Monday, August 2, 2010

Distro Hoppin`: Pinguy OS

Yes, yes, ANOTHER Ubuntu based distribution... what can one do? Ignore them? No. Especially when they come with enough elements to make you consider choosing them instead of the "plain" Ubuntu. The thing is, if you are a regular user of all the applications and utilities bundled in Pinguy, you'll love it. If you are going to appreciate only a small percentage of them, then meh.

But what I think Pinguy is great for is new users, particularly those that are hard to impress. I am very skeptical about these distributions that pour all kinds of ingredients into the mix, as even if each ingredient is great on its own, they are bound to give the finished product a horrible taste. But this is not the case. Pinguy feels surprisingly stable and fast.

This OS is based on the latest release of Ubuntu - 10.04 - and comes with both 32- and 64-bit editions. Though usually I go with 32-bit, this time I decided to make good use of my hardware and install the more advanced version. 

As expected, the ISO is way over the CD limit, so you'll need a DVD; ~1.4 GB is enough for the 64-bit edition. It's interesting to add here that, initially, Pinguy was 64-bit only and, after several requests, the developer (a strong advocate of the 64 platform) decided to create a 32-bit one as well. I'm not to say which is better, but I have encountered absolutely no problems during my time with Pinguy, so why not make use of everything the hardware has to offer?

Booting the Live environment was quick, but not enough to keep me from spinning with my chair until I got dizzy. I swiftly went through the installer routine (which, for some reason, removed the Mandriva partition from the bootloader) and restarted the machine. As the developer admitted, some more work needs to be put in the branding zone; for now, there is no customized plymouth animation, nor a logo to replace the main menu Ubuntu icon or the Mint logo next to "All". Happily, you will easily be able to recognize Pinguy from a distance: two Docky panels - bottom and left - and a geeky Conky gadget/widget/badger thing occupying the right hand side of the screen. On the bottom there are a bunch of useful app shortcuts: Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge, Rhythmbox (sporting a cool countdown timer for the currently playing track), VLC, Terminal and the Trash. Also, the dock hosts an application switcher. How will you know an application is active? A cool, discreet light will turn on right underneath it. On the left, the Places menu displays the usual folders in your "Home" and also all mounted partitions. Finally, the cool Conky overlay displays the time and date, the 4 most resource-hungry processes, CPU/RAM/Disk/Swap usage, Uptime (for bragging mostly), System information, network consumption and Local/Public IPs (which I will hopefully not forget to smudge out of the screenshots before posting them :D). There is also a nice, growing, selection of wallpapers. Growing? Yep, the Webilder Applet fetches the coolest images from photo-sharing sites and is also able to automatically change your wallpaper at given intervals. 

At the first boot, I was warned that the Docky panels will not perform as they should without the graphics drivers activated, and so, that was the next thing to do. A reboot later, the docks got a nice zoom effect as I hovered the pointer over them and windows were applied a "lamp genie" animation as they minimized/maximized.

As most distributions that want to please the eyes of their users, Pinguy borrowed a few visual cues from Mac OS: the greyish theme, the spinning colorful cursor, the dock, obviously, and the globalmenu applet (which "steals" menus from their parent windows and invariably places them on the top panel - do I like it? no). 

Not really a problem, but I've noticed quite a funny quirk: there are three names for the Trash, separate for each location: in the dock it is called "Deleted Items", in the Main Menu, "Rubbish Bin" and in the right-click context menu, "Wastebasket". Oh, and Firefox comes loaded with a gazillion bookmarks, including an XXX tracker. This distro really does provide all that you need and more! :D

Sticking to the Firefox subject, let's slide towards the part of the article in which I tell you about the bundled software that comes with Pinguy. Starting with, you guessed, Firefox, I have to tell you that it ships packed with 27 (twenty-seven) extensions installed. I was almost certain that all these will equal a heavy burden, but I was quite wrong, as the browser starts pretty quickly, and on top of that, I found most of the add-ons to be quite useful: Opera-like speed dial function, smooth scrolling, Fasterfox, etc. Remaining in the Internet zone, I was quite disappointed to not see Pidgin replace the still crude Empathy. But Skype, Dropbox and Java helped get over that deception. pms-linux also caught my attention, but it is useless to me, as it is a PS3 media server and I do not own a PS3. Oh, I should warn you that PS3s are evil and if you have one, you should get rid of it (I will happily take care of that for you, just ship it to my address). 

Let's move up a few categories in the Menu and check what's inside Door number 1 - Accessories: GNOME Activity Journal - a really nifty tool to check on what, when and how often you're using -, Cover Chooser (self-explanatory) and Cover Gloobus (a Desktop widget showing the currently playing song + lyrics!), GNOME Do (I should really start using it again more often; really, really powerful all-things-launcher) and Shutter, the best screenshot-taking app on Linux. 

The "Games" category seems pretty arid, but considering the fact that PlayOnLinux is a window to a myriad of potential games, I'm not too upset. But leaving out GIMP from "Graphics"? And give Pinta instead? This is madness! Well, at least Rapid Photo Downloader is a nice addition... Right? It WOULD have been if it would WORK! I don't understand, the camera is recognized, the SD card is readable, but the app simply refuses to bridge with it. But do not fret, say I, as there is a Plan B: Showtell Photo Manager, which gladly accepted my photo offerings.

In the "Office" drawer, OpenOffice couldn't have missed the party, and, along with it... Adobe Reader 9. Whaaat? Why would I want to use Adobe Reader 9 when Evince does such a great job at handling PDFs? And no, I am not prejudiced against Adobe software, but the darn thing froze twice while reading a 10-page document. If the open source alternative not only does exist, but it is also better, why stick with the proprietary one?

The "Sound & Video" category is well stocked: OpenShot video editor, Brasero, DeVeDe, Handbrake (one of the most awesome transcoding tools), an iPod manager, Rhythmbox and VLC. Finally, the dreaded 1 (one!) song I bought from Ubuntu One Music Store was able to make the perilous journey from the cloud, through the local Ubuntu One folder and finally into my Rhythmbox playlist. Quite the achievement... There are also a few useful system tools: Ubuntu Tweak and its competitor Ailurus, GConf Cleaner, BleachBit and Wine-Doors. 

I always asked myself what was in the head of the Ubuntu design team when they decided, since the 9.10 release, to so gruesomely detach the notification overlay from the top panel and leave it hanging there a few inches lower. Many thanks to Pinguy's developer for making things right.


Pinguy gained a deserving spot inside my Distro CD/DVD wallet. I will not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants a fresh, friendly and featureful Linux OS. More experienced users will most likely diss it for shoving all these applications down their throat, but if they'll give it a look or two, they might appreciate the effort. 

Download the now version in 32-bit (or torrent) and 64-bit (or torrent) editions.


  1. I am the author of Rapid Photo Downloader. Sorry you are having problems downloading directly from a camera. This is due to a bug in the interaction between gvfs and libgphoto. It will work just fine if you download from the memory card using a memory card reader (and in any case, it's normally much faster).

  2. O, I see. Thanks a lot for letting me know!

  3. Thanks for the review. I'm glad that overall you liked it.

    About Adobe Reader 9, I could leave it out to be honest. It's not a great program on Linux but thought it would be nice to have it in there for people that are not familiar with Evince. Evince is also installed by default so Adobe Reader can be removed and there will still be a PDF reader on the system (I needed Evince installed for PDF thumbs).

    Pinta was chosen over Gimp for a reason. Most people that want to edit photos want a simple program like Pinta and not Gimp. Gimp is a specialized program for certain people and not for everyone.

  4. There's now a new version that fixes all the bugs with it's own new website.

  5. The Pinguy OS Team are happy to announce the availability of the Release Candidate 10.10

  6. lol. The Gnome Menu is replaced with Mint Menu, with a branding-related item still intact.

  7. pinguy, i LOVE piguy OS more than any other linux. i have gotten it installed on a few friends computers, and i hope to keep singing the gospel of pinguy os, but i would like to make a recommendation. as far as branding goes, you need something instantly recognizable to people. apple is good in this respect in that, when you see an apple store/laptop, etc., the name's not even there, just an apple logo, which anyone can tell, is an apple.

    now, the pinguy logo is what? looks line a sinewave with the chicken pox. it's not terrible, but no one can identify that as a brand. a profile of a pig on the other hand, recognizable, bat, recognizable, car, hammer, etc. these are easily identifiable things to people, andmake i think something like that would help the branding of this os quite a bit.

    i think pinguy os is also an awkward name for a distro that i think has so much potential. this is definitely the greatest ubuntu remix yet, would you maybe consider giving it a different name? one that rolls off the tongue easier?

    also, how do a get rid of the startup sound? i've tried everywhere i thought it might be, but none of the options to uncheck startup sound work, and google hasn't helped either.

    thanks for the awesome work on pinguy os.

  8. Anonymous I agreed with you. The OS Pinguy should change its distributive logo for something easy recognizable. Besides in Russian word "Pinguy" very close to verb "ping". In addition "Pinguy" can read in Russian as Pindick. It's true. And little funny. However the distributive has good quality and many programs from "out of the box".
    P.S. I exactly remember that startup sound was in another old distributive. Could you please tell in which one?

  9. Love them docks and the Conky status widget on the right. I'm running Pinguy 10.4 on my lenovo S10-3 netbook. Getting the wifi working was a snap compared to most other distros. Now to get the AT&T Velocity USB broad band working and I'll be a happy camper. Good job everyone, I'll help spread the word.

  10. I'm new to Linux from the Windows world. I've been running Ubuntu 11.10 and have configured it to a point I like it but there's still something missing. Last night I read about PinguyOS on and decided to download it and give it a try. Version number 11.04.1 (32-bit; I tried downloading and burning the 64-bit version to DVD but it refused to boot. No problem with the 32-bit version). My first impression was much more favorable than the one I had with Ubuntu. As others have said here and elsewhere, PinguyOS struck me as being more polished right out of the box (so to speak). I love the Conky status widget (most of it's functions are the same one I have separate Windows 7 gadgets for on my desktop). Sound worked, broadband worked, the eye-candy worked. Everything just worked... very important to someone new to Linux that has yet to become educated as to how to set up and tweak a Linux desktop (probably a top reason new users give up and go back to their old OS. Most people want/need to be able to use the OS for work and play immediately). I've still got some playing to do but am seriously thinking of setting PinguyOS in a dual-boot environment with Ubuntu 11.10. I suspect it could become my primary Linux distro to use. So if you're new to Linux (or not so new) I'd say give download PinguyOS, burn it to DVD and try it Live. I think you'll be pleasantly pleased.

  11. Where can I get the blue background with the boat dock

  12. Great O.S. I was already using Ubuntu 10.04 very happy.
    But the conky sys monitor really sold me. It hardly uses any resources. Not much use for the tacky OSX dock but the file manager dock could prove useful. And where can I get that wallpaper? It's not offered in 10.04.3

  13. well fellows, a derivative of yours. LPinguy OS is everything Pinguy OS tried to be, All you did with Pinguy OS is create a crowded and buggy derivative. LPinguy OS is what you should have to produce. My hats off to the developers of Lpinguy OS You got it right...A very stable
    an robust distro for the people.

  14. This is the ultimate answer to a user friendly OS and just as good or better than anything Bill gates and microsoft produced for consumers. My only beef with all operating systems is that the task bars are too big and too much wasted space on those wasted spaces,otherwise I wouldn't trade any Linux for a million free Microsoft Windows.

  15. Are you mad Mr.Green? Ok all comments are accepted but hey?

  16. Solid and reliable with options to apt-get install what you want should your nano not sync etc. In fact, for me, this platform functions better than old XP.

    When XP runs out of support you have a choice. You can trash your current kit and move to Win7/8 or make more efficient and better use of your kit with Pinguy. Why not do both and you may discover that you like to be free of virus problems and blue screens.

    Say goodbye to the insulting arrogance of "You have performed an illegal operation", C000005 problems and manufacturers who only support their products for three months before releasing another variation.

    This distro is simply '100% sensible' as well as solidly put together.