[R] Installing Damn Small Linux and R

charles loboz charles_loboz at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 7 05:56:16 CET 2006

Installing Damn Small Linux and R

Following my experiences with Knoppix (described in
another mail) I did similar test on Damn Small Linux
(dsl -http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ ). DSL was
interesting, because it is the smallest yet fully
functional version of Linux, hence more suited to
older and smaller computers than Knoppix. Importantly,
it uses lightweight windowing system (no KDE or GNOME)
so its memory requirements are much smaller. Also,  it
seems to have a lively user community, which saved me
a lot of work.

DSL can be used as 'live CD' but can also be installed
on a hard disk - I followed the instructions on
http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/dsl-hd-install.html ,
using the latest DSL 2.2b version . (I installed it to
an empty machine, so no dual-boot considerations were
important).  Upon startup the memory usage  reported
was 20mb (not 30 as I mentioned in my Knoppix

Trying to follow the same way of installing R as with
Knoppix I discovered that many more libraries are
missing or are older in DSL than in Knoppix.

There is a list of packages already prepared for
installation on DSL at
and to my joy one of them (under 'applications') was
R.tar.gz (version 2.0.1) 

Using identical procedure as described in the Knoppix
article I transferred that through an USB drive to
/opt directory, then executed
       tar -xvzf R.tar.gz
It created /opt/R directory. In bin directory I
executed R shell script and it simply worked. After
that I decided to get adventerous and, from the same
place (under 'system'), I downloaded tcltk8.3.dsl .
That is a special packaging for DSL extensions and
describes how to install them. Actually it is as
simple as opening the file manager EmelFM ,
higlighting the tcltk8.3 file and pressing the button

After that I could run Rtcltk script, which started
the R GUI. Memory usage was 40mb at that stage.

The whole process took less than one hour and at the
end of it I had fully functional R installation,
including GUI. And enough memory spare (80mb) for a
lot of calculations.

P.S. I tested also OpenOffice.uci - a mountable
version of OpenOffice 2.0 and it started and worked
without problems. The memory usage after starting
Writer was around 60mb (R was not running at that time
- just the Writer). I expected more, following dire
warnings on the DSL site.

P.P.S. Judging by these numbers there is a possiblity
that with DSL, any old computer with 64mb memory and
1gb hard drive can comfortably run R and OpenOffice.
The interface is not so cute as in Knoppix, but for a
working computer it quite comfortable and rather fast.

More information about the R-help mailing list