logo Puppy on a CD

I tried lots of Linuxes on my PC. All are too slow. LiveCD are better. But the Puppy is unbelievably fast (it reminded me BeOS 5PE system - a unique one). I give a word to use only Puppy for the future. No.1 ! *

Puppy boots off a CDROM remarkably fast, about 25-30 seconds from the Isolinux boot prompt to the X graphics screen running and window manager fully loaded. Basically, this is because the ISO file is so tiny and the startup scripts are simple.


An ISO file is a single file that you burn onto a CD, then reboot the PC and off you go. The file will be named something like "puppy-2.xx-xxxx.iso", for example "puppy-2.10-seamonkey.iso". Download:

Puppy download page

Then use your favourite CD burner software and burn "puppy-2.xx-xxxx.iso" onto a CD/R.

If you don't know anything about burning an ISO file to CD, read the documentation that comes with your CD-burner software. The biggest single mistake is that people treat the "puppy-2.xx-xxxx.iso" file as just a file, and write it to CD. Any decent CD-burner software will have a special menu selection for writing an ISO file to CD. You will know that you have succeeded if, after burning it, you use a file manager such as Windows Explorer to look at the CD and you see the files "image.gz", "vmlinuz", etc. If you see the file "puppy-2.xx-xxxx.iso" then you did it wrong!
The thing to understand about an ISO file is that it is a snapshot of the entire contents of a CD, so has lots of files inside it.

UPDATE: Active contributor on the Puppy Forum, GuestToo, has discovered a Windows application called BurnCDCC, that just burns ISO files to CD, nothing else, so you can't go wrong. The URL is: http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/utilities.html.

If you have already used an earlier version of Puppy, lucky you, as there are many tools for burning to CD or DVD. For example, the official version 2.02 live-CD has Graveman, a very easy-to-use CD burner, and TkDVD for DVDs. Puppy 2.10 'standard' live-CD has WishCD and TkDVD. There are others that can be installed: Gcombust, Xcdroast.
All recent versions of Puppy also have a little program (that we sometimes call a "script" as it is written in an interpreted lanaguage, not compiled) called Burniso2cd. I wrote this especially for burning ISO files to CD or DVD and it is very simple to use. It is found in the "Multimedia" menu in Puppy. If you have a running Puppy, I recommend Burniso2cd for burning Puppy ISO files.

How to install Puppy

Actually, you don't have to (install Puppy, that is). If you want to follow Puppy development but remain fairly casually involved, just bootup from the CD. When you boot Puppy from the CD for the very first time, Puppy files will load off the CD into RAM and run totally from RAM -- however at the first shutdown you will be offered to create a file on your hard drive or USB drive, to be used for storing all your personal data. Thus, next time you bootup, all your personal settings and data, such as email, is still there.

Thus, the only thing "installed" on your hard drive is one single unobtrusive file, that does not affect (or rather, should not affect) whatever is currently installed on the hard drive (such as Windows).

When a new version of Puppy is released, just burn it to CD and bootup. Nothing else to do to upgrade, and all your personal data is still there. In this way, you can follow Puppy development with the absolute least hassles. If you wish, use a CD-RW (ReWritable) so as not to waste CDs.

If you do want to install Puppy, read the other Puppy pages, for example "Hard-drive", "USB" -- click on the "Go to home page" button at top of this page, then follow the links.

Booting the PC from CD

Almost all PCs support booting from CD or DVD. If not already configured, it is a matter of invoking the BIOS setup when the PC first powers-up. Most often this is done by pressing the DEL key, but some PCs require a function key to be pressed, such as F2. Then, what is called the "boot order" can be setup, and you would typically set CD drive first then hard drive, or you can include a USB drive or floppy drive in the boot-check sequence.

If you have an older PC that cannot boot from CD, there is a fall-back. This fall-back applies also to PCs that cannot boot from a USB drive. This is to use a boot floppy. Puppy has something especially for this situation, called WakePup, developed by Puppy enthusiast "pakt" -- look in the "Setup" menu and you will see an entry "WakePup create boot floppy". This will create a floppy disk that your PC can boot from. The WakePup floppy disk scans the PC and finds Puppy on a USB drive, hard drive, or CD/DVD drive.

Note however, as it is a DOS-based system WakePup can only recognise ISO9660 and FAT filesystems. CDs use the ISO9660 filesystem for holding files, so that is okay. USB pen drives are usually formatted with FAT16 filesystem, so that is also okay. MSDOS and Windows 95/98 installations are in hard drive partitions with FAT filesystems, so again okay.
Thus, WakePup will not recognise Puppy installed in a NTFS (Windows XP) hard drive partition, nor a Linux partition.

Multisession CD/DVD

Normally you would save your personal data in the pup_save.3fs file on the hard drive. However, there is an alternative, something that many people think is the single most exciting feature of puppy -- you can save your personal files back to the CD or DVD. Yep, everything, email, downloaded files, installed packages.

To find out more: Multisession Puppy

Remaster the CD

After you have burned Puppy on a CD, and you then decide that you would like to make changes to the CD, it is now very easy to pull apart the contents of the CD and put it back together again.

After booting up the live-CD, go to the "Setup" menu and select "Remaster Puppy live-CD". This will take you through simple steps to create a new CD. Your PC will of course need to have a CD-burner.

Remastering enables you to completely change Puppy. The basic idea is you make custom changes, download any extra packages that you would like to have on the CD, then run the remaster-CD script.

Puppy Unleashed

Or, build a Puppy live-CD totally from scratch, with only those applications that you need.

What if you don't like Seamonkey, the web browser used in the 'standard' release of Puppy? What if you would rather have Opera? Or, the Xvesa X server supplied with the standard Puppy doesn't work on an old PC, and you need Xfbdev, a framebuffer X server? Or you want to cut the size of the ISO file way down? No problem, you can now choose your own mix of packages, and create a custom live-CD with exactly what you need. The complete collection of over 350 packages designed to work in Puppy is available and is called Puppy Unleashed. Here is the introductory page:

Puppy Unleashed introduction

PET and DotPup packages

Puppy has two package installation systems, called PET and DotPup. These offer many extra packages, and the good news is that you do not have to install Puppy to USB or hard drive to be able to install these packages -- that is, although only booting Puppy from live-CD, you can still install extra packages.

Find out more about the package management:
Puppy package management.

C/C++ compiling

Booting Puppy from live-CD has hardly any limitations compared with a full hard drive installation. You can even compile source packages.

Puppy has an incredibly simple system for converting into a full C/C++ compiling environment. A single file, devx_xxx.sfs, is all that is required. The "xxx" in the filename is the version number, for example, Puppy 2.10 will be "210".

Running Puppy from live-CD, you will have a personal storage file, named pup_save.3fs, on the hard drive -- you will find it in /mnt/home folder.
All you have to do is download devx_xxx.sfs to the same place, that is, into /mnt/home/. Then reboot, and that's it, you're ready to do all that 'configure', 'make' and 'make install' stuff.

One thing I do recommend though. Your hard drive should have a Linux swap partition, as Linux can use this extra storage space if it runs low on physical RAM. Compiling does tend to use a lot of RAM space.

To find out how to compile the Linux kernel: How to compile the kernel

Just a note on the side about hard drive partitions. Windows XP uses the NTFS format for partitions, and Microsoft keeps the format a secret, like every other format and protocol -- which is the main reason Microsoft keeps its monopoly. Therefore, Linux support of NTFS is not perfect. If you really want to embrace open standards, and really give Linux a go, you do need to create a Linux partition and a Linux swap partition, on your hard drive. There are tools to do this -- these tools can safely (no guarantees though!) reduce the size of the NTFS partition and create the new ones -- checkout GParted, to be found in the "Control Panel" menu.
Recently a free native ext2 driver has become available for Windows NT/XP, so Windows can use a ext2 partition just like any other NTFS or VFAT (the older Windows 9x partition format) drive. Link: http://www.fs-driver.org/
If you take the trouble to do this, your play with Puppy will be so much more fruitful.

(c) Copyright Barry Kauler 2006,2008 http://www.puppylinux.com/
No part of this page is to be reproduced anywhere else. I have found that there is a problem where parts of my web pages are being inserted at other sites, then not updated, whereas I am updating my pages regularly. This is not a desirable situation, so please just link to my pages.