Puppy Linux is probably the cutest named Linux distribution at the moment. It is also one of the many Slackware-based mini distros. Puppy Linux is intended for rescuing a broken system, but it can also be used as a general purpose OS for really old computers because its minimum RAM requirement is only 64MB, and it runs entirely from there. It can also boot from a USB storage device, CD-ROM, floppy disk, and hard drive.

I have already tested various mini distributions like NimbleX and DSL, but I have never tried the famous mini-distro named Puppy Linux. So I downloaded the latest version of Puppy this morning and found myself playing with it for several hours. This 3.01 version I got fixed some minor but most urgent bugs from the still freshly released 3.0 edition. To learn more about this little doggy and the tricks that it can do, here is a review I wrote:

Test Machine Specs:
Board: Intel Corporation D102GGC2
Processor: 3.40 GHz Intel Pentium D
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB ATA
Memory: 2GB DDR2 RAM
Display: ATI RADEON X1050

Puppy Linux was born in Australia, and was created by Barry Kauler. It is one of the few mini-distros that has earned respect from Linux users and developers around the world. As a testimony to its popularity, it is presently ranked number 15 in Distrowatch.

You can download Puppy Linux 3.01 directly from here. After I burned the 98MB live CD, I loaded it immediately and booted the normal way. I was then asked for my keyboard layout and the type of X server that I will be using, of which I just selected the default or the highlighted configuration. I also had an option to set my screen resolution, and to be safe I just used 1280x1024 for my 19 inch monitor. The boot/start-up was smooth sailing and my hardware were well-detected including my USB, audio, video, floppy, and Ethernet.

Look and Feel:
The very light-weight JWM is the default window manager for Puppy Linux and ROX for handling files. I find the desktop very responsive as most applications were quick to open. The icons were well- arranged for easy access to important programs. Even a Linux newbie can easily navigate the very simple desktop. There were also few available wallpapers if you want to change the look a bit.

Package Management:
Puppy Linux has plenty of valuable pre-installed software applications like Abiword, Inkscape, Python, Perl, Inkscape, Gxine, Seamonkey, and a lot more. It also has several network administration tools and a few games. An easy-to-use graphical software manager called PET takes care of installing and uninstalling packages. It can also fetch packages from its own repo and from unofficial packages (DotPups) that were made by its community members. Packages from the Slackware repository is also available for download, but you have to convert the packages first in CLI using a utility called “tgz2pet” for it to be used.

Though I can’t really judge Puppy’s stability based only from the short period that I have used it, there’s no doubt that it is a tough and tested distro. As a Slackware-based system, I can consider it generally stable with expected minor bugs here and there.

A dog has been known as man’s best friend, and I would say that Puppy Linux can be a computer user’s best friend with its life-saving ability to rescue a broken system or serve as a backup software. I also find it very easy to use, thus, I can recommend it to beginners and Windows users who wanted to try Linux the trouble-free way.

So, I ask myself this question, is Puppy Linux more than just a distro with a cute name? My answer is “Woof! Woof!” which means, “yes indeed” in plain English :-)

Note: Screenshots are taken from thecodingstudio.com of Puppy Linux 2.17 which basically looks the same as Puppy Linux 3.01.

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