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Monday, April 09, 2007

Puppy Linux : A Linux distribution that runs completely on RAM

Puppy Linux : A Linux distribution that runs completely on RAM

Over years size of software along with processing power of computers have increased considerably , i still remember the first Linux distribution i used was Red Hat Linux 5.2 came on a single CD , now RHEL or Fedora comes on a DVD or 5-6 Cd's , even Windows has grown tremendously in size , memory requirement have zoomed the latest Windows Vista requires almost 2GB of Ram and a fast processor to run flawlessly. Now here is a shocker Puppy Linux is a Linux distribution that is only 28-70 Megabytes in size and come fully featured Graphical Desktop with Web Browser , Word Processor , Download Manager , PDF Viewer , Multimedia player,DVD Ripper , Spreadsheet and ability to play audio / video files and other programs and can run on a machine as low as 166 MHz Processor and 128 MB ram without swap file and 64 MB with swap file to run . Impressed read more to see what is packed inside in Puppy Linux .

According to Puppy Linux Website the goal of Puppy Linux is to create a Linux distribution that is user friendly , quick to run and include all the applications that user needs .

Installing puppy Linux is not all that difficult download the ISO's from their website and burn it on a cdrom now after this boot from the cdrom on booting puppy Linux it asks a number of questions regarding Hardware Configurations , Video Card and Monitor and stuff ,after completing these steps Puppy Linux boots into impressive graphical desktop in less than a minute . You dont have to enter these information everytime you boot they can be saved on hard-disk or USB Flash memory or burned on a cd so that you dont have to enter these information everytime you boot Puppy Linux . Now i have to admit i wasn't expecting such a good graphical environment on puppy Linux considering it is only 70 Megabytes in size . The user interface was extremely responsive helped by the fact it was running entirely on RAM and it wasn't accessing data from hard disk frequently which is significantly slower than accessing data from RAM .

Now Puppy Linux since aims to be a distribution for newbies so icons were very logically named write , draw , connect and other user friendly captions were provided for different programs , So that new Linux user dosen't have any problem recognizing programs which he might have not seen earlier .

This is how Puppy Linux Desktop Looks : -

What is included ?
Some of the important Application that are included with Puppy Linux includes : -

1. Sea Monkey Web browser

2. AbiWord Word Processor

3. Ghostview PDF Viewer

4. Axel Download Accelator

5. Dillo Web browser

6. Gxine Media player

7. DVD Video ripper ( :) )

8. Gnumeric Spreadsheet Program

9. Inklite Vector Editor

10. mtPaint

11. A collection of small games
and other programs

Now i access Internet through LAN , i had no problem installing LAN on puppy Linux it provides a very useful graphical tool for configuring Internet connection through LAN or modem .

The Web Browser that is included with Puppy Linux is Sea Monkey which is based on Mozilla code base same as Mozilla Firefox. I Did not encounter any problem in using Internet through Sea Monkey most of the website rendered without any problem . Even Macromedia/Adobe Flash Extensions was installed by default this is really wonderful packing in fully functional web browser with Macromedia flash plug in along with other applications in 70 megabytes .
Browsing Internet through Sea Monkey Web Browser

The other applications that are included with Puppy Linux are light weight alternative to popular applications and do work well on slow or moderately powerful machines , besides occupying less space .Abiword and Gnumeric are functional enough to be used for Word Processing and Spreadsheet .

Gnumeric : A Lightweight Spread Sheet program that is quite usable

Another nice feature of Puppy Linux is it has nice interface for mounting various drives present on your computer you can mount different drives on your computer using it's graphical wizards . Besides this Puppy Linux provides a easy way of installing Puppy Linux on USB Flash Memory drives through graphical wizards , When you log out of puppy Linux you have a option of saving your work , modifications , setting and documents on the CD itself if it is multi session disk since puppy Linux runs entirely on RAM you can write these data on puppy Linux CD itself or you can store it on your hard disk ,USB Flash Drive .
Media Utility Tool to Mount drives
Now since Puppy Linux loads itself into RAM and runs entirely on RAM you can even take out Puppy Linux CD after booting into Puppy Linux and watch movies , listen to Audio CD or Rip DVD Video .

Now Gxine in Puppy Linux comes with number of codecs though w32codecs package is not installed by default so some audio/video files may not play well but most of the popular ones did play without any problem i tried playing avi,mpg ,Video CD's and other files all played well with minor adjustments .
Gxine : A Media Player included with Puppy Linux based on Xine Framework

Even though Puppy Linux comes with wide array of application you can install more application from puppy's application repositories , Puppy Linux uses (.pup) files for applications and if you cannot find particular installation file you can also use debian packages for installing applications on Puppy using alien . Puppy Linux uses different file format for installing application since Puppy Linux is not based on any other Linux distribution but was created from scratch by Puppy Linux creator Barry Kauler.

If you are feeling bored there are collection of neat games that comes with puppy linux enabling you to have fun on puppy Linux .

Classic Mine Sweeper game comes pre-installed with Puppy

Drawing tool that come pre-installed with Puppy Linux

Overall Puppy Linux is highly impressive distribution that could be especially useful on slow machines , providing a fully featured application set requiring minimal system resources. Puppy Linux is one distribution that can bring your old computer to life and make it rock .

Article written by : -
Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj(at)
for Linux on Desktop , (C) 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Casual guide to some commonly used Linux Commands



(Part 1)

Through this document i try to explain some of the commonly used commands under linux and their basic use In this first part of series we cover ls,cat,arch,bzip2,gzip,tar,pwd,more,mpg123

1. cat : ( concatenate)

This command can be used for diplaying content of a file on the console, combining two files into a single file , or appending content of one or more files into a single file commonly.

cat v1 : This statement would display the file named v1 on the console

cat v1 v2 v3 > v4 This statement would combine the content of textfile v1,v2,v3 and create a new file v4 having all the content of three files.

cat v4 >> v5 This statement would append v4 file at the end of file v5. To end the statement type (Ctrl + D (EOF))

cat > filename << STOP This statement would create a filenamed filename at the console and accept input from the user for the file , the file is ended(terminated ) on pressing Ctrl + D.

2. arch


The command would print the machine architecture to the standard outpit (console)

Example :- On my Pentium M-1.4 ghz laptop it printed


3. ls

The ls command lists the files at command line and has a number of options for displaying the file at the command line , the manpage on ls is as huge as huge gets . Some important options while ls are : -

ls command normally dosent display the hidden files and folders the one starting with . when used normally however if you want to display the hidden files and folder it can be done by using the -a option .

ls -a : Displays all files and folders including the hidden one

The above command displays current directory and parent director by ./ and ../ however if you want to avoid displaying this use -A option instead of -a option.

ls -S : the -S option displays the file list in a sorted fashion with the biggest sized file displayed first

ls -sS : the -s option displays file size before the filename combined with -S option it displays a sorted list of files currently in directory with the filesize infront of the filename.

ls -Sr : the -r option combined with -S displays the sorted list of files in the current directory with the smallest sized file displayed first.

ls -sSh : the command displays the sorted list of files in the directory with the file size displayed in a more understandable fashion.

ls -F : this command displays the list of files and directory with directories ending with (/) , executable files with (*) , Symbolic links with ( @)

ls -l : this command displays the file list with additional information like size,date (editited ,modified ) etc

ls -t: displays the direvtory in the order of their age with youngest directory displayed first adding -r tag could reverse the order.

4. gzip (GNU Zip)

gzip can be used for compressing a single file , it is not meant for compressing entire directories as other file formats do . The default extension used bu gzip archives is (.gz) .

gzip filename.ext would create a file name filename.gz and replace the existing filename.ext file with filename.ext.gz file which is compressed gzip archive , the gzip command retains the file's attributes the modification,time stamp, access etc.

The compression level of the file can be varied by using options from 1 to 9 while compressing a file

gzip -1 filename.ext would compress the file quicker but with less compression.

gzip -9 filename.ext would compress the file slower but with more compression.

the default compression level is 6.

The filesize of compressed gzip archive would depend on the orignal file format it would do well with a non - archived file such as txt,doc,bmp etc but would fair poorly with JPG , PNG etc which are already compressed by some algorithm.

The gzipped file can be decompressed by using the gzip -d or gunzip command at the command line.

the default file extension used by gzip archives is .gz if you want to use a different file extension it could be done by using the -S option
example : gzip -S .x filename.ext would create a archive by the name of filename.ext.x

5. tar ( Tape archiver )

The tar program combines a number of files and directory in a single file which then can be compressed using a gzip or bzip2 program to reduce it's file size.

tar -cvf file.tar file1 file2 file3 file4 : This would create a tar archive combining the file1 file2 and file3 into a single file the archive have the same name as the file1 since we have specified the -f option which makes tar use the first option as the filename of the archive , -c tells the tar program to create a archive and -v option displays all the background information on the screen.

tar -cvf file.tar file1.tar file/ : This command would create a archive named file.tar with file1.tar and file subdirectory as the content of the archive .

tar -cvzf file.tar.gz file1 file2 file3 file/ : This command would create a tar file consisiting of the files and directory specified and then the file is compressed using the gzip program, to create a final archive file.tar.gz.

tar -cvjf file.tar.bz2 file1 file2 file3 file/ : This command would create a tar file consisiting of the files and directory specified and then the file is compressed using the bzip2 program, to create a final archive file.tar.bz2

tar -xvf file.tar : This command would extract all the files contained in the tar file file.tar

tar -xvjf file.tar.bz2 : This command would extract all the files contained in the file file.tar.bz2 , it would first call the bzip2 program to extract the file.tar and the call tar to extract the file.tar and it's conetent.

tar -xvzf file.tar.gz : This command would extract all the files contained in the file.tar.gz , it would first call the gzip program to extract the file.tar and then call tar to extract file.tar and it's content.

If you have created the file.tar but want to add some file(s) later it can be done using the following command and using the -rf option .
tar -rf file.tar file(s)

6. bzip2

The bzip2 is similar to gzip program but compresses file better and more effectively as compared to gzip program . The default extension used by bzip2 program is (.bz2) , the usage of bzip2 is very similar to the gzip program but has some additional options , which are described here .

bzip2 -k filename.ext : This commmand would create a archive of the filename.ext but would also keep a copy of the orignal file unlike gzip which replaces existing file with the the new archive file.

the bzip2 program also has different compression level ranging from 1 -least to 9-maximum . which can be set by using syntax like : bzip2 -1 filename.ext

bzip2 archives can be extracted by using the bzip2 -d option or by using the program bunzip2 .

7. More

more allows one to view text file in the console with abilitty to scroll the file at shell. Syntax for using more is very simple .

To open a file type

more filename


more -s filename : this command shrinks multiple blank lines into a single line allowing easy modifcation of file.

some of the keyboard shortcuts are : -

(=) : This cause the current pagenumber to be displayed on the screen.

(Shift + (F)) : This causes to display the filename and path with the line number in the window.

(Q) : Quits the program

(B) : Takes the display one page back .

(v) : This would launch the default text editor which is vi allowing editing of the file the default text editor can be changed by changing the enviornmental variable EDITOR/VISUAL.

(d) : this scrolls the the displayed the file by default 11 lines which could be changed.

8. mpg123 / mpg321

mpg123 is command line based audio player that forms the backbone of number of graphically available Audio players , it is one of the most efficient player on the Linux platform and can play mp3 files on as low hardware specs as a 120Mhz Pentium Processor based computer . A similar command line application is mpg321 that can be used for playing mp3 files.

mpg123 or mpg321 file name - To play mp3 file

Ctrl + C - This skips to next track

Typing Ctrl + C Twice - quits the application

mpg123 -z *.mp3 : - Command would play all the mp3 files in the directory with a shuffled play-list.

mpg123 -w filename.wav filename.mp3 :- This command would convert the mp3 file to wav file , whic can then be used for burning on to cd to make audio cd.

However if your audio files/file is located in some location in sub-folders and u don't know exact location then following command can be used

mpg123 $ (find -name "Filename")



This command displays the full path of current working directory.

(Incomplete : Due to lack of time i would complete this guide later )