I began to install Ubuntu on a VM. One of my goals was to install the core OS and use the least amount of disk space. I wanted it to be small, and take as little space as possible.

My Journey

You would think this would be a easy to understand which install option would create the smallest install size. The problem I ran into was that the install options don’t clearly state what is installed. To be fair, the installer needs to simplify options. However, I wish it was defined better on their website what the install option contains. I downloaded each variant of interest and installed them. My results are as follows.

Ubuntu 19.10 Desktop - Minimal

Software Selection: Minimal Installation (other option is Normal) Packages Installed: 1505 Disk Size: 8.14GB Summary: This is the standard desktop that the main site promotes for desktop users. I choose the minimal install, so office software isn’t included. The ubuntu software installer app will list software installed like File roller, GNOME Disks, Gnome, VIM, and etc.

This is the default install that Ubuntu recommends for users desktop. During the install I selected the minimal installation which would not install extra applications like office suite. After the install was completed, it resulted in about 8.14GB in size.

Ubuntu 19.10 - Server - No Software Selected

Software Selection: No Install Options Chosen Packages Installed: 544 Disk Size: 3.17GB Summary: Server edition.

This is the installation recommended server install. This did produce a decently small size. The packages were considered important to the server edition increased it size as you will see later.

Ubuntu 19.10 Net Install - Ubuntu Desktop Minimal

Ubuntu Server - Ubuntu Desktop Minimal Packages Installed: 1431 Disk Size: 5.07GB Summary: You get the Gnome desktop with bare minimum set of applications. Compared the normal desktop edition, you don’t get office software, games, and media players. The ubuntu software installer app will list nothing installed. So less is installed than the Desktop edition minimal install.

This time I used the network installer via the mini.iso which downloaded the latest packages on install. I selected the Ubuntu minimal install and got to 5GB. Nice part was it only had core apps installed; nothing I considered as bloat.

Ubuntu 19.10 Net Install - Core

Software Selection: No Install Options Chosen Packages Installed: 355 Disk Size: 2.84GB Summary: Pretty bare bones. You get a terminal and what Ubuntu had decided as core packages.

This time I used the network installer again and chose no software selection. This resulted in the smallest size and fewest packages. You get just a terminal. However, from here I can choose to install a desktop and any packages I want.


I was pleased I could get down to about 5.07GB with the network installer. I didn’t add this to my test, but I had previously only gotten that low with a Debian install selection with XFCE. We can get smaller of course with custom package selection during the install; but that will likely open up more more in configuration than I am interested in doing. I also need to better understand the packages chosen by looking into the tasksel tasks used. Then I can really trim down.