Why is Puppy Linux so fast

Profile of the Puppy live system

David Wolski

Linux distributions that are suitable for very old computers with 32-bit processors are becoming fewer but not dying out. One of the live systems that stays true to old hardware is the expandable Puppy Linux.

EnlargePuppy Linux 8 is built from parts of Ubuntu 18.04 and offers access to its package sources.

With Puppy Linux, even a really old computer runs really fast again. The live system will not win a beauty award because the desktop is simple and old-fashioned, but it does not lack preinstalled software and comfort. Puppy Linux has always been optimized for a quick start and for small resource requirements. However, new editions of the system have become rarer as PCs have become more and more powerful. Only now is there another edition based on the package sources of the current Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

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Light-footed, but simple

Little is seen of the Ubuntu base at first, because the desktop uses the low-calorie JWM window manager - not Gnome, for example. The memory requirement of the system including JWM is only 80 MB after the start.

In Puppy Linux 8, the minimal desktop has a clipboard for text snippets and even an optional compositor that is still waiting to be activated in the “Applications -> Utility -> Compton” menu and significantly enhances the desktop with subtle effects. The live system is available in English, but a German language package is available for subsequent installation. After starting, you can select the desired screen resolution and the key assignment.

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Puppy Linux 8 is not a turnkey system for every purpose, but despite its total size of only 280 MB it provides a remarkable pre-selection of software: A lightweight version of Firefox 48 called "Light" is preinstalled as a browser. An optional ad blocker under “Applications -› Internet - ›Pup-Advert-Blocker” can block known advertising and tracking domains via hosts file. The Gnome Mplayer and the little-known but usable player Pmusic are available as playback programs for media files. When it comes to office programs, Puppy Linux 8 is not quite as well equipped. Using a shortcut in the application menu, Libre Office can be quickly reloaded while the system is running. The entire arsenal of programs from the Ubuntu package sources is available via the package manager behind the menu item “Applications -› Setup - ›Puppy Package Manager”. If Puppy Linux is set up bootable on a USB stick using its own USB installer, the system can also permanently store application packages in its own Puppy format on the data carrier. This use is certainly the most pleasant operating mode for Puppy Linux 8.