Tuesday, May 25

PuppEee 4.3X RC2

It happened again... just as I was about to write up a review of the latest beta, the first release candidate rolled out. And then, as I got halfway through the review, the second release candidate came out. The third one is probably just around the corner... It's amazing how quickly the developer of this nice little distro works.

Overall, I'm (still) extremely impressed by how much have been shoehorned into such a small package. Not only does PuppEee give you a full distro in a bit more than 120Mb, but it's stuffed to the gills with tools for browsing, social networking, productivity and much, much more.

I really like the fact that the last beta and the RC gives you the option to pick and choose between not only x-servers, but also windows managers and desktops. Right now I'm running it with LxLaucher on top of FLWM under Xvesa - about as lightweight and usable as I need. And if I want to switch desktop, windows manager or even X-server, I don't even have to reboot any more. All that's needed is to restart the X-server and you're home free. Most impressive.

The selection of internet aware apps should cover most users needs well - in addition to the obvious browser and email client (Chrome and Claws, respectively), PuppEee offers a website mirroring tool, a FTP client, pidgin and much more - pretty much anything a modern internet user can need.

Productivity tools are also well catered for, with AbiWord and Gnumeric as the two big office tools on top of a host of text editors and other applications. For those in a more artistic line of work, a full range of image editors, managers and viewers - a very nice change from RC1 to RC2 is the added ability to view djvu-files. It's not like I have a lot of them, but more than a few I had been limited to viewing at my desktop until now. Two small applets that will come in handy for me is the Expense Tracker and/or the HomeBank finance management applet - either should be useful in keeping track of my money when I go to Sudan for a year.

But all is not work - the selection of games and multimedia software is pretty staggering by itself - a nice range from solitaire to arcade, and enough players, editors and mixers to keep a video freak and an audiophile happy. Me? I'll settle for a nice game of Space Invaders and watching some movies, thank you.

And don't even mention utilities - this distro is packed full. One I really like is Startmount; it lets you specify which drives should be mounted at start up, and what (if any) software that should be opened as you boot.

Now, a full, or even partial, list of all the installed software would take too long in this post (not to say I wont post one later), but for now, lets talk desktops, window managers and x-servers.

The RC2 offers four choices as far as desktops (file managers) goes; ROX Filer (the default) which acts much like any other computer desktop, Netbook Launcer (as far as I know, a tweaked LxLauncher and also my current favourite) which organizes everything into useful tabs for easy access, and PCManFM which I haven't tried. The fourth choice is 'None', which I'm slightly worried about trying... I'm sure it's safe though. PCManFM looks quite interesting, but I've gravitated towards the Netbook Launcher since I like that style on the smaller screen. Although, it may be that I'm just lazy and like getting my software on a silver platter.

For the actual windows management, you'll get three choices - IceWM (the same as the default Xandros uses on my Eee) which acts pretty normal, FLWM (my current favourite) which plays nicer on the small screen by placing the title bar on the left side of the windows) and OpenBox which to me looks very much like IceWM. To me the second choice makes the most sense - on a small widescreen such as the Eee (in particular the 70X series), horizontal real estate is more plentiful than vertical real estate. FLWM lets you conserve the later by using the former.

For the x-server you get the normal choice of two; X-org, which is heavier and more capable, or X-vesa which is lighter and loads faster. Choose the former if you need accelerated graphics or OpenGL, while the later is good if you care about boot times.

Some screen shots:
 This is the Netbook Launcher desktop coupled with FLWM - showing the contents of the Internet tab.

This is the Rox Filer desktop coupled with FLWM - again showing how to get to the Internet applications.

Running the Evice document viewer under FLWM - note the titlebar and max/min/close buttons along the left side of the window.

This is the Netbook Launcher desktop coupled with IceWM - showing the contents of the Internet tab. Note how the bar at the bottom of the screen don't hide under the launcher, eating precious vertical pixels.

This is the Rox Filer desktop coupled with IceWM - again showing how to get to the Internet applications. This is how PuppEee will look out-of-the-box - at least in RC2.

Running the Evice document viewer under IceWM - note the titlebar and max/min/close buttons along the top of the window, eating pixels.

Overall, a very decent little Linux, and well suited for running on your Eee. I'm not sure I can recommend it as the only OS you need, but right now it's of three I boot, and the one I prefer for surfing and other web-work.


Anonymous said...

This is the best OS i have tried on my eeepc701(7"screen). I have tried Ubuntu9.04 netbook(too big and slow,no hard drive left). I tried kubuntu netbook 10.04(the best ubuntu for 7"screen,quite usable). Puppie 4.20(worked all drivers out fine but seemed slow,possibly user error as this was my first experience walking the dog). Don't forget DSL(driver hell).Tried puppie4.30 wifi no joy:-(

Anonymous said...

I works well on my Acer Aspire One 9" netbook too.
It has the proper video drivers, so Google earth works. The Wifi works perfectly. Added Wine sfs and Firefox with flash 10 sfs. And Sykpe works fine.

Good job!