Monthly Archives: February 2009

Puppy Linux 4.1.2 runs great on This Old PC

I hadn’t fired up This Old PC in quite awhile, and I didn’t even know if it would boot (OK … I knew it would boot, but funny things can happen after many months of inactivity).

I brought a new live CD — Puppy Linux 4.1.2, the latest version of that OS — to boot.
This Old PC (333 MHz Pentium II MMX, 256 MB RAM, 10 GB hard drive with Windows 2000) already had a pup_save file from Puppy 2.13 (the first version of Puppy I ever ran). 
That’s the beauty of Puppy: You run it from the live CD and can create a save file in your Windows partition, so you can have a full Linux environment without installing or partitioning anything.
Anyway, I did an “upgrade” from Puppy 3.01 to 4.1.2 on a different PC , and that didn’t go so well. A few desktop icons didn’t appear after I ran the new CD, which modified the pup_save.
When I booted 4.1.2 on This Old PC, I received the same sets of warnings, and the messages on screen acted as if I was doing a 3-to-4.1.2 upgrade rather than 2.13-to-4.1.2.
However, once the machine finished all its housekeeping, I was in 4.1.2, and everything looked just like it should.
I don’t have any networking on This Old PC at the moment, but a check of quite a few apps in Puppy revealed that the OS runs great on what now is a 12-year-old PC.
I can’t wait to stuff a couple of wireless cards into the box and/or hook up Ethernet to see how well it performs on the Internet.
I do have a few spare drives, but I’d really consider using my CF-to-IDE adapter and running with a 2-to-4GB CF card instead of a traditional hard drive. Puppy runs fairly well in 256 MB of RAM (although it’s always good to have some Linux swap available; a good reason to keep a spinning hard drive).
One thing Puppy IS good at is minimizing writes to flash media and thus extending its life by orders of magnitude, and that makes Puppy a great system both for This Old PC and the Self-Reliant Thin Client (which is now running Debian Etch from CF but would run much better with Puppy). Both have 256 MB of RAM, which is doable with Linux but not ideal. If either of these systems would address 512 MB of RAM, I’d install that much immediately, but since they both max out at 256 MB, that’s what I have to work with.