Puppy Linux 5.0

Woof! Woof! Guess what time it is, folks? It’s time for a review of Puppy Linux 5.0!

Puppy Linux, in case you aren’t already familiar with it, is a lightweight version of Linux that is designed for portability.

The .iso file of Puppy Linux 5.0 weighs in at an incredibly petite 128 MB. It’s much, much smaller than all of the usual desktop heavyweight distros. But don’t let its small size fool you, Puppy Linux 5.0 is anything but an also-ran in terms of functionality and usability.

Puppy Linux 5.0 is built from Ubuntu Linux 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) binaries, so it’s…er…pet name is Lucid Puppy. Like a lot of other things about Puppy Linux, the name is cute and adorable. I felt like giving Puppy Linux a dog bone and a pat on the head when I started using it.

What’s New In This Release
Quickpet is a great addition to Puppy Linux that lets you easily add more programs and drivers with one click. You can access Quickpet by clicking on the icon on the desktop.

The Quickpet menu is broken down into the following categories of applications (pets):

Popular Pets
Clan Bomber

Internet Pets

Useful Pets
Lxmusic Versatile Music Player
Dia Diagram Editor
Cinelerra Video Editing
JRE Java Runtime Environment
Foxit Reader

Radeon HD
Nvidia 195

Lucid Puppy Update

Before you try to use Quickpet, be sure that your network connection is configured. I forgot about that and got an error message when I tried to download Opera. To configure your network, just click the blue Connect icon on your desktop.

Puppy Linux 5.0 also now boots right to the desktop (don’t worry you can personalize your desktop, see that section of the review for more information).

And you get to choose your default browser as well. Firefox, Sea Monkey, Chromium and Opera are all available. What you choose to use is entirely up to you. You can also opt to simply use PuppyBrowser, which is a version of Firefox.

Use Quickpet to install applications with one click.
When you click to install a pet, it will download onto your system automatically.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
I could not track down the exact hardware requirements for Puppy Linux 5.0. There don’t seem to be any in the release notes or on the Puppy Linux site. It’s possible that I missed them. I apologize if I did. If you have the requirements, please feel free to post them in the comments.

Suffice to say that Puppy Linux is a lightweight distribution so it’s perfect for older hardware or less powerful contemporary hardware.

You can install Puppy Linux in a number of different ways. Given its size, it’s obviously a prime candidate to be installed to USB key chains and other portable, bootable devices. Alas, my USB key chain is still missing in action. I know it’s around here somewhere but I’ll be damned if I know exactly where it went. Someday I’ll find it or I’ll get another one. But for this review I just opted to run Lucid Puppy in a VMWare virtual machine.

The bootsplash screen is unmistakably Puppy Linux. It looks like no other distro. Hit the F2 key for a list of boot options. You can hit Enter to boot right away or simply wait five seconds for Puppy Linux 5.0 to boot automatically.

You have to hand it to the Puppy Linux developers. The logo is adorable and adds a lot of humor and personality to this distribution.

You can’t mistake Puppy Linux 5 for any other distro when you see the bootsplash screen

Login Screen
There was no need for me to login to use Puppy Linux 5.0. I just booted right into the desktop from the bootsplash screen.

Helpful information about Puppy Linux 5 that appeared after logging in.

The Desktop
When you first boot into the desktop, you’ll see the First Run Configuration menu. This lets you adjust your Locale, Time zone, Date and Time, Keyboard and Video Resolution, and Network Setup.

The panel contains a Menu button, along with icons for viewing the desktop, free space and launching a browser. You can also access multiple desktops, and volume controls.

Click the Menu button to access application categories, system settings, etc. See the software section to see more about the software that comes with Puppy Linux 5.0.

Desktop Icons
The Puppy Linux 5.0 desktop is definitely not an uncluttered one. There are a lot of icons on it. But if you look closely, you will notice that they are laid out in a particularly arrangement.

At the top of the desktop you have the following icons:


Under that you have:


Then you have:




The desktop icons are basically grouped in functionality categories. This helps prevent the Puppy Linux 5.0 desktop from collapsing into a total mess of icons. But those who are used to booting into an icon-free desktop might be taken aback momentarily when they first view see Puppy Linux 5.0. Don’t let all the icons rattle you; it’s very easy to make sense of them once you take a closer look.

The Puppy Linux 5 desktop is filled with useful icons and colorful wallpaper.

I love the Puppy Linux 5.0 wallpaper. It’s very cute and has the name “Lucid Puppy” on it. The wallpaper fits in well with the desktop icons and isn’t too over the top.

If you find that you dislike the wallpaper, themes, etc. just right-click your desktop and choose Desktop then Desktop Settings. You can make all the changes you want from the Desktop Settings controls.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Rubix Cube
PicPuz Jigsaw Puzzle
Tile Slider Game

Gtkam Camera Manager
XSane Image Scanner
mtPaint Image Editor
mtPain Screen Capture

Psip VOIP IM Client
Axel Download Accelerator
Uget Download Manager



There’s plenty of software that comes with Puppy, but if you want more then open Quickpet and click the More Programs list at the top of the menu. You’ll find some additional programs there including the following:

Midori Browser

And if that’s not enough, open the Puppy Package Manager and you’ll find even more software!

There are additional applications available in Quickpet under the More Programs menu.

Note that some of the application categories in Puppy Linux 5.0 are different than what I have here. I’ve placed Abiword, for example, in Office while it actually appears in the Document menu. You get the idea though. The Puppy Linux 5.0 application menus are easy to navigate so you should be able to find everything without any problems.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Flash comes with Puppy Linux 5.0. So I was able to watch YouTube videos without having to install it. Sound worked fine and my YouTube videos looked good.

Problems & Headaches
For the most part, I had a good experience with Puppy Linux 5.0.

However, I did have two lockups while playing YouTube videos. I was forced to restart Puppy Linux 5. I’m not sure what the problem was but FYI for those who want to use YouTube via Puppy Linux 5.0.

Another thing I didn’t like about Puppy was that it doesn’t auto-detect and configure Internet connections. I guess I’ve gotten so used to this in desktop distros that I find it annoying when a mini-distro like Puppy doesn’t do the same thing. I’m probably nitpicking or just being lazy here though.

YouTube videos played but Puppy Linux 5 crashed twice while playing them.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Puppy Linux forums, install instructions, and the Puppy Linux technical and developer page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Puppy Linux 5.0 was a real treat for me to review. I love this distro’s personality and humor. Everything from the lingo, to the logo, to the wallpaper radiates fun. You can’t help but smile when the Puppy Linux desktop pops up.

Puppy Linux 5.0 is perfect for intermediate and advanced Linux users. However, I worry about recommending Puppy Linux 5.0 to beginners. The network configuration might throw some Linux newbies off and the application menus in Puppy teem with applications. It might be overwhelming to someone who is new to Linux. But if you’re an adventuresome Linux newbie, feel free to give Puppy Linux 5.0 a shot.

Puppy Linux 5.0 is well worth a download, and it deserves a chance to become your preferred portable distro. Check it out.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Puppy Linux 5.0
Web Site: http://www.puppylinux.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Quickpet makes it easy to add applications, drivers and updates with one-click. Boots right to the desktop. Good selection of bundled software. Tiny file download size.
Cons: YouTube videos seemed to lock up Puppy Linux 5.0 twice. Internet connection requires some configuration.
Suitable For: Intermediate and advanced Linux users. Adventuresome beginners might also want to play with it and see if it’s right for them.
Summary: Puppy Linux 5.0 is a terrific lightweight, portable distro. It’s well worth putting on a USB key chain or other portable device. Puppy Linux 5.0 is tiny but it packs a powerful bite.
Rating: 4/5


31 thoughts on “Puppy Linux 5.0

  1. It might be nice to revisit Puppy again, either with a full review or one of the "Quick Looks".  Frankly though, there are so many Puppy variations available that an up to date review and assessment of Wary, Racy, the Woof tool, and the latest Slacko builds, would be useful.

    Also, it would be useful to discuss mastering and remastering your own Puppy build, which is not only possible, it is common-place.  While Puppy is directly installable, and some people actually use it that way, running Puppy from CD, removable media, or some other flexible source is probably the most common way to use it.  Puppy was one of the pioneers in creating a "persistent" file, containing information about the configuration that you want to save between sessions.  With Puppy, it's also easy to mount media from a variety of sources.  Unless you want to run a "Fat" Puppy, it's advantageous to run it Live with persistence to maintain the context in which you use it.

    While installable, some complain about Puppy because, at least in the past, it had a root account that was used.  Naturally, you can create as many user accounts in an installed implementation as you want, but that is commonly one of the criticisms that are likely to be expressed.  Typical of Puppy, though, this is flexible and configurable; if you don't like the default behavior, it is easy to change it.

    One of the huge improvements, in my opinion, since the beginning of the Puppy 5 series, and far superior to previous versions, is the manner in which wireless networks are recognized and configured.  Puppy has long been very strong in working with wireless networks, but in the past, there were so many different tools to use that it was sometimes confusing, especially if you hadn't used it in a few months.  I find the improvements in this area to be the single most important improvement, especially in the 5.2 and 5.3 releases.

    Hopefully we'll talk about, and see more reviews and comments about Puppy in the near future.  It's a worthy distribution to always have a copy handy.  Puppy makes an excellent recovery system, too, so that is an added benefit, even if you do not use it as your every day system.  It's also extremely handy to carry around on a very small USB stick or miniature CD, and it works great from such devices.


  2. i've d/loaded puppy iso, but my cd drive has broken, is it possible to set Puppy to Ubuntu 11.04 from iso. on hard drive? help pls :sad:

  3. Pingback: Eric T. Cherry » Linux Distribution Research
  4. Wow, I am using puppy Linux 5.2 right now, and I am impressed to say the least. Brilliant amount of functionality and intuition in a 130mb ISO. First thing I did was personalize background and install my favorite browser. Looking forward to testing more Puppy-Linux features out soon :)

  5. I find this one of the best Linux distro's I ever used

    But some may find the desktop too bloated already, (Like 15 icons on the desktop, very long list on menu etc…)

    They noticed that and released the so called 'stardust desktop environment'. It adds lots of stuff like a complete 'control center' where you can change every aspect of the desktop (including hide menu items and icons), a windows-like 'most used programs' list in the menu and 4 nice full themes.

    It can be installed by using the quickpet program as seen on the screenshot (It's the DuDE package).

  6. @ steve:

    Hmmm, I found the puppy community to be extremely helpful in all the questions I've ever asked….hate to hear that, sorry you had a bad experience with them.

    Puppy 5.2.5 is da bomb!

  7. great system for the kids, basic apps, works sort of out of the box with a bit of tweaking.Ubuntu repo's supplied if you don't mind searching for dependencies and lots of compiling. if you want a serious distro, this ain't it, as I said, great for the kids but grown ups look elsewhere. biggest draw back is the Puppy forum community, absolutely useless!!! I asked a simple question there and happened to mention Ubuntu and all I got was loads of idiots deriding Ubuntu rather than providing answers!! I have used various Linux distro's and have never encountered such a closed community as Puppy. hardly the Linux way!

  8. puppy is great it doesn't need any changes in it's concept, it could use some improvement with the wireless configuration and what I think it should have is a gui slackware package manger so you could install the packages easier with out all the manual steps you have to take to use a slackware package and one that is for packages that aren't specific to puppy. I do agree that puppy isn't good for installing to a hard drive it works best installed in ram while saving everything on a pindrive.

    for what it is intended to do it's very fast I boot my laptop with the cd with everything is saved on my pin in a few seconds I am surfing the web. This is of course after I had set everything up. I found that once you get it configured and have it setup with what you need then you make a back up of it and if later something goes wrong puppy becomes indestructible because you just have to restore the back up and you are right back surfing the web like nothing happened in a few seconds.

  9. Actually, Puppy is not too difficult for beginners, and in one respect is almost perfect for potential Windows refugees: it does not need to be installed (and in fact, shouldn't be in most cases). It's one of the few distros that can be used for real work while still keeping that old Windows security blanket around. No dual-boot worries, just pop open the CD drawer. And any snags new users run into are usually answered quickly on the forums.

    Puppy is not just "cute and simple". It harkens back to earlier days when your tools were just what you needed and no more, and when you felt you controlled your computer, rather than it being weighed down with bloat and malware.

    Puppy's main downside is being a bit on the experimental end of things (it ain't Debian) and documentation is a bit scattered. But I've been using it as my main distro since version 2.0. Keep coming back…

    The only reason to do a full install is for very old machines with small memories, that cannot hold the full puppy .sfs file. Many people make the mistake of doing a full install when conditions don't warrant it. It really is a live CD or DVD or USB Flash system and should be used that way.

  10. Thanks for a thorough review of Puppy 5. I like the reviews at this site because you provide more detail than the quickie opinions I find elsewhere.

    I'm a longtime Puppy user because I can run it on older equipment and it flies. Based on this review I'll probably upgrade to version 5, mainly becaus of the link to the Ubuntu repositories (one of the few downsides to Puppy before was the limited size of its own proprietary repository).

    There's been lots of discussion on the Puppy forums about using the ROOT user id. In practice it matters not a whit (though this could change someday).

    Altogether, if you're looking for a low-system requirements OS you're really making a mistake if you overlook Puppy.

  11. antiX can run from a thumbdrive, though it might not be the "easiest" version to run that way. Puppy won a four way thumbdrive shootout about two years ago.

    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/put-mandriva-2010-on… – suggests a way to put Mandriva on a USB flash drive. IF you want a rich desktop experience, that would be a great way to go too.

    If you want something in between Puppy and Mandriva, Lubuntu would be a good choice, Peppermint OS One (or Peppermint Ice) might be additional choices. Like I said, I like antiX, but that may not be a very popular choice.

  12. Randy wrote:

    How does Puppy Linux stack up against Damn Small Linux? Also, can anyone recommend a lightweight distro that specializes in running from a thumbdrive?

    Damn Small Linux (DSL) has not been updated or upgraded a whole lot. I am not sure that it is completely "inactive", but it is definitely what I'd consider "dormant". In spite of that, a lot of people use it. Personally, I'd take Puppy over it any day. The only reason I'd go with DSL is if I could not get a newer system to work with aging hardware. Otherwise, Puppy is more flexible, has more current software, it can be used in a wider variety of ways, and I believe that there are more useful system recovery tools with Puppy than with DSL.

    Pluses for DSL are that it is quite small and quick. Unless your system is really old though, Puppy is plenty responsive and modest in size, so I prefer it compared to DSL.

    Years ago, there was a really nice, lightweight distro called Feather Linux. Too bad that one faded; I liked it best of the really small distros in its day.

    These days, overall Puppy is arguably the best of the small ones. Ratchet up the size just a bit and I prefer antiX – which is what I actually use the most often on my systems when I want a system that's smaller than the "biggies", yet functional enough to do everything I want and need to do.

  13. How does Puppy Linux stack up against Damn Small Linux? Also, can anyone recommend a lightweight distro that specializes in running from a thumbdrive?

  14. Side note, the BOINC zombie also works if you boot Puppy from a CD, and use the desktop or lappy's internal hdd as the storage bin for the BOINC projects and Puppy settings. I've done both ways…using a CD boot with hdd as storage, and another desktop missing the hdd which I just used a flashstick for everything.

    Of all the lite distros I've tried, Puppy is the most complete. DSL was just too restrictive in trying to get wifi to work. Slitaz was a pain with hardware (and still pretty big for REALLY old hardware, like 266mhz's). Puppy is a very complete and fairly user-friendly distro. Maybe not for a beginner, but definitely for an intermediate or advanced who just wants an easy solution to old hardware or blazing speed.

  15. I've used puppy as a hdd install on an old 266mhz lappy with 32mb ram. It worked like a charm. I use it as a backup lappy in case my netbook borks up.

    One of the best things I've found with Puppy is to use it as an impromptu BOINC zombie maker. You get an old box or lappy, toss a 1gb flash stick on it with Puppy bootable, then config the BIOS to auto-reboot in case of power failure. You boot it up, get puppy setup, d/l BOINC & install it on the flash stick then let it start crunching projects. You can petget a VNC server, so you can check in on the box/lappy from another machine. Then you just let it go. If there's a power failure, the machine will just reboot and keep going. Used to have 3 P3's in a closet like this, 2 of which wifi'ed & another was hardlined into a windows comp that had internet connection sharing.

  16. I've experimented with the Puppy V5.0.1 (Lupu) release after earlier experimenting with Quirky 1.0 just before that, ShepherdPup (from 09/25/09), and Puppy 4.3.1 before that.

    This version is as good as any of the earlier ones. I am going to give it a bit of time again on my Virtualbox, and I will report any interesting new findings.

  17. Just a comment on the assessment that it is not for beginners:

    This is the first linux distro I (a green newbie) could reliably count on to configure x server and network on back when 2.0 came out. Trust me it is for beginners and windows refugees. Back then, the only big distro's I could get to run were Mepis (antix) and Mandriva.

    I personally have watched this distro grow up and it is looking so good these days.


  18. Last night I was testing Puppy5 out on an old Compaq laptop I have. I've ran Puppy on it before to great success for how outdated the hardware is.

    For the most part I think it works fine on older PC's but I did run into many problems trying to actually use the Ubuntu Lucid repositories. Every program I attempted to install ended up having missing dependencies and wouldn't run. I tried to install VLC, Calibre e-book reader, and a few other multimedia programs, and it didn't install all the necessary dependencies for them.

  19. I am really loving this little wolf it is like breeze of fresh air

    it is fast and has no problem in finding all the network interfaces

    and drivers.Make sure to install chromium as the browser since both

    firefox and puppy browser crash.It is just an amazing piece of work.

    Try it anybody can learn the Puppy. :devil:

  20. Hmm, I hear a lot of these comments saying that puppy is good as portable system and making full install is out of context and bad but let me tell you there's nothing you can't have on puppy that you have on some other distribution. Not having bunch of apps by default doesn't mean you can't make it fat after install and use everyday as regular distro, in fact bunch of regular puppy users do it every day.

    For example I made a puplet (customized puppy version – unofficial remaster) that is about 425 MB and has KDE 3.5.10 and bunch of kde apps – amarok, ktorrent and others, latest firefox, multimedia apps like hydrogen lmms, both mplayer and vlc with alternative frontend.

    Being small and having root access means giving user choice to leave it lightweight or pimp it up with apps, modify the way they like and make it regular desktop OS.

    Despite being friendly to users and having many small GUI tools it still doesn't threat you as an idiot.

  21. "Puppy Linux 5.0 is perfect for intermediate and advanced Linux users. However, I worry about recommending Puppy Linux 5.0 to beginners. The network configuration might throw some Linux newbies off…"

    That's sort of the crux of a problem: cute and simple usually are not what intermediate and advanced users want and complexity is not what casual users need. Puppy should decide what it wants to be.

  22. Puppy is great for working from a removable media source, and using that removable source to save both the ISO image and any modifiable content. In that context, either as a Live CD or SSD style system, loading it completely into RAM and writing to a writable media to save information (you can mount a hard drive, too, if you want to save information there) it is great. But to install this on a hard drive, you then run into comparisons with other more full featured systems and that's where Puppy might be found lacking.

    Constrain the Pup to its leash and use it where it wanders the best – staying in RAM and saving its context on a removable device, and this is one of the best, if not THE BEST, system of its type. Use it out of that context, though, and Puppy, in other contexts, can show up looking incomplete, broken, inappropriate, and more. That's not fair.

    Ubuntu, to carry the analogy further, to me makes a terrible Live CD. It boots up error free, but from CD I find it as slow as maple syrup in Maine in January, and that is slow. Install Ubuntu and configure it with the software that its consumer base uses, though, and it's great. Give Puppy the same opportunity, and use it the way that most of its followers use it, and Puppy is great too.

    I rate Puppy near the top when used in its proper context.

    For my purposes, I do tend to prefer antiX. It is a bit larger, so it loads somewhat slower live than Puppy, but it can do much more, plus it can run from memory like Puppy. I use Puppy when I am definitely going to be doing mostly Internet based browsing activity. I use antiX when I am looking for speed and access to my information, generally running from an installed image. Both are great at what they do best, and flexible enough that they can be modified and used in environments that are not the sweet spot of their original design intent. That speaks well for both Puppy and antiX, so for me I give Puppy a thumbs up.

  23. I have to agree that the review did not address the key issues I had with Puppy (which I do love BTW) which was wireless configuration, the lack of user/superuser/root separation and a lower degree of hardware compatibility.

  24. @mike lee: It still works, but Lucid Puppy seems to rerun the X configuration wizard when you do it, where older Puppy releases just restarted X with the existing settings (and the wizard was another command entirely).

  25. The ability to use the ubuntu repos is a huge step forward. I always found the old pupget system to be clumsy and limited. I haven't tried my acid test which is installing a Netgear wifi dongle that needs ndiswrapper and two u$oft drivers. 5.0 came up quicker than previous versions and the video detection seemed better on my main box. Burning the iso was critical and I made two coasters before I reverted to my old HP CD burner that will work at 4x. Finding the right drive settings to load it on the thumb drive was a major pain but once loaded, runs great. It is ultra-secure used that way, despite the root issue mentioned above.

    That said, I recently tried TinyMe 2010 on my ancient compaq laptop (K6-2 433 with 192M ram) and it rocks! Same headache on the Netgear dongle and worse, had to compile a fresh copy of ndiswrapper to make it work. The Midori browser in TimyMe is very light and fast with the best rendering I have seen yet in a lite browser.

  26. Jim, what is the situation with account/user management? In the past Puppy has not bothered at all with the concept of a "root" user. The entire system is open at all times. If we assume Puppy simply runs off its CD (or entirely in RAM) that is one scenario. If it is loaded on a hard drive that is another.

    I tracked Puppy for a while and wrote several reviews. It impressed me as very clever with some very nice considerations for users who still had to use dial-up connections, for example. Is that still true?

    BTW, Puppy also had just about the clumsiest tool I have seen for wireless configuration. I surely hope that is improved!

    In the end I left it because I just could not get comfortable with the lack of a root user, which seemed to me essential for protecting the integrity of the system. But there is a lengthy discussion of this on the Puppy website. Barry Kauler does make a good case for his approach.

  27. Many of the programs I use are written by myself in Python. Puppy 5.0 claims that Python can be installed by pet, but this is not true. The pet package is much too small for Python. DistroWatch states that Python 2.6.5 is already contained in Puppy Linux 5.0. Try "python" in a console and you will see what happens.

  28. Puppy Linux is a very good system for running Live, physically loading everything into RAM and running straight from RAM. Now that Barry Kauler has made good progress on the Woof infrastructure that he's been wanting to complete for the past two years, we can have systems based on Ubuntu, or for that matter, whatever packaging style the creator decides to use. For Lucid Puppy, that means we get the Lucid repository from the Ubuntu project. Puppy has used the Slackware repositories in the past, and there is a possibility that a future project using the Woof technology could, once again, use Slackware packages. They'd certainly be light and fast.

    Jim, I don't know which browser and plugins you were using when you ran into problems. I ran Quirky last week and did not encounter any specific problems but I did not really beat on it.

    I find no value at all to installing Puppy on a hard drive. Used in that way, I find Puppy, at least past releases, to be at a disadvantage compared to full featured distributions. When loaded directly into memory, however, Puppy is one of the most nimble and useful distributions available for routine tasks.

    Now that the Woof infrastructure has been tied to a readily upgradable packaging structure, Puppy makes an interesting alternative to antiX, which I've felt has been a better, more complete system in terms of flexibility. I still feel that antiX is more stable and has a rich set of tools, but Puppy provides a strong alternative. If you want something smaller, Puppy wins. If you want something more initially complete, antiX wins. Both are flexible when it comes to installing onto a stick or removable device.

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