My space in the world

Code is poetry

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

Today, Puppy has reached version 4.1 – and it’s mind blowing!

If you’re thinking this tiny, 93MB distro is going to leave you with a spartan, minimalistic desktop experience, think again. Wireless support, MP3 support, Flash built-in, integrated browser player, personal blogging software, HTML editor, backup software, GParted, Samba sharing out of the box, this is just a tiny list of what Puppy 4.1 offers you.

Boot Puppy

The boot procedure did not change much:

Puppy begin

Enjoy Puppy

After a few simple prompts for your keyboard and the graphics driver, the choice between the more modern Xorg and the older Xvesa, you’ll reach a new, fresh, aesthetically pleasing desktop.

Puppy desktop

You will notice the desktop is more refined than in version 2.1. The best part is that everything runs quickly and smoothly – even faster than some installed distros. You don’t feel the fact Puppy is running as a live CD.

Puppy gave me the choice to switch between a large number of resolution and color depth options. Having tested several, I found them all to work well, without any glitches. The mouse integration is great, too. You get all those shiny buttons and scroll thingies working right out of the box.

Prepare to be stunned …

What can a distro that takes less than 100MB of memory in RAM offer, o ye of little faith may be pondering.

Wireless

Let’s start with wireless support. To this end, I booted Puppy on a ThinkPad T43 laptop.

One way of trying to configure the wireless network is by using the Network Wizard.

Puppy network wizard

But there’s an even simpler way: the Pwireless wizard!

Puppy wireless 1

As you can see, there are still people who use the default SSID and no encryption whatsoever. Apparently, they did not bother to read my Router security article. Later on, additional three networks popped up, one with WEP and two more with no encryption. Sad, really.

So I clicked Connect to get onto my network, provided the password – and that’s it!

Puppy wireless 2

Furthermore, please note that the Windows partition (sda1) is not mounted by default, for safety reasons, although if you do click on the icon, it will be mounted – and writable. We will talk about this a little more later.

Likewise, notice the USB thumb drive icon. To save the screenshots from this session, I used a FAT32-formatted USB drive, which Puppy happily recognized and mounted.

Now, how about Flash?

Flash

You know those big shiny distros that seem to point you to Adobe website for a download? Well, Puppy is not among them. Enter Flash right out of the box. And it does not stutter. It works smoothly, even running on an Xvesa desktop.

Puppy flash

MP3 playback support

Oh, you got some songs in a proprietary format? Not to worry. Puppy handles those without blinking.

Puppy MP3

Integrated browser media player

gxine is a beauty. Here’s SeaMonkey, playing my Ubuntu Compiz video, inside one of the tabs.

Puppy gxine browser 1

Puppy gxine browser 2

Apps, apps and more apps

One of the mind-boggling facts about Puppy is that uses some sort of a black hole filesystem to store all those applications, because it seems almost surreal that such a tiny distro could contain so many goodies.

Here’s a brief overview of just a fraction of programs you may want to use:

Let’s begin modestly. You have the mtPaint for image editing, AbiWord for word processing, and OSMO, a personal organizer.

Puppy apps 1

Puppy apps 2

You also have Gnumeric spreadsheet software and Expense Tracker, which allows you to monitor your budget spending. P.S. There is another couple of finance-related programs included, just in case you need an alternative.

Puppy apps 3

If you have not noticed in the screenshot above, we had the F-Prot anti-virus installed. It comes with a nice GUI too, so no need to muck about with the command line for the unknowing. It’s extremely useful for scanning Windows machines or shares for possible malicious files.

Puppy apps 4

Gadmin-Rsync allows you to backup your machine. It will even create scheduled jobs for you. The bubbly stuff in the background on the right bottom side is the visual representation of the disk usage. Neat, isn’t it.

Puppy apps 5

Bloggers rejoice, here’s software for you:

Puppy apps 6

Puppy also comes with GParted, the superb partitioning software:

Puppy GParted

gxine is quite sexy, too. Did I say that already?

Puppy gxine

Instant Messaging (IRC)

You may want to use IRC channels, for fun or information. The setup is as easy as it gets.

Puppy irc

File sharing

Puppy is also great in file sharing. It allows you to setup your machine for sharing or browse the network neighborhood for available Samba shares. In both cases, the tasks are done using a very friendly GUI.

Puppy file sharing

Here’s a snipper of (some of the) available Windows shares in the hood:

Puppy samba shares

On top of all that …

Mounting of partitions

Puppy will do many other things for you. For example, it allows you to mount and unmount partitions using a simple switch-style GUI (Pmount Drive Mounter). It is also smart and careful and will not mount root partitions of existing installations automatically.

Puppy mount

Notice the green LED near the partition icon, indicating it is mounted:

Puppy sda6

Games

The live CD also has a small collection of simple, DOS-like games available:

Puppy games

Easy setup

When you boot the first time, Puppy will offer help. Additional setup is very easy and wizard-driven.

Puppy help

Puppy setup

Remaster live CD

Puppy also lets you create your own custom, bootable CD version of the distro. This is specially useful after you have installed Puppy – or spent some time configuring applications.

Puppy remaster

Not to worry, you can also always save the session and reload it later.

More!

This hardly scratches the awesome ability of this tremendous distribution. It also comes with an installer, should you choose to permanently commit it to the hard disk.

If you’re ready, get Puppy.

If you don’t fancy the official version, you may want to try one of the many Puplets, custom-created sub-versions of Puppy with cool stuff like additional applications (OpenOffice, Compiz, Firefox, Opera, VLC, Audacity etc), MAC-like looks if you like, and tons of other great stuff.

Puppy can be used as a live CD, but it can also be installed to a hard disk, a solid-state device, a USB device, and other portable media.

The Puppy Linux Discussion Forum is a great place to learn more about this phenomenal distro.

Conclusion

Puppy is a lean, mean menace. It’s simple, light, fast, stable, and beautiful. It offers the users a complete experience out of the box. Configurations are driven by simple menus, without any need for advanced Linux knowledge.

Even if you’re just a curious Windows user, Puppy is definitely for you. You’ll get multimedia support for all sorts of audio and video files, without any worry about installing strange things. And you even have an anti-virus should a need arise. Sharing network resources has never been simpler.

The live CD also allows you to perform rescue, backup and auditing of installed systems, be they Linux or Windows, offering you leverage in case of a disaster.

On top of all that, Puppy is productive, with a broad range of excellent, useful programs for just about anyone.

4.1 is truly an amazing distro.

Really worth trying

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

“32. Track down large unused files Large and scattered files can start to slow your desktop down, as well as any applications that rely on reading the contents of a directory. The best tool we’ve found for consolidating and deleting unused files is called Filelight. It uses a pie chart to show where the largest files are located, and you can easily delete directories of junk from the right click menu.

“33. Enable vertical sync in Compiz
Compiz, the 3D whizzy desktop effects application, can be either a resource hog or even an acceleration tool. It depends on the power of your graphics hardware. But we’ve nearly always had better more responsive results on the desktop by enabling the vertical sync option in the general option page of the Compiz settings manager.”

Complete Story

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

Microsoft is frightened. Even Ballmer is telling users that they can skip Vista, which tells you everything you need to know about Vista’s failure. In the past, Microsoft wouldn’t have sweated this kind of flop. “What can users do?” they’d say. “Move to Linux or Macs? Ha!” That was then. This is now.

Today, major PC vendors are selling netbooks like hotcakes on a cold Vermont morning and three out of ten of those are running Linux. As my comrade in arms, Preston Gralla observes, “Microsoft isn’t just worried about ceding 30 percent of the netbook market to Linux. It’s also worried that if people get used to Linux on netbooks, they’ll consider buying Linux on desktop PCs. Here’s what Dickie Chang, an analyst at research firm IDC in Taipei, told Bloomberg about that: ‘It’s a real threat to Microsoft. It gives users a chance to see and try something new, showing them there is an alternative.'”

Exactly, and that’s why Microsoft is rushing out Windows 7, which is a stripped down Vista SP2, as fast as they can and jerking out features so it will run on netbooks with minimal hardware. Gralla thinks Windows 7 will kill Linux on the netbook, I don’t see that.

For all the mistaken excitement about Windows 7, the earliest anyone is going to see Windows 7 is the 2009 holiday season. That’s eternity in Linux terms. Linux is already better than Vista and the equal to Microsoft’s best desktop operating system, Windows XP SP 3. By the time Windows 7 appears, Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu will have all gone through at least two more generations of upgrades.

Windows is a slow dinosaur competing with the fast-moving Linux mammals. It’s not a race I expect Windows to win.

Linux is already more stable, more secure, vastly faster boot times, and it’s far less expensive than Windows. With efforts afoot to make desktop Linux even more new user friendly and its much faster evolution, I’m not worried about Windows 7 sweeping Linux off the desktop. But, I can certainly see why Microsoft would worry about Linux gaining a substantial, say 30%, of the desktop market or even more if Windows 7 isn’t a rip-roaring success.

The days when Microsoft ruled the desktop are numbered and Windows 7 is Microsoft’s frantic attempt to forestall the inevitable.

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

“As a practitioner of the software arts, my lack of electronics knowledge has always bothered me. Ive browsed a few books and tinkered a bit, but aside from that could I find a useful project to bring on some learning fun? I pondered that question one night while gazing at the moon. It was bright enough to see raccoons high in a tree next door, which sent me briefly into a panic trying to remember if I had shut the door on the chicken coop. Four small spring chickens have little to protect them at night – aside from someone or something remembering to close the coop door. Perhaps something could remember better than someone to close the door? Would a silicon “Chicken Sitter” be a feasible project?”

Complete Story

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

Yesterday, on WebWorkerDaily, I noted in a post that the first extension has been created for Mozilla’s Fennec mobile browser (Fennec means small fox). Mozilla quietly reported this news in a blog post. With this in mind, and for several other reasons, I think many people are underestimating the impact Fennec will have as a mobile browser. Here is why.

Back in April, when Mozilla provided encouraging news about its progress in developing a mobile browser, there were still many naysayers. A lot of people felt that Mozilla’s code base was bloated, and that it would have trouble delivering a sleek, innovative mobile application. Since then, though, the company has put increasing emphasis on its plans for Fennec.

While Fennec is available for use on some Nokia devices in an early alpha version, and there is a PC emulation version available for very early tests, it has not been released in a final, open source version for widespread use on various mobile platforms. As Mozilla confirmed this week, Chris Finke has added Fennec compatibility to his URL Fixer extension. At first glance, that may not seem like earth-shaking news, but the important thing to note is that URL Fixer was a Firefox extension. Henke forked it so that it works with Fennec.

As Fennec progresses and becomes available for use on mobile open source platforms, and potentially other platforms, I expect that Mozilla will fully leverage one of the biggest advantages that the Firefox browser has: the availability of incredibly useful extensions. They will encourage and maybe even subsidize the delivery of useful extensions for Fennec, making it easy to port existing Firefox extensions over.

Does the browser in the iPhone have this advantage available? No. If Google delivers a mobile version of Chrome, does Chrome have the extension advantage? No. I’m not surprised that Mozilla continues to talk Fennec up, including its efforts to get the TraceMonkey engine working with ARM processors (found in many mobile devices). The company has worked doggedly to make it a browser that performs well, has been working on touchscreen interfaces, and as Fennec is finalized, I expect extensions for it to be what really puts the wind at its back, relative to the competition.

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

“We’ve elected to have our port scan start at 80 (The traditional http server port) and grab every other (higher) listening port on the localhost and query all of them, as if they were http servers, by sending a simple HTTP/1.0 GET request. As a blanket request to any number of known, and unknown, ports, it’s not always the best way to interrogate, but it does get lots of useful information from any sort of web server and a few other sorts of servers as well. The only thing you have to settle down and be comfortable with is the fact that, a lot of the time, you can find out just as much about what’s running on a particular port by reading the error message you receive from a bogus query as you can from reading the result of a successful one.”

Complete Story

Posted by Sayak
November - 8 - 2008

The ReactOS team has released version 0.3.7 of its Windows NT compatible operating system. This release along with the rest of the 0.3.x series is still considered alpha quality software. ReactOS 0.3.7 continues further work on the main three principles of current ReactOS development: bugfixes, compatibility and stability.

The release announcement sums up the most import changes in this slightly delayed release:

  • Improved x64 architecture support
  • The start of a real MSVC compiler support project
  • Kernel improvements and bugfixes in quite a few parts: Configuration Manager, IO Manager, KE, Memory Manager, Object Manager, Process Manager
  • Network stack improvements: leakage fixes, increased functionality
  • Filesystem driver fixes, making them more compatible with the Microsoft NT cache manager
  • Win32 subsystem improvements and synching of most of the Wine usermode DLLs

The changelog for this new release is rather huge and detailed, so if you’re interested in the nitty gritty, indulge yourself. You can download ReactOS from the website’s download page.

About Me

A son, brother and friend. Enjoys scripting and making small bits of apps here and there. Wants to conquer the world (well, who doesnt). A geek who has an obsession for ponies. Loves acoustic and wants to play guitar sitting on the Hollywood hill one day!

A Word About KDE

KDE is a versatile software compilation for all platforms. It is an intuitive and powerful desktop environment that focuses on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, and creating a vibrant, open atmosphere for experimentation.

» http://www.kde.org