The information is from Dustin Kirkland – Product Manager at Canonical – who tweeted about it late last week. The base image of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – the first beta of which was recently available – has a size of 28 megabytes on the amd64 architecture. Only Ubuntu 14.04 LTS does as well with a 29 megabyte installation archive for 32-bit PowerPCs.
The base image allows the creation of a minimal operating system environment on a given platform. It is generally intended for experts who want to customize the OS for specific purposes, for example, to support e-cards with limited resources compared to a PC-type computer. Canonical announced that Ubuntu 18.04 would have a minimal installation option. According to the company, it allows you to get rid of some pre-installed software through manipulation in the operating system’s desktop environment. It is not to be confused with the basic ISO image even if the objective also remains to get rid of some superfluity when necessary.
The briefing note by Dustin Kirkland leaves nothing to filter about the motives behind this quest for the “little one” as it relates to the basic picture. However, the use reserved for the latter makes it possible to provide a part of the answer. In the opinion of more sophisticated third parties, however, the maneuver is much more about repositioning Ubuntu as the default distribution for the Docker container manager.
In 2016, the founder of Docker announced the recruitment of the creator of Alpine Linux. Since then, it has been followed by the adoption of the OS as the default distribution for the images of the famous container manager. And for good reason, Alpine Linux is unique in the size of its base image; the Linux Embedded Appliance Framework (LEAF) fork rootfs does not exceed 8 megabytes. That of the current version (3.7.0) weighs 2 megabytes (compressed archive) on the x86_64 architecture. The ideal candidate to reduce the size of containers as explained by the brains behind Docker.
The Alpine community has been on the rise since this adoption. The development of the operating system – which uses the Linux kernel, the C musl library, BusyBox, LibreSSL and OpenRC – is supported by Docker. The other projects that rely on the OS continue to sprout even if we do not echo it too much. The free community is still looking for the open source smartphone that would free it from dependency on Android and others; PostmarketOS is an initiative that goes in this direction.