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

today's leftovers

  • Snapcraft Clinic Successes

    On Thursday I mentioned we were restarting the Snapcraft Clinic. Basically we stand up a regular video call with engineers from the snap and snapcraft team & us from Snap Advocacy. Developers of applications and publishers of snaps are invited to join to troubleshoot. There was nothing especially secret or private discussed, but as we don’t record or stream the calls, and I don’t have direct permission to mention the applications or people involved, so I’ll keep this a little vague. In future I think we should ask permission and record the outcomes of the calls. We had a few productive discussions. One developer brought an application which they’d requested classic confinement for, and wished to discuss the options for confinement. We had a rather lengthy open discussion about the appropriateness of the available options. The developer was offered some choices, including making changes to their application to accomodate confinement, and another was (as always) not to snap the application. They appreciated our openness in terms of accepting that there are limitations with all software, and not everything always makes sense to be packaged as a snap, at the moment. We also had a productive discusison with a representative of a group responsible for publishing multiple snaps. They had difficulties with a graphical snapped application once it had been updated to use core20. The application would launch and almost immediately segfault. As the application was already published in the Snap Store, in a non-stable channel, we were all able to install it to test on our own systems.

  • Kraft Version 0.96

    Ich freue mich, heute das Release Version 0.96 von Kraft herauszugeben. Die neue Version kann über die Homepage heruntergeladen werden.

  • A new data format has landed in the upcoming GTG 0.5

    Diego’s changes are major, invasive technological changes, and they would benefit from extensive testing by everybody with “real data” before 0.5 happens (very soon). I’ve done some pretty extensive testing & bug reporting in the last few months; Diego fixed all the issues I’ve reported so far, so I’ve pretty much run out of serious bugs now, as only a few remain targetted to the 0.5 milestone… But I’m only human, and it is possible that issues might remain, even after my troll-testing. Grab GTG’s git version ASAP, with a copy of your real data (for extra caution, and also because we want you to test with real data); see the instructions in the README, including the “Where is my user data and config stored?” section. Please torture-test it to make sure everything is working properly, and report issues you may find (if any). Look for anything that might seem broken “compared to 0.4”, incorrect task parenting/associations, incorrect tagging, broken content, etc.

  • MAS ‘Ocean strainer’ technology to be open source

    Inspired by the success of its ‘Ocean Strainer’ floating trash trap, a pilot project launched in the Dehiwala Canal last year, MAS Holdings will make the ‘Ocean Strainer’ technology available to interested parties, to replicate and scale up the solution.

  • Notes on Addressing Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

    One of the unsung achievements of modern software development is the degree to which it has become componentized: not that long ago, when you wanted to write a piece of software you had to write pretty much the whole thing using whatever tools were provided by the language you were writing in, maybe with a few specialized libraries like OpenSSL. No longer. The combination of newer languages, Open Source development and easy-to-use package management systems like JavaScript’s npm or Rust’s Cargo/crates.io has revolutionized how people write software, making it standard practice to pull in third party libraries even for the simplest tasks; it’s not at all uncommon for programs to depend on hundreds or thousands of third party packages. [...] Even packages which are well maintained and have good development practices routinely have vulnerabilities. For example, Firefox recently released a new version that fixed a vulnerability in the popular ANGLE graphics engine, which is maintained by Google. Both Mozilla and Google follow the practices that this blog post recommends, but it’s just the case that people make mistakes. To (possibly mis)quote Steve Bellovin, “Software has bugs. Security-relevant software has security-relevant bugs”. So, while these practices are important to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities, we know they can’t eliminate them. Of course this applies to inadvertant vulnerabilities, but what about malicious actors (though note that Brewer et al. observe that “Taking a step back, although supply-chain attacks are a risk, the vast majority of vulnerabilities are mundane and unintentional—honest errors made by well-intentioned developers.”)? It’s possible that some of their proposed changes (in particular forbidding anonymous authors) might have an impact here, but it’s really hard to see how this is actionable. What’s the standard for not being anonymous? That you have an e-mail address? A Web page? A DUNS number?[3] None of these seem particularly difficult for a dedicated attacker to fake and of course the more strict you make the requirements the more it’s a burden for the (vast majority) of legitimate developers. I do want to acknowledge at this point that Brewer et al. clearly state that multiple layers of protection needed and that it’s necessary to have robust mechanisms for handling vulnerability defenses. I agree with all that, I’m just less certain about this particular piece.

  • 26 Firefox Quantum About:Config Tricks You Need to Learn - Make Tech Easier

    “Here be dragons,” reads the ominous disclaimer when you type about:config into Firefox’s URL bar, warning you that tweaking things in this area is largely experimental and can cause instability to your browser. Sounds exciting, right? And even though it sounds a little scary, the fact is you will almost certainly be okay when you start playing around in this area and can actually use the features here to improve and speed up your browser. These are Make Tech Easier’s favorite Firefox about:config tricks, freshly updated for Firefox Quantum.

  • Attackers collaborate to exploit CVE-2021-21972 and CVE-2021-21973 - Blueliv

Programming Leftovers

  • The HTTP Referer header is fading away (at least as a useful thing)

    The HTTP Referer header on requests is famously misspelled (it should be Referrer), and also famously not liked because of privacy and security concerns. The privacy and security concerns are especially strong with external ('cross-origin') Referers, which is also the ones that many people find most useful because they tell you where visitors to your pages are coming from and let you find places where people have linked to you or are mentioning you.

  • Top 10 Natural Language Processing (NLP) Trends To Look Forward

    AI and Machine Learning have gifted us marvelous things. NLP or Natural Language Processing is one of them. It is one of the most prominent applications of AI. We are using this technology in our day-to-day life without even knowing. Translators, speech recognition apps, chatbots are actually NLP-powered products. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are making new developments in NLP every year. If you are an AI enthusiast, you should go deep inside NLP. Chill! We got you covered. Just go through the article, and know about the top NLP trends that most data scientists are talking about.

  • Russ Allbery: DocKnot 4.01

    DocKnot is my software documentation and release management tool. This release adds support for a global user configuration file separate from the metadata for any given project and adds support for signing generated distribution tarballs with GnuPG. Currently, the only configuration options for the global configuration file are to set the destination location of generated distributions and the PGP key to use when signing them.

  • horizonator: terrain renderer based on SRTM DEMs

    I just resurrected and cleaned up an old tool I had lying around. It's now nice and usable by others. This tool loads terrain data, and renders it from the ground, simulating what a human or a camera would see. This is useful for armchair exploring or for identifying peaks. This was relatively novel when I wrote it >10 years ago, but there are a number of similar tools in existence now. This implementation is still useful in that it's freely licensed and contains APIs, so fancier processing can be performed on its output.

  • Happy birthday, Python, you're 30 years old this week: Easy to learn, and the right tool at the right time

    The 30th anniversary of Python this week finds the programming language at the top of its game, but not without challenges. "I do believe that Python just doesn’t have the right priorities these days," said Armin Ronacher, director of engineering at software monitoring biz Sentry and creator of Flask, the popular Python web app framework, in an email interview with The Register. Ronacher, a prolific Python contributor, remains a fan of the language. He credits Python's success to being both easy to learn and having an implementation that was easy to hack. And in its early years, Python didn't have a lot of competitors with those same characteristics, he said.

  • Google fires 150 game developers hired for Stadia: Report

    In about two years, Google has announced to shut down the in-house Stadia game development division, as it sees a great adoption of its technology by third-party developers and publishers to create world-class games.

    Google has said that it will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from its internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.

Benchmarks at Phoronix and Phoronix Test Suite

  • Vulkan Ray-Tracing Along With Other New/Updated Benchmarks For February - Phoronix

    Below is a look at all of the updates now available via OpenBenchmarking.org for Phoronix Test Suite users or if simply wanting to go to the test profile pages to gauge the CPU/GPU performance in the different real-world workloads. All these updates are available to Phoronix Test Suite users automatically if on an Internet connection when the metadata automatically updates or by running phoronix-test-suite openbenchmarking-refresh to force refresh.

  • The Phoronix Test Suite Gains Vulkan Ray-Tracing Benchmarks

    The versatile Phoronix Test Suite, developed and used by the Linux news website Phoronix, has gained profiles for benchmarking Vulkan ray-tracing performance using two different benchmarks as well as the JPEG XL benchmarks. There's also updates to many of the existing tests as well as a new 10.2.2 release of the Phoronix Test Suite software. [...] Michael Larabel has also updated many existing benchmarks, including the ones for the commercial closed-source games Portal 2, Insurgency and Civilization VI, blender, the libavif AVIF image encoder, the dav1d AV1 video encoder, GROMACS (GROningen MAchine for Chemical Simulations), ParaView, V-RAY (commercial), Pennant (OpenMP benchmark), NWChem and the free software platform game DDraceNetwork.

today's howtos

  • How To Use chmod and chown Command in Linux

    How do I use chmod and chown command under Linux / Unix operating systems? Use the chown command to change file owner and group information. we run the chmod command command to change file access permissions such as read, write, and access. This page explains how to use chmod and chown command on Linux or Unix-like systems.

  • How To Add Route on Linux – devconnected

    As a network engineer, you probably spend a lot of time thinking and planning your network infrastructure. You plan how computers will be linked, physically using specific cables but also logically using routing tables. When your network plan is built, you will have to implement every single link that you theorized on paper. In some cases, if you are using Linux computers, you may have to add some routes in order to link it to other networks in your company. Adding routes on Linux is extremely simple and costless : you can use the Network Manager daemon (if you are running a recent distribution) or the ifconfig one. In this tutorial, you will learn how you can easily add new routes on a Linux machine in order to link it to your physical network.

  • syncing subtitles in freedom

    The topic of creating subtitles with Free Software has often come up in my circles of Emacs-oriented users, and I haven't had a good recommendation to share, until this idea hit me the other day. Subtitle files are largely blocks of start/end time associated with blocks of text. I figured, once you got a transcript, existing Emacs Org Mode features could be used, perhaps along with keyboard macros, to turn the transcript into a synced subtitle file.

  • How To Install Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS [Ed: Proprietary and Microsoft; not an attractive option as Free/libre alternatives exist]

    In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Minecraft is the most popular sandbox video game developed by Mojang studios but later purchased by Microsoft. It can be used with all major platforms like Linux, macOS, and Windows. Most Minecraft players would agree that the secrete to the game’s success lies in its creativity-inspiring design. Players are free to explore a large, procedurally generated world made of blocks, each of which can be interacted with, moved, or transformed into resources for crafting. This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

  • Ubuntu: format SD card [Guide]

    Are you new to Ubuntu? Do you need to format your SD card but can’t figure out how to do it? If so, this guide is for you! Follow along as we go over a few ways you can format SD cards on Linux.

  • How to remove a remove apt repository from Debian

    Do you have an Apt repository on your Debian Linux PC that you want to delete? Can’t figure out how to do it? We can help! Follow along as we go over two ways you can remove Apt repositories from Debian!

  • The Raspberry PI Cheat Sheet – Raspberry PI User

    The Raspberry PI cheat sheet gives a quick overview of common commands, installation tips and links to guides to help you set up your Raspberry PI as a desktop computer.

  • Do a Kernel Upgrade the Easy Way in Linux Mint

    Upgrading the Linux kernel can be difficult, especially for new Linux users. In Linux Mint, however, it's possible to upgrade to a newer kernel with zero hassle. Today we'll find out how to do it, and what to do if you experience problems.