Tiny Core Linux 15 stuffs modern computing in a nutshell

Tiny Core Linux shows that a fully functional, GUI-driven Linux distro can be smaller than Windows 95 and still be modern and useful. Version 15 is out, in both x86-32 and x86-64 editions. It's based on kernel 6.6.8, glibc 2.38, and includes GCC version 13.2. It comes in three variants: Core is text-only, although you can install a choice of GUIs if you wish; TinyCore has a graphical desktop; and CorePlus includes dozens of optional extra apps.


Tiny Core Linux 15: A Compact and Modern Distro

Tiny Core Linux 15, available in both x86-32 and x86-64 editions, challenges the notion that a fully functional, GUI-driven Linux distro must be large. This latest version is based on kernel 6.6.8, glibc 2.38, and includes GCC version 13.2. It offers three variants, each serving different needs. The Core edition is text-only but can be equipped with a GUI if desired. TinyCore provides a graphical desktop, while CorePlus comes with additional optional apps.

What sets Tiny Core Linux apart is its astonishingly small download size. In a world where lightweight distros often occupy 2-3 GB, Tiny Core Linux delivers an impressive performance in just a fraction of the space. The command-line-only Core edition is a mere 17.8 MB, while the GUI-based TinyCore is 24 MB. Even the full-fat CorePlus edition, which includes almost all optional extras, is still just 265 MB. This compact size makes it smaller than Windows 95, demonstrating that a modern and fully functional Linux distro can indeed come in a tiny package.

Usability and Performance of Tiny Core Linux

Despite its small size, Tiny Core Linux is a fully functional graphical OS that runs seamlessly on modern multicore PCs, connects to Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and can even go online to fetch additional apps. Its versatility is truly impressive, considering its size. It takes up less disk space than Windows 95 and offers an exceptional user experience in 2024.

Tiny Core Linux is not limited to specific functions or use cases. It is a general-purpose OS that can be employed for a wide variety of tasks. During our testing, we tried the CorePlus edition, and it exceeded our expectations. It booted in seconds, leaving us at a desktop with minimal RAM usage. Once installed, it took up a mere 24.4 MB of disk space. To put that into perspective, our comparison with the Raspberry Pi Desktop revealed that Tiny Core Linux uses only a fraction of the resources needed by other distros.

Unique Features and Package Management

Tiny Core Linux stands out not only for its size and performance but also for its distinctive features. While it may not operate like conventional desktop Linux distros, it offers a unique experience that caters to a broad range of users. Despite its extreme size reduction, Tiny Core Linux encompasses a complete OS and introduces its own package management system.

The package management system of Tiny Core Linux involves downloading compressed .tcz files, which are loop-mounted without modifying the root file system. The binaries are then symlinked into the /usr folder. This unique approach allows even the 24 MB edition to connect to the internet and download and install applications seamlessly. Adding tools and apps, such as neofetch and htop, is a breeze. The overall package management experience was smooth, with negligible issues encountered.

Getting started with Tiny Core Linux may involve a slight learning curve due to its unconventional setup. However, comprehensive resources are available, including an FAQ page and a downloadable manual entitled 'Into the Core,' which provides detailed information on boot options, persistence, and more. These materials make it easier for users to navigate the unique aspects of Tiny Core Linux.