List of Linux distributions that run from RAM

This is a list of Linux distributions that can be run entirely from a computer's RAM, meaning that once the OS has been loaded to the RAM, the media it was loaded from can be completely removed, and the distribution will run the PC through the RAM only. This ability allows them to be very fast, since reading and writing data from/to RAM is much faster than on a hard disk drive or solid-state drive. Many of these operating systems will load from a removable media such as a Live CD or a Live USB stick. A "frugal" install can also often be completed, allowing loading from a hard disk drive instead.

Puppy Linux 5.10 desktop running in RAM

This feature is implemented in live-initramfs and allows the user to run a live distro that does not run from ram by default by adding toram to the kernel boot parameters.[1]

Additionally some distributions can be configured to run from RAM, such as Ubuntu using the toram option included in the Casper scripts.[2]


Linux distributions that run from RAM
Distribution Based on RAM required installation drive/required size
Alpine Linux[3][4] Independent base system uses less than 64 MB CDUSB flash driveHDD
antiX Linux[5] Debian 256 MB CDUSB flash driveHDD
Arch Linux[citation needed] Independent 400 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
AUSTRUMI[6] Slackware less than 100 MB CDDVDUSB flash drive
CoreOS[7] Independent 2048 MB USB flash driveHDD
Grml[8] Debian 256 MB (required), 512 MB (or more, recommended) CDUSB flash driveHDD
Kanotix[9] Debian & Knoppix 1024 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
Knoppix[10] Debian 1024 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
Lightweight Portable Security (LPS), currently known as Trusted End Node Security (TENS)[11] Thinstation 1024 MB (basic), 1.5 GB (deluxe) CDUSB flash drive
Nanolinux[12] Tiny Core Linux 64 MB[13] CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
Parted Magic[14] Independent 175 MB – 312 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
PCLinuxOS[15] Mandriva 1024 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
Porteus[16] Slackware 512 MB CDDVDUSB flash drive
Puppy Linux[17] Independent 64 MB (required), 512 MB (recommended)[18] CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
Slax[19] Debian and Slackware 15.0.0 512 MB CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD
SliTaz[20] Independent 192 MB (48 MB for base) CDDVDUSB flash driveHDD[21]Floppy disk[22]
Tails[23] Debian 2048 MB (recommended) DVDUSB flash driveSecure Digital
Tin Hat Linux[24] Hardened Gentoo 4096 MB
Tiny SliTaz[25] SliTaz 4 MB CDUSB flash driveHDDFloppy disk
Tiny Core Linux[26] Independent 46 MB[26] CDHDDUSB flash drive

See also

  • tmpfs; by mounting a tmpfs and running files that are placed on this, files and programs can be run from RAM, even on Linux distros that do not run completely in RAM
  • Clustered file system; network file systems are another way to avoid needing to use a (slow) harddisk (at least faster if using a E-IDE harddisk)
  • initrd ("initial ramdisk"), a scheme for loading a temporary root file system into memory in the boot process of the Linux kernel.
  • Lightweight Linux distribution
  • List of live CDs
  • List of tools to create Live USB systems
  • SYSLINUX, a suite of lightweight IBM PC MBR bootloaders for starting up computers with the Linux kernel.
  • Windows PE, a non-Linux operating system that can also be run from RAM, but does not have all of the needed software


  1. ^ "Re: Debian live entirely in RAM?".
  2. ^ Ubuntu Wiki (13 November 2014). "Booting Ubuntu To RAM". Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Alpine Linux 2 review -". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Alpine Linux:Overview – Alpine Linux". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  5. ^ "The Most Extensive Live-usb on the Planet!". antixlinux. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  6. ^ "AUSTRUMI". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Boot on Bare Metal with PXE". Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  8. ^ [], the Grml team. " – Debian Live system / CD for sysadmins and texttool-users". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  9. ^ " :: GNU Linux Live system based on Debian, optimized for HD-install and high performance". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Knoppix Cheatcodes – USB Pen Drive Linux". 30 January 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Trusted End Node Security". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Nanolinux Download". 5 April 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Nanolinux". 8 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  14. ^ Parted Magic – About
  15. ^ "PCLinuxOS Magazine – HTML". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Cheatcodes – what they are and how to use them – Porteus – Portable Linux". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  17. ^ DistroWatch. " Puppy Linux". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  18. ^ "PuppyLinux: MinimumSystemRequirements". Puppy Linux Wiki. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  19. ^ "Documentation – Slax Linux". Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  20. ^ "SliTaz". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  21. ^ "SliTaz installation". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  22. ^ s. "SliTaz Boot Floppies". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  23. ^ "Tails – Privacy for anyone anywhere". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Tin Hat -". Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  25. ^ s. "Tiny SliTaz – Builder". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  26. ^ a b Shingledecker, Robert. "Frequently Asked Questions". Tiny Core Linux Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Retrieved 28 September 2016. An absolute minimum of RAM is 46mb. TC won't boot with anything less. ... Microcore runs with 28mb of ram.