Local Startup Documentation

From DSL Wiki

This is the local documentation that pops up every time you run DSL or open Dillo.


DSL comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by applicable law.

Where is the Start Button?

The Start Button is just a way to bring up a contextual menu. In DSL:

  • just right click anywhere on the desktop, then navigate the menus as usual.
  • in JWM, you can also use the DSL button in the bottom left corner of the screen.

If you decide not to select anything or want the menu to go away, then left click on the desktop away from the menu. Enjoy exploring your new system.

Connecting To The Net

DSL may have you connected to the internet automatically. Try it first. If it doesn't work out, use a DSL tool tailored to your connection type:

If you have broadband and a router that assigns your IP adress via DHCP you shouldn't have to configure anything. If not, tweak your network card settings:

  • For physical connections (a cable attached to your computer), try netconfig: open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->netcardconf.
  • For wireless connections (802.11b, 802.11g, etc), try iwconfig: open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->iwconfig.

If you have a dialup modem, or your ISP requires a login, then:

  1. Configure your dial-up settings: open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->dial-up PPP->config. Follow the on-screen prompts, and remember the name you give to your configuration (!).
  2. To dial in, enter your dial-up configuration name (from the previous step), and click dial.
  3. When finished, just click hangup.

If you have PPPoE:

  1. Configure your PPPoE settings: open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->DSL/PPPoE->PPPoEconf. Follow the on-screen prompts.
  2. To connect, open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->DSL/PPPoE->pon
  3. To disconnect, open the DSL menu and select Setup->Net Setup->DSL/PPPoE->poff

How to Print

Setting up your printer takes two steps. First, configure Apsfilter for your printer. Second, turn on the printer service/daemon. You can do these two things from either the DSL Control Panel or the DSL Menu.

If you have more questions, consider reading the walkthrough on setting up Apsfilter.

To set up your printer via the Control Panel:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Select Printer Setup from the Control Panel. Follow the prompts to install and test your printer.
  3. Select Printing/Lpd from the Control Panel. This will turn on the printer service/daemon.

OR to set up your printer via the DSL Menu:

  1. Open the Menu
  2. Select System->Printing/lpd->configure. Follow the on-screen prompts to test and install Apsfilter.
  3. Select System->Printing/lpd->start from the menu. This will turn on the printer service/daemon.

After setting up Refer to the Apsfilter howto for information on backing up your printer settings (Live, USB, Frugal installs), and automatically starting the print daemon on bootup.

Как печатать Во-первых, настройте свой принтер с помощью System->Printing/lpd->configure. Следуйте инструкциям на экране, для того чтобы найти и установить драйвер принтера. После установки, вы должны перезапустить службу печати. Выберите System->Printing/lpd->start

What's A Daemon?

A daemon is a process that provides services in the background; DSL provides several. Navigate to System->Daemons to see the list. There is an SSH server which provides a secure way to login and/or copy files to and from your DSL machine. NFS, network file system allows you to mount directories that may be provided to you from an NFS server. DSL also provides a complete web server (The Monkey Web Server). All the web server files are located in /opt/monkey directory. You need to access it as the super user root.

What About Windows?

DSL includes smbtree and smbclient programs. Smbclient works similar to an FTP program. The Windows share name must be specified with the forward slash character "/" even though one usually uses the backslash "\" character.

Use smbtree to display which computer names are available. Then to connect use:

smbclient //computername/sharename -U username

At the smb: prompt type help. The usual dir, get, put, mget, mput and exit commands work like an ftp program.

Cut and Paste

To cut and paste in Linux:

  1. highlight the source text with the left mouse button
  2. press the middle button to paste in the destination

If you have a two button mouse, paste by pressing the left and right button together (L+R = Middle). Cutting and pasting takes a little practice, but it is very efficient once you get used to it.

Saving Your Configuration

After setting up your new system, you will want to save all of your settings. DSL controls backup, restore, and startup settings via a few text files:


.filetool.lst is a text file that lists content to save/restore. In .filetool.lst, files and directories are listed using a full path, one per line. You can use any DSL editor (like Beaver) to change or update .filetool.lst.

By default, DSL backs up the entire /home/dsl directory. You can choose to selectively backup only certain files, but it is important that /home/dsl/.filetool.lst is not removed from the list in .filetool.lst. This provides persistence of .filetool.lst so that it can be updated as desired.


DSL can also exclude files from the backup. /home/dsl/.xfiletool.lst lists off files to exclude. Adding entries to this file will leave them aside from the backup. The default exclude list includes the cache and other unnecessary files.

Restoring and Setting Backup Source

Your backup will be automatically searched for and restored during boot up. You can override this by using the restore= argument at the boot prompt:


Where hdaX is the drive containing your backup (possibly hda1, sda2, etc.).

You can also choose your backup device via the Control Panel (Backup/Restore) or DSL menu (System->Backup/Restore). This is useful for users with no usb pen drives or the desire not to use such. If you do override the default, don't forget to set your backup source on the boot line (use restore as above).

Automatic Startup

DSL has a few tools to help produce your preffered startup environment. .xinitrc lists programs that automatically start after X Windows begins. You can also start non-Window programs by editing .bash_profile and then adding .bash_profile to .filetool.lst. You can even load additional modules and system-specific or required files by editing /opt/bootlocal.sh (and then adding it to your filetoool.lst).

Administrator / SuperUser / Root

Linux assigns 'usage rights' to users. Sometimes a low-level user will temporarily need high level rights (for example, when working with system files).

In DSL, the highest level user is called root. To temporarily get root privileges and run a specific command (run a command as root), just precede the command with the word sudo. For example:

       sudo dsl-hdinstall

To become the super user for awhile use:

       sudo su

Be careful, however. You should not habitually run your system as root because you can unwittingly damage system files and settings.

Installing to Hard Drive

Although DSL was designed to be the best LiveCD, especially when run with the "toram" option, many users will still want to install to their hard drives. Be aware that DSL is a work-in-progress and that there are currently no plans to have updates to be applied to debian-type hard drive-installed systems. Each new version would require reinstallation. This is not the case with the frugal-type hard drive installs, as they are easily upgradable from version to version.

If you are planning to install and co-exist with Microsoft Windows, then note that these versions will want to write the Master Boot Record (MBR). This may not work well with newer versions of Microsoft Windows.

Frugal Type HD Install

A "frugal" type install mirrors the operation of the LiveCD. It installs the compressed filesystem and associated boot files onto a pre-prepared partition of your choice on your hard drive.

The frugal install offers you a choice of two bootloaders, lilo or grub.

This method offers many benefits to you over the typical linux hard drive install:

  • Use of the extension repository for adding applications, which are designed to run in the frugal/liveCD environment.
  • Much easier upgrade path, without needing to reinstall from scratch.
  • Use of the 'toram' option, while still operating from a hard drive type device. This offers you the maximum performance in DSL, by running your entire OS in ramspace, but getting the load performance and speed the hard drive offers (requires 128MB RAM).
  • Most of all other boottime options are available to you, like persistent home and opt directories, autoloading of applications, setting fresh passwords, encrypting/decrypting your backups, unique hostname, and autorestore/backup of your personal files and settings at boottime and shutdown.
  • You can easily revert back to a pristine install condition, this feature is also applicable to uninstall any extension.

Steps needed:

  • Create a 50MB Linux partition with cfdisk (ex. hda2)
  • Right-click on the desktop, navigate to Apps->Tools->Frugal Install and select your choice of Frugal-Grub or Frugal-Lilo. This will make a ext2 file system and copies the necessary portions of the CD to it.
  • You can also bootup the DSL CD with the bootcode option "install" , and you will be presented with all the install options in a menu format.

Debian Type HD Install

The version supports US-english language only; it is based on knx-hdinstall. A lot of improvements are waiting to be back-imported from knx-hdinstall when time comes....

The hd installation boots with your choice of grub or lilo and feels similiar to the cd version. Meaning, hardware auto detection still runs and also "pick_your_resolution_in_here" pops up...

Steps needed:

  • Create a 250-300MB Linux partition with cfdisk (ex. hda2)
  • Right-click on the desktop, navigate to Apps->Tools->Install to Hard Drive.
  • You can also bootup the LiveCD, with the bootcode option "install" , and you will be presented with an option for creating the hard drive install.
  • Select a premade linux partition (ex. hda2). This will make a linux file system and copies the CD to it. You can choose from an ext2 or ext3 type format. A couple of specific changes are made after that (see end of script).
  • You will be prompted to choose either the lilo or grub bootloader.
  • You will be prompted to choose to reboot the computer.

After reboot, the system comes up automatically as booted from cd. You will be prompted to enter a password for root. You must pick a password of at least 5 characters. Then enter it again to verify that it is what you want. Then you will be prompted to do the same procedure for user "dsl". Pick another password and enter it, then re-enter it. The system will then proceed to a regular login.

This is a minimal install, using "busybox" for most base utilities. To 'enhance' your install to more closely mirror a true debian system, read below for how-to install the real gnu-utilities and debian apt package management (recommended).

The hard drive installation scripts should be used at your own risk.

GNU/Linux & Debian Compatibility

To make your DSL system more fully GNU compatible, from the system menu select Apps->Tools->Upgrade to GNU Utils. This will replace the "busybox" used in the base system to the full power of the GNU versions, by installing a special system extension named "gnu-utils.dsl". Then for a Debian compatible system, select Apps->Tools->Enable Apt. This option will then allow full use of the Debian Package Management System and Synaptic, by installing the "dsl-dpkg.dsl" system extension.

myDSL - Seamless Extensions for DSL

Now liveCD users can easily extend DSL without the complicated re-mastering process. myDSL currently offers two ways to extend DSL.

The first method is to separate out the static parts of your ".filetool.lst". A good example is your custom settings of printer, modem, wireless connections, etc. These entries can easily be sorted out into your own myconf.tar.gz. In fact any application that runs on the unmodified liveCD can now be handled in this fashion.

Your second choice is to download some from our selection of pre-configured DSL applications. These are designated with the .dsl, .uci, or .tar.gz file extensions.

All of these types of "modules" or "plugins" can easily be saved onto external media, such as a hard drive partition, a USB pendrive, or even on the root directory of the CD-ROM.

For extensions that are copied onto external media, there is a new boot time option. For example:

  • a USB pendrive would use mydsl=sda1
  • a hard drive partition would use mydsl=hda2

The best news is that when a new version of DSL comes out, you don't have to do anything to keep your myDSL apps.

For those extensions that are copied onto the CD-ROM, the boot process seamlessly restores your favorite apps. The size of your myDSL is your choice, you can have a 64MB, 128MB, 210MB, or even all the way up to 700MB myDSL CD-ROM. DSL is the keystone to myDSL. When a new version of DSL comes out, just copy your additional applications to the root directory of the CD-ROM. There is no more need to redo a custom remaster to get your favorite applications on the live CD -- no more time consuming uncompressing, chroot'ing process, or accidentally making "coasters". There is even a mkmydsl script to help you make your "myDSL" CD-ROM.

New starting with 0.7.1 is the optional directory. Create this directory on the root directory of the cdrom or external media. Place your .dsl and .tar.gz files into the optional directory for those applications that you do not wish to have automatically loaded. These would be the resource intense applications. myDSL will still generate an installation menu for easy installation.

Also new are .uci compressed iso files. These provide much savings of your RAM disk and "load up" very quickly. Now run OpenOffice on lower resource machines than with the RAM disk based .dsl format.

Also available is the gnu-utils.dsl module that will allow liveCD users to have access to the full standard GNU Utilites.

For Debian packages, copy them into the optional directory. Also add the "dsl-dpkg.dsl" to have the Debian Package Management files restored. Then use the dpkg -i /path_to_deb_package to install under your control. Note: Using .deb files will use substantially more of your RAM disk.

The Store

If you are a fan of DSL and want to support our efforts consider buying items at our store. All proceeds go back into supporting this project and its developers.

The End

Congratulations, if you reach this, then you know the basics of DSL use! If you don't want this help page to start each time boot DSL, then:

  1. Open .xinitrc in any editor (like Beaver)
  2. Comment out the dillo line. Just add a hash # like this:
     #dillo /usr/share/doc/dsl/getting_started.html &>/dev/null & #this code is disabled b/c of the hash ...