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piCore 5.1 review – TinyCore comes to Raspberry Pi

PiCore is the ultra lightweight Linux distro TinyCore ported to the Raspberry Pi. Is it a good fit for the Pi.

tinycore raspberry pi

TinyCore Linux is a concept we very much can get behind. The minimalist distro includes the absolute bare-necessities to run Linux and boot into a graphical desktop. Everything else needs to be built atop this very limited base, with tools to help you do this along the way. It’s a great idea, and can really help you build a perfectly lightweight system that suits the needs of your hardware.

This kind of distro would seem to work extremely well on the Raspberry Pi, and the developers of TinyCore seem to think this as well and have released their own spin of TinyCore called piCore. Based on TinyCore 5.1, piCore offers much of the same features as its big brother.

tinycore raspberry pi
There are good tools available to build up piCore

Like the original, piCore comes as a very small file. Installing it to an SD card is the standard affair of writing the image to disk. It creates two very small partitions by default, a boot and storage partition. To use the distro outside of the very limiting cloud mode, you’ll need to extend the storage partition manually to fill up the disk. There’s no real message to alert you to this, so it requires stumbling across the README file.

This is all the setup you need to do though, and you’ll be pretty quickly logged into the desktop after boot. Compared to normal systems, the boot speed is not as amazing when compared to other Raspberry Pi operating systems; however it’s still faster than Raspbian. The desktop environment is incredibly basic, with a quick launch bar containing the system settings, terminal emulator, package manager and a storage mounting tool. There’s no file manager or web browser, so you’ll need to install these from the package manager.

It’s not the easiest package manager to use though, with searching limited to the package name or the description of the package and not both at the same time. The selection is also very limited for the moment, with the repos carrying very few apps made for ARMv6; especially when compared to the apps available for the more major Raspberry Pi distros.

From what’s available right now you can build up a somewhat functional distro, however you may want to wait if you don’t want to make some serious sacrifices.



We really like the idea of piCore, especially as it fits so well with the purposefully under-powered Raspberry Pi. For the moment though it’s far too limited and you may be better off going for Arch and building that from the command line up