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Puppy Linux

© June 2006 Anthony Lawrence

It sounds like a toy, doesn't it? "Puppy Linux". So cute, and when it first boots you'll hear "Woof-Woof" as a help screen opens.

Well, it's not a toy. Although small (the "big" download is 70MB), it includes a lot of the things I'd want to have in a live CD: word processor, spreadsheet, paint and draw, ssh, vnc, remote desktop and much more - I was really surprised to see what was available immediately.

Puppy Linux runs in RAM, so it's very fast - even in an emulator (I ran it in Parallels Workstation).

When Puppy first boots, you need to select a keyboard and configure your ethernet card. If you have anything remotely capable of having a file system available (CD, USB pen drive or a hard drive), you can save Puppy info to that and it will load that on the next boot (and of course you can over-ride that if you need to).

Perhaps most surprising to me was that Puppy comes with a full set of videos explaining how to use, upgrade and configure your system.

If all that isn't enough, there are piles of add-on packages available. However, it can be a little hard to find what you are looking for and as no compiler is included, you can't just download source and roll your own.

A HOWTO makes reference to an add-on file called "usr_devx.sfs" that gives you a C/C++ environment. I could not find that anywhere.. references to it, but nowhere to download it.

I don't like that this comes up in a root desktop with no password by default. That's just wrong. But other than that, this is a good distro.

Download a live CD image from the Puppy Linux site.

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Thu Jun 8 09:14:15 2006: 2078   drag

There is another 'small' style distro that people seem to like a lot. It's called 'Damn Small Linux' or just DSL for short.

It's 50megs total and is designed to be ran from a usb flash drive. (which they sell in their online shop along with Mini-itx machines for building routers or low-cost/low-impact desktops and servers. Even 'carputers'..) They also have versions for traditonal ISO live cd and install. In addition they have versions specificly designed to be ran inside a VM.. They have a vmware player version and a version designed to be run inside qemu (which is included)

It's designed to be small, lightweight, fast, and run on machines with minimal resources. They even have a iso syslinux image for people who have hardware that is so old that it can't boot up a isolinux image.

They even have a little menu gui system called MyDSL for installing packages from ISO.

I tried out the 'embedded' zip file, which is the Qemu version and includes the emulator. I've heard people mention time to time, but this is the first time I tried it out myself. I simply made a directory, unziped the contents of the download to it and ran the dsl-linux.sh script. Worked perfectly. Once it booted up I was presented with a Dillo (browser) openned to a introduction page. I learned there that they had a utility to upgrade your system from busybox-based one to a GNU tools based one, which is great. And then, even better, you could then do a second upgrade to make your system Debian compatable.. which basicly allows easy access to any of the thousands of software packages aviable for Debian.

Note that it uses 'oldstable' by default.. which is basicly Debian Woody. So it's going to use pretty old packages by default, which isn't bad since it's targetted for low end machines and if you want newer stuff editing /etc/apt/sources.list from 'oldstable' to 'stable' should get you more up to date.

It's ideal for situations were your tired of Windows 95/98's braindeadness yet want to have a usefull computer with small games and such, like for a children's computer or a extra computer. Also it's very nice for when you need to have a mobile boot-anywere linux image that you can easily modify and carry around on a key chain.. For doing stuff like imaging/restoring images to harddrives or running anti-virus scans with clamav and whatnot.

That last part amuses me. If somebody told me 5-7 years ago that I could easily carry around a usefull multitasking Unix (well linux) system with a GUI, games, browser, office tools, on my keychain that would boot on almost any computer that I came across I would of thought they were a bit nutty or just confused.

Check it out at (link)

Also very interestingly they have 'John's guide to earning an income from a Free and Open Source project' on that website, which is a pretty interesting read.

Thu Jun 8 09:59:14 2006: 2079   TonyLawrence

If somebody told me 5-7 years ago that I could easily carry around a usefull multitasking Unix (well linux) system with a GUI, games, browser, office tools, on my keychain that would boot on almost any computer that I came across I would of thought they were a bit nutty or just confused.

Ayup. And it's going to keep coming. Soon the thing you carry in your pocket won't even need anything else. As I said elsewhere, maybe it wil be roll-up keyboards like Addesso's new ones ( (link) ) or maybe it will just be projections.. or maybe everywhere you go there will be wireless keyboards and screens built into surfaces: you go to a coffee shop where every table has a keyboard in its surface..

The next 10 years are going to be very interesting.

Thu Jun 8 18:07:40 2006: 2085   anonymous

You can actually compile applications with Puppy. It requires downloading a separate file, usr_devx.fs (I believe that is still the name), a 40meg file that has everything needed for compiling. In fact, a number of the people compiling applications for Puppy are doing so from within Puppy.

Also, if I remember correctly, Puppy is geared toward a single user; hence the default to root. I believe this can be changed, and the Puppy 2.x series is working toward changing this behavior and also making it easier to add user accounts. (Someone more knowledgeable about Puppy should jump in and correct me if I'm wrong.)


Thu Jun 8 18:14:32 2006: 2086   TonyLawrence

As I said in the very next paragraph, I can't find that file to download - if you have a link to it, please share.

As to root: that's not the point. NOBODY should be logged in as root unless absolutely necessary. This configuration is very dumb, period.

Thu Jan 28 21:21:27 2010: 7972   anonymous


Puppy Linux FAQ is the definitive guide for using and enjoying Puppy Linux. There is no easier way to get started with Linux than by visiting www.puppylinuxfaq.org

Nothing is easier or more intuitive to use than Puppy Linux and few OS are as fully featured.


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