rethinking DSL

Forum: User Feedback
Topic: rethinking DSL
started by: John

Posted by John on Dec. 11 2008,00:32
With much thought over the last couple of years (yes years) I've come to the conclusion that the relevancy of having a sub 50MB distribution is diminishing daily.  With this in mind I believe that its time to modify the goals of this distribution.  

Instead of being a fixed size DSL should have a fixed goal, namely, running fast and well on older hardware.  Older needs to be defined; I'm thinking about 10 years old.  This way the target is fixed yet the target capabilities can change with time.  

So, DSL should stay compact, yet grow to give a fuller desktop experience.  Applications should be functional and speedy, yet reliable and usable in today's environment without stressing out older hardware.

Sankarv pointed out that it would be a great advantage to offer both a 2.4 and a 2.6 kernel option.  I think that's a great idea which would allow for the widest amount of hardware compatibility.

I'm concentrating on application and lib updating first, then we'll address  a 2.6 kernel later.  We already have a good  base with the 2.4 kernel.


Okay, so that's the grand plan, now there's a thousand steps to take.  I'd like feedback on applications.  What do you like? What should remain behind?  What's worth modifying?  Keep in mind the goal of running well and speedy on 10 year old hardware.  I think this means no GTK2, if you disagree with me please state your case.

Posted by stunix*com on Dec. 11 2008,01:40
My transition from using and maintaining suse linux and novell networks to hardcore DSL 0.81 hacking was rocky to say the least.  2.6 has so many features required by todays machines sata being a good example.  

I agree with the new way of thinking and the new aims, and doubling the size to 100MB sticks with the damn small point of view and still fits on an 8cm disk.  even so Its still slower than Moores law!     having a limit keeps things clean and efficient.

However I would like to keep the 50mb 4.4.10 type download online as it is time served and polished and works very well for the equipment > 10 years old.  the machine Im on now has a win98 badge on it.  to dump 4X is very Gatesesq.

is it possible to hold on to this along with all the shingldecker code but shift focus to a centilinux?


Posted by chinar85 on Dec. 11 2008,05:54
Won't this affect the time dsl takes to load toram at boot?!
And also limit my operability by hogging more memory in the toram mode?!
I like dsl mainly for its ability to load fully to ram and blitz up my computing from there. I feel that's how an OS gets closest to what it was meant to be in the first place. The INVISIBLE yet omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God of a machine.
This is also the main point I use to advocate it, and from my experience it really works.
I really don't want all that to change.
If anything I would just like it to go toram faster and occupy lesser space in ram while doing so, and yet do all the things anyone (well atleast a power user) would ever want to do with their machine.

Posted by kerry on Dec. 11 2008,09:24
i think you should concentrate around the web browser's, most people come to dsl to try and get a little more life from there old machine. the main thing they want the most is to get on the internet. with this in mind gtk2 and the latest firefox is a nice luxury, other browsers can still be used/installed to support the older systems at the same time. life on line is what people want, gotta have that youtube, so good/latest flash is needed, using online office suites in place of installed programs is a growing trend, being able to check your email straight from the browser. the point is the web browser is the #1 most used application, if it sucks or is not compatible with modern web sites, nothing else matters, they won't use the os.
Posted by skaos on Dec. 11 2008,11:31
Most 10 year old PCs comes with a CRT monitor and the 60 Hz Xvesa refresh rate is a pain on many of them. Please substitute Xvesa with a full X-server which supports 70+ Hz.
Posted by John on Dec. 12 2008,05:20
Thanks for the feedback so far, there is much to consider.  Re toram, I think we could stretch the base a little and still have plenty of RAM on most machines where people use this feature.
Posted by Big_Pc_Man on Dec. 12 2008,16:54
It seems to me there are many diverse users of DSL that use this distro for a variety of reasons. For me it's a good base for a small web server that can be run on legacy hardware. Perhaps one way to figure out what the future direction should be is to use a more formal approach like a poll for new features.
Posted by stunix*com on Dec. 12 2008,22:01
something else pointed out to me on this subject is that many companies, ie Google & Microplop, etc are starting to face towards a web based platform so DSL could be a real alternative in keeping the pc local and saving your own files.
Posted by John on Dec. 19 2008,05:28
I've received some passionate emails urging me to stay with the sub 50MB concept.  I'm going to take some time and think this through.  Meanwhile, I'm all ears if you have suggestions.
Posted by chalbersma on Dec. 19 2008,21:55
Perhaps we should increase the size to 50mb, let's face it no one uses a buisness cd anymore.
Also maybe the target platform could be a p2 with 120 mbs of ram (a $20 ebay computer actually I found up to a p4 for under $20 all with "buy it now" but I digress).
This would make it small enough to cover most computers that don't have anywhere to go and are getting thrown out but giving you enough flexibility to run well on newer hardware (ex. p4 512mb "XP" machine).
Also if the 4.x series is still hosted people with the need for the 2.4 kernel would still have it.
To think about, CRH.

Posted by TTK=Teobromina_Tool_Kit on Dec. 24 2008,21:53
Happy Christmas to everybody!

I welcome a new possible orientation of DSL to netbooks.

I have never used a bussiness card disk; instead, for me it is very useful to bring DSL in an 8 cm miniCD of 210 Mb (or in an 8 cm mini DVD of 1400 Mb along with lots of optional extensions). This is to say that the 'physical' limit of DSL could be perfectly 210 Mb. Then you could include a modern 2.26 series kernel.

The 'old' computers of today (10 - 8 years old) could have, let us say, 450 MHz - 1 GHz and 128 - 256 Mb of RAM (and growing). They are a natural target for DSL, but they have got already the present DSL versions. Another natural target for DSL, and in my opinion the future, are the mini computers or 'netbooks', with about the same CPU speed range (they reduce the speed to enlarge the battery performance by scalling the speed) and barely 500 (or 1000) Mb of RAM. I am presently writting with one of them, in which DSL runs perfectly. But to write here, I cannot run it with DSL. I had to run it with Ubuntu, in order to take profit of the wifi connexion. Some useful programs, like Truecrypt need also a modern kernel... which is not included in the present DSL versions. So I would need a new DSL.

A core DSL could then bear a modern kernel which is good for a netbook, a light desktop as it presently has got, a browser like Firefox or Opera, a very small set of essential apps, a good installer, and Synaptic (to make easy for the unexperienced user to include some other apps), all together sized less than 210 Mb.

The optional extensions are really great. I think they must be maintained as one of the more special characteristics of DSL, and, as it presently occurs, they could be added apart to the core, thus maintaining the size of the distro very small.

*JT. :cool:

Posted by stunix*com on Dec. 26 2008,19:18
@ John, our leader and mentor. :)

I guess we are all stuck on how big it should be so my question is this.

what kind of size is needed just to upgrade the kernel and have a little more room for future development  it should be damn small after all.

I have failed in the last few months to find a supplier of hockey rink 50m cds, i guess they have just lost popularity

64Mb to utilize lots of old flash and cf disks
100m a nice round number to fit on 8cm disks with a few mydsl apps and fits in ram of the lesser endowed machines
180m the size of the majority of 8cm disks
210 to fit on the higher capacity 8cm disks ie Dyson.

100mb gets my vote as it is still damn small and I can still remaster with a few apps and burn to a mini cd.

until we get over this stumbling block we cant know how to plan anything else to go on with.

Posted by Nigadoo on Dec. 29 2008,17:06
Hello all,

Please keep 3.x and 4.x around!  Both of them are very useful.  If once in a blue moon you find it quick, easy and worth giving those two versions a tweak of some kind, bonus!  Otherwise, I'd say their both excellent as is and easy to extend.

As for any new release, I agree with stunix on 64MB if that's big enough.  Otherwise, then whatever size necessary that still leaves us enough room for a decent number of extensions on a 180MB MkMyDSL burn.

Keep up the great work folks!  DSL is a real gem!

Posted by emusan on Dec. 29 2008,18:31
I must agree with Nigadoo and stunix, please keep around 3.x and 4.x. Like Nigadoo said, you may at some point fins some small little program that you want to add into the base distro. I think that 64-180MB would be a good size to grow into, its not as small as the current ones, but still able to fit onto an 8cm disk. I also think that if you do decide to go larger, give it a slightly different name(like dsl-n was), it would help new users getting into it tell the difference between the business card size and the mini-disk sized distro.

Oh and please please please continue to sell the disks, I want to be able to refer my less tech-savvy friends to your store to get their hands on this amazing distro.

Posted by jpma on Jan. 05 2009,09:30
Ladies and gentlemen. This is my first post since I had to wait almost ONE year for approval posting here.

DSL is too large in original format, why have dsl so bloated when you have the excellent mydsl portal ? In my opinion the base dsl package should be kernel + commuincation(ppp, pppoe and eth) together with mydsl software(10mB ?). The users then builds up their own dsl upon taste and needs when internet connection is established, like lego, put the pieces in, no one has to download programs(or package) they never need. Look at your own computer usage, how many of all the softwares do you use, and how many other softwares do you need instead ? DSL is one of few linux that is almost small but still capable. The only version for me is dsl4.2.5 which is the last version where ppp and pppsetup worked(Im running one year old laptop with 3g usb dongle), everything after that is useless to me. Do not follow the main stream linuxes going down the windows path (in to the inevitable bloathole), dsl did and should go their own way, standout.

Thank you for reading, please comment.

Posted by stunix*com on Jan. 07 2009,23:55
i disagree, DSL set out to be a working desktop from 50mb and has successfully grown and slimmed down to include boltons to do a host of other things.  extra space is required to upgrade the kernel to keep up with technology.

if all you want is a base for installing your own apps then this is a bad choice of distro.

Posted by Tobiaus on Jan. 09 2009,08:22
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Posted by Iang on Jan. 14 2009,22:55
I've used DSL on and off for several years. It's small, simple, predictable, but highly capable and has a good selection of efficient & relevant applications & I believe this philosophy should be carried forward.

It seems to me that the current limiting factor is not so much the size of the distro, but the 2.4 kernal, so my desire for the next DSL would be much as it is today, but with the 2.6 kernal.

So how about the next version (DSL 5?) being the current 4.4.10 but with an upgraded kernal. Sure, it will get bigger, but it will start to solve some of the factors which are maybe holding up some progress (wireless networking to name but one). Most importantly, it will still be DSL. From there it can evolve in much the same the same way as it has until now.

Keep it small, keep it efficient, include applications which are best in class for performance and size. Keep is expandable through MyDSL extensions. Above all, keep it DSL.

Posted by UserTwo on Jan. 15 2009,02:20
What attracted me was DSL's small foot print for old systems.  But I could use some tips on finding the correct driver for my ethernet card, Intel EtherExpress Pro/10+ PCLA8220B, and how to install that.  DSL sys stat sees it as <6> isapnp card 'intel pro/10+'  but at exit the console says: Warning: no support enc. ping ing the gateway says 'network unreachable', and sudo pump -s says 'operation failed', I'm a linux newbie, any hints appreciated. tia.
Posted by humpty on Jan. 15 2009,19:19
it's about keeping up with the times.
old hardware = less users and getting less.
new users want something different than the bag full of distros offer.

if you want to be different, think usb, portability, compatibility, usability.

so i can understand why the distro needs to get bigger. but can't understand why the apps can't at least be separated from the base.

with storage being so cheap, something similar to HD install (permanent) but without adding to stuff to the base would be the solution. everything else would have to be part of the base,   so i can understand why it needs to get bigger.

Posted by Tobiaus on Jan. 16 2009,10:11
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