Sunday, February 20, 2011

Puppy Linux: A distro well-suited for a portable Second Life®

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon an old Lifehacker article about Linux distros that can be run from a USB stick. The author of the article wound up favoring Puppy Linux as the best of the bunch. While I've had a go-round with Slitaz Linux before, it still seems too svelte to be a decent USB distro.

So I downloaded the latest stable release, burned it to CD, booted it up and installed it to my flash drive. After a quick change to my desktop's boot sequence via BIOS, I booted my new Puppy flash drive for the first time, greeted by a desktop similar to the screenshot on the download page.

Once I answered a few simple questions(video resolution, date/time zone, etc.) I immediately went to the "browse" icon on the desktop. On first click, a window popped up giving me a choice of web browsers to download and install(Dillo is included by default, but is like ELinks wrangled into a GUI). I picked out the latest stable Firefox release, and restored all my bookmarks from a save file I had on my hard drive. When I was done, Puppy copied over the entire OS stored in RAM into a file on my flash drive, in effect making Puppy persistent.

Over the next day or so I played around with Puppy, particularly as I was getting fed up with weird graphical glitches coming from the Flash player on Ubuntu. Just over an hour ago I decided to try an experiment to answer this question: Could I run an SL client on Puppy?

The answer turns out to be "Yes, if you can do without music and video streaming(due to the lack of GStreamer PET packages; can be somewhat mitigated using "About Land" and copying the URL to MPlayer)". Provided your graphics card is made by Nvidia, all you need to do is launch quickpet, go to the Drivers tab, choose "Click here to test your graphics card", install the Nvidia driver recommended, choose "Probe" in the Xorg wizard and pick a good screen resolution. That's it! Then you can download any viewer for SL/OpenSim(the official viewer doesn't run so well, but Imprudence works much better).

I haven't yet tried running OpenSim on Puppy, but I suspect that will be a bit harder to set up since I haven't seen any mono-related packages in Puppy's software repositories. I might have some luck if I try the official binary packages from the Mono website. Stay tuned for a future post if I'm successful, or an update on this post if not.

How Facebook Can Stop Zucc-ing Itself

Earlier today, Facebook and it's users suffered an hours-long outage in which a recently pushed update caused a DNS misconfiguration. As...