Puppy Linux 4.0: Has it Learned New Tricks?

Posted by jun auza On 5/10/2008
Puppy Linux 4.0 has been unleashed recently. It is a major distribution release version of this well-known mini-distro that is why I took some time to check it out. I have used Puppy Linux 3.01 before, and I have said that it was more than just a cute-named distro. So what are the improvements of this latest edition over its predecessor? Has it really learned new tricks?

First, some Puppy Linux facts:
I just looked at the distro ranking of Puppy Linux over at Distrowatch and found out that it has slipped to #16 from #15 since the last time I checked. I wrote on my past review that Puppy Linux is Slackware-based but many have corrected me that it is not. Puppy Linux since version 3.01 is Slackware compatible and not Slackware-based. So there, I just corrected my mistake. What else? Puppy Linux is proudly made in Australia and is developed by Barry Kauler.

The download page for Puppy Linux 4.0 can be found HERE. It is worth noting that while Puppy 3.01 was built from Slackware-12 binary packages, Puppy Linux 4.0 has been totally compiled from source utilizing the so-called T2-project. Because of that, this latest edition of Puppy is even smaller in size at 87.1MB (before 98.6MB).

There are plenty of ways to make Puppy run. You can boot it as a Live-CD, install it on a USB Flash drive, and even set it up to an internal/external hard drive. You can also remaster the Live CD if you want your very own customized Puppy. In my case, I made Puppy run on virtual machine (VMWare) to save me from the hassles of burning a CD.

Puppy Linux 4.0 started-off with the usual boot options menu where I was given a choice to add boot parameters, which wasn't necessarily needed, followed by keyboard layout set-up, and lastly the graphics configuration. At graphics set-up, you will be given an opportunity to test if your display is supported or not, which I think is very handy.

Look and Feel:
Puppy Linux 4.0 is still using the very lightweight window manager called JWM (Joe's Window Manager) and ROX-Filer as its file manager. However, it abandoned GTK1 and Tcl/Tk in favor of GTK2-based system. This particular change was made to achieve user-interface consistency and to reduce the size even more. The wallpaper or desktop background was new which I'm sorry to say I didn't like. I wanted the cute puppy background used on the previous version not only because it's cute but also because it's kind of a like a trademark for Puppy Linux. I have a little suggestion to Mr. Kauler. Why not have a contest and let everyone submit a photo of their puppy, and then make the winning photo the default wallpaper for Puppy 5.0. Isn't that interesting? What do you think?

Software/Package Management:
This latest version of Puppy now includes some valuable GTK2 applications. To name a few, there's Fotox (image viewer), Gwhere (disk catalogger), Prename (batch file renamer), gFnRename (batch file renamer), Pfind (file search), Pprocess (process manager), Chtheme (GTK theme chooser), Pidgin (multiprotocol chat client), Gadm-Rsync (GUI for rsync), Wireless Autoconnect, Gtkam (digital camera interface), Xsane (scanner interface), ePDFView (PDF viewer), Pschedule (cron GUI), Osmo (personal organiser), Pcdripper (audio CD ripper), RipOff (audio CD ripper), mhWaveEdit (audio editor), Pburn (CD/DVD burner), MTR (traceroute), Pnethood (Samba client), Pwireless (wireless scanner) and more. Abiword word processor and SeaMonkey web browser is still included as well as other important applications that were available in the previous version.

Installing additional packages is still handled by the much-improved PETget. The GUI window is fully refurbished, which now features categorized packages and allows easy access to multiple repositories.

Stability/Hardware Detection:
Puppy Linux 4.0 worked perfectly well on the VM environment, with properly detected and fully working Ethernet, USB, CD ROM, audio and display. I have heard that this Puppy even has all drivers built-in for scanning, digital camera, printing, and audio recording and editing, more of like a complete multimedia environment as they say it. I didn't have the opportunity to test those hardware drivers so I hope someone can attest or share if those stuff were working well on their machine.

Puppy Linux 4.0 has really underwent a major overhaul that even its distro logo is changed. And based on what I've seen and experienced, the changes were overall for the better. The speed and responsive have improved considerably, and those added applications and features have really made Puppy Linux deserving to be among the best mini Linux distribution out there. Puppy Linux 4.0 not only learned some new tricks but also performed those tricks in flying colors.

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