Puppy Linux 4.3

One of the nicest things about Linux is its sheer versatility. There are so many different versions of Linux that serve different purposes including being able to take it with you wherever you go. No, I’m not talking about on a laptop or even on a netbook. I’m talking about being able to stick it on a USB device and stick it in your pocket.

Puppy Linux is one of the better known distributions when it comes to Linux portability. Puppy has been around for a long time and version 4.3 was recently released. Compared to some of the desktop distributions, Puppy is incredibly lightweight and weighs in at a tiny 105MB when you go to download it. Yep, that’s it. 105MB.

But don’t let the file size of the Puppy Linux download fool you. There’s a lot of value packed into Puppy Linux as you’ll find out in this review.

What’s New In This Release
There’s quite a bit of new stuff in this version of Puppy Linux including a new system for building Puppy called Woof and a new package manager called, appropriately enough, Puppy Package Manager.

Here’s a sample of some of the other stuff that’s new in this release. Linux Kernel
Dialup Modem Drivers
CPU Scaling
JWM Theme Maker
Screenshot Utility
Crop Background for Widescreen
Ext4 Support

There’s quite a bit more so be sure to review the full list at the release announcement link above.

Puppy Linux has a cute (albeit a bit bland) desktop wallpaper.
Puppy Linux has a cute (albeit a bit bland) desktop wallpaper.

Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of requirements to use Puppy Linux:

CPU : Pentium 166MMX
RAM : 128 MB physical RAM for releases since version 1.0.2 or failing that a Linux swap file and/or swap partition is required for all included applications to run; 64 MB for releases previous to 1.0.2
Hard Drive : None
CDROM : 20x and up

Puppy was really designed to run in RAM not as an installed distribution. There is an installer included but it’s geared more toward USB devices and that sort of thing then for a hard disk. Just for the heck of it I tried an install but it didn’t work in VMWare which doesn’t surprise or bother me.

I’d meant to stick Puppy Linux on a USB keychain I had laying around but it disappeared and I was not able to find the darn thing. I suspect it’s floating around in the living room somewhere but I have a brown head parrot that lives in that room and that has a knack for finding and chewing plastic objects. He may have dispensed with my USB keychain and hidden the evidence somewhere in the room. He’s quite cunning when he wants to chew something and get away with it.

You can install Puppy Linux to different devices including USB flash drives.
You can install Puppy Linux to different devices including USB flash drives.
Version 4.3 features the new Puppy Package Manager.
Version 4.3 features the new Puppy Package Manager.

Desktop & Apps
Chances are that you’ll either love or hate Puppy’s desktop. The wallpaper isn’t anything to rave about as it’s a bit bland though somewhat cute.

But the thing that might annoy people is the number of icons on the desktop when you boot into it. There are 22 icons that appear on the Puppy Linux desktop. I personally don’t mind this much but I know that some people would regard it as cluttered and potentially poorly organized. I suppose that – like beauty – it will be in the eye of the beholder.

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24 thoughts on “Puppy Linux 4.3

  1. Regarding pcPuppyOS, the ‘talented author’ was Jeremy Adelsgruber – I just paid for the work! I stopped development when it appeared that there was little interest in it. I’d be interested in getting it updated if I could get someone to help ‘pay the freight!’

  2. As a multimedia OS I have had great results. The sound is a bit low but it plays ALL kinds of files that a vista machine I know of wont. The speed of the OS already in RAM is amazing. I LOVE puppy linux

  3. The only issue with puppy is the lack of java.Does anyone know how to get java on this lovely distro i tried the latest Macpup it looks wonderful but unlike puppy could not find the network on one of my machines and I thought it came with java but it was not.

  4. Is there a user "spot" ?

    how do we get to use spot ?

    I am new with puppy and linux in general, however I have been using Windows

    for many years and very comfortable with it. the only reason I am trying a small

    distro, is windows forces me to upgrade my machine everytime a new version

    comes out. so I got to a point where I had enough of it, wasting money and

    at the same time doing something good for the environment.

    Yeah it would be good to be able to use another user, rather than root. don't

    understand why it would be so difficult to implement that feature. Maybe

    someone in the puppy community can explain it better.


  5. @ Paul Eakins:

    To Paul and everyone who notices that the Puppy desktop looks a bit bland and ugly..

    There is a .pet file called "EZ-Pup" that is availble for just about all Puppy versions from about 2.xx – 4.xx. This adds the wonderful IceWM desktop to Puppy with a bunch of new themes and wallpapers. I've used it with Puppy 4.0 and 4.11 and it makes things look a lot nicer.

    Actually, though you may not even need it with Puppy 4.2 and 4.21, because I believe IceWM is included with those versions. When you get to the logout dialog box, I think one of the options is to switch to IceWM. Puppy 4.2x, by default has a nice looking desktop though. With 4.3, it looks like they are going back to the basics, but that's ok. Hopefully EZ-Pup will be available for it.


  6. Indeed you are using puppy as root. But you can bypass this imaginary security flaw by changing the passwords of "root" and the user "spot.

    Simply run all internet related programs, like your browser, IM programs, or the spyware called "skype" as restricted user "spot", and it will have no acces to the system, or to mister root"s home.

    I myself am a puppy linux fanboy.. yes, I admit it. Having a minimalism OS, that runs in memory. Fatser and more versatile then any other distro that I know of.

    I have all the apps i need, and if it's not there, i can search and compile it myself (or it can be found in thge forum)

    Having an aprox 110mb operating system on my USB stick, running completely from memory, with some extra software enables me to run all internet related programs, my favourite games, like battlefield 2 with addons, footballmanager, The sims 3, and also all the multimedia software i need. That is simply amazing.

    The only thing that you have to be aware of is that large programs, compile dirs, and other stuff that has large tempfiles, you be on a physical disk, and not in roots home. Because that will lead to problems. But, nothing is perfect.

  7. Thanks for the info. Actually this all got me wondering about the root thing so I decided to inform myself a little better. There was a lively discussion about the merits of running as root or not at the puppy forum. I refer you to: http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=

    I've had no issues so far from running as root and I've been using Puppy Linux for several years. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that Puppy has a firewall, and this is easily setup by using the Firewall Wizard. I think a hacker would have to beat that first to get into your computer. Would that make the issue of root moot? Sorry for the rhyme but I couldn't resist ;).

    I've run some of the on-line checks of security and found the versions of the distro I've used to be both secure and stealthy.

    From my reading Root mostly protects users from screwing up their Linux OS by requiring them to enter a password. If you have to enter that to configure the system and you don't know fully what you are doing you are still taking a chance that you will do something improperly which might affect your configuration. The good thing about Puppy is that mistakes are easily recovered from using the Live CD.

    I'm confident that my Linux system is secure enough for daily contact with the net (I never use Win 98SE for that). I've been using it for years without a hitch except where my knowlege of Linux falls short and I goofed up. I suppose one shouldn't be too complacent about the potential for problems. However, I haven't heard of any complaints from running as root.

    Our Windows brethren are certainly plagued by their share of problems. In the past I've used Puppy to run Fprot on inactive Windows partitions and search them for virus. I can't say I've had any problems in that regard with Linux. – Yorkiesnorkie

    @ dragonmouth:

  8. Hey a new version! I can't wait to download and try this version of Puppy Linux. I've been using various versions of the distro for quite a while now as my main desktop on an old IBM PII laptop. I'm currently running 4 Dingo installed to my hard drive (I dual boot with Win 98SE). I've used the distro for mail, and surfing the net for information, as well as some authoring of text and other documents, and editing photos etc. Not intensive but daily use. I hardly ever use Windows anymore. One of the things I like about Puppy is that it is lightweight but functional. I think one thing missed in the review was that it intentionally avoids "bling" and gives you functionality instead. If you want bling you can always add it yourself. I must say one strength is that it has run in ram on every PC I've tried it on from its disk. That isn't to say Puppy will run on everything but I've had pretty good luck with it so far. I've even installed it onto a thumb drive, which is handy. I've used the Live CD to rescue data from my daughters newer DELL PCs when Vista wouldn't boot anymore, and to repartition their hard drives. I'm not sure what the issue is with running in root. So far I haven't had any lost data, or insecure data issues that I can identify. Maybe I don't understand what the concern is. I gave Ubuntu a try once and I found SUDO this and that annoying. Vista is awful too in that regard. Dear lord please just let me do it! Root is ok with me. It's not a bad first distro for those trying to learn something about Linux, at least that's been my experience. The wizards are helpful for the main things but you will definitely have to learn something about Linux to progress further. One of the things I liked about it was you can run it completely in ram from the live CD and not make any impact on your PC. I've found the people puppy forum very helpful and informative as well as enthusiastic. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. – Yorkiesnorkie

  9. Very good and useful review… I'm sure many will benefit from this!

    But … of all the videos available on YouTube, "How To Skin A Squirrel" was the you thought of to post?! hahahaha

  10. The new Puppy Package Manager rocks! According to official documentation, it can install Debian/Ubuntu .deb, Slackware .tgz, and Arch .pkg.tar.gz packages. I tested it on a Ubuntu .deb package, and it works as advertised. This new feature (I don't recall its being present previously) can greatly extend Puppy's software suite.

  11. Wow, we got some pretty lively discussions here. I think that is GREAT, and hopefully it will bring some attention, traffic, a little bit of ad revenue, and maybe even a JOB for Jim. I have been looking for that next great gig too.

    My conclusion of thought, both as a summary of my comments and an acknowledgment of others, is that Puppy is a very creative, community centric, small, fast distribution that has a lot to offer. It is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to run as root, not everyone "gets" the quirks in the network setup, and not everyone wants to run the apps that Puppy includes. Nevertheless, it is a fast, fun, useful system that clearly is extensible – there have been a massive number of "respins", resulting in LOTS of Pup offspring!

    It's not my number one system, but I nearly always try out a release when I notice that one is out, and I've tried at least a half dozen of those other "Pups" too! If you are a distro tester like I am, Puppy is always worth having in your collection, and it is worth using when you are primarily intending to use the Internet, and it is worth throwing on a carry around CD, DVD, or USB stick.

  12. Last winter, I had the misfortune of messing up the boot partition on my dual-boot desktop. (WinXP and Mint Linux) It was at this time that my father fell ill and passed away, so I didn't have time to mess with getting the computer back up and running properly. I put Puppy (whatever version was current in early February of this year) on a 256MB USB stick that I had lying around, and ran with that for about 6 weeks. The only thing I tried that I wasn't able to do with it during that time was editing some video clips. This includes the re-touching and clean-up of over 400 digital photos from a wedding job that I had in the middle of all this. I didn't have any trouble playing a couple of DVDs, for that matter.

    One catch I had – I have an Epson RS595 all in one unit, and the scannign software didn't recognize it. I got around this by using the RX to scan the pictures to an SD card placed in the printer's card reader, then Puppy could see the file on the card.

  13. I too was a bit disappointed in the new theme. It seems a huge step backwards from the previous version which I still use.

    I also think it is high time that Puppy automatically configure the network, including Wifi.

    As to the install issue, I discovered that installing to hard disk, virtual or otherwise, is simply a matter of preformatting. You need at lease a / partition, and a swap partition. After that, it will install without issue.

    Regarding the run as root issue, this is not an issue with me as I run Puppy strictly from a LiveCD as a utility distro. I have found nothing better at this point.

  14. Well, Steve clearly knows more about Puppy than I do, but my 5 cents worth:

    Running as Root simply is unacceptable to me. Until and unless this changes I would not run Puppy. And that is too bad, because Puppy is attractive.

    The better alternative is antiX. I have the newest release installed on a usb-jumpdrive from which it boots and runs very nicely. The various applications and utilities are much better (e.g., wicd and ceni are both present) and the entire system with my personal files fits on an 8 gig drive.

    And I have access to Debian repositories and smxi scripts for system maintenance. A bit better than the Puppy offerings.

    So if my little system gets fat I'll move it over to a big 16 gig drive.

    Given the capacity and low cost of these little drives I don't see the problem to running a somewhat larger and more capable distribution for those times when I must travel in a very light mode.

    Ah but I learned something – beware the Parrot!

  15. Pathetic of me to keep f5ing the comments, but I had to one more time – and I guess I'd really have to say that there's nothing I can disagree with in Brian's previous post – that's about the most accurate description, lol. Basically everything WORKS – it just may be less than optimal and you may have to do more with it to get it that way.

    King of the small *nixes? Perhaps. Not so much on the Desktop? Yeah…I can agree with that. Like I said, Debian is about the best for me, in terms of overall speed and stability, usability mixed – and AntiX does fit the bill quite nicely, I would say that it IS superior from a HD-install standpoint compared to Puppy on a HD-Install – but that's because of the HUGE amount of apps and the Debian base, I think. Just found it a little too unstable for every day use, and decided that if I want a Debian system with that much functionality, I need to add a lot of those packages in there myself so I can understand what's going on and have more control over my system – apps and misc. things you don't need generally just open potential security holes and cause problems in most cases, I've found. Who knows, perhaps I'll give AntiX another whirl – but I need to know more about Linux, and I think we can all agree that generally installing a more bare-bones distro is the way to go on that. Anyway, I think I'm done ranting and stuff here – take it easy, thanks for not making me don the asbestos armor. 😀

  16. I have not noticed, one way or the other, how well video works with Puppy. Jim, like you, I would be highly unlikely to use Puppy for that purpose. Instead, I use it predominantly when I am planning to be almost exclusively using the Web. Then I load it into memory and run Seamonkey, and it runs better than it typically does elsewhere, especially if I am using an older system, such as my Dell Dimension 4100 that is frequently prone to swap. I get less of a gain on my newer hardware since most stuff loads and remains in memory.

    Setting up wireless, while almost certainly can be made to work, can be confusing, one, because Puppy has so many alternatives, and two, because the way the tools are set up is, at least to me, less than intuitive, especially when you run the distro five or six times a year like I usually do. It all works, it is just less than optimal. I have fewer problems, either using a command based network manager like ceni or a command or GUI based tool like wicd.

    Puppy is a pretty fast distro. I find it to load from CD faster than most, but it does not necessarily RUN faster – I tend to have good results with my antiX, unlike Steve, who noted that Puppy outpaces antiX. Puppy does load from CD faster, being 1/4 the size, and Puppy is absolutely the smallest general purpose mini Live CD – to me, DSL, SliTAZ, Tiny Core, and whatever else is real small are handy, but as is, they don't do anywhere near as much as Puppy can do. I prefer antiX, but mostly because I tend to use it in many ways – it is superior when installed, whereas one could argue that Puppy is superior to run live.

    It is similar to comparing openSUSE to Mandriva – some people will always prefer openSUSE – I tend to prefer Mandriva.

    I give a thumbs up to Puppy. It is tops if what you want is a Live CD or USB based system. I rate it less highly for other purposes, but it is flexible enough to use even as a primary system; you just have to do more to make it do such things well.

  17. I'm sorry to comment again, but I would like to mention this – there is a version of Puppy that is made by a member of the community (who I might add is pretty talented, I would say) – it's based on 3.01, so you get partial slackware compatibility and better hardware detection than the 2.xx series – it's meant to be installed to a hard drive, with stability, usability, speed, and the amount of built-in applications (that are full-featured, pre-installed, and usable – such as Wine) as top priorities. PCPuppyOS 3.01 RC6 – it's about a 600MB d/l, but it can be run as LiveCD as well – and as stated earlier, comes bundled with a bunch of very nice apps and even a bit slicker look (I think) than the standard 2/3 series puppies. I've run it for a good week or two at least with no downtime, reboots, etc – and stable as a rock, used it as my main OS for about a year – I still can't really part with Debian, but perhaps if they'd only fix that damned multi-user issue…just my opinion though, really. Again, sorry if it seems like I'm trying to shove Puppy down your throat as so many others will vehemently and violently try to – I just really have used this thing (and its derivatives) for MANY useful applications, including a Rescue CD, a temporary OS while a computer was down (for myself and friends/relatives), and even a full-fledged gaming platform with Wine/Cedega compatibility (and I might add, insane framerates for a 2.8ghz Pentium IV with a Radeon 9600 AIW PRO/1GB DDR333) – and if you can stomach the bit of extra paranoia over less security (like I was later unable to, as my main OS) then it's just fantastic once you get all the kinks worked out.

    Just so you know, my Windows partition is hosed, and I'm on Puppy 4.2 right now – in Seamonkey, listening to Shoutcast through Streamtuner – built in – and also scanning my backup drive with XFProtect and ClamAV – all at once, from the LiveCD – approx Ram usage = 3-400MB, no swap file.

    I just don't want to have anyone pass this opportunity to at least try it and get the same usability, speed, and enjoyment out of it – it was a great starter Linux system for me, way back at 2.15CE, and taught me a lot – without making me bang my head against walls (at least not as long as most others, say, Debian, Slackware…). Anyway, enough of my gushing and shameless plugging – I still say Debian is a better system when it's all said and done, but be damned if Puppy isn't capable, speedy, and just plain tops as far as the small Linuxes go – or once again, would be, IF ONLY for the multi-user issue.

    Thanks for reading and writing the review,


  18. The past few versions of Puppy, in particular, Versions 4.1.2 and 4.2 had a few issues with some, but not all of the pre-packaged wireless firmware drivers. They finally got that fixed with 4.2. I worked around it and got 'em all working by grafting in drivers!

    Version 4.2.1 was better, and Version 4.3 is the first version with Barry Kauler's new approach, and marks his return to leading the distribution once again after a hiatus that did not work out particularly well for the community.

    Now to read the review and see if I have any other thoughts or comments. I can usually count on a good review; let's see if I agree with the thoughts and conclusions on this one.

    BTW, the Puppy has been steadily gaining weight; no big surprise, software grows. Seems to me that Puppy used to weigh in a few releases ago in the 70 MB range. The earlier Version 4 releases were just over 90 MB and now we are at 105 MB!

  19. Hello. I like your blog, and your reviews, but I do have to say, this one seems a bit unfair. I've used everything from Damn Small Linux to Slax (on the small distro side) and countless other Debian based and Red Hat based distros over the years. I started using Puppy at version 2.15CE, and even then, while it wasn't what I would call a complete (or very secure) operating system, I would say that it's quite nice. It was also quite capable of multimedia, gaming, etc – quite a bit faster (I'd estimate a good 20-30%) over my Debian setup (or even AntiX when I was using that – that's an interesting, very nice alternative too – small Debian distro that's kinda based on Sid. Low Sys Requirements, good range of programs, but a bit unstable, I found…) – full openGL, multimedia codecs, (though Youtube doesn't like going fullscreen on Seamonkey), full DRI/3d acceleration – of course, your mileage may vary, but I've run Puppies 2.15CE through 4.2 – and countless other "puplets" as they're called, all based on different versions of Puppy and customized to certain wants/needs, say gaming, video editing/image editing, music, or even a few security-oriented versions of Puppy (though I personally haven't tested the security-oriented ones) – and run them on everything from completely "junk" systems, PII's with 64MB RAM and a Swap File (in the case of older Puppies, 3.XX based ones need a PII with at least 128MB RAM and a Swap File is suggested) – you can really do just about anything with Puppy Linux that you can with any version/distro if you're patient, and most of the time, when you get things up and running, you end up with an overall faster system/program/experience – at least by my experience. You just need to give it a proper installation to an ext3 partition on your hard drive, play around with it a bit, and you'll see – it's quite fast and extensible. It IS somewhat ugly here and there, I'll give you that, but is it not functional? Is the distro not based on low resource usage? Eye candy isn't quite all it's cracked up to be when it comes to having low CPU and RAM specs – but even so, there are puplets (like VestaPup, wNop, a few others) that mimic different OSes almost perfectly in terms of looks, say MacOSX or Windows Vista. The only severely glaring problem with this distro, as I and many others are concerned, is you can't seem to do anything about running in Root all the time – even if you do, your personal files and stuff are still at risk. However, there is a "woof" Puppy, that allows you to create the Puppy core and all from any distro – I'm hankering to try Debian out, I bet it'd be fairly beastly – if only you can run as non-root.

    I hope I don't sound like one of the typical slathering raving idiotic puppy zealots, as their community, to quote another person, is quite toxic for the most part – however, I do believe that there is QUITE a lot to love about this OS, if nothing else, the sheer speed and simplicity of everything, while still retaining the ability to dig in and change things, take away, add, even upgrade parts of the system to do virtually anything you want…essentially the core foundation of *nix without so much pain…

    …except no true multi-user. Lol.

    But hey, aside from all my bitching, I would say that the review wasn't too bad – I'd say this much – a VMWare/QEmu/any other Virtualization installation doesn't give a fair representation for ANY operating system, not really – sure, the emulator may be designed to emulate the x86/ppc/alpha/whatever architecture you're into running, but the fact of it is, it's just not real hardware. I'd say give it another go on a clunker with like a 10GB hard drive and a PIII or something – you just might be quite pleasantly surprised if you look a little deeper. Maybe if we all keep bitching enough, Barry (the original project developer/maintainer) might find a way to implement/allow the implementation of a true Root account.

  20. I love Puppy. I have several versions that I run as live discs and have used it to rescue files from a XP box that wouldn't boot. I'm currently in love with a remix called BrowserLinux. It's under downloads–> puplets.


    It's super fast and comes with a fairly updated version of Firefox (3.5.2). I'll have to download the newest version of Puppy and try it out.

    As far as multimedia goes I've had mixed results. I have Puppy installed on a spare computer set up basically as a DVD player in front of my bike. It plays store bought DVDs but rarely plays burned DVDs. The screen is sometime very pale. Sound works great though.

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