Download and install Ubuntu faster with a Minimal CD

Jul 25, 2009
Updated • Apr 10, 2014

I recently found the need to install Ubuntu on a machine with a poor CD drive (and no USB ports) that could not read large amounts of data, but could manage to read smaller amounts of data. As such, the machine could not read the 700MB but could read smaller amounts, like 10MB.

I found a bootable disc image smaller than 10MB which downloads the packages on the machine on which they'll be installed, rather than having to burn them onto a disc and then run them. However, this method of installation also allows the user to only select the packages they want to download, which potentially dramatically reduces the size of the download.

This small disc obviously uses a text-based installer. Whilst this isn't quite as user friendly, it ensures compatibility and can be used in many scenarios in which the alternative installation CD would currently have to be used.

Discs are available for 32-bit and 64-bit installs on PCs; 32-bit PowerPCs and patchy support is available for Sparc and 64-bit PowerPCs.

This seems like a much better way to install Ubuntu, because one can avoid pointless packages and the time needed to burn the 700MB image!

Please note that the MinimalCD is available for various architectures, and that it is essential that you pick the right one from the selection.

The size of the CD image depends largely on the version of Ubuntu that you want to install and the architecture. The most recent 32-bit PC version has a size of 30 Megabyte for instance, while the 64-bit version one of 36 MB.

That's not a lot and should ensure that you can install the operating system on computer systems that are anything but modern.

You do need an Internet connection though during installation as packages will be downloaded from the Internet during setup.

The MinimalCD versions of Ubuntu are not suitable for systems with UEFI BIOS as they lack the proper files for booting the computer in UEFI mode.


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  1. Roshan Rajbhandari said on May 6, 2014 at 4:30 am

    hi Martin
    i just purchased a CPU and i do not have monitor to connect to it. I bought it to run it as a home file server so i don’t want to buy a monitor just for that.
    It currently has windows 7 pro installed. Is there any way to install ubuntu automatically from USB disk without needing to select all the options during installation and after installation be able to access it via VNC or something from my laptop.
    hope to hear from you soon

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