Installing Tiny Core Linux on VirtualBox

Tiny Core Linux (TCL) is a very minimal Linux distribution which is blazingly fast. The Tiny Core Linux ISO is just under 12MB. It boots instantly and the entire core operating system is loaded into RAM making it extremely fast. Tiny Core Linux is based on Linux 2.6 kernel, Busybox, Tiny X, and Fltk. This article is step by step guide on installing Tiny Core Linux on VirtualBox. The steps given are very similar if you are installing TCL on a standalone server.

Download Tiny Core Linux from here. There are multiple ways in which you can install TCL. You can either download the MultiCore version which comes packaged with installer and network components. Alternately you can install the TinyCore version and then using AppBrowser you can download the Tiny Core installer to install TCL. In this example, I will use the second method since TinyCore ISO is considerably smaller than MultiCore version.

Create a new Linux virtual machine from VirtualBox. In the version field select "Other Linux". I recommend giving a RAM of 256MB and the virtual disk size of 1GB. In my installation, I use 500MB for swap space and the remaining 500MB for the primary ext4 partition where Tiny Core Linux is installed. Mount the downloaded Tiny Core Linux ISO (tinycore-current.iso) in virtual CD drive. If you are installing on a standalone machine, write the ISO to a boot CD. I used Tiny Core Linux 4.1 for this article.

Start the TCL virtual machine from VirtualBox. In the boot command prompt, press enter. Tiny Core Linux starts instantly and you are presented with the following screen,

Tiny Core Linux Running in VirtualBox

Mounting CDMounting CD - TCLNow we need to load TinyCore virtual CD  in Tiny Core Linux. Click on the Mount icon at the bottom. Click on the CD device name to mount the CD (indicated by the green color). Now Tiny Core Linux ISO is available in the running instance of TCL.

Partitioning Hard disk for Tiny Core Linux Installation

Next step is to prepare the hard disk for installation of TCL. We will use the fdisk command to create the following partitions,

  • /dev/sda1 – This will be the primary ext4 Linux partition where TCL is installed (500MB)
  • /dev/sda2 – The Linux swap partition (500MB) From the bottom navigation bar, click on Aterm. From the terminal window change to super user mode,

sudo su

Now modify the partition table by running fdisk,

fdisk /dev/sda

    Create the primary partition by executing following fdisk commands,

fdisk - Tiny Core Linux

We have given 70 cylinders out of 137 available for the new partition. This is around 500MB. you can alternatively give exact size by replacing 70 with +500M.

Now create the swap partition by executing the following fdisk commands,

fdisk - Tiny Core Linux

Change the second partition to a swap partition by running the following commands,

Changing partition type using fdisk

Now write the change to the partition table running the write command,

fdisk - Tiny Core Linux

You can verify the partitions by running the following command from the command prompt,

fdisk -l

fdisk - Tiny Core Linux

Finally run the following command to prepare the swap partition,

mkswap /dev/sda2

Tiny Core Linux Installation (Version 4.1)

Tiny Core installation script is not part of the Tiny Core ISO. You need to download it from the central repository using the AppBrowser. Ensure that you have an active internet connection.

From the bottom menu, click on AppBrowser. From the AppBrowser click on Connect to access online TCL repository. Search for tc-install as shown below. Select tc-install and the bottom left option as "Download+Load" and click on Go.

Installing tc-install from Appbrowser

The tc-install includes Perl5 and the total download size is around 14MB. Wait for the download to complete. Once download is complete right click on the desktop and select Applications => TC_Install.

Select the following options in the first screen of Tiny Core Linux installer. In order to select Tiny Core file, the ISO must be already mounted. Select the primary partition created using fdisk earlier.

Installing Tiny Core Linux in VirtualBox

Click on the right arrow. In the next screen select the formatting options as ext4. Click on the right arrow again. Now enter the boot options as given below,

tce=sda1 opt=sda1 home=sda1 norestore

Installing Tiny Core Linux in VirtualBox

Click on the right arrow. Review all the setting and then click on the proceed button in the next screen. Tiny Core Linux will be installed in a few seconds.

Installing Tiny Core Linux in VirtualBox

Shutdown TCL instance. Remove the Tiny Core Linux ISO from the virtual box settings and start the Tiny Core Linux. If everything goes well, Tiny Core Linux will boot from the hard disk. After installation, the size of the VirtualBox disk file was under 20MB!

You can verify the use of swap space by running the following command,

cat /proc/swaps

Verifying swap space in linux

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  1. […] Click here for the detailed tutorial on installing Tiny Core Linux in a hard disk. This tutorial also sets the hard disk partition as the location for downloaded extensions. Please note that for Oracle Java installation, hard disk partition requires over 500MB of free space. […]

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