Time for an update, with a handful of 1 or multi floppy Linux distros running from a ramdisk, some of them are installable.
-As its FAQ describes it, "The most GNU/Linux on one floppy disk", using a superformatted 1722K floppy, Tomsrtbt is available at
It's a rescue disk with support for a lot of hardware, in one word, it's useful!
-Another set of rescue floppy disks, cramdisk-2.0 comes in 4 versions, 2 of them will boot with only 4MB on a 386SX and offer networking (using PPP or NE2000, 3C509) or support for the parallel port ZIP drive.
The other two cramdisk floppies need 8MB to boot and will give you network support and either some commandline network utilities or the lynx textmode webbrowser:
-HAL91, a 1 floppy Linux, requires a 386 with 8MB to run:
https://web.archive.org/web/20010623125310/ht … 0/~perle/hal91/
-giotto is another 1 (or 2) floppy Linux, it needs a 486 and 12MB to run, so it's a bit more demanding in resources:
https://web.archive.org/web/20010606182311/ht … n.de:80/giotto/
-DLX is yet another 1-floppy Linux, it supports networking and parallel port ZIP drives:
https://web.archive.org/web/19970503093624/ht … 301726/dlx.html
-Mininux is a 1 or 2 floppy disks rescue Linux, it uses the kernel 2.4.4 (all the other Linuxes in this post use older kernels), supports various network cards, filesystems, and also audio cards:
The following mini Linuxes can or require to be installed to work:
-BasicLinux is designed for machines with low specs, the DOS installable version, in a loop filesystem, needs only a 386, 3MB of RAM and less than 25MB of your HDD , the 2-floppies version requires 12MB to run from RAM, and it also supports PCMCIA, so it's great on old laptops, and has many add-ons, X window client/webbrowsers/audio player/word processing and more:
-Small Linux can run on even lower specs, a 386 with only 2MB of RAM and 20Mb of HDD space if you install it, it also has an optional mono or VGA16 X Window server.
Check its website, read the docs, get the floppy images and dust off your 386:
https://web.archive.org/web/19991110183234/ht … t:80/index.html
-Monkey Linux is an installable only distribution, using UMSDOS, coming on 5 floppy disks.
It needs a 386SX with 4MB RAM, 20MB of space on an IDE HDD (+ 10MB for SWAP) and atleast a VGA card for X Window, it comes with optional packages, extra X Window servers, Netscape, DosEmu and more.
Check its webpage at https://jenda.hrach.eu/f2/monkeylinux/english.htm
Get the files at https://jenda.hrach.eu/f2/monkeylinux/
-muLinux is, in my opinion, pretty great, bordering on amazing even, it comes with a lot of extra add-ons, can run from RAM or be installed to a hdd in UMSDOS or ext2, can run with only 4MB of RAM on a 386, supports a lot of hardware, it's the first of the mini distributions I used extensively on a 486 laptop I had lying around!
Check it, it's worth your time: http://micheleandreoli.org/public/Software/mulinux/
Mirrored at https://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/mulinux/mulinux.html
And to finish this long post, I can already imagine people complaining about Linux being a mess, Unix being way better, and all this and all that, so you'll be delighted with two versions of PicoBSD, a 1 floppy version of FreeBSD.
One is based on FreeBSD 3.0 https://web.archive.org/web/20030801080848/ht … sd/picobsd.html
and the other FreeBSD 2.2.5 https://web.archive.org/web/20030802102736/ht … bsd/picobsd225/
Some of the files are here: http://lntmaps.herauthon.nl/I/ds/Floppy/Boot/picoBSD/
There are duplicates and badly named (regarding the version number) floppy images, you're warned!