BOOT CAMP 501 (20/11/07)

Put a Puppy in your PC, part 3


Before we go any further a word or two of reassurance. Running Puppy Linux on your PC or laptop will not harm it in any way and no changes are made to the files or settings on your hard drive. In fact barring a major hardware problem Puppy will run even if the hard drive is faulty, or disconnected since all of the files it needs are on the CD and loaded into the PC’s RAM memory; when the computer is switched off they will be erased.


So let’s begin and if you followed the steps in parts one and two you should have in front of you a copy of Puppy Linux on CD and a PC that is set to boot from the CD/DVD drive. If you are not sure about the latter there’s an easy way to find out, join us now as we load Puppy for the first time.


Switch the PC on, quickly open the CD/DVD tray and pop in the Puppy CD (if you are too slow it will boot as normal from the hard drive). The first thing you will see you will see is the normal startup message or maker’s logo followed by a screen full of text and commands. If nothing happens, or Windows starts see this week’s Top Tip.


You can ignore the first screen and after a few second it will be replaced with another screen of text, listing the various components, as they are loaded. 30 seconds or so later a menu appears and asking you to choose your keyboard layout and language. Use the up/down cursor keys to select ‘UK qwerty (UK)’ and press Enter.


The next screen is the Puppy Video Wizard. By default it uses the Xorg ‘Xserver’, this is a set of protocols, a bit like a Windows video driver but a lot cleverer. Unless your PC is more than 5 years old just press Enter and a few seconds later it shows you the available display options. I suggest you stick with the default setting, though if you know your hardware you may want to try a higher resolution and colour depth. If so make a selection with the up/down keys and use the right/left keys to select ‘Test’ then press Enter. If Puppy freezes simply switch off and start over, this time choosing the default or more conservative settings.


A new screen with two options appears: ‘Test X Now’ and ‘Change Mouse’, select the latter if you are using anything other than a standard PS2 mouse (with a small round plug) or a laptop with a touchpad. Otherwise leave the Test X Now option highlighted and press Enter. If all is well a full screen graphical display appears with a confirmation message, telling you to continue the installation by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Backspace.


This takes you to the penultimate setup screen, which summarises your settings.  ‘Finished’ should be highlighted, press Enter and the Final installation screen appears, ‘Done’ should be highlighted, press Enter and the Puppy desktop opens, and if Puppy has been able to configure your audio drivers you will hear ‘Woof Woof’ coming through the speakers (don’t worry if there’s no sound, it’s easy to fix).


The first time Puppy opens you’ll see an intro/help screen detailing the main desktop components. It’s worth reading but it’s all very straightforward. We’ll round off this week with a quick tour of the desktop and the first things you will notice are the similarities with Windows. The desktop is populated with familiar looking icons, and there’s a Taskbar running along the bottom edge of the screen. The Menu button on the left is the Puppy Equivalent of the Windows Start button and there’s a clock and couple of small icons – including the speaker volume control – on the right.


The top row of icons includes system tools and setup utilities, underneath there are a set of office applications (word processor, HTML editor, spreadsheet, image editing and drawing programs). On row three you’ll find the web browser, email program and IRC chat client. Row 4 includes a calendar and contacts manager and below that are icons for a multimedia player and Internet connection wizard.


The menu button provides alternative access to the desktop programs and utilities plus a raft of system and setup options. Here you will find menus to change the desktop background, set time and date and so on. There are also shortcuts to more programs, including CD and DVD rippers and burners, a sound mixer plus half a dozen games, including a rather good version of Rubik’s Cube.


However, in the end the best way to get to know Puppy is to explore the menus. Try the word processor, doodle on the drawing program and play a few games and you’ll be ready for next week’s instalment where we will do something useful with Puppy, like connect to the Internet to surf the web and send and receive emails, open Word documents, display your pictures and play your MP3s.



Next Week – Put a Puppy in your PC, part 4





Internet Relay Chat – system for ‘chatting’ on-line using live text messages



Random Access Memory, a computer's working memory, where programs store data and information when they are running.



Simple helper program that starts automatically when you begin a task




If your PC won’t boot from the Puppy CD then you probably need to change the Boot Order, which determines which drives the PC check for boot files. This option is in the BIOS Setup program, which runs immediately after switch on. To access the BIOS menu you need to press a key (or keys) immediately after switch on. The key/key combination is usually displayed on the screen for a few seconds after switch on (e.g. ‘For setup press F2’). If you don’t see this message, or it disappears too quickly consult your user manual. Once the BIOS menu opens look for a Boot Order or Boot Options menu. Instructions on the page show how to change the selection, set it so that the first ‘Boot Device’ is your CD/DVD drive, followed by the hard drive. Save and Exit the BIOS and try again. If the Puppy CD still fails to boot the PC it may be corrupt so create a new copy.


Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at



© R. Maybury 2007, 3110

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