Nor did we realise that much of our efforts would also go into the creating of the Update Tool known as EZ-Pup which had the ability to produce an ongoing series of great looking face-lifts to the basic Puppy. Considerable kudos should be passed to Warren, our team leader, who was able to control our exuberance as well as to lead us forward in the right direction!
PuppyLinux Community Edition Version 2.15, abbreviated as 2.15ce, has a strikingly similar look to Microsoft's Vista which was long overdue, still buggy when released, and rather disliked by many who were eagerly waiting for its release.
I have run 2.15ce on a 1996 or 1997 Twinhead laptop with a 266MHz Pentium MMX processor and just 64Mb of RAM, albeit very slowly, but equally it has run perfectly on a more recent desktop unit with a 400MHz PII processor with 192Mb of RAM, far less than needed for similar performance by resource-hungry Windows XP.
While PuppyLinux doesn't necessarily look as flamboyant as the 2.15ce desktop does, that's purely what is called "eye candy". It is functional underneath in the same way in both 2.15 and in earlier and later versions. Some later versions do not run at all on very early computers, and for this let me point you to links lower on this page, showing how PuppyLinux can be adapted to run on those computers whose BIOS will not succesfully boot the later Linux kernels used in later versions of PuppyLinux - and which has been adapted very succesfully too :)
PuppyLinux generally has a much simpler looking taskbar and menu system than the 2.15 Community Edition described here. In fact, provision is inbuilt for about four different ones, but the simplest "Joe's Window Manager" (aka JWM) is always there. Below one can see a small image of such a simpler system and to the right is an attempt to reproduce the functionality of the "Start" Menu as used by Microsoft on their Windows Operating System from Windows95 through to Windows2000. Click to open each in a new window or tab.
PuppyLinux v2.15ce uses a different, more "eye-catchy" window manager called ice-wm which can be customised further than the JWM provided with basic Puppy. That comes at the expense of needing more resources, of course.
The purpose of this paper is to show what a variety of clean and attractive looking, yet functional desktops one can have with PuppyLinux, mainly using screen captures from the 800x600 low resolution desktop on the Twinhead laptop, which will nicely fit across a browser page. Some other captures are also used.
It should be mentioned that many Linux users tend to customise their system as soon as they install it, not keeping the "out-of-the-box" look very long. These screen captures are typical, with some customisation, rather than being what all installations look like.
In the image below we see the default "theme" on the taskbar, and the default wallpaper (aka backdrop, background, etc)...
In the one below here, are several "utility" programs being run on the desktop - three are locally created "File Find", "Internet Connection Wizard" and a general setup "Wizard".
Also we see a login window for a refined, tiny, VNC viewer application, where one can log into another (remote) computer - providing security credentials are met - to effect repairs on another system, or to show the owner how to do a particular task.
The associated server to permit a remote login to your computer isn't provided as part of the basic Puppy, but it is available as an add-on, quickly installed, if needed.
Here is the silver XP theme...
Here we can see how one can change themes via the menu, back to the default theme (which is Velvet-Azul). This is default inasmuch when first installed and run, that is what will be used. Any changes made during use are continued "permanent" until you make another choice.
The same goes for the wallpaper or backdrop... the one shown is the default one from a suite of such, shown in miniature under the big image below, and which you may go and look at here.
There are seven differently coloured but similarly themed desktop backgrounds provided as part of the PuppyLinux v2.15 Community Edition and Ez-Pup add-on set...
You may like to explore my wallpapers collection here.
Under the hood
PuppyLinux is provided with a full range of useable open-source applications that cover almost every possible scenario for "normal" computer usage. Refinements, updates, and choices of other similar applications (programs) can be easily downloaded and installed, or uninstalled if you decide to not continue using any of them.
By default in most versions of PuppyLinux, the SeaMonkey internet suite is provided, although many prefer the Opera or Firefox browsers, and the Evolution, Sylpheed or Thunderbird Email clients.
TheGimp (similar to PhotoShop) is provided as part of some versions, and is available as a download for others.
Inkscape - sometimes the light version - is a good alternative Publisher.
AbiWord is a small wordprocessor that is midway between WordPad and MS Word in its capabilities. Likewise Gnumeric is an excellent spreadsheet editor for small Excel spreadsheets. Both are part of the continually developing Gnome Office project, which is a less well established "alternative office" environment than K Office - which is part of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) used by and/or available to many variations of Linux and to a lesser extent Unix.
If you really need an office suite, you can't do better than OpenOfficeorg. OOo is developed by a large world-wide community from the code originally created by Sun Microsustems for arguably the world's best office suite, Sun's Star Office.
Install - or live CD?
Puppy will run live from the download CD if there is sufficient memory (say at least 128Mb), and may be installed to run from a bootable memory stick (if the computer supports bootable memory sticks), or installed to a partition in a hard drive, or installed to run from a virtual partition created as a file within whatever operating system(s) already exist on the computer. It is extremely versatile in this regard. Running from the CD is always slower than from a regular "drive" due to CD access time - unless the entire system on the CD is loaded into memory (which Puppy does).
The big advantage of running from the CD is that it does not require access to the drives of the computer you are running it on. This means there is absolutely no possibility of cross-infection from virii or malware.
Running from a bootable memory stick still means you don't need touch your hard drives, and is even better for two reasons; first you don't wear out the CD/DVD drive through considerably more use than normal, and second because you don't have to carry a CD with you, just one of those lanyards around your neck :)
The EZ-Pup download will create in any version of PuppyLinux from Version 2.14 onwards, the themes provided in 2.15ce, but with the transparent desktop icons replaced with opaque ones of a different look. It is a sizeable download, and requires bits and pieces that were part of the new kernel incorporated in 2.14 which is why it can't be applied to earlier versions.
However there are ideas for improving the look of earlier versions on this website. Links are provided below. Perhaps the best earlier version was a larger size than normal download, which was produced as an excellent beta test verstion. This was Puppy Professional 2.10Pro.
WhoDo (who designed the eye candy for 2.15ce and theEzPup add-on) has created a large thread on the PuppyLinux forums with many contirubuting posters, of some amazing eye-candy for the very simple and lightweight JWM window manager available in all versions of PuppyLinux. Here is a link to the first page of that thread (currently 11 pages).
The three taskbars here are variants from the EZ-Pup follow-on from the 2.15ce project, all captured from an 800x600 desktop. The EZ-Pup actually has the taskbar icons "turned off" as shipped (top bar), but it is a very small job to turn them back on again. The bars below show first the icons enabled, but at their minimal setting, and then below that with them all showing - a concept Microsoft created with WindowsXP, as Windows2000 and earlier did not have the option of hiding them.
Other improvements for old computers (that won't run later kernels)
Ver 2.02r2 (Version 2 Regression, 2nd release), Version 2.10Pro, and Version 2.11 all have enhancements developed to make them look and behave more like 2.15ce/ez, and here are some ideas for you...
and some ideas that will work on earlier and later "litters" of PuppyLinux
It should be emphasised that 2.14 onwards run more efficiently than earlier versions, but some older hardware objects to accomodating them. Currently at Version 4.something, there are also problems on some older hardware for that too.
There is also a set of floating command button bars which may be installed in all versions of PuppyLinux including the later end of the Version 1 series. There is a problem with running the bars on v3 and v4, although there is a work-around.
My personal choice for early boxes that won't run 2.14retro, 2.14 or 2.15 (and later) is an adaption of mine from the Version 2.02retro2 (202r2) - which I've styled r2d2 from the Star Wars movies!
Cybercafé shown above...
Here is a page (on this site) about the cybercafé featured at the top of the page. You can find links to a number of other pages about this particular project from that link.
On Christmas Eve 2008 there was an announcement made concerning the demise of this brilliant test-bed project (the cyber-café) because of pressure being brought to bear by the Microsoft Windows orientated IT community on the government body which actually owned the cybercafé.
Read the disappointing story here on an otherwise encouraging page (on the puppylinux forums) and we place a quote below - copied from there - emphasis being by this webmaster...
Obviously after the time and effort spent for free by us this soured our relationship somewhat, but from what we have heard the PIII 600's are now practically unusable and ridden with virii. This is a shame as it was as important a resource for local community as it was for the development of our in-house puppylinux-based OS - Ecopup.
Our domestic, educational and home markets have really opened up over the last year, providing us finally with some sort of income. We install ecopup on two to three computers a week in peoples homes, and have recently been in receipt of another batch of 37 retired school computers. We've been selling these through the local newspaper (and word of mouth) and have since sold all of them for between £30 and £80 each as full systems.
In the opinion of this webmaster, it shows the absolute contempt with which bureaucrats are prepared to treat volunteers once a bribe is forthcoming by those with an onging financial axe to grind.
There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the local authority will now be up for crippling aquisition costs for new so-called state-of-the-art hardware and software, plus ongoing weekly (or more frequently) professional costs with continual tinkering to remove malware, a regular lack of availability of equipment because of downtime due to malware damage and its spreading from infected machines to previously clean machines, and finally the cash cow itself, the expensive "must-have" upgrades regularly.
In the opinion of this webmaster, more fool them.
There is a sister project, known as GrafPup; its author Nathan has customised the basic Puppy phenomenally, and you may find him at www.grafpup.org - well worth a visit while you are here. Our command bars will work on GrafPup, both versions 1 and 2.
Take the link below to go to a very verbose (wordy) run-through the standard PuppyLinux installation procedure. It is liberally laced with snapshops at each step. The purpose was to create an error-free procedure for people unfamiliar with either puppy, or installing, or both, from the existing installer program.
Other stuff - hints and tips
If you found this article interesting, you may also find the following one about "using audacity as a sound recorder" of value. While written around a larger, heavier, version of Linux, I'm now using it very effectively with Puppy.
The companion article about setting your computer up to use Audacity is here and applies equally to computers which use Microsoft Windows.
I've taken a bundle of screen captures related to a number of tasks within PuppyLinux. When the articles are written, links will be posted to them here. In the mean time here are a few ideas...