5 Installing Tiny Core Linux

Mathew J. Heath Van Horn, PhD

Tiny Core Linux is a very lightweight operating system (OS) that is easily configurable to meet a wide variety of needs. Unlike other OSs that require gigabytes (GB) of hard drive space and RAM, Tiny Core Linux requires less than 250 megabytes (MB) of hard drive space and only 23 MB of RAM. This makes it uniquely suited for us to use in this textbook to emulate an enterprise network architecture.

Tiny Core Linux uses a lot of command line interface (CLI) commands, so please pay attention to detail when following these instructions.

Learning Objectives

  • Install Tiny Core Linux in VirtualBox
  • Add Tiny Core Linux to the GNS3 appliance repository



  • None – this is a preparatory lab for other labs


  • Tiny Core Linux Main Website – http://tinycorelinux.net/

Contributors and Testers

  • Jacob M. Christensen, C.I.S. Student, ERAU-Prescott
  • Julian Romano, C.I.S. Student, ERAU-Prescott
  • Cody Shinkyu Park, Honeywell Software Engineer, ERAU-Prescott Alumni
  • Evan Paddock, Cybersecurity Student, ERAU-Prescott
  • Dante Rocca, Cybersecurity Student, ERAU-Prescott
  • Sawyer Hansen, Cybersecurity Student, ERAU-Prescott

Phase I – Download and Install in VirtualBox

Tiny Core Linux is very lightweight. It primarily runs in RAM to increase its operating speed.

Photo of Tiny Core Linux running on VirtualBox
Figure 0.5 – Tiny Core Linux running in VirtualBox
  1. Download the Tiny Core Linux¬† iso file named “CorePlus” from http://tinycorelinux.net/downloads.html

    Note: iso is used as a nickname for an optical disk image adhering to the ISO 9660 file system.

  2. The file is so small it isn’t zipped
  3. Open The Oracle VirtualBox Manager and click on New (Figure 1)
  4. Complete the VM form (Figure 2)
    1. Choose a name – In this lab, we called it “TinyCoreLinux”
    2. Use the ISO dropdown menu to select the CorePlus-current.iso you downloaded in Step 1
    3. Use the Type drop-down menu to select Linux
    4. Use the Version drop-down menu to select Other Linux (64-bit)
    5. Press Next
  5. Decrease the Base Memory to 256 MB and press Next (Figure 3)
  6. Decrease the Virtual Hard Disk to 500 MB and press Next (Figure 4)
  7. At the summary screen, press Finish (Figure 5)
  8. Start the TinyCoreLinux VM

    NOTE: Some testers had to explicitly tell the VM to capture their mouse commands. To do this, navigate to the VM menu at the top of the VM window and under Input open the drop-down menu and select Mouse Integration (Figure 6)

    NOTE: Remember – to release the mouse from a VirtualBox VM – press the right-side ctrl key

  9. Use the arrow keys to select Boot Core with X/GUI (TinyCore) + Installation Extension (Figure 7)
  10. Press enter to start the boot process in this mode
  11. Once it starts (takes a few seconds), you will see the main screen. At the bottom of the screen, you can hover your mouse over the icons and right-click the Install icon (Figure 8)
  12. Manage the settings in the Tiny Core Installation menu (Figure 9)
    1. Select Whole Disk
    2. Highlight sda as the disk
    3. Select Install boot loader
    4. Press the right arrow at the bottom of the settings to go to the next menu
  13. Leave the formatting options at their default and press the right arrow (Figure 10)
  14. In the boot options reference list, type the following in the blank field at the bottom (Figure 11)

    home=sda1 opt=sda1

  15. Press the right arrow
  16. On the Install Type menu, leave the defaults and press the right arrow (Figure 12)
  17. Review the installation information and press Proceed (Figure 13)
  18. When the installation has finished (Figure 14), shut down the VM (Figure 15)
  19. Return to the VM VirtualBox manager and adjust the settings for the TinyCoreLinux VM by clicking on settings (Figure 16)
  20. In settings, navigate to Storage, right-click the iso, and click Remove Attachment (Figure 17). This forces the VM to boot from the virtual hard disk instead of the iso
  21. Click OK
  22. Start the TinyCoreLinux VM to ensure it boots from the virtual hard drive. Notice that the Install icon no longer appears (Figure 18)

Phase II – Creating persistance in Tiny Core Linux

Tiny Core Linux discards all changes made when it shuts down. This is great for getting a fresh start but can be a pain when we want to keep something. To persistently save material when the VM shuts down, we need to use the backup feature. In this section, we will create a test file and use the backup feature to keep the information.

  1. Start the TinyCore Linux or resume from the install
  2. On the main page, click on the third icon Control Panel (Figure 19)
  3. Under the maintenance section, click Backup/Restore and another window will open. Click on Included for Backup (.filetool.lst) and you can see which directories and files are saved automatically on shutdown with backup (Figure 20)
  4. According to this information, files saved in the opt and home directories will be backed up
  5. Close the windows
  6. Open a blank text file by clicking on the editor icon (Figure 21)
  7. Type in anything in the textbox and then use the mouse to select File –> Save File As… (Figure 22)
  8. In the File Save As window, leave the default settings and add the file name test.txt (Figure 23), and click ok
  9. Now click on the Exit icon at the bottom, and on the exit options, select Reboot and backup options Backup and then press ok (Figure 24)
  10. After the VM restarts, open the editor again, and this time click File –> Open File. In the new window, you should see the file you saved earlier (Figure 25)
  11. You can open it again if you want, but seeing it listed is good enough to know that data persistence via backup is working
End of Lab
List of Figures
Screenshot of commands
Figure 1 – Create a new VM


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Figure 2 – Completing the VirtualBox VM form


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Figure 3 – decrease the memory to 256MB


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Figure 4 – Decrease the Virtual Hard Disk to 500 MB


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Figure 5 – Finish the VM changes


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Figure 6 – Mouse integration in VirtualBox VMs


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Figure 7 – First time boot instructions for TinyCore Linux


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Figure 8 – Install TinyCore Linux


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Figure 9 – Managing the settings in TinyCore installation menu


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Figure 10 – Leave the formatting options alone


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Figure 11 – Set the home and optional drives to use by default


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Figure 12 – Leave the install type defaults


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Figure 13 – Review the installation information before proceeding


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Figure 14 – Installation indicates finished


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Figure 15 – Shut down the VM from within the VM


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Figure 16 – Configuring the VM again


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Figure 17 – Remove the booting iso image


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Figure 18 – The install icon no longer appears which means it is booting from the virtual drive instead of the iso


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Figure 19 – Configure the TinyCore VM for persistence


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Figure 20 – Changing the backup/restore settings


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Figure 21 – Open a blank text file


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Figure 22 – Type anything and save the document


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Figure 23 – Save the text file


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Figure 24 – Reboot and Backup


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Figure 25 – Checking to see the file was retained after reboot




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Mastering Enterprise Networks Copyright © 2024 by Mathew J. Heath Van Horn, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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