Puppy Linux Does Another First: Network Boot of Full Desktop PC
At 11:00 GMT May 20, 2007, minipup coordinator Raffy Mananghaya successfully booted Puppy Linux 2.16 over a local network. The full desktop suite of Puppy version 2.16 began running in the 800 mhz, 256-mb RAM thin client, a TK unit from ewayco.com. Unlike traditional booting by thin clients, the machine was instantly upgraded to a full desktop PC with the use of Puppy Linux. (Check out Puppy Linux version 2.16 here and the forum discussion there.)
The test setup of the TK thin client successfully
saved settings and files to a USB flash drive at
This is a feat difficult to duplicate: thin clients are booted over the network to function as full desktop PCs. Once booted, the user can use remote storage for saving files, or better still, use a USB flash drive that stores all his/her desktop settings and files. The user can also add applications through squash-file packages in the USB flash, and instruct Puppy to load the packages at boot time. It is like bringing your whole desktop machine, except that you carry only your data, add-on applications, and desktop settings in a USB flash. The OS with the basic applications is maintained centrally, and an ordinary PC using even legacy Microsoft Windows will be adequate as a central server. In the test setup, the server machine used is a Pentium II 350 mhz with 128 mb RAM and Windows 98SE.
Development of the Next Minipup
The next version of minipup will use these revolutionary features of Puppy version 2.16. Users will enjoy a stable and fast Puppy Linux OS along with its suite of applications like the latest Firefox browser, Abiword word processor, Gnumeric spreadsheet, mtPaint image editor, Claws-Mail email client, media player and many useful utilities. This time, however, the storage for programs inside the client machines will no longer be needed. The client machines will be booted from a central server in the local network. This delivers tremendous savings in software maintenance, while still enabling the clients to function as full desktop PCs.
Diversity at Its Best
Surprisingly, this centralized network booting will still allow diversity of applications among users. Every user can put his/her favorite applications in a personal USB flash drive and insert this to the machine when the network booting is underway. The boot process will read the user’s customized desktop settings from the USB flash and also add the applications found in the same flash drive. So every user will be free to add whatever application suits his/her fancy, while at the same time enjoying a centralized repository for the main OS.
Using the latest applications in small packages is a Puppy Linux tradition that is very much alive in minipup. For example, the test-drive version of minipup (see the front page) has the recent version of Skype (Internet telephony) and also of GimpShop (excellent image manipulation program), but its total size is still below 100 MB.