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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. Linux.com (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!

    • PuppyLinux with 2.6? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:18PM (#15601717) Homepage Journal
      DSL is nice, but it's got a 2.4 kernel, PuppyLinux (one bone) fits in 25M and gives you a 2.6 kernel with all the accompanying hardware support goodness. To me that makes DSL very 2003, it's playing catch up in my books.
      • by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:23PM (#15601726) Journal
        It has a 2.4 kernel because it still supports older hardware. 2.6 does not. It doesn't even support some not-so-old hardware that 2.4 did, as I've elarned from personal experience.
        • It has a 2.4 kernel because it still supports older hardware. 2.6 does not. It doesn't even support some not-so-old hardware that 2.4 did, as I've elarned from personal experience.

          What hardware, specifically?

        • by rapidweather ( 567364 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @10:47PM (#15603176) Homepage
          I got my start remastering DSL, often winding up with 75 MB or so once I put Firefox, etc. in there.
          I then switched to Knoppix 3.4, using the 2.4 kernel to support older hardware as mentioned.
          Here is my Getting Started Guide [geocities.com], also have a technical blog here. [blogspot.com]
          There are some screenshots available there.
          One post that I need to draw your attention to is the one about "testcd" [blogspot.com] for Knoppix remasters. I did run into problems with some versions of DSL using isolinux, in that they would not boot on many of my older computers, due perhaps to the "testcd" problem. It is extremely important that any knoppix remaster pass that test, or there will be complaints concerning no-booting on boxes that used to run the distro flawlessly in an earlier syslinux version.
          For that reason, DSL often offers syslinux versions alongside isolinux versions.
          I don't feel that I have to, since I pass "testcd" 100%, and mine boots on all my older boxes, in addition to the newer P4 ones.
          One clue that I did take from DSL is to include lots of custom-made applications, found nowhere else. That makes a remaster different, and not just a re-arrangement of stock applications.
          I do have a bright yellow boot: command line against a black background, making it easy to enter long cheatcodes when trying out a new build. So many knoppix builds have a pale gray boot: command line with black background, very hard to see what you are doing!

          Also, see the main screenshots page link in my signature, below.
      • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:30PM (#15601749)
        What I like about Puppy is that it can save back to its own CD/DVD. If you burn it on a DVD, you almost have a hard drive. And like DSL, you can install more stuff on it automatically.

        Oh and it can be installed to hard disk to give a new life to old computer.

        http://www.puppyos.com/ [puppyos.com]

      • From the article, DSL-N has a 2.6 kernel.
      • I will google "puppy linux" to find out more about this one bone deal. I am a DSL user and I like it alot. I do have a hard time getting help though. Its the same old story. Linux people are not always the nicest people to get to help you. I say this is IMHO.
      • by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:56AM (#15604822) Homepage Journal
        From dsl N http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/dsl-n/f/viewtopic/3. html [damnsmalllinux.org]

        1. Kernel 2.6.11 and modules
        2. Mozilla Suite 1.7.12, browser,mail,irc,etc.
        3. Mplayer 3.3.5 audio and video
        4. Leafpad 0.7.9 editor/notepad
        5. Abiword 2.2.7 wordprocessor
        6. Gnumeric 1.4.3 spreadsheet
        7. gTFP 2.0.18 ftp client
        8. gaim 0.77 IM client
        9. Xpdf 3.0.0 pdf viewer
        10.Emelfm 0.9.2 file manager
        11.Xpaint 2.7.6 paint program
        12.Cups 1.1.14 printing
        13.unionfs supported as an optional boot parameter
        14.MyDSL system of extensions
        15.Frugal Installs
        16.USB Pendrive Install
        To me that makes DSL very 2003, it's playing catch up in my books.

        Update Your Books.

  • Begun, (Score:3, Funny)

    by giorgiofr ( 887762 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:31PM (#15601357)
    the bloat war has.
    (bloat war/bloatware? get it? get it?! ah I am teh funny :D)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    just give me Firefox, a net connection and leave the rest to extensions

  • Sylpheed is pretty nice. Back when I used GNOME, I tried it [mooo.com] as my email client. Really nice, great performance on large folders. (Now I use mutt.)

  • 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 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.
        • 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.
        • 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.
    • Is there something significant about the 50 meg limit, such as the capacity of those business-card size CDs? Or is it just a nice round number?
    • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:41PM (#15601608) Journal
      50 megs is a tad arbitrary. I think that 200~ish would be a better number, as it can fit on mini-CDs (yeah I know business card CDs are 50 megs, but I've never even SEEN one before, whereas I find that mini-CDs are small and handy) and it can fit on cheap 256mb flash drives. I'm not advocating bloat, but if there has to be a hard limit I think 50mb is a tad small. I think that the number of people who use mini CD-Rs or 256+ MB flash drives outnumber the people who use business card CD-Rs or 64 MB flash drives by quite a bit. In a 50 MB setup, extrmely useful apps like the OpenOffice.org suite (I say its "extremely useful" more for its compatibility with MS Office than anything else) will never be included by default. With 200+ megs to play with, suddenly OO.o seems like a very natural inclusion. Yes, I know there's an OO.o DSL package; I just think that there should be a default default distro in the 200~ MB range where it (and other useful-but-somewhat-big apps) is included by default.
      • 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 sid77 ( 984944 )
        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
      • by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:09PM (#15602152) Homepage
        50 megs is a tad arbitrary. I think that 200~ish would be a better number,

        Plus, with the extra 150 megs, they could ship EMACS.

      • by solafide ( 845228 )
        The advantage of being so 50 megs is that it takes only a quarter as many days for a dialup user to download it. Between DSL and Slax being as small as they are, I tried Linux and found it pleasant. Had it taken more than 2 days to download each, I'd have not done it.
  • 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.
    • Or to save a lot of space? I recall reading an article about making a cheap file server. It basically consisted of 4 x 250GB HDDs in a case with some crappy Sempron. They used a cheap $10 USB stick with DSL to run it, and only connected a borrowed monitor and keyboard to set up Samba and the networking. Otherwise, they'd have had to use space on the disks, or trade one disc out for a CD-ROM to run and boot CD.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:13PM (#15601704) Homepage
        There's also stuff out there like FreeNAS, which fits on a 16MB USB key or CF card. Now my experience is that FreeNAS was slow as hell, but I'm inclined to blame that on network drivers. Also, it's technically FreeBSD-based (and derived from m0n0wall, I think). Unfortunately I don't know enough about *nix to do a command-line driver update and even if I did, I don't know whether I'd have enough space to do so - maybe this is easier with DSL. As it is, I'm forced to keep using the horrible Windows filesharing stuff.
    • DSL is definitely not for novices. I am running DSL on an old Dell laptop right now, installed because this machine will only barely run Win2K. I've got plenty of MS experience, and a general knack apart from that. DSL was difficult to deal with, particularly on the audio and WLAN fronts. If you're an existing Linux user, or willing to get dirty learning it, rock on with DSL. If you're just a Windows user (not an admin), you'd be better off with a more full-featured distribution.
    • At 50 megs, even on 6 or 7 year old hardware, it fits on a RAMdisk.
  • Thumbdrive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daranz ( 914716 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:43PM (#15601398)
    Personally, I carry it around on a thumbdrive... with qemu-win. It serves no purpose besides lauching it on people's computers and telling them "Look, it's Linux under your Windows!" Best thing is, I still fit plenty of other crap on the same, 1GB drive.
    • I tried Slackware on my thumbdrive, but I could never get it to boot, the tutorial I used did cover replacing the boot sector, but the replacement boot sector could never find the operating system.

      I then caved in and tried BartPE. I had similar problems with that, but I finally got it to work using a third-party tool.

      Now I can boot from a thumb drive, which is pretty neat.

      This brings up my main reason I don't use Linux though... it's near impossible to install on this computer without wiping my hard

      • Re:Thumbdrive (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:26PM (#15601995)
        Umm... no tool for NTFS resizing, you say? How about the cryptically named ntfsresize(8)? Its author claims it does its job better than Partition Magic or any other commercial or non-commercial tool (ie. it is allegedly the best there is) and it is supported by parted(8).
    • Re:Thumbdrive (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:03PM (#15601891)
      Yeah, I really like the QEMU option. It is especially comforting to Windows users weary (for good reason, Sony...) about booting or running anything from CD they don't understand.

      Also, when booting from any device is impossible, and you just gotta have your Linux, this makes a great option.

      I've never tried the combo of QEMU and DSL, but I just did, and I'm making this post from within Linux running on top of WinXP. In fact, I'd never used QEMU before. It's the itch I didn't know I wanted to scratch until I tried it.

      It's a bit slow, obviously, but it definately gets the job done and done well. I can't count the number of times I wanted to use a Linux app or CLI while in Windows and didn't want to have to reboot.

      The FOSS community continues to amaze me at least once every month.
  • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:44PM (#15601400) Homepage
    I've played with Damn Small Linux, but anymore I pretty much just take the time to roll my own LinuxFromScratch.

    DSL is a nice demo, but the Knoppix structure makes it a real pain to customize.* Say you want a different version of Perl or Xorg, or want to modify the bootloader and kernel to display a full screen banner image/logo, it's a whole heck of a lot of work to rip out the original components and replace them with your own. Rolling your own distro from scratch only requires a bit more work, and you have better control and a better understanding of what's going on.

    * If any DSL experts have advice on how to make these customizations easier, I might give it a try again.
  • DSL and DSL-N (Score:5, Informative)

    by aymanh ( 892834 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:44PM (#15601402) Journal
    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!
    Actually, looks like DSL-N is more than just GTK sugar, from its web page [damnsmalllinux.org], DSL-N features a modern kernel with more hardware support, in addition to more apps [damnsmalllinux.org], like MPlayer, Gaim, and gFTP.

    It's also worth mentioning that the original DSL uses a lightweight GUI toolkit called FLTK [fltk.org] and Lua for its tools, interesting!
  • 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.
  • why I love linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by free space ( 13714 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:49PM (#15601429)
    I had an old unused Pentium II machine running Windows 95. I reformatted the hard drive, installed DSLinux and used it as a file server/CVS repository. It had some glitches but essentially it's like having a new low end PC for free.

    I wonder if the DSL project can be forked to create a "Damn small server" project, so anyone can set it up on an old machine, enable some services, hide it in a corner, and use SSH/VNC to administer it.
    • Smoothwall. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:08PM (#15601679) Homepage Journal
      I had an old unused Pentium II machine running Windows 95. I reformatted the hard drive, installed DSLinux and used it as a file server/CVS repository. It had some glitches but essentially it's like having a new low end PC for free.

      If you have a laptop, you have a computer you want to use for more than a server. DSL is just the right thing if you have low RAM. If you have 128 or more MB of RAM, just run Mepis or Debian Sarge.

      I wonder if the DSL project can be forked to create a "Damn small server" project, so anyone can set it up on an old machine, enable some services, hide it in a corner, and use SSH/VNC to administer it.

      Have you looked at Smoothwall yet?

  • down to 50 or less megs, even if the markets are driving the size of bloatware or there is actually a market for a phat DSL distro. One of the cool things about it is the size, not its functionality (other than it is fully functional for more than say 90% of the user's needs in the world). Its also a really cool little tool to install on used computers that folks are thinking of tossing away, or have tossed away. I have made inroads with folks using Linux as their major OS with DSL (for size) and Knoppix
  • by thelost ( 808451 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:00PM (#15601473) Journal
    "If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what they could do in more space."

    stop calling it Damn Small Linux for one.
  • How the times change (Score:5, Informative)

    by r ( 13067 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:20PM (#15601551)
    A 50MB distro is called "damn small"? Damn. I remember when Slackware 1.x core came on a couple of floppy disks. And if you wanted a good text editor, you had to find one on Archie and get it yourself. But we were happy in those days. :)
  • 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 rbrander ( 73222 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:29PM (#15601582) Homepage
    I managed to get DSL working on a 256MB USB key. Then I installed their package for OpenOffice, which was 75MB all by itself. OK, my USB key is now 50% taken up by DSL+OO, and half empty for my files.

    Then I did nothing more than

    dd if=/dev/sda1 of=DSL_OO.image

    and stuck in other 256MB USB keys and did:

    dd if=DSL_OO.image of=/dev/sda1 ...to copy the memory key, DSL, OO, 128MB free personal disk space, and all.

    and was able to hand out $25 "thank you" tokens to speakers at our local Unix User Group (www.cuug.ab.ca) that consisted of a bootable USB Linux with full OpenOffice functionality. Ran fine on 256MB PCs with all software loaded into RAM - OO starts faster on these old machines than much faster ones that have to pull OO off the HD.

    In short, you could ALWAYS pump up DSL with a good selection of softare they've made available in packages. It only starts off at 50MB.
  • by Tim Ward ( 514198 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:36PM (#15601597) Homepage
    50meg? - give me a break!!!

    Mate of mine was in charge of the resident software in one machine ... which had a 256 byte PROM, everything else needed to be loaded from the teletype.

    Every now and then he's spot an inefficiency in the software, remove an instruction, save three bytes ... and use the freed-up space to add four new features.

    They dont make 'em like that any more.
    • by Mathiasdm ( 803983 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:44PM (#15601797) Homepage
      Ah, that's nothing!

      In my days, we didn't have those fancy 'computer' thingies.

      We only had good old Turing Machines!

      Me and my 27 brothers would sit along an infinite line of paper for 27 hours a day, and we'd constantly move the pointer, change 1's into spaces and the other way around.
      Then, we barely had time to go home, get a spanking from hour father, rape our oldest sister and run back to work, where we had to arrive the day before!

      Ah yes, those Turing Machines. They don't make 'em like they used to!
    • Don't tell me - he once wrote an entire database using only zeros?
  • by fo0bar ( 261207 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @03:44PM (#15601618)
    I just thought I'd do some shameless advertising and mention my distro, Finnix [finnix.org]. It's a 100MB livecd that has no X, desktops, productivity tools, etc... but makes up for it by having a ton of sysadmin utilities, such as LVM detection and cryptsetup. It's basically the CD you carry around to help fix broken systems. There's also a PPC port, obviously can be booted from a thumb drive, as well as within Xen/UML virtualization systems.

    Finnix doesn't really compete with DSL, except for the "damn, this system is hosed, I don't have a recovery CD around, and I don't want to wait to download 700MB for something like Knoppix" crowd.
  • Slax? (Score:2, Informative)

    by lRem ( 914073 )
    There is a good example what can be done within 192 mb what is the smallest practical size - the size of small CD. And the example: http://slax.org/ [slax.org] it is a microlinux with KDE and lot's of useful stuff, also modificable with some 800 packages ready to add.
    • Re:Slax? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joe 155 ( 937621 )
      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
  • The box I play around on is an old i586, so most modern distros won't even get past boot. And if they do, they end up using most if not all of my memory, drive space, and usually a sizeable chunk of the swap as well. And what does DSL go and do? Uses about 30MB of memory, ~1GB of space on a full install, and boots up nice and fast.

    And it also lets me practice my machine gun skills in Quake II while I'm waiting for the rest of my party to show up from goodness-knows-where.
  • 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 bytesex ( 112972 )
    From a usability point-of-view, I don't see the point in having this damn small linux, but maybe that's because I would see the use of this thing only in the perspective of an admin. You see, if I want big, I'll use knoppix, or kororaa; if we're talking about small (and fitted with a floppy drive), then 1.4 MB is the max. And you can still fit a linux kernel (albeit one customized for the hardware), a libc, a shell and some disk-tools on that. That's great for repairs, or bootstrapping your old 386 and u
    • Well, it's kind of hard to fit a 5" cd in your wallet. The 50MB limit allows the distro to be burned to a credit card sized CD.
    • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:51PM (#15601836)
      I don't see the point
      There are applications for a small distro. DSL + VMWare + Truecrypt is an interesting setup. All you'd have unencrypted on your HD would be the DSL install, and you could run your "real" OS from a VMWare Virtual Machine stored in an encrypted container, even in a hidden container. I haven't actually tried this, but I've seen posts by people using Puppy Linux (or was it Feather? can't remember) for just this setup.

      Now if only Truecrypt and VMWare could be automagically installed via apt-get or Synaptic. I can even learn to use the command-line version of Truecrypt, if I could just get it installed in less than an hour. I haven't even tried on DSL yet.

    • industrial computer (pentium 2-ish or better) + solid state hard drive (expensive if big, but reliable) + DSL is a possible future application at my company. We'd use them as human interface devices, if the operating system is small enough we don't have to use a hard drive => more reliable operation, but to keep the costs down the size of the solid state drive should be as small as possible.
  • by DoninIN ( 115418 ) <don.middendorf@gmail.com> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:11PM (#15601698) Homepage
    I was using DSL on a pentium II 350 mhz computer for the last few months and I loved it, that's the beauty of DSL, more so than the "small" in terms of size, the thing part is of huge usefulness! What's the street value of a PII 350? $0.5? Seriously, it's a free computer someone gave me when we installed new hardware at their location, I threw it in my graveyard, and for a while made it a DOS V6.x game box (it's back to that role now, I eventually got bored and bought a modern computer) but during its run of several months I've been web browsing on it from home and haven't had any problem running firefox.
  • 50 megs? (Score:4, Funny)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:34PM (#15601763)
    Pfft, I remember playing with a bootable floppy [toastytech.com] containing QNX with a complete GUI, web browser, texteditor and full network support.

    Ok, it had absolutely _nothing_ else but it was still damn cool.
  • Anybody to suggest a linux that would fit on my spare 16MB SD card and include X? A while ago there was some linux that fitted on 11 floppies and would include X and its goodies, but it's gone MIA and what's available nowadays is DSL (64M), some LiveCD distros of 100+M and 1-2 floppy microlinuxes that are cropped to bare bones and definitely don't have X. Any ideas?
  • by Andrew Tanenbaum ( 896883 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:53PM (#15601847)
    Why in the world would they need two web browsers?
    • Why in the world would they need two web browsers?
      simple - one very basic stripped down browser (dillo) for weak machines and firefox for the ones that can't live without it and have the neccessary hardware to run it...
  • Doesn't anyone see.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by movienut ( 984943 )
    ...the value of having an extendable utilitarian linux distro in their wallet, credit card sized and 7 grams in weight, that will work pretty much on any tray load CD PC? I've used it to show off linux, test garage sale finds, check email in a pinch at a friends house without changing their system at all, troubleshoot sick systems, etc...
  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:15PM (#15601948) Homepage Journal
    Familiar's Opie and GPE can help breathe new life into PDAs ( http://hackndev.com/palm/tx [hackndev.com] ) but they still seems somewhat limited compared to packages DSL provides...
  • Still DSL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nazo-San ( 926029 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:40PM (#15602041)
    The object of DSL wasn't to be so tiny you are amazed. The object was for it to fit on a business card CDR due to their small size and convenience. Well, business card CDRs are rare if at all made anymore. On the other hand, a mini-CDR still exists and is quite common (you can walk in Walmart and come out with some. Heck, I still have a bunch of mini-CDRW discs lying around for their handy nature.) These 8 cm radius discs can hold 210 MiB, possibly a bit more since, unlike with the DVD standard, back when they made the CD-R standard they actually didn't feel a need to try to cheat and trick the customer. If you think about it, since the smallest flash drive you can buy in a modern store is 128 MB (even if that may only be around 110 MiB or so,) you can't even find the old mini-CDRs that only held 185 MiB anymore, and finally business card discs are rare if at all existant anymore (and nearly no more convenient than a mini-CDR really) it just seems a little silly to be limited to 50 MiB for the sake of discs that if you actually had, you would not want to waste on that.

    What's important is the philosophy. The idea of distros like these is to pack as many useful tools as possible into as little space as possible while maintaining minimalism. They remove a lot of the unnecessary stuff and get quite a surprising amount packed into it.

    Personally, I carry a flash drive around which will boot on any system supporting USB-ZIP (read the readme.USBKEY file in the syslinux archive for how to do this and why you have to -- but, simply put, very few even modern BIOSes support USB-HDD even today.) Ok, it's a 512 MB model, but, I have to squeeze things in there because I have to store a lot of data, a copy of my browser for those systems that force you to use an old version of Firefox (IE is dead to me) and so on. I LOVE having a handy little live linux distro that can boot off of it and be used to repair/diagnose a lot of problems among other things. I can't afford to have some huge 1 GB large image of Ubuntu or something though on my little flash drive, so that's where a linux distro following this philosophy comes in. Honestly though, I am forced to admit I didn't really like DSL that much (remember, with linux distros it's all a matter of opinion and, as they say "to each to his own." I don't like it because it isn't good, I don't like it because it just isn't the type I want.) Personally I used Finnix [finnix.org] (site's a little slow these past few days or so) which has much more up to date packages. It's one of the many live distros that follow the same sort of philosophy DSL follows. Squeeze handy stuff in there, remove unneeded clutter. It's my hope that we see even MORE distros like this in the future, not less.
  • Very useful (Score:3, Informative)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:07PM (#15602142) Homepage
    Since it's inception, I have used DSL frequently as a recovery tool. And it's gotten quite a bit better since the early days (a lot more GUI stuff, and such). For those who argue the "Damn Small" name isn't appropriate for a 50M distribution, don't forget that most distributions these days take multiple 650MB CD's and/or a lot of downloads after installing. At, say 5% of a two-CD Linux install, it is indeed "Damn Small."

    Not quite as elegantly small as the QNX Demo Diskette of olden days, which, on one 1.44MB diskette, had an OS, networking stack, GUI, window manager, and Web browser. It was truly amazing. I'm not sure why they have withdrawn this incredible demonstration of their elegant technology. (Has QNX itself become the subject of a bit of bloat, perhaps?) It was limited to one make of network card or serial modem for the networking, which was the main shortcoming of it; but regardless, it was truly unique.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:12PM (#15602162) Homepage Journal
    ..I'll plug Austrumi [latgola.lv], similar size at 50 megs, 2.6 kernel, loads right to RAM and ejects the disk (freeing up the optical drive), and now comes with enlightenment 17 as the stock windows manager.
  • by bdwoolman ( 561635 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:46PM (#15602300) Homepage
    Not Too Big Linux and from there to Won't Fit on a DVD Linux.
  • Good for (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kahrytan ( 913147 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:53PM (#15602334)
    DSL is only good for those moments when you visit a friend who insists on using Windows but you hate it. Just take out your little 1-4gb flash drive with DSL on it. You won't be stuck with using Windows if you don't have your laptop with you or allows people without a laptop to be more mobile.
  • Is sort of a shame. The beauty of DSL is that it would fit on one of those business card cd, that you can shove in your wallet.

  • 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.
  • i dig it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Danzigism ( 881294 )
    after a little messin with, I got DSL to work on my Toshiba Satellite 425CDS, p100 mhz with 16mb of ram.. used the Install To HD feature, and it worked like a charm.. the reason I went with a distro like DSL, is because first of all its a livecd, with tons of bundled drivers for all sorts of hardware, including my 16-bit PCMCIA nic cards, and modem card.. many distros like Mandriva, Fedora, even Slackware and Debian had issues installing on this laptop.. i tried Fbsd, and it installed ok.. however, i didnt
  • The only mirror showing file dsl-3.0.1.iso 20-Jun-2006 is http://dsl.thegeekery.com/current [thegeekery.com], all the rest, including ibiblio, only have dsl-n-0.1RC1.iso 01-May-2006.

    I've got 9+ hours remaining for this 50M file, someone please tell me there is a torrent.

    Jonah Hex

"Plastic gun. Ingenious. More coffee, please." -- The Phantom comics