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Interview with Damn Small Linux

this weeks Distrowatch Weekly have interviewed Robert Shingledecker and John Andrews from Damn Small Linux on life, DSL and the new DSL-Not!
Read it here


DW: After hearing about the alpha release of DSL-N, my first reaction was: why? What prompted this development?

RS: Trying to support both old and new(er) hardware had become a real challenge. Also the 50MB limit has always been a challenge. But a very worthwhile one.

Going to a new kernel and modules would mean losing some support for the older machines. In fact, we tried a kernel 2.4.31 release dropping some support for older machines, but picking up support for some newer ones (e.g., SATA support). What we ended up with was not pleasing anyone! John and I decided that to best support the old and the new(er) hardware we should have a separate offering. Hence, DSL-N.

JA: Improving DSL is an enormous challenge. We are still making incremental improvements, but it is like trying to canoe against a heavy stream. Our 50MB size limit puts us at odds with code bloat which is coming at us from every direction. Open source software, like closed source software, is fattening up like a 12-year-old boy with unlimited access to pizza, ice cream, and an Xbox 360.

DSL is a functional and portable Linux distribution. It needs to be able to run on a vast amount of hardware, yet have a desktop with enough functionality to satisfy Robert, myself, and our user base. That means we need a robust kernel with extensive modules, and we need to squeeze in as much desktop functionality as possible.

Here is the thing… unless there is a new push in code efficiency, we are reaching the top of our game with DSL in terms of applications. Yes, we know there are other small distributions that pack in more robust applications into a similar size. We could go that route, but what good is a mini-distribution that fails to run on half the hardware out there? DSL is bowing out of that race; we have our own agenda.

DSL-N is our response to those who want heavier software in a small package. Frankly, having a 50MB limit in an environment that uses GTK2 applications, a 2.6 Kernel, and has good hardware support is a contradiction in terms. That's why DSL-N will be small, but we are not setting any hard limit.

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