Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Install a New Operating System without Installing It

Ok, the title is a little misleading but it will make sense once you read the post.

And I'm aware that I've talked about Puppy Linux before, but I just can't get over how cool this Linux version is.

Here's the latest: I've installed Puppy Linux to a hard drive without really installing it. Puppy Linux allows for what they call a "frugal" install. The frugal install runs essentially like a linux livecd, in that it is not really installed.

But let me give some background.

A computer essentially works like this: the cpu (central processing unit) requires information. First, it pulls it from RAM (memory in the form of memory sticks) that is quicky, flash, easily accessible memory. If the info is not in RAM, the cpu accesses the hard drive for info. The hard drive is much slower since it is a spinning disk with data on it.

Keeping that in mind, here's how Puppy works: when you put in a livecd and run it, Puppy loads the entire operating system to RAM; it's so small that it can do that. Then the entire operating system runs from RAM, is able to read the hard drive, sees all the hardware, whatever.

A frugal install is essentially putting all of the needed stuff from a livecd onto the hard drive into a saved file. Then, when my computer boots, I tell it, boot that file! It loads Puppy, Puppy puts itself into RAM and it is off and running!

Why does this matter? Well, that's a great question, 'cause for all outward appearances, it looks like Puppy is running just like any other installed operating system. The reasons it matters are these: it is much faster and it is very easy to update/change. Oh, and a frugal install doesn't change/remove any of the data that is already on the hard drive

Oh, and Puppy makes it very easy to do a frugal install; just check the Puppy forum for details on all I've explained.

For ease of installation, great community support and a generally cool operating system, Puppy is definitely one to check out.