SliTaz armhf: 46MB Linux Distribution for Raspberry Pi

SliTaz armhf is a minimal Linux distribution based on SliTaz Linux, that uses the hard-float ABI for the Raspberry Pi. The compressed SD card image is 46M, the rootfs 18.6 MB, and Slitaz uses just about 7 MB RAM after boot.

Slitaz armhf rootfs comes pre-loaded with the following packages:

  • busybox 1.20.2
  • dropbear 2012.55 – Light SSH client and server.
  • nano 2.2.6 – GNU Nano Text Editor.
  • retawq 0.2.6c –  Text mode Web browser.
  • tazpkg 5.0 – SliTaz packages manager (Tiny autonomous zone packages manager).
  • ytree 1.97 – file manager for file and archives.

Slitaz armhf comes with tazpkg package manager which allows to install packages just like you would do with apt-get in Raspbian. There are over 1,000 packages available for Slitaz (x86), and for now, over 250 packages are available for Slitaz armhf.

Let’s get try it out. First, download slitaz-armhf-mini-2012-12-14.zip, extract it, and copy it to an SD card (512 MB or greater) with Win32DiskImager (Windows) or dd (Linux). Insert the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, and within a few seconds the system should boot. From power to login prompt, it takes about 18 seconds, and the kernel takes  3 to 5 seconds of this time.

Dropbear is not running by default, so you’ll have to start it, if you want to login via SSH:

/etc/init.d/dropbear start

To start dropbear at boot time, edit /etc/rcS.conf, and add dropbear to RUN_DAEMONS (RUN_DAEMONS=”dropbear”).

Now let’s check the kernel version, as well as disk and memory usage.

Slitaz kernel version, SD card and RAM usage in Raspberry Pi

Let’s now try a few command with tazpkg, Slitaz package manager .

To list installed packages:

tazpkg list

List of all installed packages
================================================================================
busybox                 1.20.2            base-system
dialog                  1.1-20110707      base-system
dropbear                2012.55           security
...
ytree                   1.97              utilities
zlib                    1.2.7             base-system
================================================================================
18 packages installed

To list packages on the mirror:

tazpkg list-mirror

Finally to install a package (e.g. file utility):

tazpkg get-install file

More commands and option are available on tazpkg manpage.

Although Slitaz (x86) is based on LXDE and Openbox, LXDE can’t be installed in Slitaz armhf with tazpkg as the required packages have not been built. However, if some packages are missing,  you can always build them yourself using Slitaz Cookutils. There are 2 main components in Cookutils:

  • Cook lets you compile and create a package, provide a log file and check the receipt/package quality.
  • The Cooker is a build bot with more automation and can be used as a frontend to cook since it provides a CGI/web interface which lets you view cook logs in a nice and colored way.

To get started, you’ll first need to checkout Slitaz Developers Tools and the Cookutils from mercurial repositories:

sudo apt-get install mercurial
hg clone http://hg.slitaz.org/slitaz-dev-tools
hg clone http://hg.slitaz.org/cookutils

For Slitaz armhf, you’ll also need to install Slitaz armhf toolchain, or build it yourself. Alanyih, the developer behind Slitaz arm port, also posted further “instructions” on Slitaz forums.