The latest version, V4.0 RC3, of Damn Small Linux was released today and it is really very small indeed. Described as a 50Mb mini-desktop oriented Linux OS, DSL is actually small enough to fit and boot from a business card CD as a live Linux distribution.
Originally developed as something of an experiment in order to try and find out just how many perfectly usable desktop applications can fit inside such a small live CD, DSL has grown from a personal toy to a fully fledged community project. A community project which has seen hundreds of hours of development time resulting in an accomplished automatic remote and local application installation system, versatile backup and restore system and the ability to boot from within a host operating system. Yes, DSL can run inside Windows if the user so wishes. Perhaps most interestingly of all, it will transform into a Debian OS with a traditional hard drive install.
Using a JWM window manager, DSL loads four usable desktops with applications including a swathe of web browsers (Firefox, Dillo and Netrik), MP3, CD and MPEG players (XMMS), email (Sylpheed), word processor (TED), graphics editor (Xpaint) PDF viewer (Xpdf) file manager (emelFM), a web server, FTP client, and even a selection of games.
Sure, there are going to be some compromises with a distribution this size, but there aren't many desktop operating systems that will fit on a business card, now are there? If you need any more convincing of the innovation that DSL has brought with it, how about this list of firsts:
- First liveCD desktop offering backup/restore capability
- First Live CD which used download scripts to add additionally software to ramdisk.
- First complete Linux distribution to also deploy extendable modules which may be used either from a Live CD or on a partitioned hard drive.
- And, of course, the first desktop oriented Live CD small enough to fit on a business card CD…