During previous reviews of Puppy LINUX distributions such as Wary, Slacko and Lucid I have received comments asking “Have you tried MacPup?”. Well up until now no I haven’t.
I downloaded the ISO for MacPup a few weeks ago but I’ve only just reached the point where I have had time to have an in depth look.
I installed the ISO to a USB drive using Unetbootin and rebooted my Acer Aspire One D255 Netbook. The resulting operating system was more useable than Wary, Slicker than Slacko and more stylish than Lucid.
All the other versions of Puppy that I have reviewed thus far all have the same style of desktop with icons all over the place and fairly basic wallpaper that makes them look more appealing to the more technical LINUX users.
MacPup on the other hand dispenses with all the desktop icons and has replaced it with the Enlightenment desktop and a single docking bar at the bottom. (A bit like a Mac, which would of course come as little surprise).
So when you first boot you are provided with a screen which lets you set your timezone, language and desktop settings.
The descriptions make it fairly obvious what you are doing and it only needs to be done once.
When you have finished editing settings you can test your keyboard layout.
The next wizard to appear is the network settings window. You can use the simple network setup tool to connect to your wireless devices.
This tool worked for both devices list (Orange Livebox and Three Mobile Broadband).
Again this wizard only appears the first time you run Puppy. You can of course run it from the setup menu if you need to change the settings at a later date.
When the wireless network has been set up you can choose to set up a basic firewall and you can choose whether to use the simple network setup as the default tool for setting up wireless connections.
If you choose to set up the firewall you get a blue screen (a bit reminiscent of DOS) whereby you can choose which firewall settings you would like.
I chose the Automatic set up.
The first thing I like to do when setting up a LINUX distribution is to test that I have a working internet connection.
Lucid Puppy disappointed me by not having a default browser installed. I had to choose from a browser selection list first.
MacPup on the other hand has provided FireFox
by default which means that after going through the network wizard I can easily connect to the internet.
I was slightly disappointed though when I went to YouTube to play a video to find out that Flash was not by default.
Other versions of Puppy LINUX had provided a wizard when running the first time asking whether I wanted to install Flash or not. Unfortunately MacPup did not provide this option.
To install Flash all I had to do was run the Puppy Package Manager and search for Flash.
MacPup’s default repository is the Puppy Lucid repository so Flash was easy to find.
Just type Flash into the Find box and click go. The version of Flash is not version 11 however.
One quick install later and I can watch my favourite videos on YouTube.
MacPup is thus far proving very impressive and is very intuitive.
To navigate around MacPup you have to use the docking bar at the bottom of the screen. By default there are 13 icons.
- M stands for menu and provides a list of available applications
- Switch between desktops – Desktop 0
- Switch between desktops – Desktop 1
- Mount and Unmount drives
- File Manager
- Settings Wizard
- Process Viewer
- Quickpet Install Popular Programs
After connecting to the internet maybe the next thing you want to do is listen to some music. MacPup comes preinstalled with the PMusic Audio Player.
Before being able to play music files I had to have access to my hard drive (I had booted from a USB drive).
I therefore needed to mount my hard drive. This was easily achieved by clicking the icon that looks like a Pen Drive on the toolbar.
My drive appeared straight away and all I had to do was click mount.
PMusic loads with two windows open when you first run it.
The first window lets you search for the files to add to the playlist.
The second window shows the list of files and plays them.
It is a very simple view with no bells and whistles but it works very well and there was no hassle with having to install extra codecs.
Whilst looking through the multimedia menu to find which music player was installed I spotted a menu item called PupRadio/PupTelly.
I clicked the option and was shown an application with two tabs. The first tab shows a list of radio stations and the second tab shows a list of tv stations. Click any of the buttons and you will be listening to your favourite radio station or watching your favourite tv channel.
Lucid Puppy provided a tool called QuickPet which enables you to install all the most commonly used applications without having to search the package manager.
MacPup has provided this tool as well and it is very useful if you really need to use Gimp or Audacity.
This is also the tool you would use if you prefer to use something other than Firefox as your default internet browser.
Under the personal section of the menu there are a few gems. One application I really like is Didiwiki which lets you create Wiki pages to be used for personal use locally.
It is a good tool for writing notes and leaving reminders for yourself.
Other tools under the personal section include calendars, password managers and personal blogging tools.
The games section of MacPup is fairly
sparse with a very lousy pace invaders style game a few puzzle games and a tetris style puzzle game.
If you want more games then they are easily downloadable from the package manager.
I think Puppy Arcade has led the way to show what can be achieved in terms of games within a Puppy environment.
MacPup is a complete operating system and whilst the tools installed aren’t at the bleeding edge of technology they are fully functional.
The word processing application is Abiword. To be honest I’d rather use Google Docs.
The spreadsheet application is Gnumeric and there is a tool to help with home finances called Homebank.
One tool that is installed which I really like is the Geany editor. I use this all the time whilst editing PHP files because it loads incredibly quickly and includes intellisense and colour coding.
MacPup was recommended to me within the comments section of a previous Puppy LINUX review and it hasn’t disappointed.
MacPup really is a complete operating system that runs from memory and can be stored on a USB drive.
It is more intuitive than the other version of Puppy I have tried and I think beginners to LINUX could get to grips with this operating system quite quickly as long as they are open minded enough to give it a go.
The interface is stylish and looks quite modern. There is a large range of applications pre-installed and with Quickpet it is easy to add more.
One thing I haven’t mentioned to this point is that MacPup comes pre-installed with Hiawatha which is lightweight web server.
Would I change anything? I think that Flash should be installed by default or at least have a wizard to make it easier to install. I personally decided that it would be a good idea to change the wallpaper as well. So I will leave you with a patriotic screenshot of Jessica Ennis who won a gold medal in the heptathlon for the UK during the week.