After reading some great reviews of Puppy Linux, I was anxious to download it and take a look, especially since I have some older systems that could really use a light Linux distro. Booting Puppy the first time I was a little surprised for a live cd distro to ask me for the keyboard layout. I selected U.S. and proceeded. I was then prompted to select wether or not I wanted to use xorg or xvesa for the x server. Again, I was surprised but selected xorg, because it's the standard and the only one I had heard of. It then asked me for a resolution. I selected 1280x1024 and continued. The desktop came up in the proper resolution with no issues, but I had already been prompted for three different inputs on a live distro. Incredible. For being a distro that prides itself on quick booting, it really wasn't so impressive in this aspect.
Once the desktop came up, I was greeted by the most horrendous desktop I've seen in a long time. I'll post it here for all to see, but I have to warn you that this could possibly ruin your entire day.
Adjusted slightly to a less horrendous background color, and no instructions built into the wallpaper (ugggghhhhh)..........
As you can tell, I'm not very impressed up to this point. So, I thought I would try out a little web surfing, to see how quick and light the OS and browser were. Here is the result.......
What? No network connection? Let me make it very clear that I'm using a desktop system (wired) and I don't even remember the last time I had to manually configure the network connection. So, to get the network connnection up, I clicked the "connect" icon, clicked all in separate dialog boxes the "connect to internet by net interface", "eth0", "autodhcp", "yes" (to save the config), and "done". So, 6 clicks and five dialog boxes later, my network connection was setup. I didn't actually put any settings in there, I just clicked. There's absolutely no reason this couldn't be scripted at boot time.
At this point I was starting to get quite frustrated. I had read some great reviews, and was really looking forward to having an outstanding experience. So far, I was experiencing just the opposite. This distro had transported me back 10 years to the days of windows 98. The graphics are very poor quality, the fonts are fairly small and hard to read, and the entire documentation of the distro seems to be included in the dialog boxes. The sea monkey web browser seems to be an odd choice, even in a light distro. There are light browsers that are much more aesthetically pleasing and don't look like they're from the 90's. But, 90's seems to be the theme for the whole distro so it actually blended quite well with the rest.
The package manager of Puppy seemed to have a fairly large amount of packages in it, but there is no search feature, so you're stuck looking through all the packages. The installed password manager is Gpasman which looked very dated just like the rest. Even in a light distro, Keepass would fit right in, and look much better.
One program that is included in Puppy that ABSOLUTELY floored me was fragger. I had never even heard of this program, but when I opened it up I was very shocked to see that this was a program that graphically displays disk (or file) fragmentation. Maybe someone should explain to the Puppy developer(s) why fragger is so ironic in linux. I couldn't actually get fragger to view my hard drive fragmentation, but here's a screenshot of the program in all it's windows 98 glory.
Is your jaw on the floor yet? I've got more.........
When you go to the terminal, you already have root access, even if you install it to the hard drive. Press ctrl-alt-backspace to get the terminal and you're given a message that you should type in "xwin" to start xorg again (huh, I could have sworn I was running Linux). Trying init 0 or init 6 to restart the system got me absolutely nowhere. In all it's windows likeness, I guess it forgot how to do linux commands. And last but not least, shutdown is an unknown command.
I almost forgot. Included in Puppy is possibly the worst looking graphical editor I've seen in my life. It closely resembles paint from windows, but it's much more ugly. Here's a screenshot.
On a side note, I did find a couple things that were fairly acceptable with Puppy Linux. The drive mounting program was able to see all drives, mounted or not, and mount or unmount with a single click (a refreshing change from the rest of the distro). The firewall setup program was also very simple. Also, because the programs were all loading from memory, they opened very quickly and the system was very responsive, even when testing on an old system with only 128Mb of memory.
To sum things up, I guess Puppy is an appropriate name for this distro. Puppy is full of energy and very fast, but often misbehaves and poops all over. I completely understand the light concept, but with distros like Slax around, there's no excuse for outdated programs that look like they belong in a Microsoft OS. And for humanity's sake, remove fragger from your distro. What the hell were you thinking?