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

Canonical/Ubuntu Watching You

  • Two-thirds of Ubuntu users are happy to give up data on their PC
    As announced back at the start of the year, Canonical made the decision that Ubuntu would collect data on its user base – and now the initial results of those statistics have been published by the firm, including the headline fact that 67% of users were happy to provide details of their PC (and other bits and pieces). So, this scheme that has been unfavorably compared to Microsoft’s collection of telemetry data in Windows 10, which has long been a point of controversy. However, it appears that the majority of folks are happy to give up their data to the company providing their Linux distribution, and don’t seem perturbed by this prospect.
  • Ubuntu reports 67% of users opt in to on-by-default PC specs slurp [Ed: 33% of Ubuntu users say to Canonical "don't spy on me" and Canonical then counts them, which means that Canonical collects data on them, too]
    However just 33 per cent of the undisclosed number of users Canonical’s analysed didn’t opt in to the slurpage. Which is where things get a little bit weird, because Canonical’s post reports an “Opt In rate”. Yet the data slurpage is selected by default: there’s an active opt out but a passive opt in.
  • The Average Ubuntu Install Takes 18 Minutes (And Other Stats)
    Did you know that the average Ubuntu install takes just 18 minutes? That’s one of several nuggets of information Canonical has collected (and now revealed) thanks to the new “Ubuntu Report” tool included in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. This tool, when given permission to, collects non-identifiable system data about new Ubuntu installs and upgrades and ferries it back to Canonical for analysis.

Linux Foundation's TODO and New Chinese Ties

  • The Linux Foundation and TODO Group Release Chinese Versions of Open Source Guides for the Enterprise
    -The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has released Chinese translations of 10 Open Source Guides for the Enterprise, created to help executives, open source program managers, developers, attorneys and decision makers learn how to best leverage open source.
  • Tencent joins the Linux Foundation as a platinum member
    Chinese tech giant Tencent has announced it’s joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member. Tencent is one of a few companies to offer the highest level of support to the Linux Foundation. Other tech companies in this stable include IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, as well as fellow Chinese titan Huawei. As part of the deal, Tencent will take a chair on the Foundation’s board of directors. It has also promised to offer “further support and resources” to the Foundation’s efforts. So far, this has taken the form of Tencent donating several pieces of its software.
  • Tencent becomes a Linux Foundation platinum member to increase its focus on open source
    Tencent, the $500-billion Chinese internet giant, is increasing its focus on open source after it became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. The company has long been associated with the foundation and Linux generally, it is a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s deep learning program that launched earlier this year, and now as a platinum member (the highest tier) it will take a board of directors seat and work more closely with the organization. That works two ways, with Tencent pledging to offer “further support and resources” to foundation projects and communities, while the Chinese firm itself will also tap into the foundation’s expertise and experience.
  • Tencent Supports Open Source Community With Linux Foundation Platinum Membership
    LinuxCon China -- The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announces Tencent has become the latest Platinum member of the foundation. Tencent is a leading provider of Internet value added services in China, offering some of China's most popular websites, apps and services including QQ, Qzone, Tencent Cloud and Weixin/WeChat.
  • TARS and TSeer Form Open Source Project Communities Under The Linux Foundation to Expand Adoption and Pace of Development
    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China in Beijing that TARS, a remote procedure call (RPC) framework, and TSeer, a high availability service discovery, registration and fault tolerance framework, have become Linux Foundation projects. Both projects were initially developed by leading Chinese technology company, Tencent, which open sourced the projects last year. This follows the announcement of Tencent becoming a Platinum member of The Linux Foundation, and reflects the foundation’s growing collaboration with the Chinese open source community.
  • Tencent Becomes Latest Platinum Member of Linux Foundation
    Chinese behemoth looking to cultivate open source ties The Linux Foundation has announced that Tencent has become the latest member to obtain platinum membership. The non-profit American tech company, which is funded by membership payments, uses the funding for sustainable open source projects. Within the foundation, there are three membership tiers, starting from silver to gold, all the way up to platinum where members have to pay $500,000 a year (approx. £377,643) for that category.
  • Tencent Joins The Linux Foundation, Open-Sources Projects
    China's Tencent holding conglomerate that backs a variety of Internet services/products is the latest platinum member of the Linux Foundation.

Events: DebCamp, openSUSE Conference, OSSummit Japan 2018

  • Yes! I am going to...
    Of course, DebCamp is not a vacation, so we expect people that take part of DebCamp to have at least a rough sketch of activities. There are many, many things I want to tackle, and experience shows there's only time for a fraction of what's planned.
  • Dates, Location set for openSUSE Conference 2019
    The openSUSE Project is pleased to announce the location and dates for the 2019 openSUSE Conference. The openSUSE Conference 2019 will return to the Z-Bau in Nuremberg, Germany, and be Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26. Planning for the 2019 conference will begin this summer and community members are encouraged to take part in the planning of the conference through the organizing team. The openSUSE Board proposed the idea of having organizing team for openSUSE Conferences last month at oSC18. An email about the organizing team was sent out to the openSUSE-Project mailing list.
  • OSSummit Japan 2018
    Some Debian developers (Jose from Microsoft and Michael from credativ) gave a talk during this event.

Games: Warhammer, Steam, OpenSAGE and Wine