"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Alternative distributions for the EEEPC: PupEEE

I decided to give a look at some Linux distributions designed for netbooks and alternative to Ubuntu. I'm not going to replace Ubuntu any soon, even if I don't like the latest version, the one I have installed is going to be supported for a long time. I'm simply curious to see what alternatives are available, for netbooks, and to test how they perform on my EEEPC.
The distribution I decided to start with is PupEEE: the EEEPC tailored version of the famous small footprint distribution Puppy Linux.

Download and install

I downloaded the latest version of PupEEE from its download page. Preparing a bootable media from the downloaded zip is a little different from usual but not difficult. Once I extracted the zip file on an empty SD card I simply executed the “bootinst.sh” script placed in the “boot” folder.
Schermata-2

Once extracted PupEEE only takes only about 130MB of disk space (this is a really small footprint), I've been able to install it on an old 256MB SD card that I had left in a drawer with other obsolete or useless things.

First impressions

PupEEE took about one minute and halt to boot, not a great performance but, of course, it could be because of my SD card. After that I've been welcomed by the puppy's bark that, by default, is played at Puppy Linux start-up. Here is how PupEEE looks like.
pupeee-1

All the EEEPC 900 hardware devices have been properly recognized from the beginning, not surprising since this version has been just tailored for the EEEPC's series.
PupEEE comes with many configuration possibilities, among the others you have three lightweight window managers (Flwm, Icewm and Open Box) already installed to choose.
pupeee-4

More interesting for an EEEPC user is the possibility to choose between the standard desktop user interface (the ROX Filer) and a “netbook launcher” interface with the usual left sided tabs; here is how it looks like:
pupeee-5

Last but not least PupEEE comes with good choice of programs already installed, especially if you consider the extremely small footprint. Among others many disk management and recovery tools like Gparted or Photorec, various networking tools like Gadmin OpenVPN client or PuTTY and AbiWord and FBReader on the office side.

Conclusions

As I already said I'm not going to install PupEEE on my netbook. For my everyday use Ubuntu is doing it's job well and I'm not going to change it lightly. On the other side PupEEE (and Puppy Linux) is an incredibly good distribution. It's small size and especially the provided disk utilities makes PupEEE a priceless thing to keep on an old SD card or USB disk to use in case things go wrong. After all … what else can you do with 265MB now-days?