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Mini Distribution

A lightweight embedded GNU/Linux distribution

What is the Mini Distribution?

The Mini Distribution is a modern lightweight GNU/Linux Distribution for embedded devices. It is built from collections of buildfiles using the Build Gear firmware build tool.

Build Gear in action
The Mini Distribution running on the Hummingboard.

The Mini Distrubtion also serves as a reference distribution and example on how to create firmware using the Build Gear build tool. It is maintained by the Build Gear maintainers and community contributors. It includes a simple set of components and features. That being said you should be able to easily reuse, modify or extend it for your own needs. In fact, we invite you to adopt the Mini Distribution for your hardware or create your own distribution if you like. Build Gear makes it easy to do!


  • Glibc based toolchain
  • Systemd init system
  • GNU/Linux system utilities (no busybox)
  • Small footprint
  • Up to date components
  • Collection of 300+ available buildfiles supporting various features

Supported Hardware

Currently the lead hardware for the Mini Distribution is the IMX6 Hummingboard from Solidrun.

Previously supported hardware included the Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, and Pandaboard. These are no longer maintained but their buildfiles are still available. If you would like to maintain the Mini Distribution for any of these boards or other boards please let us know.


The buildfiles for the Hummingboard are available here:

All Mini Distribution buildfiles are available here:

The main buildfiles are split into 4 collections:

  • core
  • Buildfiles providing basic features (maintained on a regular basis)
  • opt
  • Buildfiles providing optional features (maintained on a regular basis)
  • extra
  • Buildfiles providing extra features (maintained on a non-regular basis)

    Each collection can be split into cross and native buildfiles. Cross buildfiles are those built to run on a host system (eg. arm) different from the system (typically x86) they are built on. Native buildfiles are those built to run on the same system (typically x86) they are built on. Generally, it is advised to avoid the use of native buildfiles and instead leverage the features of the available build system components (eg. Ubuntu packages) to reduce maintenance and compilation time.


    Prebuilt images are available

    How to install?

    For install instructions please see the README file in the respective board buildfile repository. For the Hummingboard the README is found here:

    How to build?

    To build the Mini Distribution you must first install the Build Gear firmware build tool. Then, building the filesystem and bootloader for the Hummingboard is as easy as the following:

    $ git clone --recursive git://
    $ cd hummingboard
    $ buildgear build fs
    $ buildgear build u-boot

    This will make Build Gear automatically download the source code of all included filesystem components, resolve build dependencies, and build everything in correct order - the end result is a compressed filesystem tarball in the build output directory: build/output/fs.tar.gz

    Likewise the resulting bootloader is available in the build output directory: build/output/u-boot.img. The u-boot build also includes the first stage bootloader: build/output/SPL

    For more build details (build system requirements etc.) see the board README:

    Please notice that it is only supported building the Mini Distribution using Ubuntu. Other distributions installed on your build system are not officially supported. However, others will likely work but use on your own risk!

    Mailing List

    Subscribe to the following mailing list for development, help, bug reports, announcements, discussions, etc.:
    Build Gear Development Mailing List


    Feel free to contribute - the Mini Distribution is fully open source and open for ideas and patches which improve any of the available build files. If you want to help out drop by #buildgear and say hello.

    We are always in need for maintainers to help maintain buildfiles and support for various hardware boards.

    Mini Distribution Commit History

    Committer Repository Message Date