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Advice on Linux for a newbie

Hello all,

I am looking to install a customizable Linux distribution on a 24-node
cluster. It will run a highly modified kernel on AMD Athlon XP (1500+)
processors, with 512MB RAM each. These machines will act as servers for
an experimental university network.

The Linux distribution need not provide all of the software, just the
essentials, to build the kernel, and run it. We will compile and install
the server software. It must include an X server, and a lightweight
window manager (WindowMaker comes to mind). In addition, it must be
small, under 500MB.

Ideally, it will not contain any of the clutter that tends to be found
in the "one-size-fits-all" distributions like RedHat.

Does Debian satisfy the criteria? If not, can anybody suggest a
distribution that does?

Thanks a lot in advance,
Ben Williams

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