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Tiny Core Linux Virtual Relay


One of the exciting new features in BigFix 9.5 is support for Tiny Core Linux virtual relays. Tiny Core Linux is a Linux distribution designed to be very secure and use very little resources. The core TCL system can run in under 7 MB of memory and the default installation runs the entire operating system in RAM. This means that a TCL relay can be set up in your virtual environment using significantly fewer resources than a Windows server or another Linux distribution. Also, Tiny Core Linux is provided completely free of charge with a GNU General Public License version 2.

Building a Tiny Core Linux virtual relay is fairly straightforward. First, you will need to download an ISO for Tiny Core Linux. The ISOs are distributed here: https://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/downloads.html

The version you want is the CorePlus version. Once you have downloaded the ISO you’ll need to create a virtual machine in your virtual machine manager. You should create the virtual machine with 512MB of RAM, a VMXNET3 virtual network adapter and an LSI Logic Parallel SCSI device. Be sure to create a disk with enough space for the OS, the relay installation and the relay cache. A good default size is 100GB.

Once the installer boots select the “Boot Core X/GUI (TinyCore) + Installation Extension” option. This will boot an X GUI for the installer. The installer is the icon on the far left of the dock at the bottom of the screen. Select the following values for your installation:

  • Use the whole disk for installation. You should install it to "SDA".

  • Use ext4 as the disk format.

  • The boot options should be, "home=sda1 opt=sda1"

  • Select “Core Only (Text Based Interface)

Click proceed on the last window to start the installation. Once the installation is completed you can use the icon on the far right of the dock to reboot the server.


After the system reboots use your virtual machine manager to insert the correct version of the TCL Relay installer ISO from the BigFix download site (http://support.bigfix.com/bes/release/). You must use the version that corresponds to the version you have installed in your environment. After you insert the disk image into your virtual machine perform the following steps to install the relay:


  • Mount the drive using the command: mount /mnt/sr0

  • Extract the files from the tar archive: tar –xvf /mnt/sr0/bessetup.tar

  • Run the setup program using the setup command: ./setup


In the setup program, you will be asked a series of questions:


  • Specify if you use a network configuration or a local folder to locate the required prerequisites. In most cases, you will want to use network configuration rather than manual configuration.

  • Specify if you require DHCP to create the template. Most networks will use DHCP for network address configuration. If you use a manually specified IP address you will not be able to store your VM as a template for automated deployments.

  • Do you want to customize the masthead now? You should have your masthead file available so it can be added to the installation at this time. This is required for the relay service to run.

  • Do you want to configure the VMWare tools now? The VMware tools are required to support full control of the virtual machine by the VMware hypervisor so you should install the tools.

  • Do you want to enable Virtual Relay Instance Auto-Deployment mode? You want to configure the auto-deployment mode so that your template can be deployed and configured easily.

  • Enter the password required by the Tiny Core user: This allows you to enter a password for the Tiny Core user that is created by the relay installation.

  • Configure the time zone and allow the installer to create a swap file.

  • After the swap file is created, use the command “sudo poweroff” to power down the virtual machine.

  • After the virtual machine is powered down use the “Convert to Template” command in the right-click menu to convert the VM to a template. You can then deploy additional virtual machines from this template to create new relay instances.

  • To automatically configure the relay you will need to create the following files: /var/opt/BESClient/besclient.config* /var/opt/BESRelay/besrelay.config* /opt/BigFix/config/network.conf* **These files are optional and should only be copied over if you wish to manually configure the client or relay settings.

  • Network.conf contains network settings: FQDN=virtualrelay.yourcompany.com DHCP=y If you wish to use a manual network configuration see the instructions here: https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSQL82_9.5.0/com.ibm.bigfix.doc/Platform/Installation/c_appendix_2_auto_deployment.html

  • Deploying the template requires vSphere PowerCLI so you can copy the configuration files into the template while it is being created.

  • After the new virtual machine is deployed it will contact the BigFix Root to finish the relay configuration.

Once you finish the auto-deployment configuration your virtual relay template is ready to use.

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