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Puppy Linux

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I've been using Puppy Linux quite a bit these days and I like it! My favorite features are the ability to boot from (and store personal data to) a USB stick. You don't need very much space, in fact.
Puppy Linux operating system is a lightweight Linux distribution that focuses on ease of use and minimal Memory footprint. The entire system can be run from RAM with current versions generally taking up about 130 MB.

Thinks I Use Puppy Linux For

  • Booting Intel computers from a USB stick with portable settings, including browser preferences, desktop settings, and data.
  • Running an old Dell with 512 MB of RAM and turning it into a performance champ.
 From the Puppy Linux web site, 

Puppy's goals

  • Easily install to USB, Zip or hard drive media.
  • Booting from CD (or DVD), the CD drive is then free for other purposes.
  • Booting from CD (or DVD), save everything back to the CD.
  • Booting from USB Flash drive, minimise writes to extend life indefinitely.
  • Extremely friendly for Linux newbies.
  • Boot up and run extraordinarily fast.
  • Have all the applications needed for daily use.
  • Will just work, no hassles.
  • Will breathe new life into old PCs
  • Load and run totally in RAM for diskless thin stations

Here's what I really like about Puppy

A few features that make it a great option for hardware diagnostics and computer repair.
  • PSI, the PupSysInfo tool, which interrogates the hardware and generates a super handy text only report, great for identifying the drivers you need, whatever you are installing.
  • The related HardInfo hardware information utility, which also performs benchmark tests and generates a nicely formatted HTML report.
  • Lots of configuration utilities, including partition tools, like Gparted.
It's also a great Internet workstation boot option. 
  • The choice of several excellent default browsers, including Firefox and Chrome. I chose Firefox because it uses slightly less disk space (17 MB, compared to Chrome's 24 MB) and disk space is a little tight on my 512 MB USB stick. After I installed Firefox, I selected Help > About Firefox and applied the latest update, and now I'm running version 27.0.1 and my RAM use is down to 179 MB!
There are many versions of Puppy, called Puplets. The Woof utility builds Puppy distros from the source files of other Linux distros, so you can select from an Ubuntu or Slackware based Puplet,. See the index here: http://puppylinux.org/wikka/PuppyVersionIndex

I've worked with several versions:
  • Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8
  • Fatdog 64 6.3.0
  • MacPup
One of the biggest limitations of Puppy and all the related distros is that it's a single use operating system:
Puppy is not a multi-user system as are most other Linux distributions, in which there is a root login plus any number of non-root login accounts.

I think it's best to boot it off of a USB stick, and save your settings to an encrypted save file on the USB stick. This means your data is encrypted and you need to provide a password to log in.

My main complaint with Puppy is that the distros I've looked at don't support anti-aliasing for on-screen type by default. This is a bit of a thing for me, because anti-alisasing increases screen readability so dramatically. It looks like the Chrome installation on FatDog 64, at least, uses antialiasing, and that's where I spend most of my time.

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