petting the puppy

As part of my plans for moving, last weekend I did some reinstalling work on my PC. I’m not taking my PC with me – it is old and not worth shipping over – so my mum asked if she could have it. At the same time I wanted to remove one of the hard disks and put it in a caddy so I could take that with me, so it made sense to clean up and reinstall.

Reinstalling Windows XP from the original 2002 release took quite a while – after installing from the CD I had to download a whole bunch of updates, reboot, download Service Pack 2, reboot, download a bunch more updates, etc. In the meantime I used my dad’s PC to reformat my other hard disk, now in a USB caddy, and copy my data backup onto it.

Since my data are now portable1, I don’t feel particularly tied to using the new Windows installation, so I have been experimenting with Puppy Linux.

Puppy is proving useful for my current situation. It boots from CD, so I have no need to install anything on the machine. It stores my settings in a single extra file on my USB disk. It includes applications for most of what I’ve wanted to do so far: web, email, AbiWord and GhostView for reading some awkward documents, IM. It has a package manager of sorts which I used to install Skype. (I had a bit of fiddling to get Skype to work, but the answer turned out to be to run alsamixer to adjust my microphone settings).

All very handy. I recommend you give it a try.

1 In more ways than one – I switched my email to using IMAP last year, so my folders and email setup are all stored on my hosting provider’s server to access from anywhere, and I have no need to rely on them being downloaded to any particular machine.

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