DSL installs in minutes


I was falling off. Not able to find the right wizardry to dynamically figure out the home folder of the current executing script. (FWIW use `dirname $0`) Not able to substring a string. Losing familiarity with regex. Seeing “grep” as a typo for grab. I couldn’t even figure out how to install Icewm! Now I’m starting to get over all of that. I’m also noticing my hit counter slowly increase from 20 (the neighborhood kids and that funny looking guy at the supermarket) to an average of 23! (I believe that funny looking guy told a couple of his co-workers about me.) I know why my stats have been so low. It’s because I ain’t been talking about nothing productive. All that’s going to change. I’m going to get back in the Groove with Groovy and link up with Linux. Best of all I’ll bring all of the wholesome goodness of DSL dynamicism and hidden config properties back to the forefront of these pages. That coupled with my eventual foray into Objective C for iPhones and Applescripting will hopefully make the above address worth bookmarking.

Starting today I wanna talk about DSL. There are a few ways to interpret DSL. Digital Subscriber Line, Domain Specific Language are common expansions. Using them in the below text would lead to loss of context. It would spur an overconfident feeling of familiarity. It would inspire the usual geek eggheadedness that results in comments that address questions that were never asked and oppose arguments that were never originated. Simply put, it would confuse the batcrap out of you. The DSL I’m referring to is Demi-Sized Linux or better known by it’s street name Damn Small Linux. Its called Damn Small because it’s damn small! Weighing in at under 50MB small enough to fit on a USB stick from four years ago, and powerful enough to launch Firefox and browse the far corners of YouTube it’s a quite interesting collection of ones and zeros. I’m using it to power these old PCs that I’m fixing up for a local community center. Let me tell you about these machines. They were all donated from various sources (banks, schools, construction plants, etc.) and most of them have between 64 and 128MB of RAM, barely PII class processors with these tiny 2GB hard drives. Some of them don’t boot and when they do they run the old Win98 scan disk which flags half of the hard drive as dead. I’ve run through about 4 or 5 different distros trying to find one that’ll work for such a task. Starting with Xubuntu because the Ubuntu project is soo off the rails hype and working my way past Mepis, I eventually weeded my selection down to Puppy and DSL. These are the two most popular mini distros and if you’re looking to revitalize a low end box or if you just want something you can sport on your key chain most people look to one of these. Puppy looks much more visually appealing with the little doggy and I managed to get it to load and partly install on one box with a bum hard drive. The others, Xubuntu, Mepis, Knoppix, etc. wouldn’t get past the splash screen. I started using DSL because no matter how crappy the hardware was it always, always booted up. And it boots in about a minute or less.

So now I got this one box I’ve been really working hard on. I pulled the thing apart, and managed to replace the hard drive with an old Maxtor I had sitting in a desk for about a decade. I started to boot Puppy but opted for DSL. You know what? within 10 minutes I not only had the thing booted, I ahd a fresh reboot with a working hard drive install of DSL. Try that with any Windows CD! Try that with any operating system!!! I’ve had similar experiences installing other Linux distros like Mepis and Mint but DSL really takes the cake… and eats the cake. I just thought I’d share my tale with anyone else out there who may be looking to rebuild an old box or something like that.

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