Puppy Love

A search through “lightweight” distros. to find a suitable version of Linux to load onto my friend’s old, Windows-XP based computer resulted in the final choice of Puppy Linux. This distro. had the advantage of being a 164 MB download, providing a live-CD version for evaluation, and having the reputation of being both small and fast.

The installation process to the hard disk was a little more involved than I was used to since installing the boot manager (I ended up using Grub4Dos rather than legacy grub) required a separate step. But once installed, the system booted and shutdown in about half the time* required for Windows XP, and came with a full suite of applications, many more than were really needed.

Windows XP Puppy
Bootup (s) 80 45
Shutdown (s) 32 10

* Bootup/Shutdown times

Puppy gains some of its minimalist reputation by using a number of lightweight applications, including abiword (word processor) and Gnumeric (spreadsheet). SeaMonkey serves as the default web browser and E-mail client. Also included on the desktop are a number of other applications and utilities, plus a direct link to the (local) Puppy Help page.

A menu button in the lower-left corner of the screen provides access to installed applications by category, e.g. Desktop, System, Setup, Utility, etc. The menu system provides many more applications than are accessible by default on the desktop. This same menu can also be established by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop.
The final category on the menu system is Shutdown which includes selections for Reboot and Power-off.

An Install icon on the desktop allows the user to select between installing Puppy to the hard disk using the Puppy Universal Installer, creating a bootable USB drive, or installing specific applications by way of the Puppy Package Manager. Installation to hard disk can also be commenced by navigating to Menu – Setup – Puppy universal installer.

As noted above, installing Puppy in dual-boot mode (e.g. Windows and Puppy Linux) requires a second procedure to implement a boot manager. This can be achieved by navigating to Menu – System and selecting either Legacy GRUB Config 2013 or Grub4Dos bootloader config.

If you have any interest in Puppy Linux, and depending on your specific hardware configuration, you may also wish to take a look at Macpup – the so-called “beautiful derivative of Puppy Linux”. Macpup uses the Enlightenment window manager, producing a clean, bright desktop, and features a Mac-style docking bar along the lower edge of the display for a very modern-looking GUI.

The downside for some computers (my friend’s machine included) is that Macpup requires PAE hardware support. Physical Address Extension (PAE) allows 32-bit x86 processors to access more than 4 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there is no non-PAE version of Macpup so, if your computer doesn’t support PAE, you will be limited to the “real” (non-PAE) version of Puppy Linux.

However, as indicated above, Puppy works just fine on old hardware!

References:

Puppy Linux
http://www.puppylinux.com/

Macpup – A beautiful derivative of Puppy Linux
http://macpup.org/

What is Enlightenment?
http://www.enlightenment.org/

Physical Address Extension
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension

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