Sunday, June 26, 2005

Experimenting, results went well

I did some experimentation with DSL (also known as DamnSmall Linux) over the weekend. First of all, I played around with a Live CD of DSL that I had created and briefly used a few months ago, perhaps several months ago. It ran very well, but I was hoping for some newer applications. So I tried an experiment.

First, I installed DSL to disk instead of running from Live CD. That went well. Since DSL is so small in size anyway, it only took minutes to install to disk, including reformatting the existing disk partition.

Next, I ran the software from disk. It ran well, almost as well (but not quite) as it runs from RAMdisk and faster than it runs directly from the slower CD.

I created a few user accounts. That feature worked well. I went into the passwd and group files to make sure that my new accounts had the same group and system accessibility as the default dsl account.

With that all successfully set up, then I went out and changed the apt/sources.lst file to point at the testing sources (etch) instead of the oldstable sources (Woody). That doesn't work by itself on this system because there is only one repository activated, the oldstable (Woody) binaries. Insstead, you also have to change the preferences file to specify testing instead of oldstable. Once I did that, I was able to do a dist-upgrade from Woody to Testing, and it worked great.

Just prior to installing Woody, I added a few of my favorite applications to DSL. When I did the dist-upgrade (using the easy graphical tool, synaptic), I not only got an upgrade to the applications and libraries used by the original DSL system, I also got my newly installed packages upgraded to the testing versions, which was ALSO what I wanted to do.

DSL does a nice job of providing both Debian packages and custom packages, both of which work well.

If you have a somewhat aging system, give DSL a try. It is easy on resources and fast on a four year old system.

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