As you may well know I’ve always been a bit of a distro-hopper. I think it stems from the fact that when I first started using Linux I had to stick to using Slackware due to hardware limitations, and the fact that I only had a dial-up connection to the internet. I used to try different distros but always had to go back to slack eventually because I couldn’t get something working and didn’t know enough about computers, linux, or networking to get around the problems I had.
Using Slackware for my first few years put me in a position whereby I envied the shiny “just works” ways of many distros. It also meant that once I was finally able to try different things and get them going properly (broadband internet was the first big thing, then a new computer a couple years later!) I didn’t like the fact that many distros had all these tools to keep you away from the command line.
As I got older and novelty of new distros was less of a concern and getting my work done was more important I found myself edging closer and closer to Ubuntu and Mint for ease of mind. But this has ultimately ruined my geek cred, and I still long for that down and dirty messing around to get shit working that I rarely have to play with any more.
Needless to say I still do try different Linux distributions out and currently I’ve got Mandriva 2011.0 running on my main laptop (don’t like it, too lazy to change it). But this blog post is about something different.
The art of distro-hopping has really changed in the last few years with cheaper USB sticks in supermarkets for £5 and tools like unetbootin. Not even to mention easy-to-use virtualisation tools like VirtualBox. I can now download a newfancylinux.iso in about 10 minutes (compared to 4 hours or even over night in the old days) and be playing with it running live from a USB stick or in a window on my desktop minutes later and in a way it makes the whole process far less exciting!
ENTER LUPU. Lupu, or Lucid Puppy as it is also known is one of many current versions of Puppy Linux. I’ve tried Puppy in the past but never gave it a fair chance until now. I was looking for an iso of FreeBSD to try sticking on my old laptop and I came across an older version of lupu on the same magazine DVD. Knowing I hadn’t tried it recently I stuck it on a USB stick and had a play. And I really love it!
I haven’t taken the time to make it look pretty to my liking yet, but the default set up with Openbox is good; the system is clever and works very well. I can shove the stick in my laptop and do whatever I need, be in browsing, typing, blogging (like now), and then just shut the computer down, drive 20 miles up the road to wherever I may be working, shove the stick in another machine and everything is there, just the same. This is because although the system is like a live CD it also saves everything I do to a file on the USB stick.
There is a modest package repository, but I haven’t really needed anything that isn’t in it and once stuff is installed it gets saved to by save file on the disk and is ready to go next time. I’ve also found that because of it’s super low memory footprint (just 50MB when in JWM) it’s perfect for playing old Windows games under wine! Something else that I really like is that although I’m updating my save file all the time with the stuff I do if I find that there are hardware issues or things just aren’t working properly on someone else’s machine then I can opt to just load the default set up at boot time and that usually fixes it. On top of all this, the fact that it is still essentially a persistent live disk rather than a full install I can still just use my USB stick normally in any computer or even my car stereo.
That’s my brief review, Lupu is great, get it, try it.
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