Puppy Linux 5.0 “Lucid Puppy” Released

Puppy Linux 5.0 “Lucid Puppy” Released

May sees the release of the new Puppy Linux, version 5.0, also known as Lucid Puppy. For the uninitiated, the main deployment target of Puppy Linux is older, resource constrained computers. In addition, it makes quite a handy live CD for emergency and recovery use.

As you might have guessed from the name, this version represents a break from the past as it is now based on packages from the latest version of Ubuntu Linux. As Ubuntu itself is better known as a popular choice for well specified desktop computers, one might wonder if Ubuntu + Puppy could result in a conflict of design interests. Let's take a look.

I was pleasantly surprised as booting from the CD-ROM seems considerably faster than with older versions. Unlike those versions, which began with a series of text mode questions to determine screen, locale and language options, this latest version takes you straight to the desktop. The aforementioned configuration is now part of a unified configuration tool that is initiated from a GUI menu. Which approach you prefer is probably a matter of taste.

Beyond that, if you've used Puppy before, you probably have a good idea of what to expect. One change is that Puppy now offers a choice of web browsers. This represents a small compromise because older Puppy distributions came with a fairly fully featured version of Seamonkey, but this version comes with a stripped down browser that lacks a tabbed interface and other niceties. Thankfully, you can select alternative browsers, and these are automatically downloaded and installed.

Further additions can be made to the system using the package manger, and these changes can even be applied if you are running from a live CD. Now that Puppy can use Ubuntu packages, it has access to an even greater range of software. For greater ease of use by non experts, the main package manager is now complemented by Quickpet, a simplified application installer that allows the easy installation of about 30 common applications.

As I said, Puppy makes a very handy Live CD. In this role, it continues to offer, in addition to basic web browsing, a text editor, a word processor, a file manager and GParted, the partition editor and copier. Let's just say that Puppy has saved my bacon a few times. That said, as you might expect, it doesn't come with the sort of low level tools featured in dedicated recovery systems such as SystemRescueCD or Ultimate Boot CD.

Quite frankly, as with the previous version, once installed to the hard disk, Puppy could probably be used to build a competent system for the average user, albeit with a less flashy desktop and fewer bells and whistles. Although, it wouldn't be my first choice for a more modern desktop or laptop.

The Puppy Linux website is currently in a transitional phase because it's far too early to demote information relating to the 4.x line, and as a result, the 5.x information is not yet very prominent. There are quite a lot of specialized, custom Puppy builds, but finding them is a question of patience when navigating the site and searching the forum.

My initial fears, that the move over to Ubuntu packages would have a serious negative impact on performance and resource usage, seem to have been unfounded. As ever, Puppy booted into a useful and responsive desktop on a test setup with 256MB of RAM. It remains my go to distribution for a certain type of project.

Is Puppy the best in its class? Feel free to tell us about other great low-resource desktop distributions.


UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.


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sinosells's picture

Thank you for your discussion, I found the perfect answer, thank you very much..


Dileep's picture

I am thankful to all of you behind this great thing called puppy linux (now using 4.3.1)
I have an old computer AMD2400+ Gigabyte 7VM333 board + 1GB ram + 20GB ATA HDD( leftover from previous pc) My HDD had failed and only SATA hdd is available here and with adapter they supplied it did not boot with my old winXP. That is when I came across puppy.
I bought a flash drive (4 GB sandisk) and installed puppy.
Wow . I am happy. I continue with the same PC with no worries.

Once again, thank you Barry and all of you there with this for this magnificient little magician.

With regards,

Kochi, Kerala. India

we are even, i am from

Anonymous's picture

we are even, i am from pattimattom

Glad you like it! I keep

tgerhard60's picture

Glad you like it! I keep finding more and more things I love about this distro.

I used to have a full install, but recently did a frugal with 5.0, and every day is a joy with my ancient Dell Optiplex.

You might want to try browsing the community forums and the support chat in irc.freenode.net is #puppylinux. It's a pretty friendly and helpful group.



works great

cebuntu's picture

tried it for 3 days and really works cool than any puppy derivative. however there are programs you might want installed by default such as pidgin and openoffice.

the quickpet work great too. hope they'll add vlc later

Thanks for the review. I was

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the review. I was really useful to me this past weekend when I decided to put an old Dell laptop (c. 2004) back into use for around the house at home for basic browsing, e-mail, perhaps some word processing, etc. This laptop still has XP on it, but it runs at a snail's pace. I've been reading about small distros for a few years now (mainly Puppy and DSL), and I've occasionally used one in a pinch on USB stick for recovery. But now they seemed perfect for a slower system without a lot of RAM.

I was absolutely astonished at the quality, speed, and ease-of-use for Puppy on this computer. It boots in about 20-25 seconds and shuts down in less than 10. (Compare that to XP, which could take a few minutes to come out of hibernate on this machine.) Applications are lightning fast. Configuration was incredibly easy -- with somewhat clunky-looking, but simple and user-friendly GUI configuration, I had wireless, sound, video, a firewall, and my network printer setup in a few minutes. I've never had such an easy time with configuring Debian/Ubuntu or even Mint on a machine before -- there always seems to be some random hardware problem. Here, everything was detected great and worked immediately with the built-in minimal configuration scripts. When I decided to put it on my hard disk rather than just using a USB drive, a couple minutes with Gparted, and a simple universal installation app in Puppy, and it was done. The lightweight versions of most apps are sufficient, and if I need something else, the integration with Ubuntu repos makes it really convenient.

I'll see how it works in the upcoming weeks, but so far it's really promising. I have to say that after a few days of use, I don't think of it as merely a niche distro for old computers. It's fast, lightweight, and pretty much has the features most people need on a regular basis. For the few apps you might need more from, you can always install them from the Ubuntu repos.

The only negative I see is that it sort of has the look of a Linux distro from c. 1998. But who cares? If you really care, you can prettify it. Since I'm the kind of person who cares about functionality rather than eye candy, though, it works for me out of the box.

Great Article.

Randy Noseworthy's picture

And the comments got interesting too. :) Michael, I hope that you find the right tech mix for your bike trip.

I've played with Puppy on and off over the last few years since finding Linux, and this version seems more main stream "captureable" then ever. I've an old PIII w/ 128 megs of ram (I think it can go to 256) that I'm going to have to put puppy on.

Having the Ubuntu Repo's on it I think will be a big plus. Not a big fan of JWM tho'. But the fact that one can put this on a USB stick or whatever, and have a usable system, is rather cool.

Long Live the PUP!

I got problem with Puppy

Ishar's picture

I haven't tried the latest version but I had some problems with connecting to net with puppy, it make browser slow every time when I use net, Then I used slax. It's my best pocket buddy now! :D

Multiuser Puppy

Kenneth H. Cate's picture

Puppy Linux can be set up for multiple users but you have to find the details in the forums. Two such pages are: How to Build a Multiuser Puppy,
and Multiuser Puppy 4.2.1.

Affluent Attitude

Doug.Roberts's picture

While reading the comments here I realized once again that I have a particularly affluent outlook that flavors my opinions on distributions like Puppy, which is aimed at older hardware. My approach has always been to retire or upgrade my hardware every ~3 years or so. Further, by being an early software adopter but a late hardware adopter I'm always running hardware that is about a year out of date compared to whatever the current fastest, most powerful systems represent, yet still meets all my computational needs.

A few days ago I finally ordered an N450-powered Acer netbook for $296 that will be running UNR. It will do everything I need for my planned usage, which includes throwing it in the right saddlebag of my BMW R1150R this year for my annual 2 - 3 week ride. This year I'll be using the netbook to do email and to maintain my travel blog. Here's last year's trip blog. This year I'll be heading up to Vancouver Island via a nice loop route. I even plan to propose to our Linux Journal editors that I do a combined Linux/Motorcycle article to be published here.

The Acer N450 will be plenty powerful to run the Google Chrome browser, photo editing software, and whatever utilities I might need to maintain the blog en route, all while running a current full-featured distribution. I have nothing against Puppy, mind you -- it appears to be a wonderful distro for its intended users! But it's not for me.

Road buddies!

Michael Reed's picture

Yay! We'll be spiritual road buddies.

Finances allowing, I plan to get a netbook and use it while cycle camping this summer. In theory, I should be able to do my article writing from within a tent. What I really need is a netbook that can take standard AA batteries as mains power might not always be available.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Netbook AA Batteries

Caldric's picture

I know of a netbook that uses AA batteries. Not sure how great it will work, but thought I would pass it along.



Doug.Roberts's picture

Where do you plan to go on your trip, Michael?

I'm going to be looking for a power adapter that I can plug into the BMW's 12V power outlet for the Acer, although if the battery life turns out to be the 8 - 9 hours that are promised I might not need it.

the trip

Michael Reed's picture

"Where do you plan to go on your trip, Michael?"

Oh, just meandering about in the English countryside ;-)

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

As long as it will still run

Anonymous's picture

As long as it will still run on my old computers with 128 MB RAM, this will be huge having ubuntu support. YAY!!!!!!!

Multiuser Puppy

Kenneth Cate's picture

Puppy Linux can be set up for multiple users but you have to find the details in the forums. Two such pages are: How to Build a Multiuser Puppy, and Multiuser Puppy 4.2.1.

'98 compaq armada

th1bill's picture

A friend messed up and bought one with a stripped Win98 installed. As soon as I receive the Serial to USB converter I'm putting the Puppy on it. I tested with a VM with 64 meg of RAM and two gig of HDD, to simulate his machine. I'm very impressed and have posted an article on the web at several sites promoting Lucid Puppy. I have a couple of IT friends that work for major corps. and on my advise they have tested it on older desktops and laptops also and are very impressed with the usability of the system.

Once you install Puppy to

Anonymous's picture

Once you install Puppy to hard disk, is there a way to upgrade the packages - like, if there is a security update for the browser?

Short answer: yes. Long

tgerhard60's picture

Short answer: yes. Long answer: Sometimes there's some gruntwork to be done.

However, anyone with a minimum amount of savvy should be able to upgrade anything on puppy. (As one who has just scratched the surface of the *nix world and with Puppy installed on two ancient hard drives, I should know.)

If you get stuck, the incredibly supportive forums are a great resource as is the wiki. One of the wizards there has probably developed a .pet for whatever you need anyway.

Once you install Puppy to

Anonymous's picture

Once you install Puppy to hard disk, is there a way to upgrade the packages - like, if there is a security update for the browser?

Puppy flat out ROCKS!

Flash858's picture

I have been using Puppy since the 2x days, and nothing compares to it. Is it the best in its class? Absolutely, because there is nothing else IN its class.

Additionally, it has some out of the box functionality that surpasses even the big distros (like Pudd, which can byte copy an entire drive or partition to another with considerably more ease than any other tool of its kind on any platform), and an interface that is familiar to Windows converts.

To fully appreciate and maximize Puppy, you have to search and read the forums thoroughly, as much of the software is community written, and packaged as ".pet" packages, and thus are specific to Puppy.

It is also very easy to customize and remaster. I have personally used about 30 "puplets" (remasters) over the years, and currently am using Lucid Puppy on my desktop, and Pupeee (a truly outstanding netbook edition - the Netbook layout is one that all other netbook remixes could learn from - it is, well, perfect!) on my netbook, while I have a persistent CD of NOP, and 3 or 4 other puplets on flash drives.

There are some really full-featured editions out there written by the community, including Macpup, Puppy NOP, Lighthouse Pup, Tiger Pup (if you like "the shiny" ;) ), Fatdog, and the list goes on...

Puppy is like a community within a community, and its community is the friendliest and most helpful I have ever seen. If you have older hardware, you are doing yourself a disservice by running anything else. Puppy is so lightweight, it could practically run on a toaster... :)

One more thing...

Flash858's picture

If you are having any issues finding information, go to the forums. They are more or less the hub connecting all things Puppy together...

Slitaz, seconded.

Anonymous's picture

I haven't tried the newest Puppy, but I really like the new Slitaz.

I'm running it on an old Thinkpad with 600Mhz and 256MB, and it runs well. Includes lots of apps for being only 30MB!

Another great low-resource desktop distribution ...

Charlie's picture

Zenwalk Linux - www.zenwalk.org

This distro is very polished with good documentation and runs very well on low-spec hardware. I've used it on an old ThinkPad with a PIII-450MHz and 256MB of RAM with some of that eaten by the video. I was very surprised how snappy the performance was and how many things just worked out of the box.

I gave the computer running Zenwalk to my sister-in-law who can barely get around a Windows machine and she picked up Zenwalk quickly.

I'm going to install Zenwalk on another old Toshiba laptop soon that just struggles with Windows XP on it. It will finally be a usable computer!

I've used Puppy Linux before and its good. But, IMO, I think you will like ZenWalk better just for the spit and polish it has.



Anonymous Coward's picture

Sorry, Doug, in the Puppy Linux community, the word "user" or "enthusiast" is enough to refer to people liking a particular distro.

Jim Lynch could not help but feel the community when he concluded: "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."


Doug.Roberts's picture

Well, it's nice to see that there are fervent fans of Puppy. I've discovered that PCLinuxOS has an enthusiastic-to-the-point of rabid fan base as well.


Puppy's target audience

DMcCunney's picture

I run Puppy 4.31 here, multi-booting with Win2K SP4, Ubuntu 10.4, and FreeDOS 1.0., and will be looking at Lucid Puppy soon.

I got Puppy in the first place when I was given the old notebook Puppy runs on, a Fujitsu Lifebook p2110 circa 2002, with an 867mhz Transmeta Crusoe CPU, UDMA 4 HD, and 256MB of RAM (of which the Crusoe chip grabs 16MB off the top for code morphing.)

It looked like a good platform for a Linux installation, and I went looking for distros optimized for low resource gear and found Puppy. Overall, I've been pleased, but there are quirks to be aware of. Puppy and the bundled apps are fairly sprightly. Other things may not be. I don't even normally try to run Firefox 3.6, for example, because it takes something like 45 seconds to load and is sluggish when up. This isn't Puppy's fault - FF 3.6 simply wants more hardware than the box has, and I have the same problems under Win2K.

Getting a usable Ubuntu installation was a challenge. I originally tried Xubuntu, but it was painfully slow. I wound up installing from the Minimal CD to get a bare-bones command line version, then used apt-get to selectively add the parts I wanted. The result isn't as sprightly as Puppy, but it's usable.

There are two main areas where Puppy is non-standard that may affect users. The lesser one is that in the interests of size, Puppy does not use the standard Gnu utility set. Most of the CLI apps in Puppy are links to the cut down versions included in Busybox, so you may discover things you need to do aren't supported by the Busybox versions.

The major one is that Puppy is an explicitly single user installation, and you are always running as root. Indeed, the ability to create and use other IDs has been stripped out. Puppy gets away with it because it is single user, and if you do the wrong things and shoot yourself in the foot, it's only your foot. But if you need that capability to have more than one userid on the machine, or don't like the thought of always running as root, Puppy is not for you.

I'll recommend Puppy to folks with lower end gear who are technically inclined. It's light weight and runs on older hardware, but requires some knowledge on the part of the user to configure and use effectively. If the user is not technically inclined, and lacks the background knowledge, I may make a different recommendation.

There doesn't really seem to be agreement in the Puppy community on who the intended users are. Puppy fans happily recommend it to all and sundry. Personally, I feel that if you have the hardware to run a more mainstream distro, you may be better off doing so, but it can be argued either way.

Not mainly for old, slow computers

David McClamrock's picture

Puppy can work pretty well on old, slow computers, but it's going too far to say "the main deployment target of Puppy Linux is older, resource constrained computers." I (among many other Puppy users) don't have an old, slow computer and I could probably run any distro, but I run Puppy because it's fast and convenient to boot up (with a copy of the main file on the hard drive), configure, and use; it's quick and easy to upgrade, enhance, or both; it's easy to make custom remastered Puppy live-CDs; and the Puppy Linux Discussion Forum is very helpful, especially since Puppy appears to have a lot more users than any other "little" distro.

Doug, here are some niche

Anonymous Coward's picture

Doug, here are some niche features of Puppy Linux as a Linux distro:

1. Strives to be small (although Puppy5 is already large at 128 MB);

2. Strives to include software needed for daily use (although Puppy5 has a compromise with respect to the user's choice of browser).

I guess simply comparing the size: 128 MB (Puppy5) vs 699 MB (UNR) will give you an idea of the conveniences offered by Puppy5 in relation to UNR. For example, when you run Puppy5 in a 512-MB-RAM PC, it will reside in RAM and operate in lightning-speed fashion. But it will still be speedy in a 256-MB RAM machine.

Except for the more speedy response of Puppy5 vs UNR, the out-of-the-box experience of the user with the two distros will be comparable because they have a common kernel version.

I vote for LinuxMint LXDE

vandamme's picture

...only because I'm a n00b and don't know any better. Running it on a 5 year old laptop with 256M. Regular Mint (gnome) choked up a lot.

perfect for old 256MB USB keys

Roland's picture

Unlike the previous version, this one installs to a USB key in one step. Better than toting a CD, and you can save changes including installed packages like the browsers mentioned in the article.

Buy Acai

Rolando's picture

I'll definitely be

tgerhard60's picture

I'll definitely be downloading this and trying it. I've been a Puppy supporter and user for a few years -- my ancient Dell OptiPlex hums along quite nicely with Puppy 4.3.1.

I'm cautious about the Ubuntu packages on which 5.0 is based. I embraced Puppy to get away from the encroaching bloat of Ubuntu (even Xubuntu).

We'll see.

Puppy based on Ubuntu packages

DMcCunney's picture

Puppy shouldn't get bloated simply by using Ubuntu packages. Linux X86 apps are Linux X86 apps. The code will be the same - what will vary is the package format. I've extracted apps from .DEB packages to run under Puppy and things work fine.

At the moment, I have Puppy 4.31 and Ubuntu 10.4 installed on two ext4 partitions on my notebook. Each mounts the other's partition when it boots. I've been working on sharing apps between them: since disk space is finite, have one copy usable from either side. For instance, Firefox 3.6, and SeaMonkey 1.1 and 2 both live on the Puppy slice but can be rub from Ubuntu. Google Chrome, Opera 10, and Open Office 3.2 live on the Ubuntu slice but can be run from Puppy.

That advantage to being able to install from Ubuntu packages is the vast increase in what you have available. You don't have to hope that someone has built what you want for Puppy as a PET, and there is less issue with finding and installing all of the dependencies.

Xubuntu is bloated largely because too much Gnome crept in and it's no longer a truly lightweight distro. (And Ubuntu has a steadily advancing idea of what "low-end" is.) I tried running Xubuntu, but it was snail slow. I wound up wiping and reinstalling from the Minimal CD to get a command line installation, then using apt-get to grab the desired packages, like Xfrce4. The result isn't as quick as Puppy, but is usable on my <1ghz, 256MB RAM machine.



metalx2000's picture

I have not tried this newest release of Puppy yet, but I'll down load it now and give it a try.

My current favorite small Linux is Slitaz. Very easy to use. It has a lot of packages in it's repose. And it is real easy to remaster your own flavor of it. And it's small. The standard release of it is about 30MB. But, there is a flavor of it that has a GUI Desktop and a bunch of tools that is about 12MB. It's text version is about 6MB - 8MB.

It's very nice. You should check it out.

Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.

I have to wonder

Doug.Roberts's picture


I have to wonder what market niche Puppy Linux is attempting to fill that is not already being supplied by other Linux distributions. Bootable USB versions of, say, UNR (Ubuntu Netbook Remix) are pretty minimal. I've been carrying around a USB stick with UNR, and have been using it pretty much as the Puppy Linux home page describes as being the advantages of their distribution. Do you have any thoughts on this?



Michael Reed's picture

Puppy has a bit of a Swiss army knife feel as it comes with lots of drivers and custom hardware setup tools. It targets very old hardware, and I think that UNR is designed for modern but resource constrained systems like netbooks.

I must admit, I've found it a bit hard to get the information from the Puppy site in terms of which bits of the Puppy core and base are still custom in 5.0.

Booting into a 256MB VM from the CD, I have 120MB free. However, I can then take the disk out because that includes the disk image being stored in a ramdisk. Obviously, I'd have a lot more RAM free if I'd installed to HD. Now, that's impressive.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.