I'm trying to setup a operating system with nothing on it
Not a trivial thing to do. Why? Because even simple drawing programs can have many dependencies AND it generally requires a window manager, with its dependencies to run in. My suggestion: grab a recent Raspbian image and then start hacking away at what you don't need. The LXDE window manager is pretty lightweight and with careful attention, you can strip down and remove applications you don't need. Be forewarned however, applications can and do share library dependencies so be prepared to keep notes, break things do reloads until you get an idea of how it all works.
Cheers and good luck.
Retired IT professional, C programmer and "beardie weirdie".
RPi interests: Developing an Infinite Improbability Drive
“Thinking outside of the box allows you to get rewards outside of your reach.” Matshona Dhliwayo