Spotlight on Linux: Puppy Linux 5.2

Puppy Linux began life as a really cool small-sized Linux distribution designed primarily for lower specification hardware while still providing most of the amenities that make Linux fun and usable. It included lots of original utilities and tools for completing tasks and configurations without a lot of resource overhead. Best of all, it was blazing fast. Well, the little puppy has grown up some and branched out, but is still that same light-weight wonder in spirit.

The latest release, 5.2, codenamed Lucid Puppy, is a result of branching out of the project in new directions. In late 2008 Puppy developers designed a new build system, Woof, that can take binaries of other popular distributions and incorporate them into new Puppy builds. One of the most commonly used, and probably most popular, is Ubuntu. Underneath, the foundation is still the independent Puppy we know and love, but many components come from Ubuntu such as shared libraries and some applications. As a result, Puppy Linux 5.2 is compatible with many other Ubuntu packages. Whether this has increased Puppy's popularity could be debated, but according to Distrowatch.com's Page Hit Ranking, Puppy has been moving up the chart each year with the biggest jumps seen since Woof has been used to make Ubuntu compatible versions.

One of the most remarkable things about Puppy Linux is that it's a very small download size. It began life around the 50 MB range, but later grew to just over 100 MB. Still, it's quite small when many distribution images are getting too big to fit on a CD. Puppy's small size lends it very easily to installation onto USB memory keys with the ability to save any personalize settings and installed software. When booting, Puppy loads into your machine's permanent memory (RAM), which frees up the boot device for other uses. That also makes for a remarkably fast system.

Puppy's interface and tools also contribute to the high performance. Puppy uses JWM and OpenBox with FBPanel, all known for their minimum system requirements. Most tools have a simple interface and some are console-based. Contrary to common belief, this doesn't make them difficult to use. And there is quite a selection as well. There are tools to configure and monitor just about every aspect of the system, including eye candy.

Puppy ships with lots of smaller but useful applications too. Among many others you'll find Gnumeric spreadsheet, Osmo personal organizer, HomeBank money management, photo and image tools, editors, multimedia apps, Slypheed for mail, and Dillo for Web surfing. But like any respectable distro Puppy comes with an easy and attractive package management solution with several repository choices. Lucid Puppy is default, but Ubuntu repositories are a tick-box check away. Easier still is QuickPet which lists popular software choices and with one click will install your favorites. This is where you can install things like Firefox, Pidgin, NVIDIA drivers, GIMP, and LibreOffice.

Puppy is a fun little distro with lots of potential and flexibility. The live CD is suitable for any level of experience, although a permanent install might require a bit of knowledge about partitions and such. It has a cute appearance these days and runs like a scalded dog, ...er, um, puppy.

______________________

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

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nice one

Hampshire Cooking Schools's picture

Two of my hosting customers had domains stolen by GoDaddy.

GoDaddy can talk all they want, their actions speak much louder than their words.

I will never give them my money.

Puppy - fast, small, useful - how computers should be

miriam english's picture

I've been using Puppy since version 1.03 and it has come a long way since then. The emphasis has always been on small and fast, avoiding bloat. I've been in computers since the earliest 8-bit days. While marvelling at the capabilities of new machines and their software I've gradually become dismayed at the growth of bloat and the attendant slowdown. Yes, we have faster machines, but they would run even faster if they had efficient code. My old 30MHz Amiga ran not much slower than a modern 2GHz computer on Ubuntu. Back then the Amiga's entire multitasking operating system ran in just 1 or 2MB of space, providing most of what we need for normal day-to-day computing. Puppy doesn't quite return us to those days of super-high efficiency, but it does give us all the modern conveniences in just 100MB. This makes old, slow machines usable once more and lets new, fast machines move like lightning. It also lets me use my hard drives for data instead of wasting it on OS bloat. With new terabyte drives this is less of a problem, but it is still nice to be able to fit my OS into a tiny partition, letting me experiment with several installed versions of Puppy, all together taking up less room than a single install of Ubuntu. There is also the fact that I can carry Puppy in my pocket on a flash drive. Also the fact that Puppy live CDs are terrific rescue CDs to fix broken systems, carrying a full windowing OS on there -- all the tools you're used to are right there.
All in all, Puppy is a brilliant move.

good resource

Nevada Cooking Schools's picture

very every nice post. thanks for sharing all with us. i am definitely going to follow you for your future post.

Hampshire Cooking Schools

Hampshire Cooking Schools's picture

Yes, GoDaddy does this too! I've had a few domains poached after inquiring about them through GoDaddy. Also, what right does GoDaddy have to use MY PAID domain name for their own PPC ads? That's dishonest!

Linux Insider article talks about installing Kraft on Puppy 5.2

WB7ODY Fred's picture

http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/Kraft-A-No-Nonsense-Office-Assistant-T...

This article by Jack M Germain, mentions his use of Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.2 on his computers and described it as not hard to install Kraft on Puppy Linux from the Ubuntu Repositories.

A nice read. I have installed and used Puppy Linux in a HDD install so that I can compile programs. I have a 4.1.11 4.2.1 and 5.2 Puppy Linux installs.
Makes good use of older computers and just flys on newer computers. Puppy is very fast and makes it a joy to use a computer. You can see the difference when a WIN XP computer is infested with virus compared to a Puppy Boot and surfing the internet.

WB7ODY Fred Share and promote Puppy with your friends. Download and burn a cd. Install Puppy to a USB flash disk and show n tell your neighbors.
http://www.puppylinux.org Puppy Linux download website

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy Puppy Linux Forum
http://www.wellminded.com/puppy/pupsearch.html Puppy Murga Forum Search Tool
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/index.php?f=12 Puppy Power forum
http://www.bkhome.org/blog Barry Kaulers BLog
http://www.bkhome.org Baryy Kauler Home page

love of puppy linux

reckrhodes's picture

Ubuntu or Edubuntu introduces me to what linux really is but it is Puppy Linux that made me in-love with the GNU/Linux existence. Thank you for your positive review of my favorite linux distribution.

Puppy for Programmers?

FriskyFerret's picture

Is there a Puppy Linux out there for programmers? (Includes gcc, make, etc... would be awesome if it supports programming with QT)

Yes

David McClamrock's picture

Don't know about QT offhand, but for gcc, make, etc., all you need to do is download the "GNU Compiler lupu_devx_520.sfs" squashfile by way of the "Sfs Get" tab in Quickpet; then you'll be prompted to reboot so Puppy will recognize this added SFS file in addition to the two basic ones (Puppy main file and personal save file).

Yay for Puppy

Aatch's picture

Good to see that Puppy is getting the attention it deserves. I don't use it myself, since I prefer a more hands-on approach to linux installation. I have used it in the past and found it to be a fun little OS. It was hilarious seeing my Computer Teacher's face when I booted a school computer into Puppy.

Puppy Linux Rocks!

UnklAdM's picture

I first 'found' my puppy at version 2.15, a 'community' release, and have been in love with it ever since. I use it at work and at home, frugal and full HDD installs, and I've even created my own customized versions and packages for my own use. I even carry Puppy in my pocket wherever I go.

The puppy community is strong and well versed, and a little searching will usually find either a solution or a straight up 'will not work with this version'.

I`ve found that many mainstream applications can be installed in Puppy Linux directly from the application's website. Look for versions with 'static libraries' (all libraries included) with 'tar.gz' extensions. Simply download and unpack the package, locate the folder containing the install files, press '~' in the file manager (ROX) to invoke a command line, and simply run the install script via a './install' or './install.bin'.

I regularly install and upgrade packages including Skype, OpenOffice, Java, Opera, Firefox, Thunderbird, Picassa, and Acrobat just to name a few.

Puppy Linux is the most powerful tool in my toolchest. Just look for a version that works well with your hardware, and customize. A little tinkering goes a long way, and you will learn allot as you play with this puppy.

- UnklAdM

great comment

tgerhard60's picture

Thank you for this -- it is one of the best commentaries on Puppy that I have read in a while.

Puppy Linux is the most powerful tool in my toolchest. ... A little tinkering goes a long way, and you will learn allot as you play with this puppy.

I do have to echo that Puppy is indeed powerful and the playing and tinkering opportunities are endless.

please HD install on puppy

Anonymous's picture

please HD install on puppy is fairly easy even for a rank novice. I did it in like 5 min without even looking up documentation. Puppy is a great distro for a beginner. my only dislike is puppies obsession with jwm. which lets face it is outdated.

Puppy

Anonymous's picture

My wife and daughter both now have laptops that were being discarded at work because they were useless with Windows.

I couldn't even get Ubuntu to run on these things.

With Puppy they boot and run perfectly and quickly. Great disto for old stuff.

Couldn't agree more

GregL's picture

I've installed Puppy for years on machines that wouldn't run anything past Win98 and it runs beautifully. Great distro to help you keep old hardware in the home/school/office and out of the landfill.

Even though I love ubuntu and

goody's picture

Even though I love ubuntu and have been using it for years, I'm still on the fence about this whole puppy/ubuntu thing. I thought puppy 4.2.1 was brilliant as is, without the need to be compatible with other distro's binaries. Then again, maybe I'm just old fashioned.

The older versions of Puppy

Tuxly_Tuxford_McTuxtington's picture

The older versions of Puppy just didn't have enough software available. Most often, when I wanted to install anything other than the most popular packages, I'd have to search the Puppy forum and hope that somebody posted the .pet. If I did this 20 times, that meant that I had trusted 20 random people with the security of my computer (as I'm trusting that they don't introduce anything malicious into my system when I install the .pet).

I feel a lot safer using official repositories, which I now have access to thanks to Ubuntu compatibility.

Agree

tgerhard60's picture

Agreed -- 4.2.1 is terrific: plays movies and audio without trouble, can do Python and Tcl/Tk development right off the bat, and the Seamonkey browser and web development suite is terrific (and incredibly underrated).

The only quirk with 4.3.1 is getting the sound to work.

I'm just worried that the lean toward ubuntu binaries will keep Puppy from remaining the zippy, productive and fun distro it is.

Disagree

Joseph G. Mitzen's picture

The worst thing about Puppy for ages was that there was no effective package management like any other Linux distro. There was no automatic dependency resolution and no repositories - if you wanted to install anything you had to look in the *forum* and see if anyone had posted a link to a .pet package they'd stored on some personal FTP space somewhere! There were really no dedicated package builders or maintainers either. It was a PITA to get non-included software running - you might need to compile it yourself, which involved downloading overlays because Puppy didn't include headers and other files, compiling on a PC that was probably memory and CPU deficient to begin with, etc. YUCK.

With Woof's ability to build Puppy from other distros (like Ubuntu) rather than T2, the option to have a real repository and package management has finally been introduced. Puppy made Slackware look like Fedora in comparison previously when it came to package management. :-)

They haven't gone far enough, though... they still have their own .pet package format and the Puppy Package Manager downloads all the Ubuntu package data and converts it to pet package data which is still time and CPU consuming and worse if you're running from a flash drive. If I were them I'd enable Woof to build from the openSUSE distro then incorporate openSUSE's zypper installer via libzypp and use the openSUSE build service and completely abandon their antiquated and unneccessary .pet tools. Package management is vastly improved in Puppy but still its weakest feature and adopting a standard and leveraging others' strengths would really improve Puppy. This is a distro that not only does its own thing and breaks standards and writes its own software, its even created its own programming language (PuppyBasic) to write it in! Hopefully they've begun to see the light and will eventually become more standards compliant in the package area in the future.

I agree with your points on

Anonymous's picture

I agree with your points on the package management.

However, there are now solutions that allow Puppy to be run as a clean install every time (or with just basic settings and no additional software installation if you want). You can then use executables from places like www.portablelinuxapps.org and not have to do any installation at all.

Very handy.

Versatility

saiftynet's picture

Not only is it compact and runs on old hardware, it is supremely versatile. I use Puppy at home and at work.

  1. It lets me run my programs booting from a USB without touching the work computers hard drive.
  2. In Live USB mode or Frugal hard drive install, there are only three files to change to upgrade the puppy
  3. It allows me to have many Pupsave files, so that from one install I can access multiple configurations. On my USB can boot up with Office functionality, an XAMPP webserver, a Windows recovery toolkit or naked puppy, and still have 5 out of 8GB free
  4. My work savefile is encrypted for privacy
  5. I can always roll back to install state simply by removing the initial save file.
  6. ... many others

My old 2gb Asus EEPC, can hold 3 installs of Puppy (5.1, 4.31, and arcade), and many save files...

Hard drive install

Anonymous's picture

2 comments.

Did a live cd test. Cursor did not present correctly. No way found to adjust.

re; HDD install

Have followed Puppy for years. What has held me back is the hdd install.
What a shame the
Sanjay Prasad wrote earlier:
" Bottom Line:
Easy Install to hard disk is not there,an expert can only configure its boot loader."
We haven't come very far after all.

The hard drive install is not

tgerhard60's picture

The hard drive install is not difficult at all, actually. There is documentation available on the Puppy forums (http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/) and wiki (http://puppylinux.org/wikka/HomePage) that walks you through it.

I'm currently running 4.3.1 (old desktop) and 4.2.1 (old laptop) and really enjoy them both. I've tried Xubuntu and Ubuntu both and have become dissatisfied with its bloat. That said, I may give 5.2 a try on a USB drive just to see whats up with it.

Thanks for the article! Nice to see Puppy getting some love.

Tom

Thank you...

JShuford's picture

My child uses "Puppy"; I wasn't aware of an update / release.

Thank you again!

...I'm not just a "troll", but also a subscriber!

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