News :: Damn Small Linux 3.0 Review

A puzzling review.  Author is technically competent and seems to understand DSL reasonably well.  However, he seems unable to understand why a Honda Civic (DSL) can't have the same amount of cargo space (applications & eye candy) as a large truck (Knoppix).

Otherwise, he seems to have grasped the DSL philosophy and capabilities fairly well.  Not unfair or inaccurate, just silly to expect Knoppix to be shrunk by over a factor of 10 without compromises.  

Review was linked by  Review conclusion and link, below.  Review site accepts comments.


Damn Small Linux is a very interesting project and it brings an entirely new way to use Linux. If you're always on the move DSL is made for you, may it be in your USB key, as an embedded operating system running under Linux or Windows, or even as a business card Live CD that you carry around within your wallet. The concept is great, it's all about mobility and it works very well. Then come the problems. The default DSL has a poor selection of software, an ugly design and lack good configuration tools. But it's configurable. If you give it a bit of time you can learn how to remaster the CD and use the MyDSL extensions. Then you could potentially make it a really nice distribution, maybe a little bit bigger than the original, but still very interesting.

Review Link

I think it was an honest review, and fair.  I just think the author is accustomed to shiny things with lots of pretty buttons.

I have to disagree with you about his understanding of the philosophy of DSL.  He seems to know DSL's features, but that's about as far as his understanding goes. He is looking at some of the basic strengths of DSL as being shortcomings...the simplicity of the control panel is seen as not intuitive, the selection of applications is seen as poor rather than a minimal starting point, and he put way too much focus on visual appearance.

The most important thing about this review is the fact that he had no complaints about the speed, stability, flexibility, and power of DSL....all gripes were about how it looks and the ease of use (superficial stuff). These are issues that are important to many people who have become tied to the mouse click and the pretty shiny, so these people should be told that DSL is not meant to be particularly pretty or shiny or easy to use.

I think he was thrown off by the 'business card' description.

He expected an 'all-in-one' solution that would satisfy his intended
on-the-go don't-make-me-config-this audience. I would expect something like this from a techy magazine you pick up from the news stands, not linux-forums.

Maybe he should have tried DSL-N ?

The most important thing about this review is the fact that he had no complaints about the speed, stability, flexibility, and power of DSL....all gripes were about how it looks and the ease of use (superficial stuff).

True.  I think most readers will catch the inconsistencies in his review.  Agree about the "shiny things."  He was fair.

To be honest, DSL is not as intuitive as "big distros" for non-power users.  The power is there, but the shiny buttons aren't.

Maybe he should have tried DSL-N ?

Agree, DSL-N is a much easier route for newbies.  More mainstream sorts of apps, simpler menus.  However, DSL-N is easy to miss; much less current interest than DSL.  Disappointing.

Puppy is really the easy mini distro for newbies.  Great docs, largely from the user community.  Like Ubuntu's community, the Puppy community adds a lot of value to the distro.  I hesitate to recommend it, as they always run as root.  I'm old-school and just can't accept that.

DSL has a better security model and better tech, IMO.  However, DSL's users are more experienced and good at self-help, so the docs and examples aren't there for newbies.  Not a criticism, just an observation.

DSL's development priorities made for a distro that is most accessible to more technically proficient users.  When they learn what's under the covers, they fall in love.  Newbies have difficulty seeing it, as the review showed.

I completely agree with what you guys have posted.

A cursory review of DSL will not "get it".
He seems puzzled why we are so popular.
You need to understand the "under the covers" to "get it".

The Wiki (docs) maintenance seems to stall too often.
But then too, dsl keeps moving forward with new features and sometimes it can be hard to keep the docs up.

I have been very busy trying to get dsl-n up to par with the new features of I have put into dsl. dsl-n rc2 is shaping up extremely well.

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