First, a brief history of TinyMe.
In 2005, I found an old computer sitting in the basement of our house. It was our first computer, an IBM Aptiva e26, with 288 MB of RAM and a 3.2 GB HD. We had purchased it at RadioShack in 1998 for $1000, and that was a steal at the time.
Problem was, I couldn’t find the Windows 95 installation disk. It was then that I remembered “Oh yeah, isn’t there this thing called Linux?” Some distro-hopping later, I settled on a distribution called PCLinuxOS. In 2007, PCLOS released a smaller edition called “MiniMe”, which was a 300MB ISO image. I jokingly said on the forums that it was too fat and we should make a 100MB ISO image. Well… I actually started to become serious about it, and one thing lead to another, and in 2008, I released a 200MB “TinyMe”. This edition contained minimal productivity tools, such as a word processor, text editor, terminals, web browser, etc. After a while, I released a 150MB edition (labeled 2008.1) which was “stripped, not equipped”.
In 2009, there was a split in the PCLinuxOS developer group, and I left with the fork. The fork eventually became a non-fork, re-basing on Mandriva, but ultimately, never achieved the stability I was looking for (Mandriva experienced its own instability during this period too). In July 2013, I finally closed up shop with TinyMe. I never achieved more than an alpha or beta release after departing PCLOS.
So was it a bad idea to fork from PCLOS? No, I don’t think so. In some ways, PCLOS is stuck behind the curve. I understand their choices, they’re trying to keep things stable, but at the same time, it makes upgrading just that much more painful. Also, at that time, Texstar, the lead PCLOS developer, was MIA for some time, only reappearing when the situation between developers was already irreparable.
If I were to start up TinyMe again today, what would I use? I think I would probably use Arch Linux. It’s rolling release, pretty stable, and has fantastic documentation. It does have a few downsides, such as lack of newbie friendliness and lack of configuration tools (the documentation is supposed to handle that). I think I would try to keep TinyMe light while filling in those gaps of newbie friendliness and configuration tools. I created a small configuration center for TinyMe 2008, and I think I could do it again.
So is there a chance TinyMe could be revived? I suppose there’s a Tiny chance (hee hee hee). I would love to see a TinyMe-esque distro for the RaspberryPi. PiBang comes close. PiBang is actually targeted to be heavier than TinyMe, but it ends up with a lot of the same applications. TinyMe takes what’s big and strips it down; PiBang takes what’s small and sees what you can pile on top, while maintaining a modicum of usability.
So if I were to create TinyMe today, here’s what it would look like:
- Small, ~250MB ISO image
- Boots to a usable desktop
- Comes with Openbox, Abiword, SpaceFM, other lightweight applications
- Comes with custom configuration tools
- Available for the Raspberry Pi