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Installing the TinyCore O/S

TinyCore Boot Modes

Firstly, you need to ensure that you have made a TinyCore boot disc before continuing with the install.

Unlike most other Operating System, TinyCore is designed to run directly from a CD or USB Stick..

Unlike most other Operating Systems, TinyCore is designed to run directly from a boot CD or USB Stick, as opposed to having to install it directly to a hard disc first.

There are, however, a three main modes you can boot it into:

  • Cloud Mode : this is often known as Live CD mode in other distros. In this (-the default) mode, the O/S is loaded into -and all changes are made in- RAM memory only; any changes are discarded at reboot time

  • USB Stick Mode : in this mode, TinyCore will boot with a USB Stick mounted. Any applications installed or data files will be written to the USB stick so that they will be accessible again when TinyCore is next booted with the USB stick in place. This is useful for saving a customised version of the O/S for occasional use

  • USB Stick Boot Mode : this mode is similar to USB Stick Mode except that the O/S is written to the USB stick, so the boot CD can be dispensed with altogether. This is useful where a CD drive is not available on the target computer, or for regular use

Booting into Cloud Mode

The default mode for TinyCore is Cloud Mode: if you hit the "ENTER" key - or simply enter nothing at the boot prompt - then the O/S will boot directly into Cloud mode:

choose language

If the boot sequence found no errors, the TinyCore desktop will display in a few seconds:

choose language

In this mode, the O/S is loaded into -and all changes are made in- RAM memory only: any changes are discarded at reboot time. This mode is useful if you want to test drive TinyCore without affecting any O/S or files installed on your computer. It is also useful if you do not trust a website or link, as any possible malware will be junked when you power off.

Note: you can view our demo video of how to use TinyCore in Cloud Mode on our Video Section

Booting into USB Stick Mode

If you decide to continue using TinyCore, then you should consider using USB Stick Mode, as it allows you to save/restore your favourite applications and desktop settings between boots. To do this, enter the following phrase at the boot prompt:

tinycore waitusb=<wait time>

Note: if you have a slow USB stick, try a longer wait time, such as tinycore waitusb=20

install Ubuntu icon

If your USB stick is read-only or not formatted correctly (-i.e. using FAT32) you may see the boot process halt a couple of time, with prompts such as the following:

Request for persistent HOME on LABEL=<USB label> ignored.
Press Enter key.
Request for persistent OPT on LABEL=<USB label> ignored.
Press Enter key.

install Ubuntu icon

In this case, TinyCore will continue to boot, but the USB will not be usable (-i.e. you will be placed in Cloud Mode). The only way to fix this is to reformat the USB drive (-or to use a different one) then to reboot using that.

Assuming the USB stick was fine, then once TinyCore boots, click on the mounter icon in the toolbar:

TinyCore Disc Mounter

Check the USB drive is shown in green (mounted) as opposed to red (unmounted) and note the device name for use later. If the drive is showing red, then try clicking on it and seeing if this changes it to green.

With the USB stick mounted, you will need to create the tce directory on it (-which is where TinyCore stores any applications / data). First, ensure you have installed a file manager application such as Midnight Commander (mc) (-as TinyCore does not include one as standard) , then invoke it:

Midnight Commander (mc) Window

Navigate to the USB device (-which will be something like /mnt/sdd) and use the "Mkdir" button to create the tce directory on it. This directory will then be used to save any installed applications, configuration settings and data files that you make to your TinyCore system.

Note: instead of installing a file manager, you could just create the directory from the command line - e.g. mkdir /mnt/sdd/tce

Creating a USB Boot Device

There are times when booting from a CD/DVD drive is either unsuitable or not possible. For example, some older laptops, network clients and PC self-builds do not have a CD/DVD drive, making them much more difficult to boot into TinyCore. The solution is to create a bootable USB Stick on a donor machine and use this to boot the target PC from.

In many ways, the procedure for creating a USB boot device is similar to that for running TinyCore in USB Stick Mode. All you need to do is to boot from the CD on the donor PC using the same boot phrase as for USB Stick Mode:

tinycore waitusb=<wait time>

This will make the USB available to the operating system as before. This time, however, we do not need to create the tce folder on the device, but to wipe the whole stick and write a complete set of install files from the CD to the USB. Once this is completed, the CD can be dispensed with altogether - in favour of the USB stick - when booting.

Once the TinyCore desktop displays, click on the Control Panel icon in the toolbar:

TinyCore Control Panel

From here, you can use the installer option to write the image to the USB device.

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