Damn Small Linux (DSL): The Lightweight Linux

This is one of the Linux distributions with a funny name. But this is not the only one. This Linux distribution, Damn Small Linux, is what its name says. It is damn small in its size. That’s the very purpose of this Linux distribution; to be ultra small.


Why Damn Small Linux? This is one of the frequent questions asked by Linux enthusiasts. Take your oldest computer as an example. My first computer was a 486DX with 8MB memory and 33MHz clock speed. If you still something similar with you and want to make some use of it, what are the options you have? If you opt for Windows, it should be Windows 95. But what can you do with a one and half decade old operating system? This is where Damn Small Linux comes into play. Damn Small Linux can run on your old hardware, while giving you access to the latest software on Linux.

Ok, I’m going to mention some of the features by Damn Small Linux, so you will have a better understanding and see whether it can be any match to your requirement.

Damn Small Linux can boot from a business-card CD. This means that you can carry a full-fledge operating system in your shirt pocket. Alternately, Damn Small Linux can be booted from a USB drive. But the latter is not unique for Damn Small Linux, and it is quite standard for many other Linux distributions. Damn Small Linux is so damn small, so it can boot inside another operating system. Yes, you heard it right. Damn Small Linux can run inside Windows without help of any virtualization software or a runtime. This gives a lot of freedom for people who want to have a Linux system for various purposes running in parallel to a main operating system. Since Damn Small Linux is so small, the host operating system does not feel much an overhead.

It is quite standard for us to use a hard drive for installing operating system. But with Damn Small Linux, you do not have to get hold of a hard drive for the installation process. If you have an IDE CF (Compact Flash) card, you can simply install Damn Small Linux for regular use. This makes it easy for Damn Small Linux to be installed on computers with limited physical space. When it comes to the memory utilization, Damn Small Linux is significantly robust. For this Linux distribution, 16MB is sufficient for acceptable performance. If you want Damn Small Linux running in its full thrust, give it 128MB and you will be amazed by the performance of this little devil.

If you are an average computer user who surfs the web, sends emails, uses word processing applications, and listens to music; you got everything you need in Damn Small Linux. If you require any additional software installed in your Damn Small Linux system, you can do that by using the respective .deb package.

If you are wondering how Damn Small Linux has reduced its size, let me explain that to you. Damn Small Linux is just 50MB in size. This is less than the size of some of the popular web browsers. As an example for the size reduction, Damn Small Linux uses a web browser called ‘Dillo’, which is just 300KB in size. This web browser offers almost all essential features to users who surf the Internet. Due to the tiny size, Dillo is faster than any other browser in the mainstream Linux distributions. Following the same concept, Damn Small Linux uses alternatives for all day-to-day software applications such as ‘Ted’ for word processing, ‘Sylpheed’ for emails, and ‘Xpaint’ for image editing.

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