Simplicity Linux Review

Simplicity Linux is a derivative of Puppy Linux developed by a small group of developers led by David Purse. Although based on Puppy Linux, Simplicity Linux uses the LXDE desktop rather than Openbox. It comes in several different varieties including netbook, desktop and media versions. The desktop version comes with a lot of apps pre-installed like VLC, Skype and LibreOffice, whereas the netbook version aims to be smaller and expects most things to be cloud based. The media variant replaces the normal desktop with XBMC and is designed for PCs connected to a TV.

Simplicity Linux - desktop

Despite its name, installing Simplicity Linux isn’t straightforward. The more popular desktop distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora, offer much better installation procedures; however, installing Simplicity isn’t impossible! I would advise you to perform a backup of any data you have on your PC before starting.

To install it on a PC, download the Desktop version from the Simplicity Linux website and burn the .iso file onto a CD. Boot your PC from the CD.

During the boot process, you will likely notice references to Slacko Puppy. Don’t be alarmed, you are booting Simplicity Linux, not Slacko Puppy. Since Simplicity is based on Puppy Linux, there are still some references to the base distribution.

Once booted, you will be presented with the desktop and a way to change various options like the keyboard layout and screen resolution. Select the best options for your geographical location and display type and then click OK.

Simplicity Linux - quick setup

Click on the Application Finder, the little penguin icon, at the bottom left of the dock. Type “install” in the search box and double click on “Puppy universal installer.” This will start the installation process so that you can permanently install Simplicity on your PC. The installer actually allows you to install the OS to a variety of different devices including USB flash drives, internal flash disks and of course a hard drive. To install on an SATA or IDE drive, click “Internal (IDE or SATA) hard drive” and follow the steps.

Simplicity Linux - uni installer

The installer doesn’t try to perform any partitioning for you and you will be asked to go into gParted and create the necessary partitions for the installation. If you have an existing operating system installed, you will probably need to resize it and use the free space to create an ext2, ext3 or ext4 partition. It is also good to create a swap partition of anywhere from 512MB to 1GB.

If you don’t want to play around with partitions, it is possible to perform a “frugal” install on an existing partition. With this method, Simplicity Linux will be installed in a folder on the existing partition and run from there. However, there are some limitations to this method and installing on an existing NTFS partition isn’t recommended.

Simplicity Linux - gparted

When you exit gParted, the installer will re-scan the drive to see if any suitable partitions can be found. Once the installer has found a place for Simplicity, click the little dog icon near to where the installer describes what it has found.

After the installation has completed, you will probably need to install a bootmanager. Click on the Application Finder and type “grub” into the search box. Double-click on “Grub4Dos bootloader config.” This program will take you through the steps needed to install the Grub bootmanager.

Simplicity Linux - grub

At this point, you can reboot and see if Simplicity Linux starts. It is also worth checking any existing operating systems you had on your PC.

In terms of functionality, Simplicity Linux is quite usable. The LXDE desktop doesn’t use many system resources, and even with Firefox running only around 350MB of memory is used. The total installation only takes about 2GB of disk space, and yet programs like Skype, LibreOffice and Dropbox are pre-installed. There is a package manager available which allows you to install additional packages from both the Slackware and Puppy repositories.

Simplicity Linux comes pre-installed with WINE and a Windows version of the OnLive client. The WINE installation works out-of-the-box and double-clicking on a Windows .EXE file from within the file explorer will seamlessly run the Windows program on Linux (within the limitations of what WINE supports).

Simplicity Linux - notepadpp

Overall, Simplicity Linux is easy to use for essential productivity tasks like accessing the web and working with documents and spreadsheets. The installation process isn’t for the faint of heart; however, once installed, the system is quick and doesn’t need much memory or disk space. The seamless WINE integration is a nice touch, and the inclusion of the OnLive client is useful for those who use that service. I probably wouldn’t recommend Simplicity Linux as the primary OS on your main desktop machine, but if you have an older PC laying around collecting dust then this distribution could be a good way to bring it back into service.

Have you tried Simplicity Linux? What do you think of it?

Gary Sims

Gary has been a technical writer, author and blogger since 2003. He is an expert in open source systems (including Linux), system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years. He has a Bachelor of Science in business information systems from a UK University.

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