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dCore vs Tiny Core Extensions

Based on Micro Core, dCore shares the same basic concepts and a similar minimal base. Just as Tiny Core is essentially Micro Core with additional extensions and a graphic environment, dCore also has a minimal base that is capable of importing extensions and booting into a graphic environment.

There are, however, several differences. The most obvious is how dCore handles packages and creates extensions. Unlike Tiny Core, dCore is capable of importing packages directly from Debian or Ubuntu repositories. Thus dCore can be thought of as *Core with access to the enormous realm of Debian or Ubuntu repositories.


Tiny Core utilizes '.tcz' extensions (not supported by dCore). In the Into the Core book, '.tcz' extensions are described as loop-mounted squashfs archives, with specified parameters, usually symlinked into the main file system. The archive can be either mounted and symlinked or copied to the file system (usually RAM) for faster execution. It consists of the direct file system tree that can be found when installing an application or library. It usually consists of the binary, desktop file, program icon and any required data files. These '.tcz' extensions are compiled by either a Tiny Core Linux developer or a user-contributor and are retrieved from the Tiny Core repositories. Each '.tcz' is a single application or library that usually requires other '.tcz' extensions for functionality (ie. dependencies).

A dated description of Tiny Core Linux extension formats taken from ragingpenguin.com (link not available) is outlined below. Tiny Core Linux continues to utilize the '.tcz' extension format, although the '.scm' extension format no longer appears to be utilized.

“The TCZ extension system appears to be based on the original MyDSL system made by Robert [Shingledecker, editor's note], and it works in much the same way. That means packages are attached to a temporary layered filesystem during boot, instead of being extracted directly into a permanent root directory. The packages themselves are read-only Squashfs archives, and can either be loaded into RAM for a performance boost, or just mounted. TCZ extensions can be considered “normal” packages. That is, they have dependencies, config files, and in some cases, they may even have setup scripts.

SCM extensions function like mount-only TCZs. SCM stands for Self Contained Module. It is basically a resurrection of the old .uci compressed image system that Robert made for DSL, except now the package files are SquashFS archives. Because SCMs are self contained, the packager or developer is free to experiment with hazardous or unavailable libraries, binaries, and scripts without breaking other parts of the system. Some SCMs may contain multiple binaries or libraries that are meant to work together. For example, an SCM for a media player may contain a lot of codecs and most (if not all) of the dependencies required for it to run. Other than that, SCMs can have dependencies, config files, and setup scripts just like TCZs.”


dCore uses the deb2sce script to transform Debian or Ubuntu packages into SCE extensions (self-contained extensions, type '.sce'). An SCE, therefore, consists of a converted Debian package and all it's dependencies, packed into it's own file system and compressed into a single file (SquashFS). The contents of an SCE are transparent and once mounted can be inspected by exploring /tmp/tcloop/, otherwise copy the extension to a temporary directory and run unsquashfs SCE.

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