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Training with Damn Small Linux manual reviews the book “DSL — Linux Operating System in Less Than 50 MB” by Mike Weber and have a few reservations about it.

While I admire Weber's work, I also have two personal regrets. My first is the choice of the non-free Flash format for the training movies — viewing these movies requires users to download Flash from the Macromedia site. According to Weber, he researched a great many other movie format options but none “work as well and are as universal as Flash.” But this choice sends a bad message to newcomers to GNU/Linux, placing technical convenience over the freedom that makes all of free software possible. Also — ethical issues aside — my experience shows that the use of proprietary software or formats always turns out the be the wrong solution in the long term.

Second, the DSL CD shipped with the manual is a regular-sized CD, not the credit-card-sized 50MB mini CD DSL is designed to fit in. Though the latter are more expensive, and while not all CD drives are good at handling them, I would have preferred to see each GNU/Linux and DSL newbie fitted with his own wallet-size DSL CD. I never leave home without mine.

With these reservations, which I hope will not apply to future editions of the manual, I can recommend Mike Weber's book to everybody from the first-time DSL user to the experienced sysadmin.

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