Wasting space?

Through the efforts of many people, searching for, and finding orphaned files left over from the reduction from Knoppix, we managed to find about half a meg of new space to play with.

And this is good.

The powers that be have deeded this space for the newly created DSL default theme, and various other eye candy.

While I understand their goals of making DSL "presentable" for our 1.0 debut, making the DSL desktop "unified" or whatever. I also find this use of space a little disappointing.

Am I the only one who feels that this space could be better used to squeeze more functionality out of our little 50mb monster?

There are still a few things that I feel we need to complete the goal of "a full OS in 50mb".

We have no command-line mail app (Pine, Elm, Mutt, etc) for the easy retrieval of mail for people who don't use X (and we have a lot of them).

I know we have Exim, which is a tiny app, much like sendmail, but Exim is clunky, and annoying and inconvinient for everyday use.

The gpm (general purpose mouse) would be another great benefit for those X-impaired users. It allows the mouse to be used in runlevel 2, for things like web browsing with Links, and copying and pasting. It's really nice to have!

Many users have called for a MSN client for DSL base, and tmsn is VERY small, and curses based.

I know that the aforementioned 500k or so cannot do all of this, but it could do 2 out of the 3.

But I'll admit that I'm a follower of the literal meaning of the saying "Form follows function", meaning that I think that function should take priority over looking good.

And, I do feel that DSL should get a nice facelift for the release of 1.0, I just feel that it ought to fit into the "damn small" mindset, and take up as little space as possible.



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I concur...

I agree, on most of the points, well...actually on all of them. I think the reason they want to luster it up a little is to provide a prettier interface for demo/showing people DSL to get them interested, eyecandy is good in that respect...because we all know that most people who aren't familiar with alternatives are first attracted by sight rather than by someone telling them about a great new feature...You know, girls only want distros with great skills...Photoshop Skills, HTML Skills, PovRay Skills ( haha..povray..thats oldschool. and sorry for the napoleon dynamite allusion) anyway...Yeah, people want to see it before they believe it...

But yeah, all of the points made in your post are pretty damn valid as far as I can see. we don't even have 'mail' or 'fetchmail' ;\ or anything like those... I'm not sure if this falls in line, really...I think mostly they're trying to focus on X...since, well, thats what people go for. I think if people had the OPTION they would rather use sylpheed or some graphical client than using 'mail' or 'mutt'...well I wouldn't. And GPM...wow, console lackies would love us if we threw GPM in there...I find it funny that 90% of our current users dont even know about GPM or what it is/does.

tronik @ #damnsmalllinux irc.freenode.net

I disagree. I think the cu

I disagree.

I think the current DSL looks horrible. I dont like dark themes, they give me a dark depressed feeling.
The DSL GUI is difficult to use for someone who is used to another OS with a GUI.

The goal: a functional and easy to use desktop 50MB bootable Live CD Linux has been achieved, it is clear John and Robert want go beyond: "Because having a working Linux desktop distro on a 50 mb bootable business card CD is just too cool not to do."
Why not extend this goal to: a functional and easy to use desktop 50MB bootable Live CD Linux FOR EVERYONE.

To make DSL more attractive to newcomers the looks have to be improved and the aplications must be very userfriendly.
I suggest to take out even more non-GUI applications and replace then with GUI apps. For those who want to use console applications i am sure they know how to install them.
But no matter which way the DSL go: as long as it is a good base to remaster and use apt-get to "upgrade" it, i will use it as my primary OS.

My opinion

OK, I have to throw my .02 in here.

In the spirit of DSL I understand with the points about filling space with eyecandy. It is already packed with so much in 50mb that it almost becomes an addiction to see what else we can cram into it.

On the other hand, it has to be admitted that a facelift is in order if you want to appeal to the majority of people. The fact is, a 'minimalist' look translates into 'too technical for me' by the average user. I know when I first started learning Linux my anxiety level would rise just based on what the OS installer looked like.

I'm not going to argue whether these perceptions are valid or not, I am just saying that is the reality.

I few nice themes and maybe even some updated fonts might just do the trick. As far as the apps, I think DSL has what most people need in the base except for the text app that has been talked about extensively. But with the repository, you can have it anyway you want it. It really doesn't take much time to learn that.

Fluxbox is differnt for the average user but I think they can adapt. Once you realize how many resources a WM can take, you appreciate fluxbox. When I boot from XP to DSL and my fan rpms drop by 800, you realize how hard Windows is taxing your PC. How many times have you right clicked on your M$ desktop to try and access your programs? ;-) As I have said before, I like using wmdrawer to give people a little "start button" feel.

A little facelift is good IMO and will attract more people. There has never been a better time to get people to make the switch. The compliants about spyware and viruses are getting very loud in my community.

I have put my trust in John since the .3 or .4 series so I will wait, although impatiently, for rc1 and see what he comes up with. The great thing about John and Robert is that they do listen to the members of this community...and we are an opinionated bunch! :)

My opinion on the subject

I believe that the little remaining space in DSL should be used to refine the base distro instead of adding new applications that are useful to some but not all.

As for the "look and feel" waste-of-space problem, I think that it is a non-issue. Everyone is doing a great job with creating new theme possibilities and most of them will take up VERY little additional space. A theme + Icons that will both look consistent AND look good at 640x480x8bit may actually use up LESS space than today's defaults. Who knows?

So I support those who are trying to make DSL look better.
Just because functionality is usually more important than appearance does don't prevent us from having BOTH, and it is not a crime to work great and look good while doing it.

As for the console apps, I think that they are nice and they have their place and obviously the Distro maintainers agree because they are still part of the distro. Besides, most of them use very little space. It may be possible to add a console mail app, provided that it is very small in size. I have never used exim, but if it works and it is very small, then it gets the job done. If not, submit a myDSL extension for a new one. You can also use myDSL extensions while running from console mode.

Same thing with tmsn. Maybe it is small enough, or maybe not. You can always install a tmsn extension if needed. And of course you can use that IRC repeater service for MSN if you are stuck with no other options.

I think that GPM would be a very nice addition to DSL, but I have no idea how much space is required. GPM has 2 important functions. (1) It allows console apps to use the mouse and (2) You can configure GPM in "repeater mode" to get XVesa or Xfbdev servers to work with troublesome mice. So GPM is a possible solution for the "My mouse doesn't work right" problem.

But by FAR the most important improvement that can be made to the distro, which is a difficult task, is to upgrade the base to KNOPPIX 3.7 or equivalent.


Because most new computers that are sold today (and almost all Dells) use SATA hard drives and controllers. And unfortunately, it appears that the breakpoint for good SATA support starts at linux kernel 2.4.27 and DSL 0.9.x is running kernel 2.4.26

So just like last year when we made the jump to knoppix 3.4 / 2.4.26 mainly for improved wireless LAN support, we should also jump to a newer kernel for SATA support.

I repeat, this is not an easy thing to do because the new base system will eat up more of the 50MB space than the old one but it is important to do this in the next few months or we will start to lose people because "DSL won't work with my hard drive"

Second on the most important improvement list is BETTER DEFAULT FONTS for applications especially Firefox. It is a bad thing to try to use Firefox for web browsing on a 1024x768 desktop that is running at a 60HZ (vesa) monitor refresh rate. If the flickering doesn't hurt your eyes, then the eyestrain from trying to read the tiny barely readable fonts for any length of time is guaranteed to give you a headache.

In conclusion, please don't take any of these opinions personally. I enjoy the correspondence with everyone who has posted to this blog entry and also the blog author.


GPM is 82k
tmsn is about 120k compiled (afaik), the tarball is about 300k
Pine is about 400k afaik

Deep Thought was wrong. The Answer isn't 42, it's DSL!

2.4.27 - Serial ATA & Knoppix 3.7

I've been using 2.4.27 since I've been using DSL because I have Serial ATA drives. On the forums I wrote 'how to' do this for whoever wants to remaster and insert the 2.4.27 stuff...SATA works like a charm...The problem with 2.4.27 is, the kernel+modules+sysmap are about 34 megs uncompressed...which pushes the compressed size of the 0.9.3 ISO up to just about 53 megs...All in all its not a big deal...I didn't remove any modules or pick anything out with a fine toothed comb...I'm sure there are some more shortcuts we can make...and the 50 meg size constraint isn't a big deal to me in MY endeavours, but in order to keep it at 50 megs for other 2.4.27...I dunno.

Some suggestions from users on IRC:
possibly ship with a set of core modules and provide the other modules
as dsl/deb/tar.gz and a quick guide to using them, since a lot of the modules are for obscure hardware or things that might not otherwise be necessary to get a system up and running off the ground on the net to where they can get these...or make them a DSL extension...Well, to that I said, what if the modules had to be loaded at start time...they'd be on another media? How would the kernel know what to look for where to find, without manually modprobing them...Sigh...we'll figure something out. And then I said, LETS REMOVE THE ISDN KERNEL MODULES :) AND SAVE 2 MEGS!

I too agree that a Knoppix 3.7 base would benefit, but, the work I believe has already been done for 1.0rc except a few minor things...
tronik @ #damnsmalllinux irc.freenode.net

Firefox Readability

You can quickly overcome the readability issue in Firefox by holding down the Ctrl key and rolling the mouse wheel. You'll see the type get bigger (or smaller) when you roll the wheel.

Not necessarily

(just as a warning/note, it's 3 in the morning, had too many scotches, and this is my first post on the blog) ; )

I agree with cbagger (well, as far as I read, sorry!), new themes etc. aren't necessarily bloat, there's a hell of a lot that can be improved without adding bloat, an in many cases it can be reduced. Good interface design is usually clean, simple, and to the point. "Eyecandy" does not necessarily mean bloat. A nice, clean theme with, if necessary, an optimised bg image, can really change the look and feel of the distro (not that the current default "simple" theme is bad or big). I personally think probably half of the desktop icons could be removed without losing any functionality - in fact, I think it could greatly improve it. If it's not a major thing, like firefox, control panel, terminal etc., then it doesn't need to be on the desktop - it's readily available on the menu anyway.
The key here is making it look good, and increasing useability, whilst keeping or even decreasing the total file size. Optimisation. OT, it's like Flash. So many people think Flash means huge files for useless animation, whereas if it's done right, it can have all the interaction you need in filesizes smaller than practically any other image format available.

Sorry. Babbling. Bed good. Computer bad....
PS. I virtually never check the blog, so sorry if it looks like I ignore any replies... I'll try to remember...

PPS. Half a meg is huge. No way in hell should any theme and icon set take up even a tiny percentage of that. If it does, someone needs to be shot! ; )

Quit yer whinin..

While there IS an interest in improving the look of DSL for the thousands of users, the hundreds of new inquirers, and the dozens of reviewers, I didn't hear anything about using up a meg of space for themes just to raise the hackles of a six-pack of youngsters, unless you have seen a different version of the RC1 than I am reviewing.

I think your putting the cart before the horse if you think that themes are filling the gap between DSL's size now, and it's limit.
Existing fonts are being used, to eliminate adding baggage, and
many of the existing themes are being dropped to make available room..

There is still a wealth of space available in the DSL distro for some additions, after it is seen that none of the "purged" items are needed to be reinserted.. While Mutt, GPM and tmsn WOULDN'T BE MY choices for additions, The space will be used for things that can't be made into an extension, like kernel upgrades, or grub, or others..
( I'd personally like to see more tools like dosfs, dvdrtools, nfs server support,(exports), and other more obscure things like better font support.. Grub looks promising..)

While I know of a select few that spend their time on other projects , that could benefit from the apps mentioned before, most of us don't, as a rule, use those for our everyday activities..( or feel wanting for them .)

Of course, you can simply ADD them to your custom DSL build,
like I do.. then share your solution with others...

Or, you can whine in the blogs about things that simply aren't true..


Have your cake and eat it too

How about a secondary distrubition for the graphics hounds - on a 8cm CD. That gives plenty of functionality (150 - 200 Mb disc) at the cost of disc size. Call it KSL Kinda Small Linux

In the meantime, improve the extra packages and the cd-remastering; then Build Your Own Custom DSL with whatever you want in the 50Mb.