Puppy Linux is one of the best known lightweight Linux distro around. All you need is a USB drive and you will be able to run Puppy Linux on any computer without problem. Its recent release is built on top of Ubuntu Precise binary, which give it a solid base to start with. So how does the marriage of Ubuntu and Puppy Linux works out? Let’s check it out.
You can download Precise Puppy from its website. There is also a Slacko Puppy (based on Slackware binary) that you can download if you are a fan of Slackware. The Precise Puppy iso file is about 179MB. Depending on your Internet connection, it can take quite a while to download. Once downloaded, you can burn the iso file to a CD, or use a USB installer to create a live USB drive.
The good thing about Puppy Linux is that it can run and perform well on a live session. This means that you can boot up with the live CD, or USB and use it when you need it. There is no installation required. You could just bring along the USB drive, plug it into your friend’s laptop and boot it up. When you are done with your work, simply shut it down, and it won’t leave any trace of your data in the internal hard drive.
Alternatively, if you do want to install it in a storage drive, you can do so too. Precise Puppy comes with an installer that you can use to install to just about anything, including internal hard drive, USB drive, and Zip/LS120 diskette.
While the installation process is not as intuitive as Ubuntu, it is not difficult either. It can be completed with a few clicks and only takes a few minutes.
Precise Puppy is using jwm as the desktop manager, and it looks and performs just like Gnome. In short, you won’t be lost in the navigation. One thing though, it doesn’t win prize for its theme and interface, and that is very acceptable for a lightweight distro. It is meant to run fast, not run pretty.
When it comes to applications, Precise Puppy manages to pack a rather complete suite of apps. You can browse your files, browse the web, send emails, create and edit document, IM chat, edit images, watch video, download torrents and more. There are even games that you can play.
Some of the default applications include:
- Rox-Filer file manager
- Seamonkey (email client and browser)
- Ayttm Chat client
- Geany text editor (it can be for coding as well)
- Leafpad text editor
- Inkscape lite
- and more…
Puppy Package Manager
If the default applications are not to your liking, you can install additional applications from the Puppy Package Manager. The Puppy Package Manager is using the repository from Ubuntu Precise. This gives you access to a wide range of applications that you can install. While the package manager is not as elegant as the Ubuntu Software Center, it is well organized into different sections and you can easily switch the repo from one source to another.
The good thing about the Package Manager is that it offers the “Trim the Fat” option after you have installed an application. Selecting this option will remove the unnecessary modules (such as language files) are removed without affecting the usability of the application. This prevents your system from getting bloated, or running out of space.
Personally, I won’t want to use Precise Puppy as my default OS as I have specific needs on my laptop that Puppy Linux can’t do (like running virtual machine). However, it could find a place on my 4 years old netbook or even my 4GB USB drive. Precise Puppy is best used as a portable OS that you bring around in your USB drive. Either on your friend’s laptop, or in an Internet cafe, you can easily plug in your USB drive and boot into a fast, lightweight distro that can do almost everything you need.
Even though I won’t use it as my default OS, I have to admit that Precise Puppy is a very usable lightweight Linux distro. All you need is a USB drive and you will be able to bring a full OS along in your pocket. Try it out and let us know if this is for you.