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Puppy Linux 4.3 gains bugfix, rave reviews
Oct. 20, 2009

The Puppy Linux project has released a 4.3.1 bugfix upgrade for last month's major 4.3 release of the popular, lightweight GNU/Linux distro. Puppy Linux 4.3, which has been rebuilt with a new "Woof" build system and PPM package manager, has received a number of positive reviews.

The 4.3.1 release fixes a number of bugs in last month's 4.3 release, which featured the return of Puppy Linux creator Barry Kauler to an active coordinator role. Kauler has been "kind of" retired since Puppy 4.1.2, and has been working on the new Woof build system, which replaces the Unleashed build system, and which allows users to build a Puppy Linux from packages of any distribution.

Kauler has also designed a new package management system, called the Puppy Package Manager (PPM), which is "needed to cope with Woof's ability to build a Puppy from the packages from any distro (Debian, Ubuntu, Arch, Slackware, T2, etc.)," writes Kauler in the 4.3 blog announcement.

Puppy Linux 4.3 desktop

A separate project is underway using Woof to create a Puppy system based on Debian packages, called Dpup. Numerous Puppy spin-offs called "puplets" have emerged in recent years, including a "MiPup2," which was reviewed earlier this year on DesktopLinux by Dave Dibble.

Both Woof and PPM are available in the 4.3 release, which is described by Kauler as "a massive upgrade, right from its very roots to topmost branches." Like previous releases of the popular Puppy Linux, the 4.3 release is small enough to fit in RAM, although it has crept up from 100MB to 105MB or 110MB, with the addition of new packages.

Version 4.3 is still capable of running on older machines, according to a review by Michael Perks, in which he tested out the release on a Pentium III-based Dell 8100 laptop with only 384MB of RAM. He concluded that Puppy Linux 4.3 "works great." Perks also shows the appropriate mindset for this scaled-down distro when he writes, "Puppy Linux 4.3 has all the necessary programs that you would need to browse the web, read email and compose a doc. What more does one want?"

New features

Puppy Linux 4.3 is based on the Linux kernel, configured to support SMP multi-processing systems, as well as uni-processor desktops. The new kernel, which is only one step behind the latest Linux 2.6.31. The Puppy version supports the ext4 filesystem and is patched to support the Aufs2 file system.

Beyond Woof and PPM, the release offers a long list of upgrades and additions, none of which Kauler singles out for particular notice in his announcement (the link at the bottom of the page points to a long feature list). In a review of Puppy Linux 4.3 in Linux Magazine, however, Dmitri Popov makes note of what he believes to be some of the more notable improvements:
  • Desktop -- The Puppy desktop adds enhanced icons and a new blue-tinted GTK theme.

  • CPU Scaling Ondemand -- This new graphical tool enables control of processor frequency, useful for cooling overheated systems or increasing battery life on a laptop.

  • Bcrypt GUI -- This "nifty graphical utility that lets you easily encrypt files and documents," writes Popov.

  • BootFlash -- This tool is said to provide a "more straightforward way" of creating a bootable USB key.

  • PuppyBrowser -- An alternative to the SeaMonkey browser suite, Puppy Linux now offers its own PuppyBrowser lightweight browser based on SeaMonkey's gtkmozembed library. PuppyBrowser is said to be designed for viewing local HTML help, as well as accessing the CUPS printer server, PPLOG blog engine, and the QUISP CGI software for generating dynamic Web pages.

  • Viewnior -- Replacing Fotoxx, the lightweight Viewnior viewer supports basic editing operations such as rotate, flip, and crop.

  • Aqualung -- This new music player supports MP3, WAV, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis, and helps manage podcast subscriptions, and play and rip CDs.
Over at The H, meanwhile, the writer applauds the BootFlash tool, as well as new "winmodem" components. The latter support chipsets such as Smartlink or Conexant, enabling Puppy Linux to be used with analog dial-up modem connections.

A more in-depth review comes from Desktop Linux Reviews, where Jim Lynch praises the 4.3 release for finding the right balance between portability and comprehensiveness of applications. Although faulting it for its ugly configuration screens, he gives it a thumbs up as a flexible USB distro, noting that despite the small size, Puppy Linux 4.3 offers "a lot of value."

Finally, at DaniWeb, the distro made the site's top-ten list of best Linux distributions chosen by its readers.


The Puppy Linux 4.3.1 release is available now for free download, here. Information on the 4.3 release may be found here.

The Michael Perks review in may be found here.

The Dmitri Popov review in Linux Magazine should be

The story in The H should be here.

The Jim Lynch review in Desktop Linux Reviews may be found here.

The DaniWeb top-ten reader's choice awards for Linux distros may be found here.

-- Eric Brown

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