Best way to build a minimal Linux appliance

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http://serverfault.com – I'd like to build an open source appliance that runs a Linux kernel. What are my options here? I thought about building Linux from scratch (LFS), include my software, and then build an installer that installs it to the target machine. Problem is, I don't know what hardware users have. So depending on their system configuration, my pre-compiled kernel may or may not work. I really want a minimal OS with a super-easy custom installer. What are my options? (HowTos)