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Puppy Linux 4.0: Has it Learned New Tricks?

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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).

Installation:
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.



Conclusion:
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.

20 comments

  1. Great review! There are some things about Puppy 4 that I still need to learn how to do, as most Distros I've used use either .deb or .rpm based pkgs. But, Puppy 4 ran on an old Compaq with a Cyrix 233MHz CPU, and installed nicely to the same machine. I've always had problems installing to older machines, but Puppy 4 makes it a lot easier. Cheers!

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  2. Flying puppy! Yesss indeed. I installed it on a USB stick, which went fine. Firefox was easily downloaded and installed, but it took me 2 times a restart before it appeared in the MENU-list. I also installed OpenOffice, which runs fine and fast. I couldn't find Filezilla in the list, I consider it a detail.
    The only drawback is CrossOver/WINE: things start and then disappear.

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  3. I have been using Puppies since before 2.0 because it's fast, it works, and it's versatile enough for all my needs. This one, 4.0, continues a history of steady improvement. My old machine, 400ghz and 192Ram, has more than enough juice for Puppy.

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  4. AnonymousMay 13, 2008

    "My old machine, 400ghz ..."

    400GHz - and that's your old machine;-) I am not surprised Puppy runs well...

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  5. 4.0 is indeed a huge step up for Puppy.
    I try just about every desktop distro which comes out, and this one has become the one I use for work day to day. It does everything I need to do, without excess bloat or long startup times. Makes my old 1ghz 256meg laptop fly.

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  6. AnonymousMay 13, 2008

    I had a WinXP that would no longer boot. I tried "System Rescue CD", "Ultimate Boot CD", and Mepis7.....none would work for me and I was ready to give up. The day before I had downloaded and installed Puppy4 on an old 533mhz eMachine and was impressed at what it could do for such a small system. So, decided to try it on the broken XP, and what do you know, it saw the drive, I mounted it, and there's the folders and files I needed to rescue !!!
    AMAZING !!!

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  7. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    "has underwent"??

    ouch!

    "has undergone"

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  8. Mr. WebsterMay 14, 2008

    "underwent" is the past tense of "undergo"

    "undergone" is the past participle.

    "underwent" is correct!

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  9. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    Sorry, no...

    It undergoes

    It underwent

    It has undergone

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  10. ".... had underwent ..." might be a better construct, although I would prefer ".... had undergone ..."

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  11. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    I've just started to experiment it in a Pentium 100Mhz with 48 Mb Ram. It detected most hardware fine, but I have to tweek xorg-wizard in order to get the serial ttys0? (com1) mouse running. It was usable as a livecd but I have to install it and give a swap partition in order to run several aplications at once without running out of memory. Anyways...it amazed me how it runs on such system.

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  12. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    undergo - underwent - underwent

    He is to undergo major surgery.
    He underwent major surgery yesterday.
    He has undergone major surgery.

    HAS UNDERGONE is correct.

    just my two cents.

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  13. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    This looks ideal for my recently-acquired ancient laptop (Celeron 400, 192MB). I used an older Puppy a few years ago but had no real need for it on my desktop. I'm really looking forward to trying it out. :)

    PS on a minor point: the previous anon commenter (not me!) is right about the English - it's "he undergoes", "he underwent" and "he has undergone". "Has underwent" is never right. So there. :P

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  14. Mr. WebsterMay 14, 2008

    Google "has underwent"

    It's widely used and accepted.

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  15. Hmm..

    Are you sure that Puppy uses (and used) JWM window manager?
    I'm quite sure that it always used ICEWM.

    ..

    And the look is fine (incl. the wallpaper)! I never liked the dog thing!

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  16. AnonymousMay 15, 2008

    Every PC user should keep a Puppy CD. Is is great to run and can rescue if you can not boot.
    It also provides safe surfing.
    Amazing, simply amazing.

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  17. Puppy is a great rescue tool! And spectacular on old hardware, but watch out for TinyME, which may be even better as a similar, lightweight distro.

    (Anonymous is correct about the grammar, BTW, "has undergone" is correct)

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  18. PUPPY IS GREAT FOR RESCUE CD
    My friend laptop hard drive was broken and it was impossible to boot with XP installed and even with live CD: I tried Ubuntu 8.10 , Mandriva 2009, but they did not start at all. But with PUPPY it started and worked immediatly and very well. It is amazingly fast , the only bad thing is that daily user is logged as root.
    Ahmed.

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  19. I have Puppy 4 on a P11 366 laptop, a Celeron 466 desktop, P4 2.6 desktop and boot the CD occasionally on other systems. It works on all of them. Awesome little distro. So many grown up features in such a tiny distro. Amazing!!!

    I love the excellent hardware detection, and how easy it is to get wireless internet working with it, and the included package manager can add extra functionality. My main Linux PC has PCLOS Gnome, but for meagre equipment, Puppy is the best one. Smaller distros are too crippled compared. If it can't run Puppy, it's not worth running in the first place.

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  20. Check out the features of Macpup at http://ubuntumanual.org/posts/271/macpup-511-puppy-with-an-attitude

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