Review: Tiny Core Linux

The guys over at Linux Outlaws are always talking about Tiny Core Linux because it always seems to be releasing a new version.  I was impressed back in the day that Damn Small Linux could have a working Linux distro in only 50 MB.  I know that Tiny Core Linux is technically not a full Linux distro, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  It came in a recent LXF disc and I decided to check it out.

Tiny Core Linux boots options
Tiny Core Linux boots options

As you can see you can enter some boot options or just hit enter (which is what I did).  And the bootup looked similar to other liveCDs other than going insanely fast.

Tiny Core Linux boots up
Tiny Core Linux boots up

and this dropped me off at this spartan desktop:

Tiny Core Linux desktop
Tiny Core Linux desktop

interestingly, for a distro that only takes up 10 MB they were able to have Mac dock-like effects in the panel:

Tiny Core Linux panel
Tiny Core Linux panel

So, let’s see how this works for getting programs and what kinds of programs they have.  I clicked on the apps icon and ended up in the empty app browser.  So I click on file->connect to see if that did anything.  Indeed I now had an alphabetized list of programs to install:

Tiny Core Linux app browser
Tiny Core Linux app browser

I saw one shortfall right away, the programs are not categorized in any way.  How do I find an app for a particular purpose?  In other words, I know that pidgin is an IM client, but how do I know that’s the one they’ve chosen to support?  I decide to install a program to see how it works.  I choose the Chromium browser.  I select it and hit install.

Chromium and required bits download
Chromium and required bits download

And then it was installed and appeared on the dock at the bottom.

Chromium installed in Tiny Core Linux
Chromium installed in Tiny Core Linux

Unfortunately, I couldn’t launch Chromium.  Well, Chromium is somewhat experimental on Linux, right?  So I decided to install Abiword.  That’s a nice, traditional app that was sure to work.  Again, post install it was on the dock and again it would not launch.  I suspected a bug with the panel and opened up a terminal.  What I saw cemented why the programs would not run:

Why Chromium and Abiword won't launch in Tiny Core Linux
Why Chromium and Abiword won't launch in Tiny Core Linux

Apparently it couldn’t find the files it had just installed.  Determined to see if the install system was failing I tried zsnes.  That one worked.

zsnes working in Tiny Core Linux
zsnes working in Tiny Core Linux

This gave me hope.  Perhaps there was just a bug with Chromium and Abiword, but, no, Firefox would not load either.  So I hit the irc.  Unfortunately, that proved fruitless.  It was working for them and not for me and it wasn’t obvious why.  So I have to say that while Tiny Core Linux is a very neat concept – you only need 10 MB and you install only the programs you will need, it obviously has some problems in execution.  I’ll keep an eye on it to see if it improves in the future, but right now I see it as unsuitable to recommend.

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

4 thoughts on “Review: Tiny Core Linux”

  1. The problem with AbiWord is a packaging support. Either the package miss a dependency, or it hasn’t been built against this distro.

    I suggest to file the bug against the distribution.

Comments are closed.