BOOT CAMP 502 (27/11/07)

Put a Puppy in your PC, part 4


This week we begin your Puppy training in earnest and we’ll start by connecting to the Internet. If the PC you are running Puppy Linux has a connection through a router or Wi-Fi adaptor then it should be a breeze. If you are using a dial-up modem see this week’s Top Tip.


Click the Connect icon on the desktop then ‘Connect to the Internet by network interface’, Puppy should detect the active network interface (card, wireless adaptor etc.) and you will see a choice of methods (wireless, Ethernet), select the appropriate one, if you choose Ethernet you will see a setup screen where all you have to do is select Auto DHCP and after a brief test you should be connected. If you select Wireless use the Scan button to locate your network, select it then when asked enter your WEP or WPA key, Save the setting click ‘Use this Configuration’ and once again you will be taken to the setup screen where you click Auto DHCP and you can start surfing the web and emailing right away.


Assuming your Internet connection is now up and running click ‘Browse’ on the desktop to open the Mozilla SeaMonkey browser. It should look familiar with all of the main features of Internet Explorer and Firefox so it is very easy to use. When you open the SeaMonkey email program for the first time you’ll be asked to set up your account by entering the usual details: username, email address, POP3 and SMTP sever addresses and password, and again there are no nasty surprises and it is very similar to Outlook Express. By the way, when you exit Puppy you will be asked if you want to save your settings, to you hard drive or a USB drive, so you don’t have go through the setup rigaramole again.


Now that you have conquered the net it’s time to explore the somewhat idiosyncratic (to Windows users) filing system, but this will allow you to do something incredibly useful, such as open and work on a Word document, view and edit your images or listen to or watch media files then email them or copy them to a USB memory device. These are precisely the sort of things you may need to do one day, if Windows suffers a catastrophic crash and you need to access an important document or image and send it to someone.


The big difference between Linux and Windows, as far as the filing system is concerned, is that it doesn’t use the familiar A: B: C: D: etc. drive/partition conventions of DOS and Windows. Drives or ‘devices’ as they are known in Linux, are contained in a directory file called ‘devices’ or ‘dev’ for short and these have to be ‘mounted’, which basically means making them and their contents available to the system.


It sounds more complicated than it is but all you need to know at this stage is in Linux drives are not treated as physical entities as such but collections of partitions. IDE type hard drives and CD/DVD drives are listed as hda, hdb and so on. Newer SATA type drives and USB devices are designated sda, sdb etc. Devices are further sub-divided by partition, so if your Windows drive was split into two partitions (i.e. drives C: and D:), Puppy Linux would see them as hdb1 and hdb2. (Because the PC boots from the CD/DVD drive it is designated hda).


So let’s dive in with a real world example and use Puppy to open a Word document (or any type of file for that matter), make a few changes to it and copy it to a USB drive (or email it, and you should know how to do that now). In this example the document is filed in the My Documents folder on Drive C:. In the Linux filing system it would be dev/hdb1/Documents and Settings\<yourname>\My Documents, or something very similar.   


Strictly speaking you don’t need to know all that but it might come in handy with other file types. Boot up the PC using your Puppy disc and plug in your USB device. Click the Drives icon on the desktop, this opens Drive Mounter and after a few moment and you will see icons representing the drives connected to your PC. You should be able identify your main hard drive and the USB drives from their capacities. Click on the main hard drive icon and it opens an Explorer type window showing all of the files and folders. Do the same with your USB drive. Now go back to the main hard drive and click to open the folder containing the document you’re after, click on the file and it opens in AbiWord, Puppy’s Word-compatible word processor. It looks and works just like Word, so just do what you need to do to it then go to Save on the File menu (if you want to send it as an email attachment). Otherwise Go to SaveAs, give the modified document a name, click ‘Browse for other folders’, select ‘File System’ then mnt > sdb1 (your ‘mounted’ USB device) and click OK, it’s job done and Puppy has saved the day!



Next Week – Put a Puppy in your PC, part 5





Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol – system of automatically allocating IP addresses to computers in a network



Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, faster, higher performance interface used to connect hard disc drives to PC motherboards



Wired Equivalent Privacy/Wi-Fi Protected Access, encryption systems used to secure data on wireless networks




Connecting to Puppy to the Internet using a dial-up modem is a bit of a hit and miss affair, compared with a network or Wi-Fi connection. Click the ‘Connect to the Internet by analogue modem’ icon and you’ll see a lit of options covering a surprisingly wide range of hardware and software modems. If you know your modem type click the appropriate button, otherwise try them all, you have nothing to lose, and you might strike lucky. If Puppy does manage to communicate with it you will need to enter your account’s telephone number, username and password, as you would in Windows.


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



© R. Maybury 2007, 0711

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