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.
188.8.131.52 Linux Kernel
Dialup Modem Drivers
JWM Theme Maker
Crop Background for Widescreen
There’s quite a bit more so be sure to review the full list at the release announcement link above.
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.
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.
Puppy Linux comes with a good selection of software but don’t count on seeing OpenOffice, GIMP or any of the larger programs. The software that comes with Puppy Linux more or less provides mostly similar functionality but in smaller and lighter packages. Abiword, for example, is the word processor of choice rather than OpenOffice.org.