Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

DSL 2.1r1 on old Laptop

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

The developers of Damn Small Linux have announced the availability of the first release candidate of version 2.1. My gentoo install is quite dated on my aging laptop, and due to speed and other certain hardware considerations (like a whiny harddrive after a couple hours of compiling), it isn't likely to be updated again. I decided to see if dsl could run on this ancient Dell laptop.

Damn Small Linux is a damn small linux distribution, literally. For those who don't know, it's a 50mb livecd that is also installable onto your harddrive or an usb key. It's a fully functional system consisting of an graphical interface featuring the fluxbox window manager and many useful applications and utilities/tools.

The Change log for 2.1r1 includes:
1. Improved SATA boot time support (see f3)
2. USB 2.0 boot time support fixed typo
3. Torsmo replaces asmem, wmcpuload, & wmnet to better support both window managers.
4. Ted replaces Flwriter
5. Updated xtdesk improved dragging when double click enabled.
6. New Icontool GUI controls many icon features.
7. Added missing tools section to jwm menu.

Well, the first test, to see if it would boot with only 80mb ram.

I needed to download and dd the bootfloppy img due to the fact that this laptop is so old, it doesn't support booting from the cdrom. How long before it's a fish sinker? Well, that may be inevitable, but it's not a fact today. My old laptop did in fact boot dsl on a p1 with only 80mb ram. However, (you knew there was a however, right?), the video/display wasn't very readable when just hitting enter at the boot prompt. I decided to reboot and try some of those fb modes the F2 options screen suggests is for laptops. Crossing my fingers I tried fb1024x768. When that didn't work, I tried fb800x600. That was the ticket. I was in. I was thrilled. I was comforted by the telltale "beep, beep" of the pcmcia network being activated (although it turned out to be short-lived). Then I was asked about which x server module to use, xvesa or xfbdev. I chose xfbdev and was asked about my lang and mouse. At the answering of those questions, X started and looked beautiful and my scroll ball mouse device worked too. Damn Small Linux scores again!

        

Fly in the ointment:

My old and commonly recognized pcmcia wireless network card (linksys wpc11 rev3 that uses orinoco) was incorrectly detected as some Bromax unsupported/unknown card. One can modprobe orinoco and it'd get loaded without error. Still no wlan or eth0 device was available. Also not correctly setup was my netgear FA411 wired pcmcia netcard (that uses 8390). However, we did have some luck with a 3Com/Megahertz 3CCFEM556B. So, whoops. One strike against. Have to, a laptop just isn't any fun if the wireless doesn't work. It's not just me, please see this post for confirmation.

Sound is another small issue. Actually it isn't. It wasn't correctly detected or setup, but in all fairness, it never is. It works fine in Linux, but I have to pass some specific options to the kernel for it to work. It's an old dell latitude XPIcd and I always have to use /sbin/modprobe sb io=0x230 irq=5 dma16=5. I can't tell you how long I spent finding that solution my first Linux install on this thing! Big Grin So, we'll give dsl the brownie point there.

But how would it perform on such a low resource system?

Well, overall, most excellent. Most light applications, like emelfm, Ted or xpaint opened within a few seconds. Dillo took about 9. Sylpheed required 3 or 4. However, mozilla took about 70 seconds to open and another 4 or 5 to render the dslos.com start page. It took about 6 second to render other sites at that point and there was a marked delay or unevenness (is that a word?) with scrolling. Of course, this isn't really a reflection on damn small, just an interesting note. Another thing, xmms was running at the time, which was requiring some cpu cycles to stream that default classical station it was playing. In addition, we're still running from the livecd at this point as well. I'd have to install Opera if I was going to install this onto my hard drive for sure, but given the fact that the pcmcia stuff is somewhat broken, I think I'll forgo the install and wait for the next rc.

        

Conclusion:

I found dsl to work rather well on this old laptop. Applications functioned well and looked quite nice, save mozilla. The video was great looking, the mouse device, cdrom and floppy worked fine of course, and the sound works with a bit of nudging. Some pcmcia cards work and some that should don't. The torsmo looked and worked great. I never did find that gui icontool in the menu (oh, ok, founnd it... hey, that's neato). In addition, I think there should be some kind of battery monitor. Once they sort out the pcmcia stuff, I'm sure it would perform much better from the harddrive.

        

Re: A wonderful review on DSL ?

atang1 wrote:

Its wonderful and tell tale DSL install.

Love your review of DSL.

Yeah, I'm going to soon replace gentoo with a binary distro and I think dsl will be the one.

Thanks for saying! I suffered with the "butterfly syndrome" as I hit submit, as I often do. I appreciate it. Smile

great review... UPDATE .....

UPDATE...

Added 128 mb of memory for a total of 160mb.

DSL now loads and works like a hot damm. Even found an older PCMCIA 3com network card and I had connectivity. Looks like the perfect distro for this laptop. Never would have beleived it if I hadn't tried it.

Nick

But tried it on a compaq presario 1200 with 32 meg mem. (k6 475 mhz processor)and it was next to useless. It booted up but took way too much time to get anything running.

Will try to upgrade the memory to 128m and try again

Nick

Great review but... Sorry for the duplicate...

DSL has lots of trouble on a compaq presario 1200 k6 475 with 32 m memory.

DSL boots up but just thrashes away continously. Got to find a 128 meg memory module to add or else its a doorstop.

nicsmr

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Programming Leftovers

  • Announcement : An AArch64 (Arm64) Darwin port is planned for GCC12

    As many of you know, Apple has now released an AArch64-based version of macOS and desktop/laptop platforms using the ‘M1’ chip to support it. This is in addition to the existing iOS mobile platforms (but shares some of their constraints). There is considerable interest in the user-base for a GCC port (starting with https://gcc.gnu.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=96168) - and, of great kudos to the gfortran team, one of the main drivers is folks using Fortran. Fortunately, I was able to obtain access to one of the DTKs, courtesy of the OSS folks, and using that managed to draft an initial attempt at the port last year (however, nowhere near ready for presentation in GCC11). Nevertheless (as an aside) despite being a prototype, the port is in use with many via hombrew, macports or self-builds - which has shaken out some of the fixable bugs. The work done in the prototype identified three issues that could not be coded around without work on generic parts of the compiler. I am very happy to say that two of our colleagues, Andrew Burgess and Maxim Blinov (both from embecosm) have joined me in drafting a postable version of the port and we are seeking sponsorship to finish this in the GCC12 timeframe. Maxim has a lightning talk on the GNU tools track at LPC (right after the steering committee session) that will focus on the two generic issues that we’re tackling (1 and 2 below). Here is a short summary of the issues and proposed solutions (detailed discussion of any of the parts below would better be in new threads).

  • Apple Silicon / M1 Port Planned For GCC 12 - Phoronix

    Developers are hoping for next year's GCC 12 release they will have Apple AArch64 support on Darwin in place for being able to support Apple Silicon -- initially the M1 SoC -- on macOS with GCC. LLVM/Clang has long been supporting AArch64 on macOS given that Apple leverages LLVM/Clang as part of their official Xcode toolchain as the basis for their compiler across macOS to iOS and other products. While the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) supports AArch64 and macOS/Darwin, it hasn't supported the two of them together but there is a port in progress to change it.

  • Dirk Eddelbuettel: tidyCpp 0.0.5 on CRAN: More Protect’ion

    Another small release of the tidyCpp package arrived on CRAN overnight. The packages offers a clean C++ layer (as well as one small C++ helper class) on top of the C API for R which aims to make use of this robust (if awkward) C API a little easier and more consistent. See the vignette for motivating examples. The Protect class now uses the default methods for copy and move constructors and assignment allowing for wide use of the class. The small NumVec class now uses it for its data member.

  • QML Modules in Qt 6.2

    With Qt 6.2 there is, for the first time, a comprehensive build system API that allows you to specify a QML module as a complete, encapsulated unit. This is a significant improvement, but as the concept of QML modules was rather under-developed in Qt 5, even seasoned QML developers might now ask "What exactly is a QML module". In our previous post we have scratched the surface by introducing the CMake API used to define them. We'll take a closer look in this post.

  • Santiago Zarate: So you want to recover and old git branch because it has been overwritten?
  • Start using YAML now | Opensource.com

    YAML (YAML Ain't Markup Language) is a human-readable data serialization language. Its syntax is simple and human-readable. It does not contain quotation marks, opening and closing tags, or braces. It does not contain anything which might make it harder for humans to parse nesting rules. You can scan your YAML document and immediately know what's going on. [...] At this point, you know enough YAML to get started. You can play around with the online YAML parser to test yourself. If you work with YAML daily, then this handy cheatsheet will be helpful.

  • 40 C programming examples

    C programming language is one of the popular programming languages for novice programmers. It is a structured programming language that was mainly developed for UNIX operating system. It supports different types of operating systems, and it is very easy to learn. 40 useful C programming examples have been shown in this tutorial for the users who want to learn C programming from the beginning.

Devices/Embedded: Asus Tinker Board 2 and More

  • Asus Tinker Board 2 single-board computer now available for $94 and up - Liliputing

    The Asus Tinker Board 2 is a Raspberry Pi-shaped single-board computer powered by a Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor and featuring 2GB to 4GB of RAM. First announced almost a year ago, the Tinker Board 2 is finally available for $99 and up. Asus also offers a Tinker Board 2S model that’s pretty similar except that it has 16GB of eMMC storage. Prices for that model start at about $120.

  • Raspberry Pi Weekly Issue #371 - Sir Clive Sinclair, 1940 – 2021

    This week ended with the incredibly sad news of the passing of Sir Clive Sinclair. He was one of the founding fathers of home computing and got many of us at Raspberry Pi hooked on programming as kids. Join us in sharing your Sinclair computing memories with us on Twitter and our blog, and we’ll see you next week.

  • cuplTag battery-powered NFC tag logs temperature and humidity (Crowdfunding) - CNX Software

    Temperature and humidity sensors would normally connect to a gateway sending data to the cloud, the coin-cell battery-powered cuplTag NFC tag instead sends data to your smartphone after a tap. CulpTag is controlled by an MSP430 16-bit microcontroller from Texas Instruments which reads and stores sensor data regularly into an EEPROM, and the data can then be read over NFC with the tag returning an URL with the data from the sensor and battery, then display everything on the phone’s web browser (no app needed).

  • A first look at Microchip PolarFire SoC FPGA Icicle RISC-V development board - CNX Software

    Formally launched on Crowd Supply a little over a year ago, Microchip PolarFire SoC FPGA Icicle (codenamed MPFS-ICICLE-KIT-ES) was one of the first Linux & FreeBSD capable RISC-V development boards. The system is equipped with PolarFire SoC FPGA comprised a RISC-V CPU subsystem with four 64-bit RISC-V (RV64GC) application cores, one 64-bit RISC-V real-time core (RV64IMAC), as well as FPGA fabric. Backers of the board have been able to play with it for several months ago, but Microchip is now sending the board to more people for evaluation/review, and I got one of my own to experiment with. That’s good to have a higher-end development board instead of the usual hobbyist-grade board. Today, I’ll just have a look at the kit content and main components on the board before playing with Linux and FPGA development tools in an upcoming or two posts.

  • What is IoT device management?

    Smart devices are everywhere around us. We carry one in our pocket, watch movies on another while a third cooks us dinner. Every day there are thousands of new devices connecting to the Internet. Research shows that by 2025, more than 150,000 IoT devices will come online every minute. With such vast numbers it is impossible to keep everything in working order just on your own. This brings the need for IoT device management. But what is IoT device management? To answer this question we first need to understand what the Internet of Things (IoT) is.

  • Beelink U59 mini PC with Intel Celeron N5095 Jasper Lake coming soon - Liliputing

    Beelink says the system ships with Windows 10, but it should also supports Linux.

  • Beelink U59 Celeron N5095 Jasper Lake mini PC to ship with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD - CNX Software

    Beelink U59 is an upcoming Jasper Lake mini PC based on the Intel Celeron N5095 15W quad-core processor that will ship with up to 16GB RAM, and 512 GB M.2 SSD storage. The mini PC will also offer two 4K HDMI 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, WiFi 5, as well as four USB 3.0 ports, and support for 2.5-inch SATA drives up to 7mm thick.

Graphics: Mesa, KWinFT, and RADV

  • Experimenting Is Underway For Rust Code Within Mesa - Phoronix

    Longtime Mesa developer Karol Herbst who has worked extensively on the open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver as well as the OpenCL/compute stack while being employed by Red Hat is now toying with the idea of Rust code inside Mesa.  Karol Herbst has begun investigating how Rust code, which is known for its memory safety and concurrency benefits, could be used within Mesa. Ultimately he's evaluating how Rust could be used inside Mesa as an API implementation as well as for leveraging existing Mesa code by Rust. 

  •     
  • KWinFT Continues Working On WLROOTS Render, Library Split

    KWinFT as a fork of KDE's KWin X11/Wayland compositor code continues making progress on driving fundamental display improvements and ironing out the Wayland support.  KWinFT has been transitioning to use WLROOTS for its Wayland heavy-lifting and that process remains ongoing. KWinFT has also been working on splitting up its library code to make it more manageable and robust.  Among the features still desired by KWinFT and to be worked on include input methods, graphical tablet support, and PipeWire video stream integration. Currently there are two full-time developers working on the project but they hope to scale up to four to five full-time developers. 

  • Raytracing Starting to Come Together – Bas Nieuwenhuizen – Open Source GPU Drivers

    I am back with another status update on raytracing in RADV. And the good news is that things are finally starting to come together. After ~9 months of on and off work we’re now having games working with raytracing.

  • Multiple Games Are Now Working With RADV's Ray-Tracing Code - Phoronix

    Not only is Intel progressing with its open-source ray-tracing driver support but the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver "RADV" has been rounding out its RT code too and now has multiple games correctly rendering. Bas Nieuwenhuizen has been spearheading the RADV work on Vulkan ray-tracing support and after more than a half-year tackling it things are starting to fall into place nicely.Games such as Quake II RTX with native Vulkan ray-tracing are working along with the game control via VKD3D-Proton for going from Direct3D 12 DXR to Vulkan RT. Metro Exodus is also working while Ghostrunner and Doom Eternal are two games tested that are not yet working.

Audiocasts/Shows: Full Circle Weekly News, Juno Computers, Kali Linux 2021.3