Looking for a light-weight, but capable operating system? It doesn’t get much lighter than Tiny Core Linux.

The disc image for the most basic version of this operating system is just 16MB, and it boots on most computers in a matter of seconds. But once it’s up and running, you can install all sorts of desktop applications including the Firefox web browser, GIMP image editor, of LibreOffice suite of office applications.

It’s been a few years since I last wrote about Tiny Core, but when I saw that version 8.0 was released this week, I figured it was time to check in again.

The updates are mostly under the hood: the core operating system is still small, simple, and fast.

But Tiny Core includes a more recent Linux kernel, updated versions of busybox, glibc, and gcc, among other things. The kernel update should help Tiny Linux run on additional hardware.

Tiny Core comes in a couple of different versions, including builds for ARM, x86, and x86_64 processors. The simplest version with a graphical user interface is the 16MB TinyCore. There’s also a 11MB command line-only version just called Core, and a beefier installation image called CorePlus which includes the base system and installer tools that let you choose a window manager, keyboard configuration, and other settings.

Tiny Core Linux may not have all the bells and whistles you get from Ubuntu, Fedora, or OpenSUSE. But it’s still a surprisingly capable little alternative that you can either run from a USB flash drive or install to a computer with limited resources.


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13 replies on “Tiny Core 8.0: A complete desktop Linux distro in 16MB”

  1. Serious question, but are there still any modern Linux distros out there that’ll fit and run from a 3.5 inch Floppy Disk? I know we’re only talking about a few MB to work with here, but if the Core version of this Linux distro in the article is 11 MB, are there any further slimmed down versions?

    1. I believe a few years back that Tom’s Hardware had a version that ran on a single floppy. Google “tomsrtbt home page”.

    2. The Linux kernel by itself is 3.7MB. It’s not been small enough to boot from a floppy in ages, but back then it was possible to boot the kernel from one floppy and load the root filesystem from a second one. Old floppy-based systems are better served with a compactflash-IDE adapter. That’s what I did with an old pentium machine.

      1. Woah I just looked at Kolibri, I haven’t tried it yet, but even their latest version still has a floppy image. I’m amazed it has a GUI and can fit on a floppy! I would’ve settled for command line only, but this is great if it actually has a GUI and can boot from a floppy!

  2. Tiny core is awesome. I use it on my pi zero hunting wifi cameras. Good stuff TC devs!

  3. This is a great example of a tiny system. I was testing it a few weeks ago on a virtual machine, for a couple of hours to be honest, but it’s been years from the last time I was really doing anything serious testing with Linux. And in Tinycore’s case, I would love if someone could point to a link or a guide for having two keyboard layouts in TinyCore and an easy way to switch between them.

    1. I suspect it should, the Asus Eees have x86 processors. I recently got Ubuntu 16.10 installed on my 701. I used mini.iso and installed​ LXDE for the desktop environment.

    2. An excellent linux for the ASUS EEE 701 is antX 16. Boots in 50 MBy and comes with Libre Office and Firefox 45.

    3. It probably will. I also have the latest version of Manjaro Linux (based on Arch) running on my EEE PC.

    4. I used a much earlier version quite well on a EEE model 1000-something several years ago (circa 2010).

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