The Puppy Linux Desktop
In our opinion (-and if you'll excuse the expression) Puppy has really grown up in the last year or so. Like TinyCore, Puppy does not use Gnome or KDE as it's desktop as Puppy ethos is to provide a quick, lightweight and portable O/S; however, unlike TinyCore it's desktop is much more accomplished and Puppy can easily be used without having to resort to the command line except on rare occasions.
In our opinion (-and if you'll excuse the expression) Puppy has really grown up in the last year or so..
As opposed to TinyCore, Puppy ships with plenty of default applications installed as standard so you can get to work straight away! The main ones are listed in the table below:
|Word Processor ||abiword|
|Media Player||gnome mplayer|
The downside is that the Puppy distro is larger than TinyCore and, if you prefer different applications to those supplied, you are going to have to remove the unwanted apps and install the desired ones anyway!
In summary, Puppy sits somewhere between the spartan TinyCore and the fully featured Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint, but is certainly a great deal more than halfway along this continuum. We would certainly recommend it to Linux newcomers looking for an new lease of life for older hardware that is incapable of driving the larger, more resource-hungry distros.
When you boot Puppy 5.2.5, the desktop will display:
The Lucid Puppy 5.2.8, desktop looks slightly different:
As you can see from the screenshot above, Puppy allows shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, so you can access your favourite programs by double-clicking on the icon, rather than going via the menus. By default, the desktop contains the following icons (-from left to right, top to bottom):
These are fairly self-explanatory - and the best way to get more familiar with them is just to play around with them - but this should give you a good appreciation of the basic functions available straight "out of the box".
The bulk of your desktop interaction with Puppy will be through the main toolbar, which sits at the bottom of the desktop. For 5.2.5 it looks like:
Like Windows, this can be divided into three parts:
A desktop (-as in TinyCore and Workspaces in Gnome) allows you to organise your windows into workspaces that you can switch between. This allows you to group windows for different tasks in separate areas: for example, you could keep your email and chat applications in one workspace - and your word processor in another.
In standard configuration, Puppy allows you to switch between two desktops, accessible by mini-desktop icons down in the Puppy toolbar:
Click on the first icon to display all applications in desktop one and on the second icon to display all applications active in the second desktop.
Note: that the tabs for all open applications remain listed in the taskbar (-to the right of the desktop icons), so you can always click one of these to quickly switch to any given application
If you have a window open in one desktop that you wish to move to another, you can right-click the title bar of the window and choose the desired sub-option from under the "Send to desktop" option:
These options comprise:
- Desktop 1 : moves the window to desktop #1
- Desktop 2 : moves the window to desktop #2
- All Desktops : makes the window visible over all desktops
Note: obviously, there will be more Desktops listed on the menu if you have configured more than two (-see below)
If you feel (as I do) that two desktops is rather miserly, this can easily be changed by clicking on the "setup" icon (). This will open up a dialogue box, allowing you to configure Puppy:
Click on the "Window Manager Settings" icon:
Click on the "Desktops" tab and change the value in the "Number of Desktops" field:
This will set the number of desktops to the desired number.
When you have finished with Puppy, click on the "Shutdown" icon in the main Puppy Menu:
The options comprise:
- Exit to Prompt : quit the GUI / desktop and run in command line mode only
- Reboot : power down and power back on
- Power-off Computer : shutdown the PC (power down)
- Restart X-Server : used to restart the GUI if changes have been made or problems encountered
If you booted into Puppy from a live CD, then you will see an additional screen display before the machine powers down:
This gives you the option to save any changes made during the session to a device before shutting down. If you want to wish to save your session changes then pick the device to save them to - so that they are available when you next boot into Puppy.
Note: only choose the "Save to CD" function if you have left the CD open after writing (-i.e. it's not been finalised)