This knowledge base written by MiniTool team collects all four meanings of DSL in computer-related areas. It gives a brief introduction to each of them. Just read this post for detailed information!

The initials DSL has many meanings in many fields including physical line cable, computer language, computer operating system (OS), company name, school name, etc. Especially in the computer field, DSL can refer to the digital subscriber line, Damn Small Linux, definitive software library, and domain-specific language. We will focus on the definition of DSL in the computer field, especially on the digital subscriber line.

Generally, there are 4 meanings of DSL related to computer technology.

What Is DSL Internet?

DSL service can be delivered with wired telephone service at the same time on the same telephone line for DSL uses higher frequency bands for data. On customer premises, the DSL filter on every non-DSL outlet blocks any high-frequency interference to enable simultaneous usage of the DSL services and voice.

Depending on DSL technology, line conditions, and service-level implementation, consumer DSL services’ bit rates range from 256 kbit/s to over 100 Mbit/s in the direction to the customer (downstream). 1 Gbit/s bit rate has also been reached. 

In ADSL, the data throughput in the upstream direction (direction to the Internet service provider) is lower, hence asymmetric service is designated. While in SDSL (symmetric digital subscriber line) services, the upstream and downstream data rates are equal. At Bell Labs, researchers have reached speeds over 1 Gbit/s for symmetrical broadband access services relying on traditional copper telephone lines, though such speeds haven’t yet been deployed elsewhere.

Also read: DSL VS Cable Internet: Which Is Better?


Single-pair high-speed digital subscriber line (SHDSL) is a form of symmetric digital subscriber line (SDSL), which is a data communication technology for equal transmit and receive (symmetric) data rate over copper telephone lines. It is faster than a conventional voiceband modem can provide.

Being opposed to other DSL technologies, SHDSL adopts trellis-coded pulse-amplitude modulation (TC-PAM). As a baseband transmission scheme, TC-PAM operates at frequencies that include those employed by the analog voice plain old telephone service (POTS).

As such, a frequency splitter or DSL filter can’t be used to allow a telephone line to be shared by both an SHDSL service and a POTS service at the same time. Support of symmetric data rates made SHDSL a popular choice by businesses for a virtual private network (VPN), web hosting, private branch exchange (PBX), as well as many other data services.

The SHDSL payload may be either “clear channel” (unstructured), T1 or E1 (full rate or fractional), multiple ISDN Basic Rate Interface (BRI), Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) cells, or Ethernet packets. A “dual bearer” mode allows a mixture of two separate streams (e.g. ATM and T1) to share the SHDSL bandwidth.

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What Does DSL Mean in Information Technology?

In information technology service management, DSL means definitive software library. It is a secure location consisting of physical media or a software repository located on a network file server, in which the definitive authorized versions of all software configuration items (Cis) are saved and protected.

DSL is separate from development, quality assurance, or production software storage areas. It includes master copies of all controlled software, contains definitive copies of purchased programs, as well as licensing information for applications developed on-site or purchased from an external vendor. All documentation related to any software stored in the DSL is also saved in the DSL.

Tip: With the release of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3, the definitive software library was renamed to the definitive media library.

What Does DSL Stand for If It’s a Computer Language?

As for computer language, DSL stands for domain-specific language specialized to a particular application domain. This is in contrast to a general-purpose language (GPL), which is broadly applicable across domains.

Domain Specific Language Examples

There are a wide variety of domain-specific languages ranging from widely used languages for common domains like HTML for web pages, down to languages only used in one or a few pieces of software, such as MUSH soft code.

Domain Specific Language Types

Domain-specific languages can be further divided based on the type of language into domain-specific markup language, domain-specific modeling languages (specification languages), and domain-specific programming languages.

Simpler DSLs, particularly ones adopted by a single application, are sometimes informally called mini-languages. Special-purpose computer languages have existed in the computer age, but the term “domain-specific language” has become more popular thanks to the rise of domain-specific modeling (DSM), a software engineering methodology for designing and developing systems like computer software.

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DSL Meaning as OS

If talks about computer systems, DSL refers to Damn Small Linux, a computer OS for the x86 family of personal computers (PCs). It is free and open-source software under the terms of the GNU GPL and other free and open-source licenses. Dam Small Linux can be installed on small storage media, such as USB flash drives, memory cards, and Zip drives; or just exists as an ISO file for downloading.

Now, you have learned all the DSL meanings in the computer field!

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