I recently downloaded a version of linux called tiny core linux found here

The idea of tiny core is that the entire operating system resides in memory (the whole OS is only 15MB so it easily fits on the 512MB the pi b+ has.)

The problem is that the pi doesn't start up. Ive tried it on multiple micro SD cards, and various installation methods. I'm using a Mac to format and populate the SD card.

Has anybody else tried to use tiny core, and can it be done?

  • 3
    Any message displayed? Oct 9, 2014 at 7:24
  • What version did you download, and what steps did you use to create your SD-card?
    – Bex
    Oct 9, 2014 at 9:01
  • I downloaded version 5.3.1 and formatted my SD card using the SD formatter suggested on the raspberry pi website. I've used it before to format other SD cards, and it worked just fine. I then tried several methods to put the OS on the card, including disk util, and the command line, just following the instructions on the website. Nothing seemed to work though. The Pi would not boot up, and the green statis light wouldn't light up, though the power would. I've since put a different OS on it and it runs just fine. I just wonder if the tiny core doesn't work for some reason Oct 9, 2014 at 15:14
  • I've verified that piCore does not seem to bootup the RPI (I have a model B) but I only have serial console so I can not check it more. There is no report of problems in the forums though forum.tinycorelinux.net/index.php/board,57.0.html Oct 26, 2014 at 22:45
  • just found this SD card compatibility list maybe you've got an incompatible one? Nov 4, 2014 at 15:16

4 Answers 4


The Raspberry Pi images are definately working. I tried the following images from http://tinycorelinux.net/5.x/armv6/releases/5.3/ on a Raspberry Pi B Rev2:

  • piCore-5.3.1.zip (bare os, only command line)
  • piCore-5.3.1-SSH.zip (bare os, only command line, with SSH)
  • piCore-5.3.1-X.zip (graphical interface)

On Linux, it is really easy to create a booting SD-card image, maybe you should use a (K)Ubuntu live CD or similar and try my instructions below. But I see no reason, why these instructions for Raspbian for Windows should not work. Just make sure to unzip the images first.

On Linux (this should also work on a MAC), all you need to do is open a terminal and execute the following four commands to download, unzip and copy the image to the SD-Card:

wget http://tinycorelinux.net/5.x/armv6/releases/5.3/piCore-5.3.1-X.zip
unzip piCore-5.3.1.zip
sudo dd bs=4M if=piCore-5.3-SSH.img of=/dev/NAME_OF_SDCARD

(If you are not sure, how to open a terminal, use Kubuntu, after booting into the live system, press CTRL+F2, type konsole, press RETURN)

After executing thes commands, put the SD card in your Raspberry Pi and power it up.

The only thing you need to change here is the NAME_OF_SDCARD (and maybe the name of the zip file). To find the correct device name, the most secure process is to compare the device list with and without the SD card inserted:

  1. remove SD card from computer
  2. execute the following command:

    ls /dev > devices.txt
  3. insert SD card in reader (do nothing else)
  4. execute the following two commands:

    ls /dev > devices2.txt
    diff devices.txt devices2.txt

    this will output something like this:

    > sdb1
    > sdb2

In this example you've got two additional device names sdb1 and sdb2 (one for each partition on the SD card), only the number at the end changed.

You want to write the image to the SD card, not to one of its partitions so you can remove the number at the end and your device name is sdb.

In this case you would replace NAME_OF_SDCARD with sdb in the command further above.

Note: It is important, that you do nothing else than inserting the SD card in step 3, to be sure not to get other devices added because you don't want to confuse device names. The dd command will not ask before deleting everything on the named device.


First make sure that you downloaded the correct distribution. This one is for the RPI
Get the piCore-5.3.1.zip file.

Next make sure you understand that the zip file contains an image file which needs to be directly written to an SD card. Directly translates to using the "dd" command from a Linux command line or using a disk image tool in Windows (the website recommends "Win32 Disk Imager").

Formatting your SD card with the SD Formatter is just an extra step since the image file will be used to overwrite the SD card contents again.

  • ... Thats exactly what I did (minus the fact that I don't have windows imaging tool since I'm using a mac like I said in the question but the dd command is there as its unix based). My question is if anybody else has been able to get this to work, and if so how? Oct 24, 2014 at 15:05
  • I do have a Mac too, but only the old RPI B (not + model) so I'll check it out if I can. Though, I can only check the serial console. So you have no output on the HDMI? or serial console? or both? Oct 24, 2014 at 22:55

Does other Linux distributions behave the same, or is it only piCore malfunctioning?

You may want to try out my project Nard SDK which is a "competitor". It too fits entirely in the Pi memory.

  • Only PiCore, I'll check that out though, thanks Oct 27, 2014 at 20:54

I am assuming you have RPi2. Tiny Core started supporting RPi2 only recently from March 2015(alpha release) and stable release in June 2015. The older piCore releases support only RPi 1 models which are based on armv6, and RPi 2 is based on armv7.

You can download RPi 2 supported tiny core from http://www.tinycorelinux.net/6.x/armv7/releases/

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