Hey, I have been looking for a linux distribution which uses very little RAM and CPU space and is easily installable on hard drive. I want to set up a computer so that it is primarily running this minimal OS, and then have multiple virtual machines on it which I can edit easily. I want the host OS to take up as little resources as possible so that the VMs can have almost as much as if they were just running natively. The only requirements for the host are that it needs to be able to use a wireless adapter to get on a network and it needs to be able to run Sun VirtualBox. Thanks in advance.
The above recommendations are excellent, but I would just add this: one of the many assets of Linux is that pretty much ANY distro can be considered "light-weight" (without getting into benchmark wars...) provided that it allows you to install a bare-bones system. If it doesn't, you can always go back and rip out the GUI/bloatware that you don't need/want - but it is far easier to start with a bare minimum and just install what you need as you go.
For me, the bare minimum is pretty much: the Linux kernel, the GNU coreutils (ls, cd, mv, etc.), a shell (bash), some other basic GNU utils (grep, awk, sed, etc.), the OpenSSH suite (ssh, scp, sftp, etc.) and the distro package manager (rpm, yum, apt-get, etc.).
For example, with Fedora, I have a PXE (network-based) installer that creates an OS load just as described. Then if I want, I add to it X and Fluxbox. Or if I want Apache and NFS, or full-blown Gnome, then that's what I do - and the package manager handles all the deps. I have a similar setup for Ubuntu, but I don't use it nearly as much.
Yes, the "light-weight" distros were built with less-bloat and meager hardware resources in mind, so their GUIs will tax the CPU/RAM less when they are run. If I truly wanted a light-weight GUI Linux OS, I'd use Puppy, etc (okay, I'm lying - I'd use Fedora with X and Fluxbox, but only if my hardware could handle it). But in a GUI-less environment, I don't think the difference is significant enough for me to want to use it, when I could use a distro that I am already comfortable with (and that probably has more community experience with advanced things like multiple VM environments).
just a thought...