Puppy Linux

Part of the book: The KWLUG User Reviews Compendium

Note: This review was originally submitted to the KWLUG website by user rarsa (rarsa@yahoo.com) and all writing credit belongs to them. I have moved it from the old site to the new one.

Puppy Linux


Puppy linux is a fully functional light weight distro that can run from CD, from HDD and from Flash RAM (USB pen).

The good

  • It'z blazingly fast. Works 100% from RAM if you have 64 MB or more. If you have less you will need a swap partition. (although a swap partition is always advisable)
  • Works really nice in old systems. Works awsome in newer systems. (I've tried in a P133, Pentium 1.7 GHz, Celeron 2.8 GHz)
  • I was surprised with how many apps come bundled in 60 MB. Network, video, audio, samba client, Graphics, word processing, browser, e-mail, etc. All worked out of the box, MP3, AVI, etc.
  • It even recognized the wireless PCI card on my laptop! out of the box no configuration what so ever. Just press a button to acquire the IP through DHCP.
  • It is Portable! You can carry it around in a USB pen: OS, applications and documents. Just for the fun of it I actually installed it to the flash ram of my digital camera (64 MB) and booted my computer from there. I also installed it to my son's MP3 player (128 MB)
  • It comes with very simple but helpfull configuration tools.
  • It has a nice package manager.
  • It comes with the Fvwm95 window manager as a default but installing IceWM and IceWM themes takes a couple of seconds (really). It took me minutes to configure it to look very visualy appealing.
  • If you don't have a USB pen you can boot from CD and save your files to HDD. Even to a NTFS partition!
  • Do yu have a CD-RW? Great! because puppy can write back the configuration and files back to the CD-RW as if it was a HDD. Ain't that awsome?
  • It comes with an very simple utility to remaster the LiveCD. This means that you can configure it however you like and then create the iso image with your particular preferences.

The bad

  • The light display manager it comes with only works at 60 KHz but for low end systems I don't think it's an issue. I use it on a laptop so refresh rate is not an issue.
  • It has a small selection of applications available through the package manager. (On the bright side it has most of what a normal user would need)
  • You cannot compile applications within Puppy. You have to set up a separate Distro to compile kernel drivers and applications. (On the bright side the instructions provided are quite clear)
  • The configuration utilities are not very visually apealing although they are simpler to use and do the job better than many other tools in other distributions.
  • The Display manager works with root privileges. It is better if you work behind a firewall.

The ugly

Haven't found anything ugly yet. If I do I'll update this review.


Puppy has many features that other grown-up distros are still lacking

Wether you want to use Puppy as a primary distribution in a low end system, as a secondary distribution to cary your linux around or as a live CD to show to your friends, It is worth trying it.


That is a great article and also out of date compared to the current state of puppy. Some points that clarify the improvements made to puppy since that article was posted:
<h3>The Good</h3>
- The current version of puppy linux (2.14 at the time of this writing) supports both Xvesa (the 60 KHz refresh rate limit mentioned above) as well as Xorg which is the more modern display manager that Chris Frey discussed during his presentation in January.
- The small selection of apps has grown tremendously including some great contributions by rarsa, the author of the above article. Puppy now also supports 'alien packages'.
- Adding compiling tools has been now made simple by copying an additional filed named devx_214.sfs to the CD, hard drive or USB flash drive (depending on installation method chosen).
- The configuration tools have improved significantly since I started looking at puppy in December. The 2.15CE (community edition) version which is currently at version rc2 favours icewm as the default window manager and also includes the jwm which is the default window manager in version 2.14 (2.14 is the official version of puppy maintained by the founder & lead developer, Barry Kauler). Fvwm95 hasn't been used since really older versions of puppy which indicates the age of the above article.
<h3>The Bad</h3>
- As mentioned in the previous article, root access gives obvious security problems regardless of whether the puppy OS uses a read only file system or not. Fortunately contributors are in the beginning stages of <a href="http://grafpup.com/news/archives/156">implementing multi user support</a> and overcoming some <a href="http://grafpup.com/news/archives/149">current limitations with the squash file system</a> that will allow puppy to become even more modular.
- A number of puppy derivatives have sprung up, all offering various functionality. The puppy derivatives Grafpup & 2.15CE (when it reaches final) are worth taking a look at in addition to the official release.
~Joe D