Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MacPup Opera 2.0 Review

Today I want to talk about a distro that is not among the most popular ones, but may be of interest for some with certain specific needs: MacPup Opera, which just released its 2.0 version.

CUTE LITTLE PUPPY

As can be inferred from its name, MacPup Opera is based off Puppy Linux, a small and convenient Linux flavor whose main features include:

- Small size, which makes it loadable into RAM memory, thus making it lightning fast.

- A "cut to the chase" approach involving minimal setup options so you can concentrate on what matters.

- Easy to carry in inexpensive 2GB or less USB pendrives.

You can read more about this project and its main features HERE.

ENLIGHTEN ME

MacPup Opera 2.0 sports an up to date version of the aclaimed Enlightenment Desktop, which may just be a good reason to give this distro a try. Enlightenment is very different to GNOME, KDE or Xfce, definitely worth checking out.


The Enlightenment MacPup Opera desktop.

Note that I didn't customize anything, this is exactly what you get after the installation. The enlightenment desktop has lots of potential, as demonstrated in this VIDEO.

My personal take on the Enlightenment window manager? Well, I feel its quite impressive at a glance, but wears out very quickly in my opinion. I think e17 was very much in the fight with the "big ones" back when it was released, but now it looks aged and obsolete. KDE and GNOME have maintained a very fast development and improvement pace, which is supported by a large community of developers. In turn, Enlightenment can only count on a much smaller community of developers and users, and it shows.

It should be noted, though, that the Enlightenment project is more than a window manager. You can learn more about it on its OFFICIAL SITE

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

The third MacPup Opera main component, which also makes it to its name, is the Opera web browser. There is an alternate version (MacPup Foxy) which uses Firefox, but since I hardly use Opera, I thought it would be more interesting for me to test drive this flavor.


The Opera browser is tightly integrated and works very well.

I have to say that I have tried Opera in several occasions, this being the last one. In the last three years, I have tried it once every few months, when a new release was out. Release 10 got me most interested, with expectations sky high, but it was a bit of a let down. Trying this latest version (10.10) was once again a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, Opera does many things very well, and I personally find it useful that it includes a simple yet convenient email client. Having said so, my main interest is around internet browsing, and that's where I feel it falls short compared to other popular Linux internet browsers, such as Firefox or Chromium.

Nevertheless, if you are an Opera fan, you will find it runs smoothly and fast in MacPup Opera.

PERFORMANCE

As already mentioned before, MacPup Opera's small size makes it the perfect candidate to be loaded into memory. Let's backtrack a bit, though, and explain how this works for those who have never tried it.

The idea is the same as in most other Linux distro releases. First step starts when downloading the ISO image, which you would later burn into a CD. Insert the LiveCD and boot from it and the first thing you find is a nice graphical menu which allows for two choices. You can either copy MacPup Opera into RAM memory, which is the default option, or simply boot from the CD.

Copying into RAM means exactly that, the whole operating system is loaded into RAM memory, which is easily doable due to its tiny size.


GIMP can't load any faster!

As you can imagine, once the copy process is over, things get as fast as they get. Menus load in an instant, applications open just as you click them... Definitely worth checking out, it even has a funny effect. GIMP loads so fast it will make you smile!

The benefits are quickly noticeable, but there is an obvious downside as well. When booting from a CD and loading the OS into RAM, we have no storage support, which means whatever customization (a wireless profile setting, for example) or piece of work (saving a file) will be lost as soon as you shutdown. As a result, MacPup is great for carrying around, perhaps even boot on machines with no hard drive, but not that suited for work that requires local storage. If you wanted to use MacPup to that effect, I recommend setting it up in a USB pendrive, which you can use as storage. Loading a stored wireless profile, for example, is very simple that way.

Note that if you accidentaly lose power when working from RAM, all your work will be gone!

EASE OF USE

All that performance gain and small size come at a prize. The interface and applications are very (maybe too) simplistic, at times bound to command line type interfaces. For example, the resource monitor is pretty much a terminal window with top command preloaded. Think of it as running the following command in your favorite distro:

xterm -e top

The Rox file manager does what it is supposed to do, and does it fast, but the looks are archaic at best.


The ROX file manager fits perfectly in MacPup Opera

That same overall feel is a constant throughout. All in all, I can't say this is a distro for first timers. For example, creating a wireless connection is not difficult and can be achieved entirely from the GUI, but let's just say there are many things that are too big a departure from "Windows ways" to be easily digested by a new user. For more experienced users, though, MacPup may be a fresh alternative to your main distro.


The exit dialog in MacPup Opera 2.0

CUT TO THE CHASE

If you have been using Linux for some time and have a clear understanding of how you will benefit from what MacPup Opera has to offer, then you will likely get a kick out of it. If you simply want to find out more about it or the Enlightenment window manager, by all means give it a go, you only have one CD-R to lose.

I personally believe there are many areas in which MacPup Opera 2.0 can be an extremely handy distro, just understand this is probably not best suited for main desktop use.

NOTE: If you like Enlightenment and want to use it as your main desktop window manager, you can install it in Ubuntu and many other distros. If anybody is interested in learning how to do this, let me know and I will write an article about it.

Thanks for reading!

9 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting, I'll give it a try, I like Enlightment and Opera is my default browser.

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  2. One problem, for me, at least, is that you are running as root user. Puppy has never been setup for a standard user, other than root. I guess that's OK, if you are running from a CDROM. I certainly wouldn't install to hard drive. Yes, it is easily installable to almost any kind of medium.

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  3. If you're troubled by running as root, there are other derivatives that support multiple users. I'd personally recommend LighthousePup in such a case.

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  4. Thanks, michael. I will give it a spin as soon as the iso is downloaded. I really do like Puppy's performance.

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  5. Thanks for the posts!

    I personally am curious about Elive, which looks like the best implementation of Enlightenment, but I haven't tried it myself.

    Anybody tried it? Opinions?

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  6. yep, I tried the live CD and I can say I was really impressed; it seems to be the best E17 implementation so far; the only drawback of this distro is the fact that if you want to install it onto hdd, you have to pay 15$, and the price is not the problem, but the fact you find out about this somewhere in the middle of the install process... aside this, it is really a nice distribution

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  7. Hi Chema,

    Whenever you get enough spare time, please do review:

    PCLOS-E17 [both full and mini versions]

    and

    Macpup 511
    http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=62013

    Regards,
    Irfan.

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  8. Mac pup is another linux distro having the same functionality of puppy linux plus some extra functionality.Refer http://ubuntumanual.org/posts/271/macpup-511-puppy-with-an-attitude

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  9. I was really impressed; it seems to be the best E17 implementation so far; the only drawback of this distro is the fact that if you want to install it onto hdd

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