Friday, May 30, 2008

Adventures with Puppy

For more information about Puppy Linux, click here.

My first attempt at installation failed because I didn't wipe everything before starting. Since Puppy and DSL use different versions of the Linux kernel, that was a dumb decision on my part. Lo and behold, upon rebooting, I got a kernel panic. For those of you who only speak Windows, a kernel panic is similar to the Blue Screen Of Death.

Upon rebooting with the CD, it went straight into the "live" version, in other words, running Puppy completely in RAM. For a machine with Lazarus's limitations, this made everything slow. Molasses running uphill in January slow. A text-based installer would have been nice, especially for a distro that claims to be pretty minimalist.

I used GParted (a GUI-based partitioning tool) to redo the partitions on my hard drive, and it worked fine. I thought the "install" icon on the desktop was to install to the hard drive, but it wasn't. It's actually their package retrieval tool. That's a confusing way to label it, I think. You have to go to "Menu", "Setup," and then "Puppy Universal Installer" to install to the hard drive. Another unique aspect of the desktop is that you only click icons once instead of double-clicking to activate them.

Once I got started on the installer, it mostly walked me through it, although there was some confusion on one particular part. Browsing the forums tells me I'm not the only person to be confused about this, so I'll probably post something about it there. As I was finishing up the install, Mr. Williams walked by and said, "Ooh, I like that desktop a lot better [than DSL]." He's right; Puppy has a surprisingly attractive desktop for a distro its size.

The Ethernet didn't work out of the box, but it was an easy setup via the "connect" function, which is Puppy's equivalent of Windows' Internet Connection Wizard. SeaMonkey is the default browser, but you can get other browsers if you want via the package retriever. Puppy also has its own system monitor, but unlike DSL, this one is down in the tray.

I like Puppy OK, but I'm not sure Lazarus has the resources to pull it off. Even SeaMonkey runs a tad slow, and the monitor shows memory use over the halfway mark much of the time. Puppy's website tells of someone who installed it on a machine with 32 MB of RAM, but I'd be curious to know exactly what they were able to do with it.

Next time: how much Debian can I get away with on Lazarus?

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