I have a VM at home that runs Windows 2008 and I put the Ubiquiti controller on it and stood up first one and then another AP to provide wireless all over my house.
For obvious reasons I need to move away from Windows 2008 and looking at the resources on my host, thought moving the controller to a small Linux server. It would be dedicated to the controller and not any other tasks like I was using Windows for. This also allows me to learn a little more about Linux, so two birds, one stone.
First I looked at getting an appliance. But this didn’t allow me the learning opportunity I wanted.
Next, I tried about 5 different distros and some were extremely fast and lightweight! Bodhi linux was suggested as small and light, still with a GUI, but it was a little to odd for me to get working. Second I tried Lubuntu, again with a lightweight footprint and GUI. Again I couldn’t get all the parts working as desired. The fastest response I got was using TinyCore linux. A minimal GUI and the way applications are used threw me off.
In the end, I just went with server version of Ubuntu. There were more distro’s suggested but all used the server install underneath; I might as well go to the source! I just had to figure out YAML for the networking and I was off and running.
Unfortunately, I was still missing something to get the controller software downloaded and operational. Perhaps it was something I was mis-translating from doing this on a Raspberry Pi. I found a middle ground where there was a script to do most of the work, but it also was missing some parts.
Finally! I found this script (thanks Glenn!) that covered all the needed parts and matched my distro! Ran this and my new controller came right up! Now the step of migrating the AP from one controller to the next.
In the end, you just restore a backup of the old controller, after turning it off. The new controller picks up the AP and all other settings. Works like a dream!
Hopefully this helps you too.