29 September 2012

Puppy Linux saves me

Your computer is going to crash; are you prepared?

I had warnings. I kept getting that my computer was running low on tmp space. I would go and empty that directory, but I would still get that warning, so I should have known that something was amiss. However, I didn't have time to check things out; school was starting soon, so I was preparing for that. And, then it happened. I started the computer one day and I got stopped at the command-line. The computer suggested that I reconfigure Xorg which I did to no avail. Again, no time to dig deeper into the problem and I needed to check email. No problem. I grabbed the USB drive on which I had installed Puppy Linux several months ago, told the computer to boot via USB, and I was up and running and doing what I needed to do. I am writing this using Puppy. When I have time, I will use it to rescue my normal Linux installation.

What is Puppy Linux?

One of the results of the Linux and hacker (in the original sense) community is varieties of Linux called minimal distributions. They are designed to be stripped-down versions that can fit on a portable device and run without being installed on your computer. Some are developed to be rescue tools, but others try to fit as much as possible into a small package. Puppy Linux is an example of the latter. You can run it off a CD or a small USB flash drive. An old 1 gigabyte thumb drive is more than enough. Instructions on how to install are very easy to follow.

What do you get?

At first glance, you might not expect to get much from programs that take up only 100 megabytes of space. But you get a fully functional system. You get a web browser, word processing, picture editing, music playing, and everything you use on an everyday basis. You also get the ability to do file management on the files on your computer's hard drive, even if you can't start up your normal operating system. Afraid you are going to lose those irreplaceable photos from a wonky hard drive? You can copy them to another flash drive or to CD with Puppy. Need to edit a document for school? You can do it with Puppy. Need to replace a corrupted system file that you think is preventing you from booting up normally? Do it with Puppy. If all you do with Puppy is recover from a computer crash, it worth spending a couple of hours downloading and trying it out.

Save old hardware

 Do you have an older laptop or desktop that is running slow and now just sits in the basement. Give it new life with Puppy. Since load itself into your RAM memory, it runs very fast. Do you have an older family member or young student who just needs to do basic document preparation, e-mail, and web browsing? Install Puppy to the hard drive and they are good to go with the added benefit of not having to worry about viruses. Need something special? Check out the different varieties called Puplets made by members of the Puppy community to serve special needs and desires.

Given that more and more of our lives are dependent on computers that fail at inopportune times, you should be prepared. Puppy Linux can be a life-saver.

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