I’ve been playing around with Parallels at home lately, and while I really like having a linux box at my disposal without having to reboot, having a major KDE-based distro is pretty to look at, but takes up a lot of system resources.

As my needs are pretty simple, I wanted to try a few different distros to compare and contrast, and also to learn more about being a linux SA. My exploits with SUSE 10.2 are scattered throughout this blog, but I’ll summarize here that I truly love openSUSE 10.2, and it is my distro of choice on my work production box, but tends to be a tad bloated when run as a virtual machine.

My needs were simple:
Internet Client
Email Client
Ability to run the LAMPP () server suite
Install and run the Generic Mapping Tools
Install and run the R Statistical Software package

Enter Damn Small Linux

Damn Small
At just under 50MB, DSL is exactly that, Damn Small! I downloaded the iso and burned it to a CD. I created a 8GB virtual machine in Parallels with 1500MB available memory. My machine specs are in the footnote, but Parallels has a recommended memory allotment based on your machine capabilities. I set the boot order to be CDROM first, threw in the DSL disk and hit go.

The installer is pretty spartan, and while I won’t go through the nuts and bolts of it here, it was fairly easy for me as a quasi-intermediate linux SA. At the boot screen if you hit enter you get the live CD, so I typed in “install” and hit enter. One odd thing for here is that unless I missed something, you are then immediately taken to the install page. Did I mention that the installer is completely text based? DSL wants your disk already partitioned, which I figured out the hard way. I hit exit on the boot screen and got dropped down to the terminal, where I set up 2 partitions with fdisk, 1GB for /swap, and the rest for /. I then rebooted the machine and got back to the install screen. I then chose a hard drive install (option 3) and pointed the installer to hda1, which was my / partition. I chose to have a multiuser install (if you don’t choose the multiuser option you are automatically logged in as user “dsl” every time), and chose the default ext3 file system. About two minutes later it was installed! I was prompted to choose a boot loader (I chose Grub) and then I had to reboot and do some configs. You are first prompted to set the root password, and then the password for user dsl. I then had to setup the X server. I chose the Xvesa server as this is a pretty new machine. Last I chose 1024×768 with 24 but resolution and let dsl choose the dpi and all was well. The only thing I messed up here was that I chose USB mouse (which I have) which did not work when I got into fluxbox. Since the install was so fast I opted for the path of least resistance and completely reinstalled instead of trying to fix things there. On this install I chose ps2 mouse and all was fine.

Next: Post install