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Damn Small Linux 2.3: 50mb of Penguin Power

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Well, well, right in the midst of waiting on new parts for my main test machine, Damn Small Linux releases version 2.3. My favorite mini-Linux that can be tested on my antique p1 laptop, this release is an example of perfect timing. In fact, even if my desktop wasn't down for the count, my laptop is where my interest is for this release. The last several versions of DSL I tested proved to disappoint in the area of wireless support. So, how did Damn Small Linux 2.3 perform on this lovely Spring Day?

Wonderfully! This release brings about many fixes and updates, but most aren't relevant to my setup. However the one key area that is very important for me seems to be fixed. There were a few moments during boot that could have given one pause concerning the net connection, but by the time it finished, my pcmcia Linksys Wireless WPC11 was up and working. I did have to adjust my /etc/resolv.conf and my route, but otherwise I was connected. As you can see in the Changelog, they fixed their card information structure database for pcmcia.


1. New auto mydsl. Auto scan for directory named mydsl will automatically load extensions.
2. New DSL natively booted can now recognize the Qemu virtual harddisk. Allows for shared backup.
3. Upgraded Qemu to v0.8 for both Windows and Linux versions.
4. New background image (Saturn) to match current theme.
5. New check and prompt to save APSFILTER printer setup.
6. New check and prompt to save wireless setup.
7. New MyDSL is now a separate menu via a fluxbox [include]
8. New prompt when keyboard is changed while running X.
9. New usb pendrive installs now support "toram"
10. New faster dsl-embedded loading in Windows.
11. New theme and xmms skin
12. New boot floppy supports, fromusb, fromzip, frompcmcia (requires 2nd pcmcia module floppy
13. Improved display of dock app dmix/mount tool.
14. Improved mount tool for cdrom access.
15. Updated Getting Started document.
16. Updated .xinitrc with another correction for better German keyboard support.
17. Fixed UCI loop counter during unmounts.
18. Fixed wep bug 19. Fixed boot options frugal and toram when used together would try to remount /dev/shm
20. Fixed pcmcia cis database.
21. Removed unused icon in dsl-embedded (Flwriter)

Upon boot we are once again treated to a new theme and wallpaper. A lovely purple theme called Kharisma is featured with a wonderfully attractive and uber-cool wallpaper. The wallpaper is a off-centered picture of Saturn with rings of purple and off-blue shades. It's a tasteful match and sure to please any gender. But if purple isn't your cup of tea, they include greenish, grayish, and blue themes as well. If you desire others, you can always download one of many others listed in handy MyDSL themes extension panel.


On the familar Fluxbox desktop we find a really nice torsmo setup with graphs to monitor hardware and disk usage, uptime, laptop battery health, and host ip. In the lower right corner is an applet for mixer settings and drive mounting. In the opposite corner is an attractive pager for 4 desktops. And of course, concentrated in the upper left corner are icons for a variety of useful applications.



Damn Small Linux may only be a 50 mb download, but it's included applications list rivals the big boys. There is so much included, rarely can a review hit on all of them. For example, there are office applications for database usage, document construction, file management, email, internet, VoIP, multimedia, gaming, system and desktop configuration, and software management. It just has too much to screenshoot or even list. Most of these applications are in a familar graphical form, but even the console apps have menu items for which cryptic commands are obsolete. Some highlights include XMMS, Firefox, Xpaint, Emelfm, Sylpheed, gPhone, Ace of Penguins, Ted and Siag.



Some of its features and capabilities include:

  • Boot from a business card CD as a live linux distribution (LiveCD)
  • Boot from a USB pen drive
  • Boot from within a host operating system (that's right, it can run *inside* Windows)
  • Run very nicely from an IDE Compact Flash drive via a method we call "frugal install"
  • Transform into a Debian OS with a traditional hard drive install
  • Run light enough to power a 486DX with 16MB of Ram
  • Run fully in RAM with as little as 128MB (you will be amazed at how fast your computer can be!)
  • Modularly grow -- DSL is highly extendable without the need to customize
  • Full Information

In conclusion, Damn Small Linux has reclaimed its throne. It has all the wonderful features we've come to expect with many new options as listed in the Changelog. They hit a rough spot there for a while, but they are back. Damn Small Linux performed well and was very stable on this old laptop. All hardware is now functional and we couldn't be more pleased. My laptop has finally found the operating system for which it's been waiting, thanks to the included handy hard drive installer. Imagine what it could do for you on your equipment!

Older Articles highlighting other Damn Small Linux Features not covered here:

The screenshots used in the article can be found Here.

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