Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saving Your Configuration of Damn Small Linux

I continue to be impressed with Damn Small Linux. Consider, how I've turned an ancient laptop (without a hard drive) into a jukebox just by turning it on with this CD in it.

The only annoying part of using DSL is that your configuration is lost on a reboot. So, the commands needed to setup my network needed to be re-entered every time I restart the computer.

Of course, DSL provides a clever way for addressing this. But, I've always looked at the instructions and decided I didn't have the time to sort them out. Turns out, they aren't that bad. Here's what I did to make my setup restore on a reboot:

  • Found a spare USB thumb drive lying around. Nearly any size will do.
  • Booted up DSL
  • I plugged the thumb drive into the computer and mounted it with the command:
      mount /dev/sda1 
    In my case, I was fortunate enough to have this work. If you have problems, you might want to check out this article
  • I updated /opt/ to contain the commands I wanted run at bootup time. My script looked like:
    # put other system startup commands here
    # Change XXX to the name of your access point
    # and YYY to the passphrase used to access it
    echo "Setting up WiFi to XXX..."
    iwconfig eth0 essid XXX
    iwconfig eth0 enc s:YYY
    echo "Requesting IP address..."
    I could get fancier, I suppose, for now, these are the main commands I need run at bootup time.
  • Under the "DSL" toolbar (where the start button is on Windows), I went to: System >> Backup/Restore
  • For device, I entered in sda1
  • A few moments later, the box disappeared. I confirmed I had a backup in place by running:
      ls /mnt/sda1/
    and confirmed that backup.tar.gz was found there.

I now had a thumbdrive with my configuration settings on it. Now, every time I boot up the computer, I enter:

  dsl restore=sda1

And after a few moments (faster than my Windows laptop boots), I have a running Linux system with a correctly configured network.

I'm telling you, if you have any hardware lying around, you've got to give DSL a try. It's just remarkable what kind of system you can put together that's less than 50 Megs.

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