I have had a long standing on-off relationship with debian going back to the potato years. I had tried many distros, but for whatever reason kept coming back to debian eventually. I have revived that affair again, and I must say I like it. I don't know, if it is due to my familiarity with this distro. I tried ubuntu for a few days, and came back to debian very quickly. Ubuntu is bloatware and targetting at n00bs. I've possibly gone past that stage, and I probably know what I want and don't. I'm still not an expert yet, but I'm getting there...

DSL Extensibility

Another advantage of DSL is adding modules to extend/add functionality.

Two apps I always load are screen and ratpoison. Both take a little getting used to. Once I did, I didn't want to use anything else.

Some apps are not designed to WM specs, and ratpoison has issues dealing with such apps. But I rarely use these broken apps, and when I do, I use tmpwm to load jwm temporarily.

With this combination, I never get to see any bells n whistles from the DSL designers. This suits me fine, as I prefer a plain black background, and no dancing bits n bobs on my screen. When I was a newbie, all this was very helpful, and I must confess, allowed me to continue with my linux journey.

I also use citrix client, mplayer-nogui, and qiv. That is just about everything I need, along with busybox. All others are non-essentials for me.


I tried many distros, before finally settling down with DSL. I hate bloatware, and most OSs seem to be going that way.

I don't want an all-singing all-dancing solution, that does everything in the world, including making tea and everything else your wife would do for you... I know what I will need, and don't want anything more than that. Especially if I have to carry a wardrobe around to fit it.

DSL is small, sleek, fast, and does exactly what it says on the box. The core design philosophy restricts it from getting bigger than 50Mb, so it would always focus on functionality, rather than bells n whistles.

Those who want everything-under-the-sun can keep buying the lastest offerings from M$! I was more than happy with Win95. In fact, I still have it on an old laptop.

The main advantage of DSL is hardware detection and compatibility, since it is derived from knoppix. This enables me to use my stick on most hardware.

Bootable USB

I used mkdosfs to create a FAT16 filesystem. I want to use this stick anywhere.

Then I used dd to wipe the MBR.

I wanted to use grub on this stick. But, try as I might, I couldn't get it to boot on the PCs that I have.

Finally, I settled down with the restricted version of syslinux. Now, my usb stick seems to boot most PCs.

Voila! I have my entire desktop on a keyring, and can carry with me everywhere.

As long as the owner of any computer allows me, I stick this into a USB port, and boot to my own desktop. It looks the same, and acts the same, no matter where I am or what hardware I use, if it boots... And I have been able to boot most PCs, laptops, thin clients, etc. Plus, an added bonus is that nothing "on" that PC is disturbed!

Disk Geometry

I used sfdisk. I hadn't known about this utility, even though it is available as standard on all distros. Now, I use this every time I get a new flash disk to alter disk geometry.

I recreated the CHS with 32 sectors. As I understand, having 32 sectors is most efficient.

As I want to use this stick everywhere, I only have a single fat16 partition.

PS: Don't do this to traditional disks :( I learnt this the hard way.

USB Flash

I have an old 128m USB key, with which I started experimenting. My thinking was, if it died, I probably wouldn't loose much sleep. Thankfully, against all expert advice, this USB stick is still alive and healthy. I have never had any problems with this key. Over the past year and more, I have formatted, partitioned, MBRd, written and re-written to this disk without any failures. This probably leads me to wonder about the so-called experts' dubious advice... unless I have a one in a million flash!

this blog

my *nix adventure: venture to give something back… knowledge shared!

Primary purpose is probably to serve me as a reference to what I have been doing and my reasoning behind it, to aid my memory a few years later, or when disaster strikes and I need to do it all over again.

Secondary purpose is for others to help themselves. This is probably the ethos of the Open Source community. Use the knowledge freely made available by others, build on it, and give it back freely to everyone without reservations.

This blog is a tribute to the Open Source community, and all the individuals behind it! To give something back, I will endeavour to explain what I have learned, and assist with all reasonable queries. Of course, this also depends on whether I know the answer... I will respond to queries or comments, with updates within the post, or in a new post.

PS: I am not a regular poster, and there might not be frequent updates...


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