Revision [16267]

This is an old revision of UsingPuppy made by coolpup on 2011-07-02 04:35:34.


How to Use Puppy Linux

  1. Learn more about Puppy
  2. Acquire the container file (either ISO or ZIP) of a recent Puppy release
  3. Choose how to use Puppy with your machine with MinimumSystemRequirements:

Using Puppy from a flash memory drive
Using Puppy from a hard disk drive
Using Puppy from an optical disc drive
Using Puppy from a network server drive

Appendix 1 - The container file

Puppy essentially consists of three compressed files:
N.B. Some Puppy versions make use of an additional file: z*.sfs

These files are usually distributed in a container file in either ISO or ZIP format. It is this one file that one has to acquire so as to be able to make use of Puppy.

Appendix 2 - Co-existing with another operating system

When making an installation to an internal H.D.D. with an existing operating system, one has the option to either allow that operating system to remain or be removed. Only remove the existing operating system if the computer is more than 3 years old since most computer manufacturers cease to provide new B.I.O.S. versions after that time. If the intention is to remove the existing operating system, regardless of computer age, then ensure to check for and install any B.I.O.S. updates first.

If the Puppy files are to be appended, by making a frugal installation only of Puppy, then this would involve one of the following:
One can place a frugal install within a pre-existing Windows installation. The save file, although itself is a Linux file-system, may reside on a FAT or NTFS partition; which is why a frugal installation is also called a "co-exist" installation. A full hard disk drive installation on a F.A.T. partition is not possible because F.A.T. partitions do not support Linux symbolic links.

Appendix 3 - The start-up process

Upon starting, the computer needs to select one of its partitions from which to load an operating system. This requires specific boot code to be located at a special location (Master Boot Record) on the boot drive. This program eventually transfers control to the Linux boot-loader system file, e.g. ldlinux.sys or grldr.

So, if the existing operating system is to be kept, one has to choose which operating system is to be the primary one to initiate the boot process:
If Windows is chosen it will need to be modified so that it presents a start-up menu that includes Puppy as one of the available options. These changes have to be made from inside Windows and not from within Puppy. There is an on-line tutorial called the Lin'N'Win Project, that will achieve this.

Is Puppy to be used to boot-up the computer? This will involve installing GRUBforDOS from within Puppy, which will make Windows available as an option from the GRUB boot menu. However, this will only work if Puppy has been installed into its own partition. And the partition must be formatted using a Linux-compatible file system such as EXT4.

The Puppy Universal Installer (P.U.I.) does not install GRUB to a F.A.T. or N.T.F.S. partition because then it assumes that the partition contains Windows (error message "This partition is not Linux"). Instead, the boot-loader may be installed to the M.B.R.. To return to a Windows-only setup in the future simply run the fixmbr command.

Appendix 4 - Using an appropriate file-system

When Puppy is to be installed to its own partition it may be formatted with the file-system of choice.

EXT4 is the recommended file -system.

F.A.T. formatting would enable an external drive, e.g. U.S.B. flash memory drive, for file sharing with the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is not suitable for installing Puppy Linux onto since such a file-system does not permit the use of symbolic links. Also it does not support files with sizes greater than 4GB.

N.T.F.S. formatting permits the use of symbolic links and file sizes greater than 4GB. However, there are problems with its usage and so it is not recommended.

The formatting can be performed on an unmounted partition using a LiveDVD or LiveUSB and going to:
Menu > System > GParted > Partition > Format to

Appendix 5 - Frugal and Full Installations

When one performs a full installation, all of the data from the core Puppy files are extracted (decompressed) and deposited as a Linux file-system onto one's chosen partition. Therefore, a full installation involves one file-system. Any subsequent software application installations, or file edits, are appended to this file-system so that the total number of files and folders gradually increases with time.

A frugal installation involves two distinct file-systems:
Upon start-up these two file-systems are super-imposed upon each other so that they appear merged. One has, in effect, a full installation whilst Puppy is running, but all that one actually sees on the physical partition are those two files. Any additional user files that are written to the operating system are written to the save file.

The main advantages of a frugal installation is that one always boot with pristine copies of the core Puppy files. If the install gets corrupted it is just a matter of restoring the single save file from a backup copy.

The save file is of a fixed size but it may be increased if more space is required. However it is simpler to just store or move data outside of the save file, which is recommended. For example these software packages are installed outside the save file: seamonkey, libreoffice

Frugal installations can be made almost anywhere. It may even be placed inside a full installation of Puppy or another Linux distribution. Or one may have multiple frugal installations in the same partition. When using older machines it is recommended to compare both frugal and full installations to determine which functions better.

Windows Vista may become corrupted if a user tries to shrink the Windows partition using Linux tools. A safer procedure is to use Vista's own Disk Management tool, then create the new partitions using Linux. If one wants to keep Vista as the primary boot-loader, look at Easy BCD here.

A frugal installation may be performed on a Windows FAT or NTFS partition without requiring to re-partition it; operates faster in high-R.A.M. computers; and is easier to upgrade. However, if one has fast, newer disks and plenty of R.A.M., frugal loses its speed advantage. On a P3-1GHz machine with 1GB of RAM and UDMA5 hard disks, there is no material performance difference between a frugal install and a full H.D.D install, provided the full install is on a reiserfs partition. On a P3-800 laptop with only a UDMA2 hard disk, there is a great deal of difference. If you have enough RAM to hold Puppy, e.g. 256MB, then the frugal install is the only way to go.

To be able to dual-boot Puppy alongside Windows without re-partitioning or re-formatting: perform a frugal Puppy installation.

For a full installation the conventional Linux file system is directly placed onto the partition. A full installation runs faster on low-RAM computers.

On a full hard disk install, the vmlinuz file is usually at /boot, and executables are located at /usr/bin. On a frugal install vmlinuz is outside of pup_save.2fs somewhere on the "real" file system. executable files within frugal installations are also are /usr/bin, but /usr/bin itself is not directly on the disk but rather is at /initrd/pup_rw which in reality is pup_save.2fs on the disk's "real" file-system, "union'ed" into the overall Linux / directory tree in pup_xxx.sfs.

Another thing frugal installations do is copy the pup_xxx.sfs file into R.A.M. if there is a sufficient amount, causing applications to start slightly faster. If the computer does not have sufficient R.A.M., it will instead mount the pup_xxx.sfs file from the HDD.

In the case that a frugal installation's save file is on a flash memory drive, Puppy stores its file changes within R.A.M., and only copies them to the save file on the drive periodically (or when one clicks the "save" icon or shut down). This is to cut down on writes to the drive to extend it's life. This behavior does not happen on non-flash media (if it does you probably forgot to set the pmedia=satahd parameter when using a SATA drive).

Puppy can boot from a non-primary partition. Or you can have the PUI write GRUB's stage1 to a floppy boot disk. Or you can do the frugal installation manually and use a boot CD to launch it. In that case, one could even put Puppy in a logical FAT partition which would be shared with Windows.

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