DSL (Damn Small Linux)
Damn Small Linux (DSL) is a mini, lightweight Linux distribution in a tiny package (50 MB). It can be stored on and run from a business card CD or USB drive and run fully from your RAM after the initial boot. It's amazing how fast a computer with as little as 128 MB of RAM can be with the entire OS (Operating System) loaded into RAM. DSL is also lightweight enough to power computers as old as a 486DX with 16 MB of RAM, that's right that ancient PC sitting in your closet for the last 10 years that you can't even give away can run DSL! Not only does it run DSL but the PC is usable.
With DSL you also have the option to run it from within Microsoft Windows or install it to your hard drive as a regular Debian install. Once installed to your hard drive DSL is no different from if you downloaded and installed Debian from the official Debian website. DSL comes with many popular applications trimmed down and pre-installed. Firefox for web browsing, Slypheed for E-Mail, Ted for word processing, Xzgv for image viewing, Xpaint for basic image editing and emelFM as your file manager are just a few of the applications pre-installed for you on a default DSL LiveCD.
Want to extend the basic DSL LiveCD? That is no problem either with the use of the MyDSL system. This system allows you to "extend" DSL Linux by adding extensions, which include new applications, without the need for a full-fledged traditional Debian hard drive install. Overall DSL is a fantastic small, lightweight Linux distribution however it is getting a little old and is not as actively maintained as it once was due to arguments within the community which has effectively chased off some of it's biggest supporters.
If you MUST have a small Linux distribution that takes up only 50 MB, are trying to get an antique computer up and running or want to try out one of the earliest small Linux distribution projects be sure to give DSL a try. If you are open to other small Linux distributions that offer a tighter community, more functionality (while still staying small) and is more actively developed keep reading for some other fantastic options.