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Damn Small Linux Release Makes a Comeback After 16 Long Years

Damn Small Linux 2024 makes a return!

Damn Small Linux (DSL) is a name that we haven't heard for quite some time now, with a very low-key announcement, the developers have unveiled a new release in the form of DSL 2024.

Based on the antiX 23 release, DSL is leveraging one of the best lightweight distributions out there for providing a unique experience in a sea of Debian-based and Fedora-based distros.

If you haven't heard of DSL, it used to be a very compact distro that was just 50 MB in size, but that has now changed to better accommodate the current state of computing. Don't worry, this is still a great option for older computers with humble specifications.

Interestingly, the last major release of DSL came back in 2008! So, let's see what this release has to offer. 😃

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We tried out the Alpha version of DSL, don't consider it to be the final version you'll get.

Damn Small Linux 2024: What to Expect?

a screenshot of damn small linux 2024 alpha neofetch output

Introduced as an alpha release, DSL 2024 features Linux kernel 5.10 and Debian 12 'Bookworm' at its core thanks to the antiX base that it uses. It is offered with two window managers, Fluxbox and JWM, with apt being fully enabled by default for easy package installations.

All of that has resulted in a considerable increase in the ISO size for DSL that now stands at around 700 MB (698.13 MB to be precise), one of the developers cited that:

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.

And I agree with that, pulling off something that is so compact is quite tricky to do nowadays, with only a select few ables to do that while also providing a decent desktop experience.

Off the top of my head, the likes of Puppy Linux, EasyOS, and Tiny Core are the options that I can recommend to someone if they were looking for a compact Linux distro.

To get to this number, the lead developer had to do plenty of research to find applications with a low storage footprint, limit the language options, remove a bunch of source code, man pages, documentation and what not.

In line with that, the new goal of DSL is now to provide as much of a usable desktop experience as possible that can fit on a single CD with a hard limit of 700 MB. The developers intend DSL to cater to older computers, letting them be usable for as long as possible.

a screenshot of damn small linux 2024 alpha with a few applications open

With what short usage I did, the Fluxbox window manager seemed to perform really well, there were many themes to choose from; the desktop was also quite snappy, even when running on a virtual machine using Virtual Box on Ubuntu.

The application suite is quite extensive too, with the following highlights:

  • zzzFM, as the file manager.
  • mtPaint, for graphics editing.
  • BadWolf, the default web browser.
  • Tmux, as the terminal multiplexer.

For more details on the other apps, and changes with this new release of DSL, you may head over to the official website.

📥 Get Damn Small Linux 2024

At the time of writing, only the Alpha ISOs were made available on the official downloads page. It is only a matter of time before we get a stable release.

If you have any doubts regarding the distro, then you can head over to the DSL forums.

💬 Let me know what you think of this comeback by DSL!

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