Recently, I faced an issue with my NVMe SSD. It’s boot sector got corrupted and the nearby service center said it will take about a month to get replaced. So, meanwhile I had no additional internal media to install my operating system on. I am a hardcore Linux user. I started from Ubuntu(As everyone does), I passed through Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, Arch Linux, Gentoo and finally LFS.
So my first thought was to use Arch Linux with persistence on a USB Drive. But unfortunately the snappiness was missing. In fact, I tried Alpine Linux as well, even that was not as snappy as expected. Just for the information here I am using a “SanDisk 256GB Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive”. And yes, the drive was in USB 3.1 port. I don’t know whether the problem was with the USB drive or the port but I was not getting enough speed.
YouTube the savior
Believe me I used a lot of distributions but never tried anything like Puppy Linux. I was just wandering on YouTube and suddenly YouTube recommended me a video on Puppy Linux. I have heard of Puppy Linux many times before, but I have never tried it.
For the first time in my life I heard the concept of the entire Operating System being on RAM. I mean I know many of the Data companies do that but for the general audience, that’s a pretty dope deal.
How to get and install Puppy Linux?
Okay, here I am not targeting non-Linux audiences or the beginners. Let’s just assume that you have worked with Linux before and you have the basic knowledge of its workings.
Step 1: Download the ISO
— Here, it’s not as simple as Windows and other Linux distributions. Because they have got many types of ISO available. You may select anyone of this according to your preference. Basically these are other Linux distributions but the Puppy Mode.
— Don’t think that these are original Ubuntu or Slackware. They are highly modified versions of them.
— The latest Ubuntu Focal image is around 450 MiB. So, that’s highly optimized.
Step 2: Make a regular bootable drive.
This step is similar to what you do in any other OS. If you are a Windows user go for Rufus. On Linux you can use the utility “dd”.
Step 3: Install the Puppy Linux
— You can use the bootable drive. It will load entirely to memory. But during the shutdown you will lose all your data.
— To go for persistence you have to install it on some other drive.
— There is an install option in the first row on the desktop.
— You just have to select the root and the boot partition. Which you have to create manually using any preferred tool. By the way, GParted is already installed on the drive.
— Reboot and have fun.
— You can save your session at the end. When you shutdown.
— This is taking all your stuff to your root partition. And during the next boot it will load everything to RAM.
Any advantages of Puppy Linux?
Not for the general audience. But if by any means you are interested in Linux. You should try this beauty. It’s snappy and all yet you can’t compare it to a normal computer with SSD and good amount of RAM.
What are the uses of Puppy Linux?
There are many uses of this. First of all the OS itself is so compact that I can be loaded to small drives as well. On top of that it loads entirely to RAM on the boot itself. That’s the reason why you will have good response time while launching applications. So, if you are not in the category of Gamer or Graphics Developer and you also have a pretty outdated system, then you should surely try this out. In fact, anyone using normal mechanical hard drive should try this out. You will surely thank me.
Are there any other RAM based distributions?
Yes there are many. I will list them down. I am going to mention a few which I know to be working and being actively developed. There might be many other wonderful ones. Check out this Wikipedia list for more.
- Alpine Linux Disk less mode — Runs on Musl libc and busybox.
- Core OS — Promoted as container image, but can be used as daily driver.
- Damn Small Linux — 50 MiB beast. Can run on top of any other OS.
- Knoppix — Generalized OS, with all bells and whistles.
- PCLinuxOS — Simplified OS. Equipped with apt.
- Porteus — The bleeding edge distribution.
- Tails — For the security freaks.
- TinyCore Linux — The smallest. I mean OS in 12 MiB. Insane.
These all are basically used as container images. But one can use it as a daily driver if needed. As suggested if you are using an outdated system with mechanical hard drive. Go for these ones.
As of now I am back to my NVMe drive. And I am so happy about it. But I used Puppy Linux for a while and I was satisfied during the run. I continued my work as a Backend developer without running into any issues. I want you to try it? Why not, just use some old drive and install any of the above given distribution and have fun for a while. I will try out the tails next. It has caught my interest lately. Stay tuned.