03 March, 2010

Another Screenshot

I call this iPup and it features a green background on which I superimposed the iphone graphic. Added some genuine iphone icons and a small conky at the top and voila! I may add an additional something (another conky perhaps?) to the bottom in the coming days. If you haven't noticed by now, I use conky as more of a dynamic graphic element than as a datasource. Oh well!

01 March, 2010


It's easy to install a dizzying array of fonts to complement your Puppy. Surf on over to Font Freak and check out the selection. When you find a font you like, click on the Windows icon (yeah, I know). When the dialog box opens, choose to Open with pupzip. Extract the contents to /usr/share/fonts/default/TTF, You're done! Go enjoy your new font!


The Grunge-Techno look thanks to a cute little conky status window. Get the .conkyrc file here, the nice digital readout font here and the wallpaper here.

28 February, 2010

Desktop Du-Jour

We'll call this theme Black-Dog just so I can link to Led Zeppelin. Notice the colorful little conky status bar. The conkyrc for that piece of eye candy follows. Note: Blogger chopped up the TEXT section which should only be 2 lines.

background yes
use_xft yes
xftfont Sans:size=10
xftalpha 1
update_interval 1.0
total_run_times 0
own_window yes
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_class Conky
own_window_type override
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
double_buffer yes
# minimum_size 200 200
# maximum_width 200
draw_shades yes
draw_outline no
draw_borders no
draw_graph_borders yes
default_color 454545
default_shade_color black
default_outline_color 454545
alignment top_right
gap_x 30
gap_y 12
no_buffers yes
uppercase no
cpu_avg_samples 2
override_utf8_locale no

${cpugraph 25,130 00ff00 ff0000} ${diskiograph sda1 25,130 00ff00 ff0000} ${memgraph 25,130 00ff00 ff0000}
${color 00ff00}CPU SDA1 RAM

Here is a replacement "Start" button for your JWM tray. You can learn how to install it at John Murga's Puppy Linux Forum.

27 February, 2010

My Doghouse

My Puppy lives in a Del Inspiron B130
  • Intel Celeron M 420,1.6 GHz
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 14.1 widescreen
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 GM
  • 40 GB HD
  • 802.11a/g

25 February, 2010

Eye Candy Du Jour

What all the cool desktops are wearing today.
  • BlackPup GTK
  • Shiny-Stickers Icons
  • Aurora JWM
  • roxpup-red ROX Icons

It's not a bug, it's a "feature"

Oh look another feature!

(Solved!) Actually the problem linked to above - corrupt jwm config file preventing config modification under JWM Configuration GUI - wasn't "solved" per se. Instead I discovered that manual modification of ~/.jwm/jwmrc-theme as per JWM's creator and the ArchLinux Wiki is fun and easy and affords far greater customization possibilities. So all I did was turn my lemons into lemonade! Cheers!

Mount WHAT ??!!??

Right now the uninitiated is thinking, "what kind of sick freaks are these Linux dorks anyway?". But the act of mounting/un-mounting media (hard drives, CDroms, memory sticks, etc) is something alien to the Microsoft or Apple user having a go with Puppy - or most any Linux. Mounting is a time honored UNIX activity and while the same sort of operation is done in Win/Mac it is hidden and automatic. Here in the Puppy world you have two choices:
  1. REVEL IN THIS ARCANE TECHNICAL FIDDLING believing in your heart it makes you a better person. -my choice
  2. Enable auto-mounting via Menu-Desktop-Desktop Drive Icons Manager-Icon Handler-(checkbox 2). -the wimps way out
Here's a neat trick I discovered the hard way. Choose a hd or flash partition to unmount (not your boot!). Unmount it. In rox, navigate to /mnt/unmounteddrivedesignation and click on the unmounted drive in the rox window. What do you see? NOTHING! Now mount that partition and browse it again. MAGIC! All your data has returned. I learned this the hard way. For the longest time I couldn't understand why Puppy seemed to be selectively loosing my data. Yeah, I know: NOOOOOOOOB!!!

21 February, 2010

New Icon Set: Gartoon!

I assembled the Gartoon icon set in Puppy's format. Snag it for yourself on the Puppy Linux Forum.

19 February, 2010

Things that work... (ongoing list)

RIGHT! My Puppy use has progressed to the next level (as in I am actually getting actual work done with it) consiquently, I have had less time available to BlaBlaBlog. As of now, the following programs have been found to work on my system:
  • Seamonkey-2.0-i486
  • gimp-2.4.0-rc3
  • pwidgets-2,0,8
  • dosbox-0.73-i486
  • sdl-1.2.9
  • DukeNukem3D_for_4.3.1 (Yeah Baby!)
  • intltool-0.40.6-i486
  • transmission-1.82-small
  • python-2.6.4-i386
  • imlib2-1.4.0
  • Pet_Maker-1.7-3-430
  • conky-1.7.2
  • roxpup-red
  • unrar-3.7.8
  • java-1.6u17
Peace Out!

03 February, 2010

Desktop Du-Jour

Today's desktop is peculiar in that it features no "icons" per se. The No-Icon theme is a set of transparent icons so only the labels show up! The icons for FILES, BROWSER, and TRASH are each on one of Ganesha's hands and the drive icons are in the lower left. Gradient Brown GTK and JWM complete the tableau. Oh and Gxine is tuned to Radio Dismuke!

Now including the original paper...

02 February, 2010

"Puppy Docs" and Google Docs

Among the things one encounters when one enters the world of Puppy - or any other "alternative" OS for that matter - is the notion of Cross-Platform Data Format Compatibility. Basically, how you save a file on one platform might have a great bearing on exactly what you can do with it on another. What formats can Abiword or Gnumeric handle that will reproduce faithfully in Works, Excel, Word, etc. (Mac users, please fill in your own filthy, unclean, elitist data formats here). OpenOffice users know something of which a speak already as Microsoft seems to feel no compunction to support OO file types.

Enter Google Docs. If you're lucky enough to live in a world where high-speed internet is ubiquitous, You might consider the convenience of Google Docs. The notion is rather revolutionary, and not without quirks. Here is what Google claims Docs can do for you:

Conversion limitations and supported file types
Files you convert to Google Docs can be edited online. They do not count towards your storage limit.
Some features may not be fully supported when files are converted, such as footnotes, tables of
contents, tracked changes and comments, embedded graphs, pivot tables, and slide animations.
Documents (up to 500KB of text)
  • HTML files and plain text (.txt).
  • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Rich Text (.rtf), OpenDocument Text (.odt) and StarOffice (.sxw).
Presentations (up to 10MB)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps).
Spreadsheets (up to 1MB)
  • Comma Separated Value (.csv).
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx) files and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods).
The list of supported file types certainly isn't exhaustive, and reproduction is not 100% accurate but is no worse than Abiword's support for DOC or Gnumeric's support of ODS.

In a perfect world I would recommend OpenOffice on all your platforms. I would do this myself on my Inspiron, but Puppy has been stable enough that I've started using it for 'work' and the last thing I need is another Mplayer disaster!

Final Thought: Just what is Google doing with all our data?

31 January, 2010

Screenshot Du-Jour

Today's Screenshot features a retro 'apple-fied' puppy wallpaper, the BlueHeart GTK theme, and the LaGaDesk-Bluenight icon set. Cheers!

Good Puppy! / Bad Puppy!

Nearly three weeks now since my first experience with Puppy (or any Linux for that matter) and I thought it might be helpful to you to know some of the things that work really well versus things that... don't.

  • Abiword- reads and writes my existing Open Office files, Word files, and Works files correctly (some formatting is a bit off) and does everything I need in its native format.
  • Gnumeric- no problems handling my existing Open Office sheets.
  • ROX File Manager- More powerful than Winblows File Manager. While some operations are not immediately intuitive, they become obvious once you're aware of them.
  • PET Pacages- This is a clever system that makes software install painless for novices just learning Puppy's Non-Windownian file system.
  • GIMP Image Editor- Download this PET package. GIMP is a sturdy, full featured, image manipulation suite for any ability level.
  • SeaMonkey Web Applications- This Mozilla bundle takes the place of FireFox and Thunderbird. Upgrade to the latest version asap. Functionally, I am content with it and see no need to migrate to FireFox.
  • Transmission Client- An easy to install and use Torrent client.
  • Puppy's Verbose Nature- Not a software package. This was the first thing that struck me about this OS. Barry Kauler and the Development Team love paragraph length prompts that actually explain what's going on to the novice! If your new to Linux, READ THEM even if you think you know what's goin on as they contain lots of insight into Puppy's workings. Add to this a sea of online tutorial and manual guidance and there's no reason to stay a Noob for long!
  • X Windows can be unforgiving. DO NOT HAVE A POWERFAILURE. Pay close attention to battery life as it seems Puppy sucks up more juice than Winblows. X will not be happy with you for abnormal termination.
  • Gxine- Basically "Puppy Media Player" works eventually... most of the time... maybe.
  • Mplayer- Gxine substitute. Wound up reinstalling Puppy after attempting to install this app, three times. BEWARE!
  • Pwidgets, Conky, Pet Maker
Please remember that any problems I have had on my system in no way imply an overall disfunctionality of any part of Puppy. It takes alot to get EVERYTHING working on EVERY hardware and any problems I have may simply be these sorts of compatibility issues. BUT HEAR THIS: EVERYTHING on my system worked FROM THE GET-GO with my first boot of the Live CD and that is no mean feet! Somebody deserves a cookie for that!

27 January, 2010

OrangePup Wallpaper for your Puppy

It's Orange... It's Puppy... It's OrangePup a modern, abstract wallpaper for the Puppy Linux community to enjoy!

25 January, 2010

Icon sets are fun & easy to make!

If you enjoy messin' about with graphic design projects, then try your hand at putting together a set of icons for Puppy! This set, Noia-Warm, is originally a beautiful piece of "Eye-Candy" offered under the GNU GPL. Puppy uses many fewer icons than this so the job was a simple one of shaving the set down and making some minor modifications to a few pixels here and there. If you want this set, or any other great Puppy eye candy, stop by the Puppy Linux Discussion Forum and snag some treats.

24 January, 2010

A matter of trust

It's been a little over two weeks now since I first booted up my new Puppy Live CD. In that time I've had to re-install system more times than I can count. Heaven knows I can't blame the OS for all - or even most - of them. And there was variety in the mix with problems coming from a number of directions.

  1. USB Flash frequently decided to stop booting.
  2. .PET installations went awry.
  3. Power failures screwed up X (remember to LOOK at the power meter Tim!)
  4. Crash during normal shut-down.
I blame the USB failures on Bill Gates. The stick I was using came from a Bill & Melinda Gates library conference I attended. The power failures I blame on yours truly (see above). The .PET installs were my own fault. I didn't really need to install that application (and truthfully a more competent user could have probably worked around the problems). This only leaves one unexplained crash during normal shutdown (and that could have resulted from some muckin' about that I can't recall now). Bottom line: I really can't blame the distro for any of these woes.

Unfortunately though, this realization has done nothing to let me trust Puppy with my data at this point. I practice multiple redundancy with my important docs anyway, but until this dog and I come to an understanding, I won't be able to view this OS as anything more than a curiosity - a toy. But damn it if it aint fast and pretty and fun!

23 January, 2010

Desktop Du-Jour

Mark your territory - Puppy style!

As promised, let's look at "icon sets, GTK themes, and that oh-so-nifty clock on the right hand margin".

Menu>Desktop>Desktop Icon Switcher
This simple tool presents you with 5 nicely composed icon sets. Switching between them is straightforward. Additional icon sets can be installed through Puppy Package Manager or directly from the net. The Puppy Linux Discussion Forum has a number of lovely sets made by users. Any new themes added get listed in the Switcher utility.

Menu>Desktop>Chtheme GTK Theme Chooser
Cleverly, the appearance of this window reflects the currently highlighted theme. To see another theme in action, just click on it! Like with icons, check out the Package Manager or the Forum for more choices than you'll really need.

Those clever widgets you'll see in Puppy screen shots
All of those are part of the Pwidgets package. This package is found in the Puppy Package Manager under Desktop and is easily installed from there. It installs itself to Menu>Desktop>Pwidgets and offers a wide array of extraneous crap to clutter your desktop with (my screenshot from last post shows analog clock, calender, and local weather).

21 January, 2010

What color is your doghouse?

Puppy comes with a suite of utilities to help you customize your desktop experience. Allow me to get personal for a moment and show you my desktop du-jour.

These customizations require four tools under the DESKTOP menu item - let's explore these operations one-by-one.

Menu>Desktop>Nathan Wallpaper Setter
This utility opens a dialogue box listing a number of wallpapers that came pre-bundled with your Puppy Live CD. Initially your wallpaper is set to "default.jpg" (original huh? figure the odds). The interface is not unlike windows and anyone above a guy on disability who uses his eMachine to play blackjack all day long should be able to navigate it with little trouble. Notice the file path shown as a string of buttons at the top and as a path string at the bottom. You might expect to find these images in /root/my-documents but instead the powers that be put the wallpapers in /usr/share/backgrounds. Use images from either location, Puppy doesn't care.

Menu>Desktop>JWM Configuration
This theme manager "controls the behavior and appearance of the windows and the tray" (thanks for spellin' it out for me there help screen!) When this app starts we find ourselves looking at the JWM tab. Selecting the Choose a JWM theme button allows us to select a theme for window borders and taskbar. Try them out.

Next time we'll cover icon sets, GTK themes, and that oh-so-nifty clock on the right hand margin.

20 January, 2010

Love at first sight

I downloaded the latest ISO and a CD burning program - this was a "live CD" which allows you to sample all of Puppy's functionality with ZERO hardware investment. The CD booted and I found myself presented with maybe 5 simple, straightforward questions about time zone and graphics compatibility - not the "HOW MANY MEGA-FLOPS IS YOUR RASTER PEGGED AT?" sort, but the "Can you see this box?" kinda thing.

Guess what? your running Linux! At this point I just screwed around a bit with desktop appearance to get a feel for the interface. This is a great idea as there is no real chance of screwing much up in the process. Mess things up? Just re-boot off the Live CD and try something else.

Eventually you'll want to "bring Linux home to meet the parents" and the best way to do this is making a boot-able flash drive. Click the INSTALL icon on the desktop and choose BootFlash USB installer. As suggested you should try the USB-HDD option first (I had to resort to USB-ZIP myself as I couldn't get the other to work).

When done, boot from your flash drive - but DON'T BLINK - you might miss it entirely. Your Puppy Linux USB boot-stick can be treated just like a hard drive system. Programs can be added to the USB, data can be saved, it can even migrate from computer to computer. Screw it up? Just re-initialize the Flash Drive.

TO DO: Wonder where your old CPU found all this youthful vigor.

Just like that?

Why walk out on a perfectly 'happy' relationship with Windows XP? For me, it was the promise of speed. There I was one week ago, head cradled in my hands, waiting for my XP desktop to conclude some basic process (was I ZIPing a file?). Waiting... waiting... I was used to it by now. Not the wait, no, but the way it made me mad every-damn-time!

Later on that night - had I finished ZIPing or had I just hit the big red
X that "speeds up" my operations? - I stumbled upon the Puppy Linux home page. It promised speed, reliability, and Ease of Use. What's more, I could boot it from my flash drive? Where did I sign up?

This blog is going to be about my adventures with my Puppy Linux distro. "Timmy and his Puppy" if you must. It's NOT going to be my quest to become a super-user. I'm a Noob today and I intend to be a Noob years from now. While I freely admit to being an elitist, nerdy, schmuck, I got stuff to do and I want to see if I can get things done with Linux but WITHOUT a PhD. So far it looks that the folks who develop Puppy are gonna let me do that.