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Damn Small Linux Not So Small

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the web-popularity-contest dept.


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!'"

cancel ×


Awesome (4, Insightful)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | about 8 years ago | (#15601356)

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!

Re:Awesome (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601638)

Before you listen to any more drivel by 'AntDude [] ', take a look at who you're dealing with: [] . The abortion in the center is 'AntDude'. I won't even get into discussion about him listing his 'sex' as 'female' on his SHITTY 'blog' ( [] ). This faggot has nothing better to do than sit on the internet and spew worthless garbage. He's the new LostCluster [] when it comes to posting utterly worthless tripe. Not to mention his submitted stories! Every single one of his last 10 or so submissions have been tagged as 'lame' or 'slownewsday'. Why does taco even bother posting his shit. Maybe he gets some tiny deformed chinese cock up his taco ass in exchange for some linkspam with google ads? Do the world a favor and never reply to comments from ANTDUDE and mark him as a FOE [] .

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601666)

What does this have to do with my comment? AntDude didn't post the original story, nor any comments attached to it. Are you just spamming? --ThinkingInBinary

Re:Awesome (0)

LocalH (28506) | about 8 years ago | (#15601696)

You must be new here.

PuppyLinux with 2.6? (3, Interesting)

molarmass192 (608071) | about 8 years ago | (#15601717)

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.

Re:PuppyLinux with 2.6? (4, Informative)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | about 8 years ago | (#15601726)

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.

Re:PuppyLinux with 2.6? (3, Informative)

Red Alastor (742410) | about 8 years ago | (#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. []

Re:PuppyLinux with 2.6? (1, Interesting)

sketchman (964604) | about 8 years ago | (#15601816)

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.
My only complaint, I repeat, my ONLY complaint with Puppy is that it refuses to detect my PCI card with USB 2.0 ports on it. So, I can't use my thumb drive, but I can live with that if it gets M$ out of my house.

Begun, (3, Funny)

giorgiofr (887762) | about 8 years ago | (#15601357)

the bloat war has.
(bloat war/bloatware? get it? get it?! ah I am teh funny :D)

Re:Begun, (5, Funny)

scenestar (828656) | about 8 years ago | (#15601366)

You are going to die alone.

Re:Begun, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601387)

and gay..

No Firefox ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601371)

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

Re:No Firefox ? (3, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 8 years ago | (#15601467)

The DSL I have has Firefox.

And though it I had the introduction to the excellent Scheme In A Grid []

DSL recently had a "Donate a Dollar" fundraising drive. I don't know how much money they made but I gave them a $. Who says you can't make monet from free software !

Re:No Firefox ? (0, Offtopic)

zbyte64 (720193) | about 8 years ago | (#15601571)

Its not a matter of can you make money from free software its more a matter of can you make a killer proffit. Remember, in a capitalist society, people are driven to maximize their profit. If open sourcing their product means a 5% reduction in profit, it probably won't happen. Anyhow, there's my offtopic post of the day.

Re:No Firefox ? (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | about 8 years ago | (#15601624)

They're not trying to make money, they're just trying to cover their losses. IIRC correctly DSL is non-commercial.

Re:No Firefox ? (0, Redundant)

paulthomas (685756) | about 8 years ago | (#15601474)

Nah, just give me emacs.

Re:No Firefox ? (5, Funny)

stjobe (78285) | about 8 years ago | (#15601496)

Nah, just give me emacs.

But then it wouldn't be Damn Small, now would it? ;)

Sylpheed is an awesome email client (4, Informative)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | about 8 years ago | (#15601373)

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

Not that big Linux (4, Insightful)

zaphod_es (613312) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not that big Linux (5, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 8 years ago | (#15601492)

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. :-)

Re:Not that big Linux (5, Insightful)

k33l0r (808028) | about 8 years ago | (#15601526)

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.

Re:Not that big Linux (1)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | about 8 years ago | (#15601630)

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..

I thought that was the entire premise behind the idea of multiple distros.

Re:Not that big Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601633)

Another problem is that many of these apps have a teeny feature that links against a medium size library that links against a huge library.. so because you wanted to add feature X, you've now increased the required support base 100MB. As much as I love open source and what it enables, corporate funded projects are often better focused (not saying there aren't focused OSS projects). I hate having to recompile everything without some of the extras, and even then, sometimes there are still features you can't turn off or required libraries you shouldn't need. So because some guy sitting at home after a couple of beers thought that it would be neat if your bashrc could be all in XML or something, he added in a piece of code that now requires all those libraries. While that particular example -probably- doesn't exist, you get my point. Corporate funded projects don't usually have leeway for extracurricular wild hares/hairs.

Re:Not that big Linux (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | about 8 years ago | (#15601705)

You must be using gentoo...

Re:Not that big Linux (1)

badfish99 (826052) | about 8 years ago | (#15602134)

... corporate funded projects are often better focused ... Corporate funded projects don't usually have leeway for extracurricular wild hares/hairs.

As examples of this, you could have quoted Microsoft Office, which fits on two floppies, or Java, which is only a 100K download ...
oh, wait...

That and (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 8 years ago | (#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:Not that big Linux (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 8 years ago | (#15602005)

Slackware dropped gnome. That's a big step in the right direction! Now if only Pat would drop emacs it would fit on one disc again...

Re:Not that big Linux (3, Interesting)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about 8 years ago | (#15601552)

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?

Re:Not that big Linux (4, Informative)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | about 8 years ago | (#15601608)

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 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.

Re:Not that big Linux (2, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not that big Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601686)

I've seen a business card CD before (well, just one), you might want it to carry around in your wallet just in case, whereas a mini CD wouldn't fit.

If you don't like the default size why not remaster your own version, I'm sure there are apps to make this easy for you, if not, you could take a look at SLAX which aims to be around the 200 MB mark. I don't see why DSL should change just because you don't agree with their aims.

Re:Not that big Linux (2, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | about 8 years ago | (#15602151)

I tried carrying a business-card CD of DSL round in my pocket. After a few days, it snapped in two. They are evidently quite fragile. I keep my credit cards in the same wallet and they have never come to any harm.

Re:Not that big Linux (3, Insightful)

sid77 (984944) | about 8 years ago | (#15601902)

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

Re:Not that big Linux (4, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | about 8 years ago | (#15602152)

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.

I use it all the time (5, Insightful)

mr_stinky_britches (926212) | about 8 years ago | (#15601391)

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 :)

fr1st prost!!! (-1, Offtopic)

josath (460165) | about 8 years ago | (#15601393)

Damn, that's a small linux distro!

Re:fr1st prost!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601648)

not even close, cocksucker

I would guess at two reasons for the numbers (4, Insightful)

ahfoo (223186) | about 8 years ago | (#15601397)

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.

Re:I would guess at two reasons for the numbers (4, Interesting)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15601438)

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.

Re:I would guess at two reasons for the numbers (3, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | about 8 years ago | (#15601704)

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.

Re:I would guess at two reasons for the numbers (2, Informative)

MrNougat (927651) | about 8 years ago | (#15602116)

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.

Thumbdrive (5, Interesting)

daranz (914716) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Thumbdrive (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 8 years ago | (#15601724)

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 drive and starting from scratch. I can't find any tool to resize NTFS partitions (even the commercial Partition Magic fails to do it and has to roll back after about 3%), and that's all I have on my hard drives.

Re:Thumbdrive (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Good, but not perfect... Knoppix is a pain (4, Interesting)

green pizza (159161) | about 8 years ago | (#15601400)

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.

Re:Good, but not perfect... Knoppix is a pain (5, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 8 years ago | (#15601502)

There is a very real need for a quick and dirty distro. What you are describing is a situation where another distro would fit better.

The problem isn't the tool. The problem is you trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Re:Good, but not perfect... Knoppix is a pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601591)

The problem is you trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

More like try to fit one's penis into an electric socket.

Re:Good, but not perfect... Knoppix is a pain (1)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | about 8 years ago | (#15601930)

Try ROCK Linux [] . It's designed to be a "Distribution Build Kit". The releases are quite out of date, but grab it from SVN to get current stuff.

DSL and DSL-N (5, Informative)

aymanh (892834) | about 8 years ago | (#15601402)

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 [] , DSL-N features a modern kernel with more hardware support, in addition to more apps [] , like MPlayer, Gaim, and gFTP.

It's also worth mentioning that the original DSL uses a lightweight GUI toolkit called FLTK [] and Lua for its tools, interesting!

Hardly a useful distro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601405)

Misses some essential tools like pilot-link. If you can
afford to carry a CD, might as well carry Knoppix.

Re:Hardly a useful distro (0, Redundant)

AlgorithMan (937244) | about 8 years ago | (#15602036)

read again - Damn small linux fits on a business-card sized cd

Damn Small Linux Not So Small... (1)

idiotdevel (654397) | about 8 years ago | (#15601421)

damn it!!

It's popular because.. (4, Insightful)

SillySnake (727102) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's popular because.. (4, Funny)

suffe (72090) | about 8 years ago | (#15601688)

Yeah, I hate trying to boot up windows on those pesky pentium 0.5 things. Bogs down the entire setup. And to think they were all the rage before the Pentium and Pentium Pro came out.

Re:It's popular because.. (1)

SillySnake (727102) | about 8 years ago | (#15602153)

Ya know, I was just lookin back through to see if anyone replied and I read it as pentium 0.5 too :-/

Re:It's popular because.. (1)

toddestan (632714) | about 8 years ago | (#15602198)

You know, I think he meant a Pentium 0.49999999756463...

why I love linux (4, Interesting)

free space (13714) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:why I love linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601462)

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.

Why, yes, it so happens that it can. The project has been released under the GNU General Public License, which permits free copification and modification. Please let us know when you get a website set up, and we'll come see your work and tell you what you need to do better ;)

Re:why I love linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601650)

In other words, go fork yourself. :)

Smoothwall. (4, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | about 8 years ago | (#15601679)

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?

Hope they keep the original intent and size (2, Interesting)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | about 8 years ago | (#15601445)

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 (for its ease of install and wonderful GUI experience). Bottomline, keep it small, fast and wonderful.

yuk! gtk! Fluxbox is much nicer anyway. (0, Offtopic)

anal_assassin (598740) | about 8 years ago | (#15601458)

yuk! gtk! Fluxbox is much nicer anyway.

Re:yuk! gtk! Fluxbox is much nicer anyway. (5, Insightful)

damiam (409504) | about 8 years ago | (#15601491)

Fluxbox is a window manager. GTK is a UI toolkit. They don't even compete; you're comparing apples and oranges.

Re:yuk! gtk! Fluxbox is much nicer anyway. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601534)

Apples and oranges are both fruit. More like comparing apples and a drill press.

Re:yuk! gtk! Fluxbox is much nicer anyway. (1)

16777216 (919914) | about 8 years ago | (#15601649)

Yes... but, they both hurt if you are hit in the head by one traveling at a high rate of speed.
Granted the drill press would probably hurt you more.

missing the point? (5, Funny)

thelost (808451) | about 8 years ago | (#15601473)

"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.

If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what (1)

bayuadri (984926) | about 8 years ago | (#15601543)

If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what they could do in more space.
in more space... I imagine they could start selling CDs just like RedHat.

How the times change (4, Informative)

r (13067) | about 8 years ago | (#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. :)

Yes, how they change (2, Informative)

Frenchman113 (893369) | about 8 years ago | (#15601682)

50 MB is small in relative terms. Today, there are very few distros that even fit on one CD. Besides, as times change, so does the price of portable storage (and the capacity). I'm running DSL right now from a free 64 MB thumb drive. Of course, that means I don't have quite enough space for DSL-N, but oh well.

ram drives and solid-state memory (1)

Jtoxification (678057) | about 8 years ago | (#15601564)

Wouldn't that be fun! Set it up to load everything to gddr2 memory or one of those new-fangled solid-state drives! (err, the fast ones, anyway)

Different *DSL sizes make sense (4, Insightful)

BigFootApe (264256) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Size/ability tradeoff was always available (4, Interesting)

rbrander (73222) | about 8 years ago | (#15601582)

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 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 ( 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.

Bloatware (2)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 8 years ago | (#15601597)

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.

Re:Bloatware (4, Funny)

Mathiasdm (803983) | about 8 years ago | (#15601797)

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!

Re:Bloatware (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | about 8 years ago | (#15602015)

Don't tell me - he once wrote an entire database using only zeros?

Finnix: Obligatory self-promotion (4, Interesting)

fo0bar (261207) | about 8 years ago | (#15601618)

I just thought I'd do some shameless advertising and mention my distro, Finnix [] . 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.

DFL (1)

kybred (795293) | about 8 years ago | (#15601626)

Maybe they should rename it Damn Fine Linux.

Slax? (2, Informative)

lRem (914073) | about 8 years ago | (#15601628)

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: [] it is a microlinux with KDE and lot's of useful stuff, also modificable with some 800 packages ready to add.

Re:Slax? (2, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | about 8 years ago | (#15601898)

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

Perfect for legacy hardware (3, Informative)

rabid_sith (918777) | about 8 years ago | (#15601634)

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.

What is up with DSL and Samba? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Hmm... (1)

NoScreenNamesLeft (958015) | about 8 years ago | (#15601661)

Maybe they should have a size limit. Or, possibly a basic distro with simply the basics and nothing more so you can just run Linux. Maybe they should go for the size of ClosedBSD - 1 floppy...

DSL + eye candy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15601681)

I was thinking of tossing in e17 on a personalised DSL miniCD. Go for the wow factor; I don't really use OO that much anyway.

BTW their website also has DammSmall PCs.

Re:DSL + eye candy? (4, Informative)

desNotes (900643) | about 8 years ago | (#15601841)

There is a distro called Austrumi that is 50MB with e17 installed. I am using it as my main distro and it is nice and fast. Check it I am not involved in the project personally. desNotes

I don't see the point (2, Interesting)

bytesex (112972) | about 8 years ago | (#15601685)

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 using it for vi. From the point-of-view of hardware, I also have a difficulty understanding why this is usefull; the devices in question have to be fitted with CD- or floppy-drives, so we're talking PCs here; if a PC had 50 MB of diskspace (say, a 386 or a 486; they're not using compression, are they ?) then all this fancy-schmansy gtk stuff is just going to kill it. Any PC above that would have a CD drive that I could stick a fully loaded CD in. And any PC that could really play the gtk stuff well, would have to be post-pentium at least. So, other than 'because we can' I see no answers that a project like this provides.

Well... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 8 years ago | (#15601757)

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.

Think VMWare + Truecrypt with DSL as the base (4, Informative)

misanthrope101 (253915) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:I don't see the point (1)

TERdON (862570) | about 8 years ago | (#15602098)

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.

Damn small runs on Damn thin computers! (3, Interesting)

DoninIN (115418) | about 8 years ago | (#15601698)

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? (3, Funny)

AC-x (735297) | about 8 years ago | (#15601763)

Pfft, I remember playing with a bootable floppy [] 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.

16MB with X? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | about 8 years ago | (#15601764)

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?

mulinux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15602130) []
Old as hell (1998), but the base system is 1 floppy, another for the workstation progs, another for the x11... So for a 16 mb SD card I think it can work...

Two web browsers!?! (3, Insightful)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | about 8 years ago | (#15601847)

Why in the world would they need two web browsers?

Re:Two web browsers!?! (3, Interesting)

AlgorithMan (937244) | about 8 years ago | (#15601994)

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.. (2, Interesting)

movienut (984943) | about 8 years ago | (#15601936)

...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...

Can't wait for this to hit PDAs (2, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 years ago | (#15601948)

Familiar's Opie and GPE can help breathe new life into PDAs ( [] ) but they still seems somewhat limited compared to packages DSL provides...

Still DSL (3, Interesting)

Nazo-San (926029) | about 8 years ago | (#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 [] (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 (2, Informative)

PhotoGuy (189467) | about 8 years ago | (#15602142)

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.

as long as you are mentioning minis... (3, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | about 8 years ago | (#15602162)

..I'll plug Austrumi [] , 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.
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