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Damn Small Linux Not So Small 222

An anonymous reader writes "According to DistroWatch, Damn Small Linux (DSL) is currently the most popular microLinux distribution. (Also owned by VA) takes a look at why this might be the case, and how you can best take advantage of it. From the article: 'What began as a toy project to stuff the maximum software inside a 50MB ISO file has matured into a refined community project known for its speed and versatility. DSL includes the ultra-lightweight FluxBox window manager, two Web browsers, Slypheed email client and news reader, xpdf PDF viewer, XMMS with MPEG media file support for playing audio and video, BashBurn CD burner, XPaint image editing, VNCViewer and rdesktop to control Windows and Linux desktops remotely, and more. If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what they could do in more space. Last month the DSL developers released DSL-Not, a.k.a. DSL-N 0.1 RC1. It's 83.5MB of DSL coated with GTK sugar. Yummy!'"
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Damn Small Linux Not So Small

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  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThinkingInBinary ( 899485 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [yranibnignikniht]> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:31PM (#15601356) Homepage

    Despite the increasing size, DSL is still an awesome tool. It manages to pack almost as much coolness as Knoppix (less cohesive, 'cause it's not all KDE, but most of the functionality is still there in discrete applications) in a much smaller size that is more convenient to download when you need a quick but useful bootable Linux disc.

    Kudos to the developers, keep up the good work!

  • Not that big Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zaphod_es ( 613312 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:39PM (#15601390)
    > If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what they could do in more space.

    The OP seems to have missed the whole point of DSL. There are plenty of other choices of distro if you take away the size limit.
  • by mr_stinky_britches ( 926212 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:40PM (#15601391) Homepage Journal
    and I must say, for desktop use, when you need linux real quick or want to boot off a CF card or USB drive, this will do the job just about every time :)
  • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:43PM (#15601397) Journal
    First, for people who just need a quick formatting tool, it's good enough with the MyDSL extensions making it nice and simple to use for a lot of USB boot type applications.

    Second I have found many non Linux users who think DSL sounds like a good way to start because they're so sick of bloat. Could be that a lot of them download it just to see what it's like. This second reason is probably somewhat unfortunate since DSL can be a bit frustrating for someone unfamiliar with FOSS distros.

    I used to have some machines using DSL, but I found that Knoppix with fluxbox just made it so much simpler.
  • by SillySnake ( 727102 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:48PM (#15601424)
    It runs well on old hardware.. Plenty of us have old pentium 1/2 machines around that aren't doing a whole lot. Windows 98 keeps becoming a worse and worse option with viruses and now the lack of updates. It provides life for an old computer. I ran it for a period of time on a 166 when both of my other machines went down, and while it wasn't super fast, it did everything I needed it to. Plus, I didn't have to go through the trouble of finding a win 98 cd and a key. It's a neat idea, very portable, and has grown a lot as a distro since its early days.
  • by damiam ( 409504 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:04PM (#15601491)
    Fluxbox is a window manager. GTK is a UI toolkit. They don't even compete; you're comparing apples and oranges.
  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:04PM (#15601492) Journal
    The OP seems to have missed the whole point of DSL. There are plenty of other choices of distro if you take away the size limit.

    I think what they meant was, "imagine what it would be like to have a distro that wasn't full of bloat."

    You may now begin telling us how #insert_your_favourite_distro_here# is bloat free. :-)

  • by k33l0r ( 808028 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:13PM (#15601526) Homepage Journal
    Problem is that the more features (ie. bloat) you lose the smaller your potential userbase becomes. One man's feature is another man's bloat... You could have a distro with only the things one person wants but then someone else might see it as lacking in some essential area...

    That's one of the reasons why all modern OSes are so large, they all strive to attract as wide a userbase as possible. They want to appeal to EVERYONE.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:15PM (#15601534)
    Apples and oranges are both fruit. More like comparing apples and a drill press.
  • by BigFootApe ( 264256 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:25PM (#15601567)
    Not all DSL users stick to the CD based install. Some, I'm sure, switch to USB thumb drives for portable operation. A version of DSL designed to fit within 150 megs or so would be perfect for larger thumb drives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:51PM (#15601635)
    I like DSL and I've used it extensively, but I cannot deal with having to get online to connec to an on-line download server before having Samba. That just sucks. Sure, you can carry it on a thumb drive as an extension, but it would be so much easier if it was part of DSL.
              I was really disappointed after downloading DSL-N and finding out it still has this same disappointment.
              Now, please, somebody make a fool of me. Show me I'm wrong. Tell me there is a way to do a samba connect without downloading anything with DSL or DSL-N.
  • by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:56PM (#15601647)
    The wonderful thing about Linux is that all you need to have for that to happen is a friend who knows how to assemble it. All you'd have to do is get OO.o, DSL, FF, and any other packages you want, and stick them behind an installer. Unlike OS X or Windows, where you have to sort of hope Apple/MS release something you like.
  • by Andrew Tanenbaum ( 896883 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:53PM (#15601847)
    Why in the world would they need two web browsers?
  • That and (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:03PM (#15601889)
    Something that people see as bloat aren't, really. Take, for example, a good configuration interface. You decide instead of a rigidly defined text file or a simple binary dump you are going to have XML files underlying your config. Further, there's going to be a nice GUI interface to access them, with checks to make sure all input is in an acceptable range not just to predefined limits but with regards to other options chosen, and a robust context help system. You might find in the end that this is a significant part of your program. It's not trivial to do all that. However it's not bloat, it makes it much easier to use your program and to interact with it. The GUI/help aspect means that users need bery little knowledge to get things set how they want. The robust XML config files mean that other programs can easily interface with yours.

    Programs are much larger these days then they used to be but that's not a bad thing. EVen if it is because of something like moving to a managed language that needs runtimes and generates larger code, it's not bad if it makes it easier to maintain. You can still step back to more compact, less feature rich designs when needed as DSL demonstrates.
  • Re:Slax? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:04PM (#15601898) Journal
    slax is good, it runs really well on my newest laptop with 512MB of RAM and a 1.5GHz pentium M... what it will not even boot on is my oldest laptop with its 16MB of RAM and about 100MHz processor... DSL does work really well on my old laptop and thats why its still important, it keeps old laptops going
  • by sid77 ( 984944 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:04PM (#15601902) Homepage
    hi, the problem is not only which size fits better for a livecd. Surely with 200~MB of livecd it would be plenty of intersting apps but keep in mind that as it is today it can be completely loaded into 128MB of ram which can be reasonably found in older hw and this task will be impossible for a bigger cd. ciao
  • NetBSD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @07:37PM (#15602520) Journal
    NetBSD is not only small but uses significantly alot less ram for a slim base install.

    Also NetBSD libc is alot smaller than the bloated glibc of linux. The resulting binaries are smaller for standard apps. Kde seems a little faster but perhaps its my imagination.

    NetBSD is great for older systems that wont modern software.
  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @08:31PM (#15602726) Journal
    At 50 megs, even on 6 or 7 year old hardware, it fits on a RAMdisk.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @08:33PM (#15602736)
    "I have it running on the hd of a PII 350mhz machine with a joke of a video card and only 64mb ram, and it will fly. Takes no longer than a minute to boot. Win98SE, on the same PC, took 5-10 minutes just to get to the login screen."

    Really? Years ago, I had a P2 350 with 64 meg of RAM and Windows 98. (not Special Edition. If it has a 'boot slower' feature, I'd be interested to hear about it...) That didn't take 10 minutes to boot. Maybe 2, but nowhere near 10. If it did, I would have switched to NT far earlier than I did.
  • by Ferretski ( 160396 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @10:10PM (#15603056)
    From the article, DSL-N has a 2.6 kernel.
  • by level_headed_midwest ( 888889 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @10:44PM (#15603165)
    Well, you could use Linux From Scratch or Gentoo to simply compile and install anything you want exactly how you want to have it. Or you could install a Linux distribution in terminal-only "server" mode and then add from there with binary distributions that don't just dump a standard set of stuff upon install. Everybody is never going to be 100% pleased with any certain distribution's default setup because people have different needs. But the ability to pick and choose not only packages and programs but entire distributions is really Linux's strength. If somebody doesn't like Mandriva's setup but likes Slackware's, then they install Slack because it fits them and it works for them. At least we Linux users get the opportunity to choose the setup, default packages, and distribution of the OS we run. So the moral of the story is if you're the Slack user before, sure, say how and why you like Slack but DON'T go start a flamewar on /. about how Mandriva sucks because as long as a distribution is still being made, it must work for somebody and be their right tool for the job. If there was only one distro, that would literally make Linux just another Windows or MacOS X take-it-or-leave-it OS.
  • by xav_jones ( 612754 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:50AM (#15604100)
    Why I remember the QNX demo [] floppy disk (all 1.44MB) packing the OS (posix compliant), GUI, PPP or networking, Web browser, file browser, and several demo applications including web server, vector graphics program and a text editor. Pffft kids today ...

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