What does DSL mean to you? If you’re a technological person, it might mean Digital Subscriber Line, a way to access the internet. If you’re not a technological person….well, just ask my sister-in-law what it means to her. But to Linux users, DSL has even a third meaning, Damn Small Linux. What is Damn Small Linux? It is an entire Linux distrobution that fits on a 50 MB “business card” CD-ROM. It’s based on the Live CD technology devised by Klaus Knopper of Knoppix fame. He has created a phenomenon by perfecting the idea of having an operating system running entirely in the user’s RAM. This allows you to use Linux wherever you go, no matter what computers are available, and you won’t be touching the underlying system!

Well, DSL is based on the same idea, but much smaller. Why? There are two basic reasons: First of all, this allows the OS to run on Legacy systems that don’t have a lot of RAM. Second, it allows you to have an ENTIRE OS on a memory stick! How great is that? I’d heard of DSL for a long time, but hadn’t thought of a good reason to use it. Then I read this blog post about it, and realized it’s power. Not only that, but I learned about a new mode of using it – via QEMU on a computer already running windows. I quickly downloaded the ISO (for burning to CD) and the zip file for running in Windows. I must say that I was VERY impressed!

Damn Small Linux - 001
Damn Small Linux – 001
Damn Small Linux - 002
Damn Small Linux – 002

On my computer, which has 1.5 GHz and 1 Gb of RAM, it ran very well, even though an OS running emulated through QEMU runs 6 times slower than if it was installed on the computer! So don’t use it in QEMU mode on a 486, use the Live CD for that. The only annoying thing was the the mouse movements were a little off. Firefox also ran very slowly compared to other apps, but it is a much larger application. I think it was included mostly for being such a well known application.

Damn Small Linux - 003
Damn Small Linux – 003
Damn Small Linux - 004
Damn Small Linux – 004

I ran into a small problem when switching in and out of DSL in order to take these screenshots where I would lose the ability to type in DSL. After a while, the ability just returned, so I’m not sure of the cause. As you can see, Dillo did not properly render my blog, while Firefox did. I didn’t have the time to try out the ISO, but at least in the embedded version, run Firefox only if you REALLY need to be able to see pages correctly. If they are simple or have mostly text, you should be fine with Dillo.

Just as Knoppix gave birth to DSL, DSL has given birth to Hikarunix! This is a live CD OS based on DSL which contains all of the best Linux software related to the game of Go. I learned about it from this post by Techn0manc3r. And so you see, Linux doesn’t have too many distros, it doesn’t have enough of them! There’s nothing wrong with having a distro dedicated to playing Go or for any other purpose someone can think of.

Damn Small Linux - 005
Damn Small Linux – 005

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me