BasicLinux is a mini-Linux that boots from HD, FD or CDrom and runs in a 4mb ramdisk.   It has a fully-featured shell, an easy-to-use editor, and a variety of useful utilities.   In particular, BasicLinux is well equipped for internet use:  it can dial an ISP, browse the web, send/receive mail, and download/upload files.   It can also share an internet connection with other computers.

BasicLinux is a good distribution for an old 386/486 with limited RAM and small harddrive.   The optional HD installation package puts BasicLinux on its own HD partition, where standard applications can be installed (including X, Netscape and GCC).

The current version of BasicLinux is 1.8
It comes as a 2mb zip file.

Minimum requirements
386 computer with 8mb RAM   (if you have less RAM click here)
DOS -or- Windows 95/98   (for Windows ME/NT/2K/XP click here)

Booting BasicLinux
Unzip to a convenient directory on your harddrive.   Put the computer in DOS mode and execute boot.   This will automatically create a 4mb ramdisk and run BasicLinux there.   BasicLinux does not run on your harddrive.

Additional modules for BasicLinux
If you need a module that is not included with the BasicLinux distribution, you should find it here.

Add-ons from Slackware 3.5 will work in BasicLinux (as long as you add the necessary support files).  Your main problem is space.  There is only 750kb free on the BasicLinux ramdisk.   Below are some small add-ons that work in BasicLinux.  After downloading, uncompress them using untar.   If necessary, use chmod +x to make a file executable.

  Foreign keyboard support           HTTP server           DHCP client

  Midnight Commander           Spread sheet           Set login password        

  System monitor         Print client         FTP server         SETI client          

  Tetris         zgv viewer + libvgagl         beep         ztelnet         awk

  LILO  (use pkg to install)

Making a floppy-disk version of BasicLinux
In the BasicLinux zip file, you will find make_fd, which can be used to create a two-floppy, auto-booting BasicLinux.   Full instructions are in README.TXT.

Making a hard-drive version of BasicLinux
Putting BasicLinux on its own HD partition has several advantages:

  • you have room for larger applications (including X and GCC)
  • you can install standard Slackware packages (using pkg command)
  • your alterations to the filesystem are retained when you reset
  • your system has an extra 4mb of memory (instead of ramdisk)

    The install-to-HD package comes as a 700kb zip file.   It transfers your ramdisk version of BasicLinux to harddrive and re-configures it for HD operation.   It also adds several new capabilities.   This package is not for beginners.   Unless you are an experienced Linux user, you should first spend some time with BasicLinux on a ramdisk before trying to transfer it to a permanent harddrive partition.

    Further information and support

  • BasicLinux Questions & Answers
  • Article about BasicLinux in the Linux Gazette
  • On-line Linux lessons
  • Linux HOWTOs