Getting Started With Puppy Linux – Part 1

Linux is a huge world to explore, but getting started is easy. I recommend Puppy Linux as the first step, because:

  • It’s small, only a couple hundred megabytes in size. Compare this to most other Linux distributions that weigh in at 1 or 2 gigabytes — 5 to 10 times larger! The small size of Puppy Linux means it’s faster to download, and easier to work with because it can fit in small 1 GB USB keychains.
  • It’s fast. When Puppy Linux boots up, it loads itself entirely into RAM, so it’s like an operating system that runs from a RAM disk. The application you want to run is fetched from RAM, not from the relatively slow hard drive or USB storage.
  • It’s convenient. It can work directly from a USB storage device, like a flash drive or even an SD card. This means you don’t have to install it to a hard drive to experiment with it.

Here are the simple steps to get you going:

  1. Download Puppy Linux. Click on this link to download TahrPup 6.0.6. “Tahr” in the name means this version of Puppy Linux is built from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the code name “Trusty Tahr” version that will be supported until 2019.
  2. Download the Rufus tool that will let you create a bootable, live USB from the ISO image you downloaded in step 1.
  3. Insert your USB storage device with capacity greater than 256 MB. Pretty much any USB keychain will do. USB SD card readers will also work.
  4. Run Rufus. Select the right USB device from #3 on top, select TahrPup ISO file from #1 as the image (see the red arrows in the screenshot), and then click on “Start”.

rufus_enIt takes a few minutes, and you’ll end up with essentially a computing environment that you can take anywhere, insert into any PC, and boot from it. The first time you do this, it will take you through the steps to initialize everything. The first time you shut down, it will also take you through the steps to save the progress you have made.

Congratulations! You have been initiated into the secret circle of elite nerds. Try booting your newly created live USB on any PC or laptop you can get your hands on. Every machine has a potentially different way to boot from USB, so it may take you some practice to master this process. Some of my machine require that I press the F12 key when I turn the machine on to get the Boot Menu. Your mileage may vary!