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Tinycore: Getting Started 


 

 


 

 


 

 


First steps with Tiny Core

Overview

This is a minimal description of what to do the first time you boot Tiny Core. It's just to give a first time user some idea of how to start setting up Tiny Core for what ever use they have in mind. Here I just cover adding support for a non-US keyboard and installing a browser so that you can surf the internet.

As starting point I'll assume that you have screen, keyboard and mouse connected. Also your thin client is connected to your LAN via an Ethernet cable. It is possible to set up a thin client to connect via wireless - either using an internal wireless modem if one exists or via a USB dongle - but you'll probably need a direct connection to start with to download the necessary drivers and software.

Booting

Having connected everything up, plugged your pen drive into your thin client and powered up.....

...you should end up with the opening Tiny Core boot screen and the text:

Press <Enter> to begin or F2, F3, or F4 to view boot options help screens.
boot: 

If you don't it probably means you haven't changed to boot priorities in the Thin Client's BIOS. Another possibility is that pen drive hasn't been formatted in a way that the BIOS recognises. For example some BIOSs require USB pen drives to be formatted to look like ZIP drives. Dealing with such requirements is not covered here - sorry!

At this stage just hit return and, after a number of screenfulls of messages you should end up with an opening screen:

Tiny Core Desktop

Congratulations! Tiny Core is running.

Now move the mouse over the icons at the bottom of the screen - they expand (and gain a name) as the mouse passes over them. Click on the App Browser (circled).

Tiny Core App Browser

The App Browser is the application you use to download and install additional applications from the internet. Once the App Browser is open click on Connect. If all is well the left-hand window will populate with the list of available extensions that you can download and install.

Tiny Core App Browser

If it doesn't then there is probably something wrong with your internet connection that you'll need to fix. What I normally do at this point is move the mouse down to the bottom of the screen and click on the Aterm icon (second from the left) to open a terminal window. Then type the command ifconfig.

What you should see is shown below. If the line highlighted in red is missing, and the two numbers highlighted in the next two lines are 0, then there is NO network connection. The line beginning inet addr: shows that the Thin Client has successfully connected to the LAN and been assigned an IP address (192.168.10.11 in this case) by the local DHCP server. If it hasn't you need to start checking your local connections to see why the Thin Client can't see your LAN. If you are connected and have been assigned an IP address then the problem probably lies somewhere in the Internet out of your immediate control. (e.g. The App server may be down)

tc@box:~$ ifconfig
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:18:FE:6F:FD:AS
          inet addr:192.168.10.11  Bcast:192.168,10.255 Mask:255....
          UP BROADCAST MULTICAST MTU:1500  Metric 1
          Rx packets:8 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          Tx Packets:2 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          .....

Using the App Browser

Having got the App Browser up and running it isn't always obvious exactly what's what. To see what I mean just type browser into the search box and you'll end up with a substantial list of (meaningless?) applications in the left hand pane. You might need to do a little research with Google beforehand if you're after specific apps. Anyway, that aside, moving on....

If you're outside the US the first thing you may want to do is sort out your keyboard. Either scroll down to find the kmaps.tcz extension or type kmaps into the search box at the top. (When you boot Tiny Core you use the command line entry of kmap=... to select a particular keyboard. That gives you the hint that the extension to provide support for various keyboards is likely to include the letters kmap).

Highlight the entry and you'll find an explanation of what it is in the right-hand pane of the window.

Tiny Core Apps Browser

Down in the bottom left you can see the default of OnBoot. This shows that this extension will be saved and loaded every time you boot Tiny Core. Click on Go next to the OnBoot to download and install the extension. You should end up with an OK in the status window at the bottom.

Tiny Core App downloaded ok

Now the next step is get a browser installed. As I indicated above just typing browser into the search box is no real help. However, if you've done your homework, you'll know that the basic web browser supported by Linux systems is called seamonkey so type seamonkey into the search box and hit return. You'll get the list of apps shown below:

Tiny Core App downloadedSeamonkey

Select the seamonkey.tcz entry and click on Go. This time you'll notice that the system actually downloads a lot of other stuff as well as seamonkley.tcz. This is because it is intelligent enough to automatically download all the other packages that Seamonkey depends on.

As you're downloading a largish collection of packages this will take a lot longer than the previous download before the OK message appears.

The package is also set up to create a desktop icon for seamonkey and this appears on the right of the list of installed applications:

Tiny Core App Seamonkey

At this point it is worth checking that all is as it should be. We need to make the addition of the kmap file and the SeaMonkey browser a permanent feature of our Tiny Core system. The way I like to do this is through a reboot. As part of the reboot process the system will backup all our changes to the pen drive, and automatically re-apply them the next time we boot Tiny Core. By rebooting now we check that all works as it should, but if it doesn't we're only losing a small amount of effort, not a lot of effort.

Click on the exit icon - the symbol at the left-hand end of the application icons. This will bring up the TC Exit Option window:

Tiny Core App Exit options

By default the Backup Options will be set to Backup. Below that it will be showing where the backup will be stored. By default this is on the pen drive which, when we booted it, was given the name sda. Click on OK and the system will save your changes and then reboot.

This time, when it reboots, rather than just hitting return at the boot: prompt you can type

tinycore kmap=qwerty/uk

to start tinycore with support for a UK keyboard. If this works you can either edit the /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg file to add this option permanently to kernel parameters, or add the command loadkmap </usr/share/kmap/qwerty/uk.kmap to the file /opt/bootlocal.sh.

One useful thing to bear in mind is that if somehow you've screwed things up, typing:

tinycore base

will boot Tiny Core WITHOUT loading any of your changes (installed Apps etc).

What Next

This has shown you how to get started. You can add other applications, set the system up so that the keyboard type is set automatically rather than having to specify it every time when you boot the pendrive... You can explore the Control Panel.... Goggle will help you out here. Have fun!

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Any comments? email me.    Last update September 2011