Skip to content


Folders and files

Last commit message
Last commit date

Latest commit


Repository files navigation


This is the Github repository for NORD, a minimalist computer operating system suitable as a base for server, desktop, or embedded systems. It is built to start fast and run light. It uses the Linux kernel and Linux-related packages.

Original Google Docs landing page:

Keeping Linux Simple

NORD is a Linux system that tries hard to not be yet another distro.
It uses two different build schemes, both of which ride on top of the standard recipe. NORD uses source archives aquired directly from the individual package authors and maintainers. The result is a system with no dependency on any central distributor.

While NORD uses the Linux kernel, it is more about Unix than Linux.

Standard Recipe

NORD follows the standard recipe for building internet sourced packages.

# get the source, keep your copy indefinitely
# explode the source
make install

On top of that are two build schemes.

  • CSCRATCH builds the core of NORD into a bootable root filesystem using an existing host platform (not necessarily NORD)
  • Chicory (the /usr/opt scheme) builds non-core packages (not exclusively for NORD) as relocatable, possibly shareable components (similar to IBM /usr/lpp or Sun /opt/SUNW)

Between these two is a solid base with a lot of flexibility.

Find out more about Chicory from its GitHub project:

Hardware Platforms

Ideally, NORD can run on any hardware supported by Linux. The following work now:

  • s390
  • i386
  • ppc, except for the bootstrap
  • arm, except for the bootstrap, borrows host runtime
  • sparc, except for the bootstrap

Platforms listed here as "except for the bootstrap" run in 'chroot'. Those which are "except for the runtime" borrow the runtime of a distributor-provided host.

Above are the 32-bit variants of bi-modal architectures. The 64-bit counterparts have been underway (slowly) for some time.


When hosted on z/VM, NORD is most easily installed via ZNETBOOT.

ZNETBOOT itself is just a CMS-based web-oriented loader and can be used to bootstrap any Linux distribution.
Try it!

See the ZNETBOOT project on Github, or download from or

Use the nord.znetboot config file included. Tailor it to your specific configuration, then run the command

znetboot nord


A related project was published by Petros Koutoupis in Linux Journal in July of 2018. The article:

Tiny URL to the article:

Petros Koutoupis' Facebook page: