February 27, 2023


Puppy Linux is a niche computing solution that reflects the flexibility and usefulness of open-source tools and the staying power of the Linux operating system.

Usually in this column, I focus on new versions of Linux distros that introduce new tricks and features. But the current version of Puppy Linux, FossaPup64 version 9.5, is not a new release. It replaced the Precise Puppy version in 2020.

FossaPup64 provides a safe and secure Linux platform optimized for single-user settings. It is a modular distribution, which very few Linux distros offer. You can seamlessly swap out newer versions of the Linux kernel, firmware, and apps to keep the installation fresh. Its lightweight design packs full functionality, no matter how many ways you choose to use it.

One of the main features of Puppy Linux is its ability to provide a reliable and fast portable computing platform. Pop Puppy Linux into any computer’s USB drive to boot straight into your last computing session. Or do a thrifty install on your desktop or laptop computer to boot from a USB stick or CD and save settings and data without disturbing the existing operating system.

FossaPup loads into the computer’s RAM. It runs Linux and apps much faster than the old computer could otherwise handle. When you turn off the computer and remove the USB stick, no trace of your computing session is left behind.

This Pocket Linux approach is a great way to revive an older computer that no longer runs the updated Microsoft Windows. It also empowers newer, more powerful computers to improve their operating speed. Running in RAM is fast on any computer.

longevity matters

Barry Kauler, the founder of the Puppy Linux project, introduced the original Puppy Linux distro in July 2003. He developed the concept into various experimental variants. A few years ago, Kauler moved out of the Puppy Linux development role to release other Linux systems. In the meantime, the Puppy Linux community keeps Puppy Linux playful and barking.

I stumbled upon Puppy Linux in 2006 when I started my crush on using Linux. For years, I relied heavily on its pocket computing power. It remains an invaluable backup tool and keeps many older computers up and running.

A recent encounter with an ailing computer—which I mention below—reminded me that well-designed OSes don’t always have to be upgraded two or three times a year. Many Linux distros only upgrade infrequently.

I’ve used various versions of the mainline Puppy Linux distro over the years. Its ability to boot from a 2GB USB disk was a great solution for dragging my heavy laptop around or using someone else’s non-Linux computer.

what’s inside

Today, installing FossaPup Linux on a large-capacity USB stick is child’s play. It remains my primary go-to Linux OS whenever I need a quick fix to revive an ailing PC or perform tasks elsewhere on site.

Puppy Linux has a different look and feel. Several versions—called puplets—remain in circulation. They cater to different user and hardware needs.

Puppy Linux uses a combination of JWM (Joe’s Window Manager) and ROX-Filer to create a uniquely fast and easy-to-use desktop environment, making FossaPup – and other Puppy Linux variants – one of the most lightweight Linux OS out there.

Puppy Linus FossaPup Desktop

Puppy Linux uses a unique combination of JWM and Rox-Filer to create a powerful, lightweight Linux desktop.

FossaPup64 is built using the Ubuntu focal fossa (64-bit) package. This gives it binary compatibility with Ubuntu and access to the Ubuntu focal Fossa repository.

FossaPup is not an unofficial derivative of the Ubuntu software family. Like other Puppy projects, FossaPup is completely built from the ground up with an in-house distro construction tool called Woof-CE. It bears no resemblance to the traditional Ubuntu skin.

remedy for dead hardware

A recent panic call from a neighbor reminded me why I prefer Puppy Linux, despite the vast majority of Linux distros I use.

A work-at-home neighbor, which means no tech support, suffered a seriously bad computer just hours before a work project.

Yes, it was Windows! But in fairness, sometimes the same thing happens with Linux.

The computer wouldn’t boot once it was on, and all the digital content my neighbor desperately needed was locked inside an inaccessible hard drive.

I caught my FossaPuppy on a stick and hooked it up to the sick computer. After a while, Good Ol’ Puppy Linux boots into the computer’s RAM.

An icon for the Windows partition on the hard drive popped up on the desktop. After a few clicks, I found the important files and saved them to another USB stick for safekeeping.

Puppy Linux setup setup tool GUI

FossaPup’s separate setup tools offer a number of personalization options with a graphical user interface (GUI).

a new linux believer

My now enthusiastic neighbor was amazed that he could stick to completing the project using my Fossapup OS on his “broken” computer. He could still work on PNG images, Microsoft Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets that I retrieved from my hard drive.

Puppy Linux Apps let it get the job done. Before this machine encounter, my neighbor didn’t know what Linux was. Using the built-in Puppy remastering tool, I cloned a copy for that. A few days later, I used another Linux boot repair tool to fix the corrupted files on his Windows computer.

Yes, you guessed it. My neighbor is still using FossaPup Linux and is “transitioning” from Windows.

Why use FossaPup on a stick?

Puppy Linux isn’t the only Linux-on-a-stick distro out there. Some distro developers now let you install the ISO file on a USB drive instead of a DVD to view the live session and start the installation.

Some distros have a complicated way of creating persistent memory partitions to save data. PhosApp goes further. It lets you save a particular module on a USB drive and even save multiple system setups.

FossaPup Linux is different because its persistent memory feature is better integrated and works more reliably. You can use this Puppy Linux version as a more than “live” session environment.

fosapp spread

Puppy’s code-building system maintains compatibility with the classic Puppy PET packages and Ubuntu repos. The Quickpat interface installs applications and updates the system to a lesser extent.

FossaPup Linux comes with Ubuntu and the in-house-built Puppy Linux applications.

FosaPup Linux comes with a mix of Ubuntu and in-house-built Puppy Linux applications.

Puppy distros lack user logins. Even if you have another OS installed on the hard drive, all Puppy Linux distros bypass the startup routine installed on the hard drive. But you can encrypt important content files with password access.

The advantage – even if you have to “pocket protect” the USB drive – is the ability to bring your personal desktop and apps to any computer you encounter. When you exit Puppy Linux, the OS and all your files go back to your pocket, closed desk drawer, or wherever.

ground level

FossaPup is worth a try. It’s a fun way to learn about Linux. Plus, it offers an interesting alternative to the traditional Linux OS.

The Puppy Linux line has several in-house applications such as Pburn, PuppyFone, Find’n’Run, Take a Gif, UExtract, Packit, dunst-config, pycom-gtk, Transtray, and Junkie Bluetooth. Puppy Package Manager (PPM) provides a mix of Puppy-specific .pet files and Ubuntu focal-fossa packages.

Besides the USB method, you can install this distro on a hard drive in two ways. Puppy Universal Installer offers to perform a full install that uses an entire hard drive partition. The second is a thrifty install, which installs only several core Puppy files with the 4FS file extension.

With thrifty installations, Puppy automatically saves all changes to the Puppy save file during a computing session and when you shut down the OS. A handy feature lets you set up multiple save files based on your needs, so you can load different Puppy Linux configurations in one place instead of maintaining different Puppy sticks.

suggest a review

Have a Linux software application or distro you’d like to recommend for review? Something you love or want to know?

Email me your thoughts and I’ll consider them for future columns.

And use the reader comments feature below to provide your input!

Last week, Mercedes-Benz held a special event completely covering the future of Mercedes cars and vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s great automotive manufacturers. Renowned for quality, performance, design and technology, Mercedes often stands above its peers. While many people in America believe that Henry Ford created the first automobile, it was actually Karl Benz of Mercedes-Benz who did so.

I have owned two Mercedes and regret both and have vowed never to buy another. But now, after hearing what Mercedes announced, I think it’s time to reconsider that position because what I heard potentially solves both of the problems the company has been having. These issues had nothing to do with the cars themselves (which were awesome) but everything to do with my relationship with the company.

With Nvidia and Google, Mercedes-Benz is building a truly smart car that will create a relationship with the car owner and potentially a far more friendly front-end to the company than people currently have. It promises a relationship with your vehicle that is like a relationship with a well-trained pet and could develop into a long-term friendship.

Let’s talk about how automotive AI should improve our relationships with our cars and their makers. Then we’ll close with our Product of the Week, a prototype car from Audi, another Nvidia partner, that promises more amazing progress.

My Strange Mercedes-Benz Relationship

My two Mercedes-Benz cars were amazing in their own way. The first was the ML 320, one of the first Mercedes trucks made in the US, and thankfully it was a tank. I was in three accidents while I owned the car, none of which were my fault. In the third accident, I was in between two brand new Jeeps when a Mazda RX-7 speeding at a stoplight hit me. The collision was enough to crush two Jeeps, but my truck only needed two bumper repairs.

The problem that occurred had nothing to do with my truck. Instead, the problem was with the service advisor I was assigned, who apparently believed I was too poor and low-class to own a Mercedes-Benz, something he did every time I came in for service. but clarified. That experience soured me on the brand, even though it was a dealer relationship problem and had nothing to do with the car.

My other Mercedes, a GLA 45 AMG, was recent and a great car too. It was super powerful and, with one exception, the best track car I’ve ever owned. But several things happened that screwed me over to Mercedes-Benz again.

There was one option that I made sure I ordered because it was important to me: the HomeLink garage door control. But between when I ordered the car and when it arrived, the company bundled that option in, which was not present at the time of ordering. They removed the option without notifying me.

When the car arrived without it, I was offered the chance to have it installed by the service for about 10 times the initial cost when ordering. This was all on top of taking the car to Germany and being treated so poorly during the process that I almost returned the car and asked for my money back.

An additional problem was that the car had an automatic parking brake. This is problematic for a track car because when you stop and shut off the car, the brakes set, but after a track run when the brakes are white hot, the brake pads cause the rotors to adhere. Builds up, which requires a brake job. Not cheap, and the car will run badly until it is done.

AMG had a monthly event where you could call in and ask questions. When I called to inquire about this brake problem, I was again treated very poorly, with the implication that I should just suck it up and sit in the car until the brakes cooled down ( 15-20 minutes) because there was not, and never will be, a solution.

In both cases, it was not the car’s fault, but the people at Mercedes-Benz, who didn’t take customer service seriously enough for a luxury car. While my bad experiences were with Mercedes-Benz, I know people who have complained about every luxury vehicle with the possible exception of Rolls-Royce.

Instead of dealing with people, what if your car was intelligent enough to be your interface for the company? It can adapt itself to your unique needs and even act proactively to potentially save your life.

The next generation of smart Mercedes-Benz cars

I consider myself a car guy. Like many of you, I anthropomorphic my vehicles, though not as much now as I did when I was young. Until this next generation, cars have not been intelligent and have been disappointing friends.

In a mix with Nvidia and Google, Mercedes-Benz is using technologies like generative AI and Nvidia’s Omniverse to make cars smarter, cars that can talk to you and communicate more precisely what they need , report repairs and advocate for you Mercedes is in an impressive effort to make you more loyal to the brand and more engaged with your increasingly autonomous vehicle.

From how the next generation of factories are built to how cars are built, Nvidia’s Omniverse will be used to simulate factories, vehicles, lines of different models and the robots and workers who will build and maintain them.

When you order it, you can better track the car when you receive it and receive timely notice when the package changes, and you need to adjust your order to ensure that To include what you want on the car or the options made available after you order the car.

If there is a problem with the car, instead of searching the manual or calling the dealership, Vehicle will rapidly be able to explain the situation and what you need to do to fix it. This last one can be incredibly important if you have this problem hundreds of miles from the dealership.

Entertainment, driving options, seating position, ambient lighting, and massaging seats will be set to your preferences when the car recognizes you — which can be done via your phone. Those settings will be able to move from car to car if you stick with the Mercedes-Benz brand.

The cars will have game consoles and will increasingly be able to drive themselves, giving you time to access multiple entertainment options via massive displays. Think of the car as your own rolling home theater/gaming chair that will chew up the time on long journeys or keep you entertained and occupied when stuck in traffic.

You should also be able to make videoconferencing calls in the car at some point, allowing you to participate in meetings even before you get to the office (assuming you ever go to the office).

Holistic application of technology should lead to better cars and lower costs, which should translate to lower prices, better customer service and a better relationship with the car and owner. But how does this turn out my two bad experiences with Mercedes-Benz.

Wrapping Up: Automotive AI To The Rescue

The ML320 situation I talked about earlier, with embedded AI, instead of a bad experience, would be like this:

When I pick up the vehicle, and I’m clearly upset with the way I’ve been treated, the car recognizes I’m upset and asks, “What’s wrong?” Then I explain to the embedded generative AI I that the service advisor is treating my wife and me poorly and we are very upset about it.

Next thing I know, I get a call from Mercedes-Benz indicating they’ll take care of it. By the next day, I have a coffee offer with a new service advisor and the head of the dealer’s service department, who tells me to call him if I have any other problems.

Instead of not wanting a Mercedes-Benz, I am now impressed by the level of service and more loyal to the brand as a result. I’m not blowing smoke here. I once did a survey about Dell and Sony and found that even though Sony made better PCs than Dell at the time, people were more loyal to Dell because Dell treated them very well when they had problems. , and Sony didn’t.

In the GLA 45’s experience, I would have been assured that even before HomeLink was installed on the car it got to it, was able to make the vehicle aware that I was being treated poorly, and again Mercedes bud I will be able to address the problem before I turn sour on the brand.

More importantly, the car could self-fix the problem with the parking brake and report it back to Mercedes-Benz so other track drivers could benefit from my feedback.

Essentially, I’ve never wanted to buy a Mercedes, never wanted to buy anything else, which is the true advantage. Customer churn is a huge expense for any industry. For a car company with Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for quality, improvements in customer engagement and training could vastly improve perceived product quality and customer loyalty.

I expect people to want the ability to carry the personality they developed in their old Mercedes-Benz into a new car. Otherwise, they may become so attached to the vehicle that they may never want to get rid of it.

I’ve been a fan of TV shows like “Knight Rider” and “My Mother the Car,” so I look forward to the day when I can have a deeper relationship with my automobile.

tech product of the week

Audi ActiveSphere Concept

Rarely do cars make it from their prototype form to final production, but one recent prototype caught my eye: the Audi ActiveSphere concept.

Audi ActiveSphere Concept

Image credit: Audi

I live in Bend, Oregon, where the weather can go from sunny and warm to icy and dangerous in a single day. I love sports cars, and while my wife’s Jaguar F-Type was scary-dangerous when it was cold, it was one of the most fun cars I’ve ever owned.

I want a car that embodies the concept of a sports car, but can, at the push of a button, transform or expand into an off-road vehicle so I can take it for Costco runs or bike into the hills. can be used to carry. , Like Mercedes-Benz, Audi is also working with Nvidia to provide the same capabilities I mentioned above.

With top-notch performance, track capability, and the ability to transform into an off-road or pickup-truck-like vehicle at the touch of a button (or even automatically when changing positions), Audi’s ActiveSphere Designed for the place I live and how I would like to enjoy my next automobile. Of course, it’s electric – all the advancements to come are in electric cars as the automotive industry goes electric.

The Audi Activesphere concept captured my imagination like no other car had before. It’s very attractive, sums up what every other car I’ve owned lacks, and has the entertainment and self-driving capabilities I’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford. The only question is whether I can afford it or not.

Mercedes-Benz is showcasing the personality of the car I want next, and Audi is showcasing the design that meets my needs. Audi might as well have a combination of both which will occupy my wallet. I have owned three Audis (two TTs and an S5 Cabriolet) and love them both. ActiveSphere might become my fourth, so it’s my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.