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Puppy Linux is a Live CD based Linux system, which can also be written to a variety of devices, including, of course, CD, plus USB drives (pen drive, USB stick, external USB disk), and it can
be installed to a hard drive as well.
Puppy is now 87.1 MB in size for the downloadable ISO image. Puppy attempts to load completely into accessible memory, which means that performance is swift. While Puppy is 20-30 MB larger in size than DSL, it includes newer software, including the full sized Seamonkey Internet suite, which includes the Web Browser, Email client, News reader, Calendar, and Chat interface.
Unlike DSL, Puppy comes with a 2.6 kernel. The latest released kernel is 220.127.116.11, but there are also test efforts underway to support a recent 2.6.25 kernel.
Puppy 3.01 was built from Slackware-12 binary packages. To reduce the size (which had grown to nearly 100 MB) Puppy 4.00 has been totally compiled from source, using the T2-project. There are fewer dependencies (smaller size) and later versions of packages in 4.00.
Puppy now supports the /dev/sd* and /dev/sr* drive naming conventions and Puppy now supports the libata PATA/SATA mode of newer Linux kernels, in which SATA, SCSI, IDE and USB drives all have the same /dev/sd* naming (and /dev/sr* for optical drives). All scripts in Puppy can automatically handle both the new and old systems, so Puppy can be built with either type of kernel with no hassles whatsoever.
Puppy uses the Squashfs module for file system handling.
Puppy has all drivers built-in for scanning, digital camera, printing (Gutenprint), audio recording/editing/conversion, so it is useful for multimedia environments. In addition, Puppy offers a complete office environment.
Puppy has a very active community that creates packages and releases many Puppy based derivatives.
If you are looking for a modest sized system that is capable of running either as a Live CD, a bootable USB system, or a system installed to disk, Puppy is a system well worth investigating. With the modularity and extensibility built into Puppy, even if you do not immediately see what you are looking for, there is a good chance that someone in the community has created something similar to what you may be looking for. If not, you can easily extend Puppy yourself and get plenty of suggestions from the user community. I recommend Puppy as my favorite small Live CD.
Distribution: Debian, antiX, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and many others
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9
Relatively small size, wireless support, fast RAM access
network setup could be easier
Puppy Linux is, and continues to be, one of the smallest usable and current distributions around. DSL is smaller, so if you absolutely need something really small, look at DSL as well. I would assert, however, that Puppy has an excellent blend of software and even provides a full feature Web browser (Seamonkey), which partially accounts for the size difference between DSL and Puppy.
I find that on a consistent basis, Puppy manages to recognize my systems. The latest release even recognizes all of the components in my Lenovo 3000 Y410 laptop, something I cannot say for DSL. Last night I had Puppy working on a Dell Dimension 4100, an older desktop that really benefits from the lightweight nature of Puppy, and two laptops, a Dell Latitude D600 and the Lenovo mentioned above. I loaded all three of the systems into RAM and was able to eject the CD and move on to the next system.
The only feature - which does work well, it's just a bit clunky, is the network setup. I think they could do a better job explaining which buttons to hit, why, and when, or possibly redesign the thing. I have to say that the latest Fedora and Ubuntu network interfaces raise the bar - with no questions asked at all, they detected my wireless card, realized that my wired card was not connected, sniffed the wireless interface for connections, and presented a task bar icon, indicating that a network was ready to be configured. I found TheMasNET, my WPA-PSK enabled network, provided authentication, and off I went. With Puppy, I had to click on wireless, go through a dialog, then click that I wanted a DHCP address, then save the configuration, then enable it. Not bad, but too many manual steps. It took me a half dozen times at least and a week of research to figure out how it worked. At least I give it credit that it works, which is a decent accomplishment for a small Live CD like Puppy. It is the smallest live CD that works right.
For a live CD that does a bit better in this area, but is two to three times larger, AntiX is great. For a small Live CD, Puppy is definitely the best one out there, easily ahead of DSL - more current, more works, more improvements.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
Easy yet extensible
Lack of documentation
My first distro, this is still the only one I use. It's easy to set up for non-Linux people, but sill has enough for a more serious user. I set up a full web environment with apache, php, mysql, pure-ftpd, and openssh; and I run it all from the command line. The only drawback is that to save space, there is no documentation for the included programs. Other than that, It's a good overall system, with something for everyone. Granted, the network setup is not quite as user friendly as it could be, but I use the command line instead anyway now.