Tiny Core Linux is one of my favorite lab OS

Due to the type of work I do, I have often the need for small (Actually very tiny) VMs that have a functional OS to test certain basic functionality such as connectivity and quick features of automation solutions. While I could use a full blown OS for it, I have always found Tiny Core Linux to be my favorite for this use case for the following reasons:

Tiny Core Linux Logo

1- It’s Open Source and free!!! Oh, yeah I would have not paid for other type of OS usually for lab or test use and used a try out version or so on, but it get tiring after a while to see your try out version expired and having to re-setup a new one at the time you most needed it, when running a demo!!

2- It is very Tiny as the name indicated. It only uses about 16MB!!! Very light on RAM and CPU, so I can have more of these on the same small lab environment hardware. This gets very important when you are testing an automation or a cloud platform where you are testing functionality that work around spinning some VMs quickly.

3- It has most of the basic functions you need for basic testing such as most of the common networking tools.

4- It is modular where the community have provided many different modules that can add a particular functionality the core is missing.

5- It is very easy and simple to install. You can get it done and ready to be cloned and used in your lab in less than 10 minutes!!

6- You are able to run it on many legacy machines and older hypervisor if needed

Few warnings though:

1- As it’s a very tiny Linux edition, it might not support all hardware options you might need. Usually not a problem with the standard VMs configurations but if you are testing a specific feature that requires a driver that’s not included things can get a bit challenging.

2- Tiny Core Linux is meant for those who has a good understanding of the Linux Operating System and not meant for beginners, so some might not find it as friendly, but for a lab test environment and the basic tasks it should still be easy to adopt to.

3- It has nothing fancy about it and I won’t use it as my own desktop edition for example, but I am super happy with it for lab VMs, & I think you will be as well.


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