Which File do I download? (long version)

From DSL Wiki

DSL was originally a CD-R disk image file, a 50MB *.iso file , that could be burned to either a normal sized CD-R disk or even one of those small business-card sized CD-R disks. This is still true today.

At some point, the Linux kernel + mini root image file became too large to fit on a normal floppy boot disk, which also means that the original DSL boot loader program, called SYSLINUX, could not be used to make a bootable livecd disk.

Luckily, there is an alternative bootloader, called ISOLINUX, that uses a different way to create a bootable livecd and this restriction is no longer an issue for today's "normal" DSL livecd image dslxxx.iso

HOWEVER, there are some older computers with old BIOSes that don't work properly with ISOLINUX. So the DSL team has created an alternative livecd image that uses the old SYSLINUX bootloader, dslxxx-syslinux.iso In order to make this linux kernel work with SYSLINUX, some newer driver modules were deleted from the mini root in order to make everything fit, which could be a problem for some of the newer computers.

So the rule-of-thumb is:

  • For newer computers (last 5-6 years or so), try the regular dsl.iso
  • For older computers, you may need to use the dsl-syslinux.iso if the regular dsl.iso does not work properly.

Last, but not least, is a version of DSL called "DSL Embedded". This is actually not a livecd but a *.zip file that contains the DSL system and a "Virtual PC" style emulator program called QEMU. The QEMU program can be run from Microsoft Windows or from Linux and it creates a tiny virtual PC inside a software window. It then boots the DSL operating system from inside this virtual computer window. In this way, it is possible to run DSL from within MSWindows. However, because DSL is running on a "fake" computer it does not have direct access to your real hardware and your real hard drive. It also runs MUCH slower than your real computer system. The fake computer runs at least 5-6 times SLOWER than your real computer performance, so it is recommended that you not use it on a computer with less than a 1.0Ghz CPU minimum.