DSL is an overloaded acronym standing for many different things. I first knew it as Digital Subscriber Line for Internet connection, and then Domain Specific Language. Recently I learnt a new one: Damn Small Linux. As you see the word small, you may think it’s for embedded system. It’s not.
According to the project website, DSL is biz-card desktop OS. It runs light enough to power 486DX with 16M RAM, fully with 128M RAM. The size of the OS? Only 50 MB. With that limited space, there are still a variety of applications like file manager, browsers, Email, Word processor, VoIP, instant messaging, Xpdf. Notice that I used plural for browser. There are in fact three different browsers: Dillo, Netrik, and Firefox. For full list of applications, check out here.
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For my curiosity, I decided to play with it. So I downloaded it from the download site which listed a list of mirror sites. The ibiblio http site didn’t work. I used a site hosted in Belgium and picked the dsl-4.4.10.iso file. The version may change when new release comes up.
Once having that, I created a new virtual machine with VMware Player (it’s free): File – Create a New Virtual Machine. In the “New Virtual Machine Wizard,” select Installer disc image file and point it to the ISO file downloaded. For the guest operating system, select Linux and version “Other Linux 2.4.x kernel.” On the next page, type in a name for new VM. In the specify disk capacity, just use 0.5GB and select store virtual disk as a single file.
In the last summary page, you can optionally change the memory which defaults 256MB – just clicked on the “Customize Hardware…” button and I changed the memory to 128M.
After the finish button clicked, the installation went by itself. It’s done within one minute without asking to set root password. It turns out, with a little research on the Internet, that the root password is not known to the public. If you need root privilege for something, use sudo command.
After the installation, a window shows up with Dillo browser displaying Getting Started with DSL page. All the applications there are pretty responsive even with very small footprint.
Having played with the DSL, I thought about installing VMware Tools but it didn’t seem easy. After trying it a while, I decide not to continue because there wasn’t any problem except that I had to type ALT+ CTRL every time I want to move the cursor out of the virtual machine.
Other than playing for fun, I haven’t found a serious usage of DSL for myself. I think it may be useful for some tests in which you will need many virtual machines to simulate desktops. Then you will get 10 times out of the same resources.