Well thanks for all the initial advice. I work slowly and carefully taking lots of notes and I have competing interests in my life, so no hurry, but thanks for the quick response.
I happen to have a similarly configured virtualbox instance which I used to experiment with before I did the QEMU instance- So I can go back to the Virtualbox instance to experiment with - Unfortunately it will all have to be reproduced on the QEMU version of it as the qcow is not portable between the two instances the way for instance an iso is because the default hard drives on the two virtualizers are configured differently.
I find that doing my experiments in virtualbox first usually gives me a quickly working result, then if I run into issues in QEMU I have a reference point for troubleshooting.
The reason I am using QEMU is I am able to isoloate the dependencies for the QEMU executable and move the executable and dependencies into a folder with the virtual drive or drives and the whole download is very small. I like small. I really really like and value small. Currently fully expanded the qemu virtualizer and its dependencies plus ttylinux is only 47.6mb. I put m,y instance together on a Win7 Pro SP1 32 bit system but I have tested it on an instance of XP and a friend tested it on Win 8.1 and there are not issues. So even before I port it to Mac and popular Linux and with a bit more difficulty Android I have a large number of potential client devices. Also QEMU is completely open. I have no idea about Virtualbox altough I like it, I don't want to make potential users download something that large. There will be content data, dependencies for two more software technologies which are not part of ttylinux (distributed version control system and a popular programming language for beginners which starts getting them/me prepared for eventually learning ANSI C - though C is not an initial goal).
I intend to distribute the result with very explicit and for the complete noobie text and possibly video tutorials on vi, busybox, apparently bash (I was going to stick with ash but choosing ttylinux - I suppose that means my plan has made a shift - even though there is much more to learn in bash, bash is more relevant to non-embedded linux), and despite your reservations about it git (I read you opinion on git is not printible), and then python2.
Things have a way of expanding and getting larger- so I am sort of glad that ttylinux doesn't have a repository with some huge cache of software options. The idea in my mind is to create an environment which when launched produce an exact same environment for each user regardless of whether they are starting on a PC, a Mac, or perhaps Ubuntu or some other popular macro-linux, that is as SMall Environment for Learning Linux. Then when a potential student is working through tutorials they get a predictable result.
In fact my working copy of the QEMU + ttylinux is already 138mb because I am applying the old one room schoolhouse approach to the learning system meaning that I have also attached a large bible database (90.4mb) to play with. Though I may find a way to trim the bible database for my purposes it doesn't need to be that large. But thats all work for the future.
So another point of work will be using another ttylinux in a virtualizer to compile git, python2 and their dependencies, though looking at some of the fatter ttylinux versions - I think some of the dependencies are there. For me figuring out if we are using the same kernel (that matters with stuff that has already been compiled, right?) where all the files and components actually are in the larger ttylinux and moving it to the smaller and even compiling will all be a challenge for me. I don't usually get into the nitty gritty of linux and the command line. This whole process is based on taking what I learn and making it accessible to others who found it challenging. I think I'm at the point where I can do this but it has been a long long time in the making - looking at explanations and help texts that others found elementary and which I found cryptic.
I'm really looking forward to this journey hoping I don't get too frustrated with any part of it along the way. I'm thinking this little vision I have had is possible.