4.44 (longterm)
  • GNU C Library 2.24 (stable)
  • BusyBox 1.26.2 (stable)
  • Stable on default Ubuntu 16.04.1 installation (32-bit and 64-bit) with applied system updates.

Future improvements

  • Add kernel modules and firmware.
  • Reorganize and simplify the ISO image generation script.

The above list is not fixed it may be updated at any time.

How to build

The section below is for Ubuntu and other Debian based distros.

# Resove build dependencies
sudo apt install wget make gawk gcc bc genisoimage

# Build everything and produce ISO image.

The default build process uses some custom provided CFLAGS. They can be found in the .config file. Some of these additional flags were introduced in order to fix different issues which were reported during the development phase. However, there is no guarantee that the build process will run smoothly on your system with these particular flags. If you get compilation issues (please note that I'm talking about compilation issues, not about general shell script issues), you can try to disable these flags and then start the build process again. It may turn out that on your particular host system you don't need these flags.

Overlay bundles

Important note! The overlay bundles come without support since the build process for almost all of them is host specific and can vary significantly between different machines. Therefore the bundle build process is disabled by default.

The current development version introduces the concept of overlay bundles. During the boot process the OverlayFS driver merges the initramfs with the content of these bundles. Currently this is the mechanism which allows you to build additional software on top of MLL without touching the core build process. In fact the overlay bundle system has been designed to be completely independent from the MLL build process. You can build one or more overlay bundles without building MLL at all. However, some of the overlay bundles have dependcies on the software pieces provided by the MLL build process, so it is recommended to use the overlay build subsystem as last step before you produce the final ISO image.

# How to build all overlay bundles

cd minimal_overlay
# How to build specific overlay bundle (e.g. links)

cd minimal_overlay
./overlay_build.sh links


The current development version adds EFI support and now the same MLL ISO image can boot on both BIOS and EFI based systems. Go on, try it!


The build process produces ISO image which you can use in virtual machine or you can burn it on real CD/DVD. Installing MLL on USB flash drive currently is not supported but it can be easily achieved by using syslinux or extlinux since MLL requires just two files (one kernel file and another initramfs file).

Another way to install MLL on USB flash drive is by using YUMI or other similar tools.

Yet another way to install MLL on USB flash drive is manually, like this:

# Resolve the dependency for isohybrid
sudo apt install syslinux-utils

# Process the ISO image and prepare it for installation on USB flash drive
isohybrid minimal_linux_live.iso

# Directly write the ISO image to your USB flash device (e.g. /dev/xxx)
dd if=minimal_linux_live.iso of=/dev/xxx

Projects based on Minimal Linux Live:

  • Minimal Linux Script - very simplified and minimalistic version of MLL. Recommended for 100% noobs.

  • Boot2Minc - this fork adds Mincs and as result you can run Linux containers. One interesting Mincs feature - it provides tools which allow you to reuse alredy existing Docker containers.

  • K1773R's MLL - PowerPC version of Minimal Linux Live with memtester as additional software. Impressive work!

  • Ladiko's MLL - This fork automatically downloads and uses the latest available Kernel and BusyBox sources. By default there is NTFS and SquashFS support. The fork also provides an installer which can be used to put MLL on USB flash device.

  • AwlsomeLinux - MLL fork which provides additional overlay bundles (ncurses and Nano).

  • prologic's MLL - this fork adds Python support to the MLL runtime environment.

  • KernelISO - extended version of MLL.

  • diaob's MLL - MLL translation to Simplified Chinese.

  • bdheeman's MLL - MLL KISS fork (Keep It, Simple, Safe/Secure/Stupid).

  • Runlinux - environment to build and test Linux kernels.

Thank you!

Do you like this project? Yes? Well, in that case I would very much appreciate it if you buy me a beer. And don't forget to check the Minimal Linux Live page on Facebook. Thank you!