Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Damn Small Linux 2.3: 50mb of Penguin Power

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

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.

Changelog:

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 prims2.sh 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.

More in Tux Machines

Kernel: LWN Articles and Radeon Linux 5.6 Changes

  • Fixing SCHED_IDLE

    The scheduler implements many "scheduling classes", an extensible hierarchy of modules, and each class may further encapsulate "scheduling policies" that are handled by the scheduler core in a policy-independent way. The scheduling classes are described below in descending priority order; the Stop class has the highest priority, and Idle class has the lowest. The Stop scheduling class is a special class that is used internally by the kernel. It doesn't implement any scheduling policy and no user task ever gets scheduled with it. The Stop class is, instead, a mechanism to force a CPU to stop running everything else and perform a specific task. As this is the highest-priority class, it can preempt everything else and nothing ever preempts it. It is used by one CPU to stop another in order to run a specific function, so it is only available on SMP systems. The Stop class creates a single, per-CPU kernel thread (or kthread) named migration/N, where N is the CPU number. This class is used by the kernel for task migration, CPU hotplug, RCU, ftrace, clock events, and more. The Deadline scheduling class implements a single scheduling policy, SCHED_DEADLINE, and it handles the highest-priority user tasks in the system. It is used for tasks with hard deadlines, like video encoding and decoding. The task with the earliest deadline is served first under this policy. The policy of a task can be set to SCHED_DEADLINE using the sched_setattr() system call by passing three parameters: the run time, deadline, and period. To ensure deadline-scheduling guarantees, the kernel must prevent situations where the current set of SCHED_DEADLINE threads is not schedulable within the given constraints. The kernel thus performs an admittance test when setting or changing SCHED_DEADLINE policy and attributes. This admission test calculates whether the change can be successfully scheduled; if not, sched_setattr() fails with the error EBUSY. The POSIX realtime (or RT) scheduling class comes after the deadline class and is used for short, latency-sensitive tasks, like IRQ threads. This is a fixed-priority class that schedules higher-priority tasks before lower-priority tasks. It implements two scheduling policies: SCHED_FIFO and SCHED_RR. In SCHED_FIFO, a task runs until it relinquishes the CPU, either because it blocks for a resource or it has completed its execution. In SCHED_RR (round-robin), a task will run for the maximum time slice; if the task doesn't block before the end of its time slice, the scheduler will put it at the end of the round-robin queue of tasks with the same priority and select the next task to run. The priority of the tasks under the realtime policies range from 1 (low) to 99 (high).

  • Virtio without the "virt"

    One might ask why it makes sense to implement virtio devices in hardware. After all, they were originally designed for hypervisors and have been optimized for software rather than hardware implementation. Now that virtio support is widespread, the network effects allow hardware implementations to reuse the guest drivers and infrastructure. The virtio 1.1 specification defines ten device types, among them a network interface, SCSI host bus adapter, and console. Implementing a standards-compliant device interface lets hardware implementers focus on delivering the best device instead of designing a new device interface and writing guest drivers from scratch. Moreover, existing guests will work with the device out of the box, and applications utilizing user-space drivers, such as the DPDK packet processing toolkit, do not need to be relinked with new drivers — this is especially helpful when static linking is utilized. Implementing virtio in hardware also makes it easy to switch between hardware and software implementations. A software device can be substituted without changing guest drivers if the hardware device is acting up. Similarly, if the driver is acting up, it is possible to substitute a software device to make debugging the driver easier. It is possible to assign hardware devices to performance-critical guests while assigning software devices to the other guests; this decision can be changed in the future to balance resource needs. Finally, implementing virtio in hardware makes it possible to live-migrate virtual machines more easily. The destination host can have either software or hardware virtio devices.

  • 5.5 Merge window, part 1

    The 5.5 merge window got underway immediately after the release of the 5.4 kernel on November 24. The first week has been quite busy despite the US Thanksgiving holiday landing in the middle of it. Read on for a summary of what the first 6,300 changesets brought for the next major kernel release.

  • Radeon Linux 5.6 Changes Begin Queuing - Better Power Management, Adds DMCUB Controller

    While the Linux 5.5 merge window has just been over for less than one week, AMD has already submitted their first batch of feature updates to DRM-Next of new graphics driver material aiming for Linux 5.6 early next year.

Screencasts and Shows: Pisi Linux 2.1.2 Run Through, Linux Headlines, Going Linux, FLOSS Weekly and Selling Keynotes/Tweets at the Linux Foundation

GNOME at the Back End and GNOME Shell 3.35.2

  • Molly de Blanc: Keeping the (server) lights on

    Building and maintaining infrastructure for the GNOME project is one of the many activities of the GNOME Foundation, and it’s one of the most important. Building software like the GNOME desktop environment requires a lot of technical support, including managing servers and providing collaboration tools. Since GNOME is focused on being a self-sustaining community, we look as much as possible to managing our own services and software, and making sure it is free and open source. The GNOME Infrastructure Team currently supports a total of 34 virtual machines hosted on a total of eight bare metal nodes. These virtual machines allow us to run services like the Openshift Container Platform (OSCP), which provides self-service access to the community to run any of their workflows on an automated and containarized fashion. GNOME is build using self-hosted FOSS. We collaboratively build GNOME using a GitLab instance, which has a total of 15k accounts. We do shared storage using NextCloud. Community discussion is handled over Mailman, Discourse, and MoinMoin. We are currently using Indico and Connfa for our event planning and management.

  • GNOME Shell 3.35.2 Begins Launching Spawned Processes Within Systemd Scopes

    Out today is a new development release of GNOME Shell on the road to GNOME 3.36 in March. Among the changes in this new GNOME Shell snapshot include: - Spawned processes are now placed within systemd scopes in order to improve out-of-memory behavior for applications, an easy means of being able to kill other processes when the shell is restarted, and other use-cases. Systemd scopes allow managing of processes for organization and resource management purposes.

Security: Proprietary Software Holes and More

  • It's the end of the 20-teens, and your Windows PC can still be pwned by nothing more than a simple bad font

    With the year winding to a close and the holiday parties set to kick off, admins will want to check out the December Patch Tuesday load from Microsoft, Adobe, Intel, and SAP and get them installed before downing the first of many egg nogs. [...] Also of note is CVE-2019-1471, a critical hypervisor escape bug that would allow an attacker running on a guest VM to execute code on the host box. The bulk of this month's critical fixes were for a series of five remote code execution flaws in Git for Visual Studio. In each of the flaws, said to be caused by improper handling of command-line input, an attacker would launch the exploit by convincing the target to clone a malicious repo. The remaining critical patch is for CVE-2019-1468, a play on the tried-and-true font-parsing vulnerability. In the wild, an attacker would embed the poisoned font file in a webpage and attack any system that visits.

  • Exploring Legacy Unix Security Issues

    The operating system SGI IRIX 6.5.22 was declared end of life in 2003, so it has limited use as a production system. I decided I could relive the good old days by looking for new vulnerabilities on an old system in my spare time. It was also an excuse to write some C code, and refresh my memory. One of my favorite vulnerabilities is the Insecure Temporary File (CWE-377). This involves manipulating files created in /tmp in an insecure manner. A file is created in /tmp by a piece of software that doesn’t check if the file exists before creating it. Allowing a malicious local user to symlink that file to a critical system file and overwriting it with the contents of what is written to the file in /tmp. So I started looking under the /usr/sbin directory for binaries to target. I did a quick examination of binaries and scripts in using the find command to give myself a starting point.

  • Private Internet Access updates Linux desktop client to prevent against [CVE-2019-14899]

    The Breakpointing Bad team at the University of New Mexico recently reported a VPN vulnerability that affects Linux, MacOS, iOS, Android, and more. The vulnerability allows malicious actors to not only see your VPN IP address, but also identify sites you are visiting and inject data into connections. The team consists of William J. Tolley, Beau Kujath, and Jedidiah R. Crandall and the public was notified on December 4th, 2019. Designated [CVE-2019-14899], the vulnerability shook the VPN industry due to the breadth of affected systems. [CVE-2019-14899] affects many different types of VPN protocols including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPSec. Private Internet Access has released an update to its Linux client that mitigates [CVE-2019-14899] from being used to infer any information about our users’ VPN connections. To our knowledge, Private Internet Access is the first commercial VPN to release a new client that prevents this ongoing security vulnerability.

  • Chrome now warns you when your password has been stolen

    Google is rolling out Chrome version 79 today, and it includes a number of password protection improvements. The biggest addition is that Chrome will now warn you when your password has been stolen as part of a data breach. Google has been warning about reused passwords in a separate browser extension or in its password checkup tool, but the company is now baking this directly into Chrome to provide warnings as you log in to sites on the web.