Damn Small Linux (DSL) is one of the minuscule Linux distributions. Its newest version 4.4.2 was released a few weeks ago.
Since the beginning, the DSL has been small enough to be burned on a 50 MB live CD. An nowadays incredible amount of software has been squeezed in this minimal space. It reminds me of the time when I thought I would never be able to fill my new 20 MB hard drive with my texts. Little did I know then...
New DSL is able to play music with XMMS (MP3, CD Music, and MPEG). It can download files using FTP. One can browse the Internet with Dillo, Netrik and FireFox. You can edit rtf files with a a word-processor (Ted), do some calculations with a spreadsheet, use three editors (Beaver, Vim, and Nano) for plain text files. Even pdf files can be viewed with Xpdf.
One great feature of DSL is its ability to download more software from the distributions own repository and install them on the fly. This way the user can add many more programs to the system and enhance its usability.
DSL does not require a lot from your hardware: processor should be at least a 486, and the box should have at least 16 MB to run X-Windows. In text mode only 8 MB are enough. In addition, you should have a CD-ROM-drive. In order to have a usable system, a Pentium 200 MHz and 64 MB RAM are recommended. In 2008, it should be difficult to find a computer that cannot run DSL.
I encountered only small problems while I tested DSL for a few hours. I had to change the screen resolution manually, but it was extremely easy. Likewise, changing the keyboard to correct Finnish keyboard was easy with the system settings panel. I could not, however, get my sound card configured. I'm pretty sure I will anyway get it fixed next time.
Summary: DSL is a damn good distro for 50 megabytes.