Damn Small Linux 2024


**News: Alpha 2 Now Available**

The New DSL 2024 has been reborn as a compact Linux distribution tailored for low-spec x86 computers. It packs a lot of applications into a small package. All the applications are chosen for their functionality, small size, and low dependencies. DSL 2024 also has many text-based applications that make it handy to use in a term window or TTY.

DSL 2024 currently only ships with two window managers: Fluxbox and JWM. Both are lightweight, fairly intuitive, and easy to use.

DSL has three X-based web browsers:

  • BadWolf (light, security-oriented, fully HTML5 compatible)
  • Dillo (super-light GUI browser)
  • Links2 (text and light GUI browser)

For office applications, DSL has:

  • AbiWord word processor
  • Gnumeric spreadsheets
  • Sylpheed email client
  • Zathura PDF viewer

For multimedia applications:

  • MPV (video and audio)
  • XMMS (a lightweight audio player)

Other applications:

  • mtPaint (graphics editing)
  • gFTP (FTP, SFTP, and SCP)
  • Leafpad (quick editing)
  • zzzFM (file manager lifted straight out of antiX)

There are three GUI-based games picked because they are fun and relatively light.

DSL 2024 is also loaded up with a whole bunch of handy term-based applications:

  • Ranger file manager
  • VisiData a powerful CSV and spreadsheet tool
  • FZF fuzzy finder
  • Tmux terminal multiplexer
  • Mutt email client
  • Cmus music player
  • CDW CD burner
  • Htop, an interactive process viewer
  • SurfRaw (with wrapper) to search from the term
  • Weather App
  • MPV video/audio player with wrapper
  • Vim and Nano for editing
  • Five term-based games
  • Two term-compatible web browsers: W3M and Links2
  • ...and much more

Why make a new DSL after all these years?

Creating the original DSL, a versatile 50MB distribution, was a lot of fun and one of the things I am most proud of as a personal accomplishment. However, as a concept, it was in the right place at the right time, and the computer industry has changed a lot since then. While it would be possible to make a bootable Xwindows 50MB distribution today, it would be missing many drivers and have only a handful of very rudimentary applications. People would find such a distribution a fun toy or something to build upon, but it would not be usable for the average computer user out of the gate.

Meanwhile, in 2024, nearly everyone has abandoned the sub-700MB size limit to run on computers old enough to not have a DVD and cannot boot off of a USB drive. This is completely understandable because applications, the kernel, and drivers have all mushroomed in their space requirements. Hats off to Puppy Linux for staying one of the few that still offer a full desktop environment in a small size.

The new goal of DSL is to pack as much usable desktop distribution into an image small enough to fit on a single CD, or a hard limit of 700MB. This project is meant to service older computers and have them continue to be useful far into the future. Such a notion sits well with my values. I think of this project as my way of keeping otherwise usable hardware out of landfills.

As with most things in the GNU/Linux community, this project continues to stand on the shoulders of giants. I am just one guy without a CS degree, so for now, this project is based on antiX 23 i386. AntiX is a fantastic distribution that I think shares much of the same spirit as the original DSL project. AntiX shares pedigree with MEPIS and also leans heavily on the geniuses at Debian. So, this project stands on the shoulders of giants. In other words, DSL 2024 is a humble little project!

Though it may seem comparably ridiculous that 700MB is small in 2024 when DSL was 50MB in 2002, I’ve done a lot of hunting to find small footprint applications, and I had to do some tricks to get a workable desktop into the 700MB limit. To get the size down, the ISO only has en_US, en_BG, en_CA, and en_AU locales enabled, and I had to strip the source codes, many man pages, and documentation out. I do provide a download script that will restore all the missing files, and so far, it seems to be working well.

Unlike the original DSL, this version has apt fully enabled. So if there is anything you feel is missing, it is very simple to get it installed. I also made an effort to leave as much of the antiX goodness enabled as possible. However, it must be said that DSL is a derivative work but also a reductive work. Some things from antiX may be broken or missing. If you find a bug, it is likely my fault.

Thank you section:

Thank you Debian and antiX for doing all the heavy lifting.

Thank you ToggleBox.com for VPS Hosting

Thank you GPedde at DeviantArt for the beautiful wallpaper.

Thank you to my wife Jen, of JensFindings, for patient support while I tinker with old computers.

Finally, thank you to the users of DSL for your feedback and support.