Archive for the ‘dslcore’ Category

From Search Engine Referrals: What is Zero Day and Use TinyCore Instead of DSL

August 9, 2009

I’ve written before how sometimes I see things in my stats that interest me for some reason. Sometimes it appears to be a sign of frustration (search engine terms including profanity) or a subject which I either haven’t addressed or haven’t explained in some detail.


This caught my eye this afternoon. A “zero-day” exploit means a vulnerability is already available (and usually being exploited) in the wild without any kind of warning or notice to the developer of a certain piece of software. It’s most unfortunate because such things are discovered reactively. In contrast, many security experts will disclose vulnerabilities to developers and give them adequate time to patch before going public with details. The disclosure of the DNS cache poisoning vulnerability affecting all operating systems last year is an example of the latter — Dan Kaminsky worked behind the scenes with a team of developers from different operating systems to find a solution before announcing to the world what he’d found. So “zero-day” means there’s no head’s up about a problem, and more often than not someone is already actively (ab)using it.

Also, to anyone who’s interested in Damn Small Linux on a netbook like the Aspire One, forget about it. For starters, it’s no longer under active development. Then there’s the whole problem with various drivers for new devices not in Linux 2.4 at all. So you’re looking at big dead ends right there. Finally, given the number of people who demand aesthetically-pleasing interfaces, you’re going to have the tiny X server in DSL compressing 1024×768 into 1024×600; the result is a squished-looking screen. There’s at least one full X server extension in MyDSL.

A better solution if you want a similar concept as DSL but more modular is to use TinyCore (if you can live with the aforementioned squishy screen) or MicroCore with one of the X extensions (if you want graphics). TinyCore is developed by a team with strong DSL ties (at one time it was called DSLCore). Your AA1 or other netbook will be much better supported with TinyCore. It’s not as easy to configure but it’s not too difficult if you read the documentation.

Trimming Initial Resource Drain in DSL

July 8, 2008

This is using the stock DSL 2.4.31 kernel, which is more bloated than my custom per-machine kernels.

Before ensuring extraneous processes aren’t started and extraneous modules aren’t loaded at boot:

Actually, that’s with ntfs and reiserfs removed from /etc/filesystems and (to make damn sure) modprobe -r for each in (DSL’s rc.local hack, made necessary by the fact /etc is ro in a live CD environment — another thing that makes it kind of quirky as a traditional hard drive install). So it was even a little higher — 15 or 16 MB — before with bash and 14 with mksh as my shell.

Now I’m only loading ext2/3-related modules along with vfat and msdos (which are small but I could also trim because I have maybe two ZIP disks that are FAT and the rest are ext2, which is my “shared” filesystem between Linux and BSD). I also have made sure reiserfs and ntfs can’t load by default or during one of hotplug-knoppix’ crazy freaking shotgun module loads. I also found a hefty module that loads by default that my hardware doesn’t require. Here’s the result a minute or so after boot and starting X (using ratpoison):

I know it’s only 4MB trimmed but that’s nearly a 50% reduction and boot time is a little faster with some of the changes I’ve made. I will update the page for DSL hard drive reconfiguration as soon as I get a chance.

Speaking of which, this might be my last DSL HD entry on this blog. I’m leaning towards setting up one frugal install for 4.x and dslcore and reclaiming a few GB. I’m deliberating over what to do with my computers and right now I think I’m either setting everything back up on BSD or a combination of BSD on the ground and Linux in the air (i.e., laptop) at least until I get another wifi card or more improvements are made to the OpenBSD bwi driver (4.4 is now beta and WPA has been added for bwi — one of my criteria). My opposition towards the bloat inflicted upon users by most binary packaging systems is leading me back to thinking ports are best for me. Using something like pkgsrc on one computer will allow me to compile and distribute as-I-see-fit packaged binaries to the rest of them.

dslcore Introduced to the World

June 30, 2008

Robert Shingledecker released the first alpha cut of dslcore, a kernel 2.6-based development base. Final determination of its roadmap, especially with respect to extensions, is pending community involvement. This project is separate from DSL, which will continue to be 2.4-based and will still be developed and updated.

It’s important to note dslcore isn’t a newbie-friendly release. It’s a minimal Linux environment with a kernel, tiny X (kdrive), jwm, fltk, busybox, dropbear (minimal ssh), lua (with certain unnamed fltk bindings — wink, wink), and scripts from DSL and some of Robert’s new ideas. It’s stripped way down (9MB ISO) and not particularly useful as it exists. It has no roots in Knoppix or Debian like DSL does.