Last updated

TinyLinux is a project started by Matt Mackall in 2003 to reduce the size of the Linux kernel, in both memory usage and binary filesize. The purpose was to make a compact Linux system for embedded devices. The development was sponsored by the CE Linux Forum. [1] It is also known as the -tiny tree.


By 2006 the project was mostly abandoned. It received new attention in 2007, again with sponsorship from CELF, but has seen minimal activity since 2007.

TinyLinux consists of a set of patches against the Linux kernel which make certain features optional, or add system monitoring and measurement so that further optimization can take place. They are made to be mergeable with the mainline kernel, and many patches have been merged to date.

Features include: the ability to disable ELF core dumps, reduce the number of swap files, use of the SLOB memory allocator, ability to disable BUG(). For measuring and accounting features include: ability for kmalloc/kfree allocations to be monitored through /proc/kmalloc; and measurement of inline usage during kernel compiling. TinyLinux requires Intel 80386 or better to run. [2]

See also

Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset (ELKS)

Related Research Articles

Reiser4 is a computer file system, successor to the ReiserFS file system, developed from scratch by Namesys and sponsored by DARPA as well as Linspire. Reiser4 was named after its former lead developer Hans Reiser. As of 2022, the Reiser4 patch set is still being maintained, but according to Phoronix, it is unlikely to be merged into mainline Linux without corporate backing.

MontaVista Software company

MontaVista Software is a company that develops embedded Linux system software, development tools, and related software. Its products are made for other corporations developing embedded systems such as automotive electronics, communications equipment, mobile phones, and other electronic devices and infrastructure.

Ingo Molnár Linux kernel programmer

Ingo Molnár, employed by Red Hat as of May 2013, is a Hungarian Linux hacker. He is known for his contributions to the operating system in terms of security and performance.

Exec Shield is a project started at Red Hat, Inc in late 2002 with the aim of reducing the risk of worm or other automated remote attacks on Linux systems. The first result of the project was a security patch for the Linux kernel that emulates an NX bit on x86 CPUs that lack a native NX implementation in hardware. While the Exec Shield project has had many other components, some people refer to this first patch as Exec Shield.

In computer security, mandatory access control (MAC) refers to a type of access control by which the operating system or database constrains the ability of a subject or initiator to access or generally perform some sort of operation on an object or target. In the case of operating systems, a subject is usually a process or thread; objects are constructs such as files, directories, TCP/UDP ports, shared memory segments, IO devices, etc. Subjects and objects each have a set of security attributes. Whenever a subject attempts to access an object, an authorization rule enforced by the operating system kernel examines these security attributes and decides whether the access can take place. Any operation by any subject on any object is tested against the set of authorization rules to determine if the operation is allowed. A database management system, in its access control mechanism, can also apply mandatory access control; in this case, the objects are tables, views, procedures, etc.

Operating systems based on the Linux kernel are used in embedded systems such as consumer electronics.

The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) is a subsystem of the Linux kernel responsible for interfacing with GPUs of modern video cards. DRM exposes an API that user-space programs can use to send commands and data to the GPU and perform operations such as configuring the mode setting of the display. DRM was first developed as the kernel-space component of the X Server Direct Rendering Infrastructure, but since then it has been used by other graphic stack alternatives such as Wayland.

The ETRAX CRIS is a RISC ISA and series of CPUs designed and manufactured by Axis Communications for use in embedded systems since 1993. The name is an acronym of the chip's features: Ethernet, Token Ring, AXis - Code Reduced Instruction Set. Token Ring support has been taken out from the latest chips as it has become obsolete.

In computer security, executable-space protection marks memory regions as non-executable, such that an attempt to execute machine code in these regions will cause an exception. It makes use of hardware features such as the NX bit, or in some cases software emulation of those features. However technologies that somehow emulate or supply an NX bit will usually impose a measurable overhead; while using a hardware-supplied NX bit imposes no measurable overhead.

Squashfs is a compressed read-only file system for Linux. Squashfs compresses files, inodes and directories, and supports block sizes from 4 KiB up to 1 MiB for greater compression. Several compression algorithms are supported. Squashfs is also the name of free software, licensed under the GPL, for accessing Squashfs filesystems.


NTFS-3G is an open-source cross-platform implementation of the Microsoft Windows NTFS file system with read/write support. NTFS-3G often uses the FUSE file system interface, so it can run unmodified on many different operating systems. It is runnable on Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenSolaris, illumos, BeOS, QNX, WinCE, Nucleus, VxWorks, Haiku, MorphOS, Minix, macOS and OpenBSD. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License. It is a partial fork of ntfsprogs and is under active maintenance and development.

AQuoSA is an open architecture for the provisioning of adaptive Quality of Service functionality into the Linux kernel. The project features a flexible, portable, lightweight and open architecture for supporting QoS related services on the top of a general-purpose operating system as Linux. The architecture is well founded on formal scheduling analysis and control theoretical results.

Linux kernel Mostly free (libre) and open-source, partly proprietary, Unix-like operating system kernel

The Linux kernel is a mostly free and open-source, monolithic, modular, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel. It was originally authored in 1991 by Linus Torvalds for his i386-based PC, and it was soon adopted as the kernel for the GNU operating system, which was written to be a free (libre) replacement for UNIX.

Tomoyo Linux Linux kernel security module

Tomoyo Linux is a Linux kernel security module which implements mandatory access control (MAC).

NetBSD Open-source Unix-like operating system

NetBSD is a free and open-source Unix-like operating system based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). It was the first open-source BSD descendant officially released after 386BSD was forked. It continues to be actively developed and is available for many platforms, including servers, desktops, handheld devices, and embedded systems.

cgroups is a Linux kernel feature that limits, accounts for, and isolates the resource usage of a collection of processes.

OpenWrt is an open-source project for embedded operating systems based on Linux, primarily used on embedded devices to route network traffic. The main components are Linux, util-linux, musl, and BusyBox. All components have been optimized to be small enough to fit into the limited storage and memory available in home routers.

zram, formerly called compcache, is a Linux kernel module for creating a compressed block device in RAM, i.e. a RAM disk with on-the-fly disk compression. The block device created with zram can then be used for swap or as general-purpose RAM disk. The two most common uses for zram are for the storage of temporary files and as a swap device. Initially, zram had only the latter function, hence the original name "compcache".


Checkpoint/Restore In Userspace (CRIU), is a software tool for the Linux operating system. Using this tool, it is possible to freeze a running application and checkpoint it to persistent storage as a collection of files. One can then use the files to restore and run the application from the point it was frozen at. The distinctive feature of the CRIU project is that it is mainly implemented in user space, rather than in the kernel.

zswap is a Linux kernel feature that provides a compressed write-back cache for swapped pages, as a form of virtual memory compression. Instead of moving memory pages to a swap device when they are to be swapped out, zswap performs their compression and then stores them into a memory pool dynamically allocated in the system RAM. Later, writeback to the actual swap device is deferred or even completely avoided, resulting in a significantly reduced I/O for Linux systems that require swapping; the tradeoff is the need for additional CPU cycles to perform the compression.


  1. http://elinux.org/images/5/5c/Linux-tiny-revival-jamboree16.pdf [ bare URL PDF ]
  2. "Home".