Damn Small Linux (DSL) Forums

Damn Small Linux => User Feedback => Topic started by: mkarcz on May 07, 2013, 05:02:50 AM

Title: Small DSL computer to run my hobby projects.
Post by: mkarcz on May 07, 2013, 05:02:50 AM

I am a programmer during the day and digital electronics/retro-computing hobbyist at night.
My first contact with DSL happened some 10 years ago. I did not think of it much then.
It impressed me that it could be booted up from 2 3.5" disks (even from one when squeezed), which I used to resurrect an old 386-SX PC. Flash memory sticks weren't that popular and reliable back then.
Long years passed, 2 children were born and I am back to my tinkering with anything CPU, 8-bit retro or just old.
One of my 1st projects after resurrecting my sentiments toward 8-bit microprocessors was a LED Matrix Scrolling Board with 8052 microcontroller:


Not yet a DSL, but getting there, so bear with me.
When I tried to invent some practical use for my contraption, I decided it would be a News Headlines Prompter in my geek cave.
But my contraption did not have a network interface (just RS232) nor advanced scripting capabilities. I was thinking Arduino (but learning curve too wide - at the time I did not play with Arduino yet) or another contraption. Then I decided I would cheat and came up with this:


Now this thing is also my backup and file server as well. I love it. Very reliable and almost maintenance free (sometimes I need to fix stuff I myself break).
Maybe this is not much by the  Linux world standards, nevertheless I am impressed and proud of these stats:

dsl@box:/opt$ uptime
 00:26:33 up 207 days,  3:02, load average: 0.04, 0.01, 0.00

I hope I will reach a year without stopping this thing. I must login to it from time to time just to remind myself how to use it :-), since it is just a configure, run and forget type of system. My DSL runs without any keyboard or display, no X-windows/GUI. Just bare minimum. I login to it via network or RS232 port.
It boots from a USB flash drive. Has another USB flash drive as a temporary storage and two 2TB hard drives connected: one on the SATA running with the computer (file server, temporary backup) and one via USB turned on only for a permanent backup that runs every 3 months.

Title: Re: Small DSL computer to run my hobby projects.
Post by: AE7XQ on October 24, 2014, 04:31:33 AM

You started this topic over a year ago. I don't feel comfortable bumping an old thread like this, but I would like to ask how this project worked out. Were you able to keep your system running non-stop for a year without having to shutdown? I am curious as I am setting up a system for use in controlling a 440 MHz repeater. I would like to know how long I can run my system unattended before I have to log in and do anything administrative. I thank you for your time and consideration.

To other members, I would like to say "I'm sorry" for bumping this. However, my question was in regards to the original post and thus most appropriate here.

Title: Re: Small DSL computer to run my hobby projects.
Post by: fatmac on October 25, 2014, 09:32:40 AM
The OP only has one post recorded, so I wouldn't hold your breath. :lol:

Regarding the 'up time' of Linux, you can count it in years, but it would be advisable to check it occasionally.

Title: Re: Small DSL computer to run my hobby projects.
Post by: mkarcz on January 06, 2015, 07:31:56 PM

Time to update my DSL experience status.
The original machine I ran DSL on (see my original post, it was my Samba/backup server and LED Matrix News Headlines Prompter) died last year (motherboard). I could not buy identical mobo and DSL unfortunately was not compatible with my new mobo: CDC-1/D2550, which is a nice low power 2-core Atom (1.86 GHz) processor, fan-less with 2GB of RAM. DSL did not like my SATA controller, otherwise I could get DSL running on it with network and everything. I tried Puppy Linux, but for some reason Puppy also did not like SATA on my mobo (disks were disappearing) therefore I ended up installing Ubuntu Server 12.04 and that works great so far. This does not mean I stopped using DSL! I have a small PC/104 standard single board computer, with 300MHz CPU and 256 MB of RAM equipped with Compact Flash card socket which is great for DSL. I installed DSL on a 128 MB Compact Flash card. System boots from it and runs from RAM, leaving still about 50 MB of storage space on tha CF card. I added 4GB usb pen drive as a storage and I setup 256 MB swap file on that pen drive (I experienced some crashes related to insufficient memory when opening big PDF files and such). The system has this retro look and feel to it, which I love and I use it with GUI and keyboard/mouse/display attached as a little client workstation and it works great. I installed smbfs and I am able to mount Samba shares from my Ubuntu Server. I am not yet sure what will be the designation of this little SB computer, but with multiple old fashioned serial/parallel ports and PC/104 expansion socket it is great for driving hobby electronics projects. I installed gcc compiler so I can create my own software directly on the platform, not to mention DSL already has a lot of scripting tools and with Unix style flexibility of Linux it is an awesome hobby platform, just like Raspberry Pi.


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