I’ve reviewed so many different Ubuntu remasters that I’ve more or less become numb when I see a new one. After all, aren’t they all pretty much the same? Well no, not really. Different remasters offer different things. This week I decided to look at Pinguy OS. Pinguy OS is a strange blend of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and a bunch of other stuff all rolled into a unique package. It contains the default Ubuntu features and a whole lot more including a ton of multimedia codecs, additional desktop goodies, and a great range of default software.
Before I get into the review, you’re probably wondering what Pinguy OS is and why it was made. Here’s a brief bit of background from Antoni Norman where he explains why he created Pinguy OS and how it’s different from Ubuntu:
Ubuntu is a great OS and undoubtedly the most popular and easiest Linux based Distro to use but even with its default setup and chosen programs it’s still lacking functionality and ease of use for most new users. So what I decided to do was build a Distro that looks good, could do everything most user would ever want to do and that was very simple to use.
I started out by listening to what my friends and family wanted to use their PC for and found the most user friendly programs for the task they wanted to do. After a while I got a good idea what most people use their PC for and what programs where the easiest to use. Like using Shotwell for easily uploading images to Facebook, gtkpod for putting music, photos and video on a ipod/iphone and mvPod for converting the video to a iPod friendly format.
So all the programs in Pinguy OS have been chosen because of there ease of use and functionality, I also changed every file type to open with the right program, like for some reason by default .iso are opened with Archive Manager so I changed that to Brasero Disc Burner.
As I already said apart from it being easy to use I also wanted it to be a very good looking operating system. There are now a lot of programs out there for Linux to give the OS a very smart and polished implementation, like CoverGloobus, Gloobus Preview, GNOME Do, and Docky. These programs don’t just give the OS a good look and feel but they are also very useful and handy.
Pinguy OS is an optimise build of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Minimal CD with added repositories, tweaks and enhancements that can run as a Live DVD or be installed. It has all the added packages needed for video, music and web content e.g. flash and java, plus a few fixes as well. Like fixing the wireless problems, gwibber’s Facebook problem and flash videos in full-screen.
Everything is set-up for samba, all you need to do is right click a folder you want to share and add a password in samba using system-config-samba.
It also has a UPnP/DLNA server (pms-linux) so you can share your music, video’s etc. With a PS3, XBOX 360, Smart Phones or any other UPnP/DLNA media reader.
Nautilus has been replaced for Elementary-Nautilus with added plug-ins so it can get music and video art from the web. The default theme is Elementary using ttf-droid font with Docky and a custom Conky.
I have also added DVB support to Totem for anyone with a TV card that wants to watch tv on their PC but don’t want to install a dedicated program like myth-tv.
For a full list of installed programs and repos for 10.04.1 *OLD* download this file.
If you like this Distro and would like to help it improve and grow you can always donate, it doesn’t matter how small the amount is, it all helps.
What’s New In This Release
This release is actually a minor update to the original 10.04.1 release, so there’s not much to report in this section in terms of new features. However, here are some of the features you should take note of that are found in Pinguy OS:
Ubuntu Software Center
Linux Mint MintMenu
Linux Mint MintUpdate
I’ll look at each of these features in the appropriate sections of the review. Suffice to say that they add a lot of value to Pinguy OS, and they set it apart from some of the other Ubuntu remasters.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s what you’ll need to run Pinguy OS:
Recommended minimum requirements
Pinguy OS should run reasonably well on a computer with the following minimum hardware specification. However, features such as visual effects may not run smoothly.
- 700 MHz x86 processor
- 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
- 8 GB of disk space
- Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
- Sound card
- A network or Internet connection
Recommended for visual effects
Visual effects provide various special graphical effects for your desktop to make it look and feel more fun and easier to use. If your computer is not powerful enough to run visual effects, you can turn them off and will still have a usable Pinguy OS desktop. Visual effects are turned on by default if you have a graphics card which is supported. For information on supported graphics cards, see DesktopEffects.
- 1.2 GHz x86 processor
- 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
- Supported graphics card (see DesktopEffects)
Installing Pinguy OS is as simple and easy as installing Ubuntu itself. The install is quick and painless. Pinguy OS is a Live DVD distro, so you can simply pop the DVD in and run it without actually having to install it onto your computer. The ISO file I downloaded was about 1.43 GB.
The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the bootsplash and login screens look like in Pinguy OS:
The Pinguy OS desktop is unique, it reminds me a tad bit of Mac OS X. You’ll find two Docky bars at the bottom of the screen and on the left. The bottom Docky bar reminds me of the Mac OS X Dock. You’ll find the Docky control icon, as well as the Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge, Rhythmbox, VLC, Terminal and Trash icons on it. The Docky bar on the left contains links to your Computer, Home, Documents, Music, Photos, Video and Download folders.
There is also a menu at the top of the screen that contains the usual links. Clicking the Pinguy OS (start) button on the panel at the top launches the MintMenu. From there you can access all of the usual stuff. The MintMenu from Linux Mint is quite nice. If you haven’t used it before, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s somewhat strange to find it in this distro, but it works well.
There is also a system monitor called Conky on by default on the desktop. It lets you see CPU, RAM, disk, and other information. It’s actually quite interesting; the only thing I didn’t like about it though is that there seems to be no way to configure it or turn it off.
Beyond that, the desktop is uncluttered. The wallpaper is subdued and features a bridge during sunset. If you right-click the desktop you can change the wallpaper by choosing from a selection included with Pinguy OS or you can go online to get more wallpaper. You can also adjust the theme, fonts and visual effects.
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.
Rapid Photo Downloader
Shotwell Photo Manager
Deluge BitTorrent Client
TED: Torrent Episode Downloader
gtkpod iPod Manager
OpenShot Video Editor
VLC Media Player
Pinguy OS comes with the Ubuntu Software Center, so you have complete access to all of the applications available in it. It also comes with Linux Mint’s excellent Update Manager, MintUpdate. Adding and removing software is quite simple in the Ubuntu Software Center. Find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button.
Pinguy OS uses Firefox for its default browser, and Firefox is loaded with extensions. There are 26 extensions installed by default, more than enough to satisfy the most discriminating user.
The only one I disagree with including is Adblock Plus. Bundling ad blockers in distros is a very disturbing trend and one that has the potential to hurt web publishers like myself, as I noted in a recent column called “The Web’s Welfare Readers.” It’s one thing for a user to decide to install an ad blocker, but it’s another thing for a distro developer to do so. Hopefully it will either be removed altogether or turned off by default in future versions of Pinguy OS (as well as other distros).
Here’s a list of the extensions you’ll find:
British English Dictionary
MR Tech Toolkit
myFireFox & Vista-aero Modifier
Plain Text Links
Tab Progress Bar
Ubuntu Firefox Modifications
Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
As I noted at the beginning of the review, Pinguy OS comes bundled with multimedia codecs. Flash is installed by default, I had no problems playing YouTube videos in Firefox.
Pinguy OS comes with a lot of great multimedia software including HandBrake, OpenShot Video Editor, VLC, Rhythymbox and other applications. There’s enough installed by default to cover pretty much any user’s multimedia needs. You probably won’t need to sift through the Ubuntu Software Center looking for multimedia applications.
Problems & Headaches
Pinguy OS is one of the distros that gives me a huge headache when I go to write this section, but not for the reason you might think. I, unfortunately, did not bump into any noticeable problems or headaches! I hate when this happens. Perhaps in the next release I’ll find some juicy bugs or something will blow up or something. This time around though Pinguy OS ran very well for me. Darn it.
One thing that might possibly annoy some users is the 26 addons bundled into Firefox. Users that are concerned with browser performance might not appreciate having that many available by default. However, this is a very subjective potential problem and will depend very much on the user. I didn’t notice any overt performance issues with Firefox while I was running Pinguy OS, but your mileage may vary. You can, of course, uninstall the addons so you aren’t locked into using them if you prefer not to.
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.
You might also want to check out the Pinguy OS forum for support issues and to connect with other Pinguy OS users.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Pinguy OS is an excellent desktop distro for those who want it all in one package, with little or no need to install anything else. Everything you need to do most desktop tasks is installed by default. Plus you get the excellent Linux Mint MintMenu & MintUpdate, and the Ubuntu Software Center. Conky and Docky also had some significant value to the Pinguy OS desktop experience.
I used to call Linux Mint “Ubuntu On Steroids”; Pinguy OS takes Linux Mint one step farther and adds another layer of useful goodies to Ubuntu. If you haven’t already tried it, give it a download. It’s worth considering if you want a truly full-featured desktop distro.
Pinguy OS is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
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.
|Product:||Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2|
|Pros:||Comes bundled with a good selection of software; MintMenu & MintUpdate; the Ubuntu Software Center; multimedia codecs.|
|Cons:||Its very strength in bundling so many things to improve the desktop user experience might also be a turn-off for those think that less is more in a distro.|
|Suitable For:||Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.|
|Summary:||Pinguy OS provides a complete desktop distro solution that newbies and experienced users alike can enjoy.|