Introduction: How to Install Damn Small Linux in a Dell Inspiron 2600

Picture of How to Install Damn Small Linux in a Dell Inspiron 2600

I found myself disgusted with a slow notebook running Windows XP painfully slow. I decided to replace the operating system with a small distribution of Linux. After some searching I picked DSL (Damn Small Linux ). I tried with an embedded iso file in Windows using QEMU and I fell in love with it instantly!
 I was very pleased to be able to work with a fast system again. To start I used another of my computers running Ubuntu and downloaded the bootfloppy.img and the dsl iso file. Using the graphical disk utility, I formatted a a floppy disk and a flash drive.  On a shell I used the dd command at the directory where I saved the files:

dd if=bootfloppy.img of=/dev/fd0 bs=1440

To make the bootable flash drive I used the following command:

dd if=dsl version you downloaded .iso of=/dev/sda1 bs=1024

After I got all my media ready I started to work on the second part of my project: installing DSL in my old notebook.

Step 1: Installing the Operating System

Picture of Installing the Operating System

Then the moment came to install DSL on my hard drive. I had no problem replacing Windows XP for an operating system like Linux made for brawny men like me. I inserted my floppy and the usb flash drive and started the system. Although it seems that the Inspiron 2600 BIOS allows the system to be booted from a CD ROM the reality is that it did not worked in mine, so I had to try the flash drive method. At the "cheat code" prompt I typed the following

dsl fromusb xsetup

This allowed the usb flash drive to be booted. At some point the booting process will ask you about video modes. Tap the space bar and let the system continue. If you try to select a video mode for some reason the system will hang.

Step 2: About Video Resolution

Picture of About Video Resolution

The Intel 82830M Graphic Controller in my notebook is capable of resolutions of 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 at 16 bit and 32 bit with Windows. With DSL you will have resolutions of 640 x 480 x 16, 800 x 600 x 16 and 1024 x 768 x 16. When xsetup asks for dpi type .28.


videogamemaster (author)2011-06-24

Wow. Do you reccomend this version of Linux for an older PC (From1998)? I've been looking to update my OS lately, and I want to use Linux. I was considering Light Ubuntu (Lubutntu), but this possibly might work better? My PC's specs are:
- 160MB of RAM
- 333MHz AMD-K6 processor with 3D-now
-Intel MMX something-or-other (It shows up in my system's specs. I have no clue what it does)
- Crystal audio sound card
- ATI Radeon graphics card
-8GB hard drive. I'll be able to hook up my USB flash drives (With a total of 6GB between the two of them) once I purchase a PCI USB 2.0 card.

So, ah, what do you think?

blkhawk (author)videogamemaster2011-06-28

Damn Small Linux is ideal for older hardware. Try it and create an instructable!

videogamemaster (author)blkhawk2011-06-28

Yeah, well, I was going to download it, but my friend said the production team split up and there haven't been any updates for it in a while. I've decided on Linux Mint Debian. Thanks anyways.

If I might recommend giving Lubuntu a try on older PC, it is quite nice. It is VERY lightweight, so it too can be ideal for older hardware.
Plus, it gives you many of the same options that its older brother Ubuntu has. Hope it may help if you ever decide to change distros.

chav54 (author)videogamemaster2011-10-30


DSL is not intended to be a permanent OS. The portability is what the authors wanted to achieve and they did.
Puppy is somewhat similar in that respect but it is very popular, constantly updated and supported by many experts.
It's very good for old hardware.
In the case of your system you could try one of the earlier versions of Puppy but may be the video will be restricted.
Anyway try it.

DSL is also damn good, though I am not sure that you will be happy with the video.



blkhawk (author)chav542011-10-30

Even though DSL can run from a CD or Flash drive there was always an option to be automatically installed on a hard drive. It was designed to run with minimal resources so it works perfectly with older hardware. It is an operating system that can run as long as you want it to.

chav54 (author)blkhawk2011-10-31


This thread is going to transform into the old Mercedes - BMW rivalry :)

I was just making the point that the support for Puppy Linux is better so it makes your life easier with that system.
Finally you choose what is more comfortable for you.

Cheers Blkhawk.

I am only a hardware electronics engineer :)....
and a BMW fan :):)

blkhawk (author)chav542011-10-31

I'm an A+ Certified Computer Professional, and a Toyota fan!

ViperSniper (author)2011-09-13

thanx for this man. i have a DELL Latitude c840 (its screen is broken) and i want to do this the specs are:

Pentium 4 1,86ghz
512mb ram
crystal audio soundcard
30gb harddrive

can anybody tell me what LINUX distro is the best to use?

P.S. i have had some experience with LINUX

chav54 (author)ViperSniper2011-10-29

Try Puppy Linux - it's much better than DSL.
I am using it even with a 400 Mhz Pentium.
One of the last versions is Lucid Puppy - try that.


ViperSniper (author)chav542011-10-29

thanx i installed PUPPY on my sisters 2.45 ghz celeron pc with 256mb ram and it works awesome but for some strange reason when i install puppy on DELL it doesnt want to work with the VGA output it just show funny colours.

chav54 (author)ViperSniper2011-10-30

Hi Sharky,

May be the video controller uses a portion of the RAM, so the RAM
might be insufficient for the OS. Or the driver that Puppy uses for the Dell
is not correct - you should run XORG that takes care of the video with Puppy. Try that and if it doesn't work please send me the configuration of your Dell system.



ViperSniper (author)chav542011-10-30

thanx dude your idea works my laptop works with PUPPY now :)))



zazenergy (author)2011-03-13


blkhawk (author)zazenergy2011-03-15

Thank you!

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