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   >  Script Permissions
   >  Cron and Scheduling
   >  A Scripting Example
   >  Other Scripting Languages
   >  Index of Sections

 

The Puppy Linux Desktop

 A Desktop Tour of Puppy Linux (Lucid Puppy)

The Puppy Linux Graphical User Interface (GUI)

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:

ApplicationPackage Used
Word Processor abiword
Drawing Editorinkscapelite
Image Editormtpaint
Spreadsheetsgnumeric
Email Clientsylpheed
Calendarosmo
Media Playergnome 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.


The Puppy Linux Desktop

When you boot Puppy 5.2.5, the desktop will display:

The Puppy 5.2.5 Desktop

The Lucid Puppy 5.2.8, desktop looks slightly different:

The Puppy 5.2.8 Desktop

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 Puppy Linux Toolbar

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:

The Puppy Toolbar 5.2.5

Like Windows, this can be divided into three parts:

  • The user tray allows the user access to all the Puppy functions and is located on the left hand side:

    5.2.5:The Puppy Toolbar 5.2.8:The Puppy Toolbar 5.2.8

    From here you can access the following functions:

    5.2.55.2.8NameUsage
    Puppy Main Menu 5.2.5Puppy Main Menu 5.2.8Main Puppy MenuClick this icon to display the main Puppy Menu
    Invoke BrowserBrowser Options 5.2.8Internet Browser SettingsClick this icon to set the default internet browser, pop-up blocker, etc
    Iconify 5.2.5Iconify  5.2.8Iconify (minimize) WindowsClick this icon to minimize all windows
    Switch Desktop IconsSwitch Desktop 5.2.8Switch Desktop IconsClick this icon to switch between available Desktops

    Clicking on the first of these icons will bring up the main Puppy menu, giving you access to all the installed applications and functions (-you can liken this to the "Start" menu in Windows:

    The Puppy Menu

    Additionally, if you right-click anywhere on the desktop background, a pop-up menu will appear, giving access to all of the options available from the main Puppy menu:

    Right Click Menu

  • In the middle part of the toolbar, the thumbnails of all open applications are listed: click on these to jump directly to that window (-irrespective of the desktop it is on):

    Open Window Icon 5.2.8

  • On the right hand side of the toolbar is the system tray: this allows you to interact with any system program and processes (daemons) running in the background:

    The Puppy System Tray

    What appears here depends on what you are doing and what it running on your system, but in the case above, the icons are as follows:

    Battery PowerBattery StatusClick this icon to check your battery status (laptops)
    Volume ControlVolume ControlClick this icon to adjust the audio levels
    ?FirewallClick this icon to configure/check your Firewall settings
    Invoke EditorPuppy MounterClick this icon to mount/unmount a device (5.2.5) or view device utilisation (5.2.8)
    Switch Desktop IconsConfigure NetworkClick this icon to check / configure your network connection

Using Virtual Desktops

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:

5.2.5:Switch Desktop Icons5.2.8:Switch Desktop 5.2.8

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:

Changing Desktops

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)


Configuring the Number of Desktops

If you feel (as I do) that two desktops is rather miserly, this can easily be changed by clicking on the "setup" icon (Setup Icon). This will open up a dialogue box, allowing you to configure Puppy:

Setup Dialogue

Click on the "Window Manager Settings" icon:

Window Manager Settings Dialogue

Click on the "Desktops" tab and change the value in the "Number of Desktops" field:

Desktop Settings Dialogue

This will set the number of desktops to the desired number.


Exiting Puppy Linux

When you have finished with Puppy, click on the "Shutdown" icon in the main Puppy Menu:

Puppy Shutdown Options

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:

Puppy LiveCD Changes Screen

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)


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