Installing Damn Small Linux as VirtualBox guest

November 22, 2007 at 3:52 pm 20 comments

Damn small linux is a tiny Linux. Because it uses very little resource, it is ideal for a virtual machine.

Creating the Virtual Machne

  1. Create a virtual machine with 256 Mb of memory and 4 Gb of Disk space.
  2. Boot from the Damn Small Linux CD or Image.
  3. Open Apps and then Tools folder.
  4. Double-click on the Aterm window.
  5. Enter the command sudo cfdisk /dev/hda.
  6. Press Y when prompt if you want to start with a zero table. This loads the cfdisk.
  7. Press “N” to create a new partition.
  8. Press “P” to select Primary.
  9. Press Enter to use the default size.
  10. Press “T” to select the type.
  11. Enter “83” as the file system type.
  12. Press “B” to set the partition as bootable.
  13. Use the arrow key to move to write and press OK.
  14. When asked if you want to destroy data, press “yes” and then OK.
  15. Press Quit to exit the application.
  16. Enter the command sudo dsl-hdinstall.
  17. When prompted to enter target partition, enter “hda1” and press OK.
  18. When asked if you want to install with multi-user login. Type “y” and press OK.
  19. When prompted if you want to journal file system. Type “y” and press OK.
  20. When prompted for last chance. Type “y” and press OK.
  21. When prompted to install a boot loader, type “y” and press OK.
  22. When prompted for Grub or Lilo, type “g” and press OK.
  23. When prompted to reboot, type “y” and press OK.
  24. Unmount the DSL CD.
  25. After reboot, you will be asked to enter a password for root and dsl.
  26. select the XVesa video option.
  27. Select No for USB mouse.
  28. Select Yes for IMP/s mouse.
  29. Select your screen resolution and depth.
  30. Select No for dpi option.
  31. Select your keyboard options.

Installing the Guest Additions

Damn Small Linux uses a repository call MyDSL. I tried installing gcc1-with-libs.dsl and the kernelsource.dsl from mydsl. Unfortunately, the kernel source from the mydsl is a bit old.

To install, I would have to download the kernel for 4.0, then patch it with Knoppix patch. While this is not difficult, it’s rather too much work for getting guest additions to work.


Entry filed under: linux, Virtualbox, Virtualization.

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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Idetrorce  |  December 15, 2007 at 6:42 am

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  • 2. paulsiu  |  December 16, 2007 at 10:57 am

    You don’t agree with what πŸ™‚ ?

  • 3. DSL baby  |  January 14, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Cannot open disk drive

    This is the response to
    sudo cfdisk /dev/hda

    DSL 4.0 guest on XP Home sp2

  • 4. bluecell  |  February 24, 2008 at 3:31 am

    Here is my experience.

    1> I create a vm machine with default setting.
    2> Startup from cdrom into X windows
    3> run cfdisk, everythings fine
    4> install, also fine
    5> restart, not fine, not work, cannot find the operation system
    After that, I found out in console mode, which mean I didn’t startup into Xwindows, DSLinux cannot find out /dev/sda.

    1> I create a vm machine with customize
    2> Change the default setting of harddrive into IDE, instead of SCSI
    3> Install, and everything is find now.

  • 5. bluecell  |  February 24, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Can you install vmware tool in DSL Linux?

    I have installed gcc 4.2.3, but whenever I run:

    and choose /usr/bin as the installed binary files, it display:

    …there is insufficient disk space avaialbe in /usr/bin. Please make at least an additional 492k available or choose another directory…

    I’m sure that this partition has just been used upto 50%, which mean there is more than 500MB still available.

  • 6. Boris  |  May 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    When I try and start DSL in Virtualbox it asks for username and paasword, but it will not accept the credentials I give it?

    I’m using root and uClinux


  • 7. H.  |  December 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    It is a great HowTo,

    see also :

    which worked for me πŸ™‚

  • 8. zibex  |  January 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    CaJ3Ls hi! nice site!

  • 9. nobody special  |  January 27, 2009 at 5:09 am

    This is great and all, but no one is talking about what DSL Baby brought up:
    Cannot open disk drive

    This is the response to
    sudo cfdisk /dev/hda

    DSL 4.0 guest on XP Home sp2

    Now, how do we newbies resolve this “FATAL ERROR” ? No, it just doesn’t always work when you run cfdisk as root – not when I do it on vmware anyway.


  • 10. CyrilDent  |  February 2, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Nobody special: fdisk -l should tell you the correct hdd device. For me it’s /dev/hdb

  • 11. Sebastian  |  May 6, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    thanks for the info

    when you open cfdisk (quit the menu, then su -s , then cfdisk) it tells you which ‘name’ your hdd has

    for me was hda1


  • 12. Propeng  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Thanks a lot!
    I already had DSL installed on VirtualBox, but I didn’t know how to install Guest Additions.

  • 13. Biggeffory  |  June 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Worked like a charm.

    Thanks very much

  • 14. Need help about... Virtualization owo; - /gg FTW!  |  September 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    […] […]

  • 15. candy  |  December 16, 2009 at 1:52 am


  • 16. Dave  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Cannot open disk drive

    This is the response to
    sudo cfdisk /dev/hda

    I had the same problem. Couldn’t install because cfdisk kept saying cannot open disk drive. Used the mke2fs command first and now it’s running.

  • 17. James Green  |  January 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I have virtualbox up and running on my Vista machine. I previously had a flawless install with Ububtu as the VM. I tried to add another VM with DSL as the OS. FOr some reason, the cursor/arrow/pointer thing will not display when I move over the window.

    I know it is recording my keystrokes, because of the boot option screen. Maybe DSL does not support my mouse driver??? Any ideas?

  • 18. Alvin  |  January 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I really thank to The Bonobo Journal, I have made the damn small linux in vdi. But, it would be better if you could put in the relevant print screen for those processes of making the damn small linux in vdi. Fortunately, I have make an empty primary drive 2G vdi before following your steps.

    Thank you.


  • 19. John  |  February 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Cannot open disk drive
    This is the response to
    sudo cfdisk /dev/hda

    For those experiencing the above error, I fixed this by ensuring the disk was an IDE controller rather than a SATA controller in the settings.

    See the following from the DSL Wiki for more info:

  • 20. Oskar Bil  |  February 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    i have a 1gb space on guest πŸ™‚


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