Tiny Core: A Linux desktop in just 10MB
There are small Linux distributions, and then there are tiny Linux distributions. In what must be one of the smallest Linux versions ever, Tiny Core Linux is a portable Linux desktop that is just 10MB in size. With the 10MB disk image in hand users can run it from a CD, USB drive or just as a minimal hard drive installation.
Of course, at just 10MB in size Tiny doesn’t have very many applications installed by default. In fact, apart from a terminal application and a set of system admin tools, the Tiny desktop is empty. Which is not to say that Tiny is useless. The “App Browser”, which is included by default, has a long selection of possible applications to install. Connect to the repository, select the application you want and Tiny does the rest.
Installing GFTP, for example, took about a minute or so and then its icon popped up on the launcher at the base of the screen. The launcher is worth mentioning because it has a Mac OS X-like animation to it, which is not exactly what you expect from a seriously stripped down Linux desktop.
Based on a Linux 2.6 kernel, Tiny includes Busybox, Tiny X, Fltk, and Jwm, and the core runs entirely in ram. Which means that it boots and works fast. Which is what you really want in a portable distribution.
The Tiny Core developers say that their goal is to create a “nomadic ultra small desktop capable of booting from cdrom, pendrive, or frugally from a hard drive. The desktop boots extremely fast and is able to support additional applications and hardware of the users choice. While Tiny Core always resides in ram, additional applications extensions can either reside in ram, mounted from a persistent storage device, or installed into a persistent storage device.”
Despite being stripped to the bone Tiny is, in fact, easy to use, fast and installing additional applications is straight forward. Which doesn’t mean it will replace my desktop anytime soon but is probably worth installing on the USB flash drive I carry around.