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

The 10 Best Linux Network Monitoring Tools

Having total control over your network is essential to prevent programs from overusing your network resources and slowing down the overall performance. This is why you should install a network monitoring tool on your system, giving you a visual overview of everything that’s happening on your network. To help you out, we have put together a list of the ten best Linux network monitoring tools. All the tools mentioned here are open-source and follows an easy and intuitive UI (mostly command-line based) to help you monitor the bandwidth usage on your network. Read more

Programming: GNOME, CI/CD, Go and Qt

  • Bilal Elmoussaoui: libhandy-rs v0.6.0 is out!

    Recently I kind of took over the maintainership of libhandy-rs, the Rust bindings of libhandy. I have since then been preparing for a new release so that Rust & GTK app developers can update to the latest gtk-rs release as soon as possible. I also heavily depend on it on my various little apps.

  • Easily speed up CI by reducing download size

    Every time a CI pipeline runs on GitLab, it downloads the git repository for your project. Often, pipeline jobs are set up to make further downloads (of dependencies or subprojects), which are also run on each job.

  • What you need to know about automation testing in CI/CD

    Test automation means focusing continuously on detecting defects, errors, and bugs as early and quickly as possible in the software development process. This is done using tools that pursue quality as the highest value and are put in place to ensure quality—not just pursue it. One of the most compelling features of a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) solution (also called a DevOps pipeline) is the opportunity to test more frequently without burdening developers or operators with more manual work. Let's talk about why that's important.

  • Generics for Go

    The Go programming language was first released in 2009, with its 1.0 release made in March 2012. Even before the 1.0 release, some developers criticized the language as being too simplistic, partly due to its lack of user-defined generic types and functions parameterized by type. Despite this omission, Go is widely used, with an estimated 1-2 million developers worldwide. Over the years there have been several proposals to add some form of generics to the language, but the recent proposal written by core developers Ian Lance Taylor and Robert Griesemer looks likely to be included in a future version of Go. [...] Generics, also known as "parameterized types" or "parametric polymorphism", are a way to write code or build data structures that will work for any data type; the code or data structure can be instantiated to process each different data type, without having to duplicate code. They're useful when writing generalized algorithms like sorting and searching, as well as type-independent data structures like trees, thread-safe maps, and so on. For example, a developer might write a generic min() function that works on all integer and floating-point types, or create a binary tree that can associate a key type to a value type (and work with strings, integers, or user-defined types). With generics, you can write this kind of code without any duplication, and the compiler will still statically check the types.

  • Fixing a common antipattern when loading translations in Qt

    I’m a Polish guy working with computers, mostly on Windows. However, the lingua franca of the IT industry is English, so every time I see a tutorial for some dev tool, it’s in that language. To lessen the burden of decoding which menu entry in the tutorial corresponds to which menu entry on my PC I decided to run the system with an English display language. I still want the rest of the i18n-related stuff (date format, keyboard, currency etc.) to be in Polish however. [...] As you can see, Thunderbird and Windows Settings show up in English but Qt Linguist is encrypted with some overengineered Slavic cipher (aka Polish language). What I further noticed, is that this incorrect language selection is particularly prevalent in Qt-based applications. Subsequent digging revealed that this antipattern is widespread in Qt world, see the relevant GitHub search (requires login).

today's leftovers and howtos

  • Digest of YaST Development Sprint 103

    Before introducing the recent changes in the YaST land, the team would like to congratulate the openSUSE community for the release of Leap 15.2. It looks like a pretty solid release, and we are proud of being part of this project. Having said that, let’s focus on what the team has achieved during the past sprint.

  • [syslog-ng] Insider 2020-07: TLS; capabilities; 3.27;

    This is the 83rd issue of syslog-ng Insider, a monthly newsletter that brings you syslog-ng-related news.

  •         
  • Top 6 Open Source Bitcoin Wallets, Rated and Reviewed for 2020

    The biggest appeal of open source wallets is that their code can be reviewed and publicly audited for potential security issues. As a result, open source software is often more robust than closed-source. The same goes for bitcoin wallets. [...] Whether you’re a beginner who needs a fantastic UI to help you navigate the intricacies of an open source wallet or you’re a developer who needs a platform that allows you to build on a secure base, these wallets will give you everything you’re looking for.

  •        
  • Android 10 has the fastest update rate ever, hits 16% of users in 10 months

    Google today dropped a blog post detailing its progress on improving the Android ecosystem's update speed. The company has been hard at work for the past few years modularizing Android, with the hope that making Android easier to update would result in device manufacturers pushing out updates faster. Google's efforts have been paying off, with the company announcing Android 10 has had the fastest rollout ever. The last few versions of Android have each brought a major improvement to Android's update system. Android 8 introduced Project Treble, which separated the OS from the hardware support, enabling easier porting of Android across devices. In Android 9 Pie, Google completed its work on Treble and started publishing Generic System Images (GSIs): drop-in versions of Android that work on any Project Treble-compatible device. Android 10 introduced Project Mainline and the new APEX file type designed for updatable lower-level system components, delivered through the Play Store. Google's stats show that all this work is actually improving the ecosystem. "Thanks to these efforts," Google writes, "the adoption of Android 10 has been faster than any previous versions of Android. Android 10 was running on 100 million devices 5 months post launch—28% faster than Android Pie."

  • LibreOffice QA/Dev Report: June 2020
  • Phoronix Test Suite 9.8 Released For Open-Source Benchmarking, New Docker Benchmarking Image

    Phoronix Test Suite 9.8 is available today as the latest quarterly stable feature release to our open-source, cross-platform benchmarking software. Phoronix Test Suite 9.8 brings numerous improvements as our Q3'2020 update including: - Improved handling of test installation failures around failed download URLs and other cases where newer minor revisions of said test profiles have corrected them. The new behavior is to seamlessly use the new minor revisions of test profile updates to correct said failures rather than requiring manual intervention over the version specified.

  • How to convert an ISO to a Docker image
  • How To Set Up Nginx Server Blocks on Ubuntu 20.04
  • How to Install MariaDB on Ubuntu 16.04 Linux Operating System

Servers: Kubernetes, MicroK8s and Ubuntu

  • What’s up with the Kubernetes ecosystem

    This week’s acquisition of Rancher Labs by the veteran enterprise Linux firm SUSE neatly illustrates the growing momentum of container-based application deployment. It also underlines the importance of Kubernetes as the orchestration tool of choice for managing all those containers. So, what does this latest move mean for the broader Kubernetes ecosystem? When containers first garnered corporate attention six or seven years ago, Docker and its tools were the centre of attention. But the focus soon shifted to management frameworks capable of automating the deployment and scaling of containers, and Kubernetes, developed by Google from technology used in its cloud platform, quickly won out. Like many open source tools, Kubernetes has its share of rough edges and does not necessarily provide all the capabilities that users need to build a functioning container-based infrastructure. Companies such as Rancher sprang forth to provide a complete software stack built around Kubernetes for those who didn’t want to build it all themselves.

  • MicroK8s HA tech preview is now available
  • Ubuntu Support of AWS Graviton2 Instances
  • Ubuntu Support of AWS Graviton2 Instances

    Ubuntu is the industry-leading operating system for use in the cloud. Every day millions of Ubuntu instances are launched in private and public clouds around the world. Canonical takes pride in offering support for the latest cloud features and functionality. As of today, all Ubuntu Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace listings are now updated to include support for the new Graviton2 instance types. Graviton2 is Amazon’s next-generation ARM processor delivering increased performance at a lower cost. This