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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Suggestions
My Suggestions for Improving Puppy User's Experience
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p310don

Joined: 19 May 2009
Posts: 705
Location: Brisbane, Australia

PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 00:16    Post subject:  My Suggestions for Improving Puppy User's Experience  

Hi there. I have been thinking about this for a while. I am a constant reader of the forums, and offer some help when I can. There are things that constantly come up that users have issues with, and I think these things need some addressing.

What I am hoping to achieve with this thread is not a wish list of NEW features, but to find the BEST features of puppy and puplets and user / forum members work for suggesting that those things be included in future puppies.

I don't want to have a thread that says things like, "I like gnome, make puppy gnome" or similar.

This will probably be an evolutionary thread, as I will add things as I find them.

1 - Wireless Networking.

Constantly this area has issues. I see lots of solutions, but they do seem somewhat haphazard. I have read before that people have chosen a distro based on whether it works for their network hardware, so that means that this is a pretty important field to work on. For me, I have had the most success with Jemimah's Frisbee network manager. It is well presented, and works most of the time for me. There is still some improvement needed, but I would suggest its pretty good for inclusion in mainstream puppies.

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=440878527&t=64472

I believe tempestuous is the man to speak to with regard to wireless anything - between tempestuous and jemimah we could have the "perfect" wireless setup in puppy.

2 - Kernel Choice

Nothing to do with original or hot & spicy btw.. Very Happy

Having read lobster's stuff about puppy 6 or 5.3 or whatever it may be, he has suggested that there will be a 64bit version and a standard version. My thoughts on this are the same, but with further depth. There has been a lot of development on new kernels by guys like wuxiandianzi and pemasu and probably others who I don't know or haven't seen. I think 3 or 4 offerings could be there for puppy users. Forum member gcmartin has talked in the past about specifying what your puppy or puplet is for.

My four offerings would be:

Ancient hardware with memory up to 512MB - this would be in line with BarryK's wary type puppies.

Modern Hardware with Memory above 512MB up to 3 Gig - This would be the same as the current Lupu type puppies.

Up to date hardware with greater than 3 gig Ram - This would have two options, either kernels with hugemem support, or 64 bit. Ultimately 64 bit is the better option, but in MY experience, I have had issues with FLASH in 64bit linux, including FATDOG. Hugemem would be a stop gap until flash is improved by Adobe, or we finally, if ever, can get away from it (maybe html5). Many would argue that flash is only a minor thing, but really, flash is on MOST websites, and the most popular ones, eg, facebook, youtube, games, pron and news all use it, so its kinda important to have working without any issues.

Getting into kernels is pretty full on for new users, so on the download page, keep it simple, with clear options based on memory as listed above. Ultimately, the user experience should be exactly the same, as long as they have the right puppy for their hardware.

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=1863786291&t=67572

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=1572492111&t=65136

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=67707

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=1818358182&t=63281

3 - Installation

Me, I find puppy ridiculously easy to install. When I have issues, its because I tried something that isn't meant to be done. Ie, its my fault. But, there always seems to be some confusion when people install puppy. I don't get it, but I think people are used to long, tedious, confusing, convoluted processes that take four hours and you need to do 3 times to get it right.
Perhaps a hand holding approach is better for some users? For a windows refugee, there is the win32 installer here http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=61404. I haven't used it, but I assume it makes everything painless and easy for the new user.
For the slightly more advanced user, ie one who can burn an iso and boot a livecd, the install process only needs minor tweaking. For me, when I first installed puppy years ago, I went with full install, and the rebooted. Nothing worked, because install finishes with something about start grub yourself and copy that and, for me, skip all this crap and just go. Simple thing here is, skip all this crap doesn't work! If the install program automatically started grub installer or grub4dos, it could help people with an install. My preference is for grub4dos.
Looking at Ubuntu's install system, it offers to partition the system for you, holds your hand to see what you want to do, and, this is the part I quite like, if it finds windows on your system, it offers to copy over your my documents folders, even having the end result with the same wallpaper you had in windows. That's pretty cool, and maybe it could be done with symlinks rather than copying my documents? Not sure if you can symlink TO fat32 or ntfs.

4 - Frugal Save File

Constantly there are people complaining about their save file being eaten up mysteriously. The solution is usually delete some crap out of it, or move stuff from it. A lot of the things in a save file are hidden files that a user doesn't know is there. Things like the .mozilla folder are hidden in the home directory, thus simply browsing the web can fill up a save file, just with cache. By symlinking this outside of the save file, the problem is addressed. On my pc, doing this for .mozilla and .wine has made my save file almost empty. There is also the equivalent of my documents in home, with my pictures, my videos, my music etc. These could be symlinked out to another location, further freeing up save file space.

5 - Drive Names

This one is pretty easy I think. Copying from akash_rawal's post of a similar nature, drive volume labels is nicer (for me) than drive numbers. Windows users probably have no idea of what sda1 etc mean, but DRIVE_C has meaning.

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=754706024&t=60911

Further to this, in windows or ubuntu, a drive's name is listed down the side of the file browser. If there is more than one drive or partition, this is nice and convenient. In puppy by default, they are only either on the desktop, or in rox filer at /mnt/sdxx or similar. In puppeee jemimah has addressed this little issue and it does make life easier.

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=1911265311&t=59556

edit - I attributed drive name bookmarks to Jemimah, but reading further in akash_rawals's post above, it seems he got that going.

6 - Media Keys

I've seen a few times people trying to get their multimedia keyboards to do something in puppy. By default, puppy doesn't have this it seems, but it can be made to work. Windows, ubuntu and Puppeee all work for me in this regard. I don't know how they do it, but it definitely makes things nicer. Maybe jemimah knows?

7 - Package Management - Repository

Ok, this one is harder, maybe. Lupu puppies are binary compatible with Ubuntu 10.04, as such you can download stuff from the ubuntu repos and install it in puppy, in theory. I haven't had much success at all with this. Some stuff works, some stuff doesn't. The biggest issue seems to be dependency hell. I installed one program once, it installed about fifty dependencies, filling up my save file, and then didn't work anyway. I got it to work in puppy by compiling it myself, it takes up a few meg and is great, without all the ubuntu dependencies.
Clearly, puppy's native package system of .pets is better for puppy than deb or rpm or txz or anything else that isn't native. If you search hard enough, just about everything is available for puppy on this forum that you could ever need. The most popular are in quickpet, and that works really well.
I think puppy would benefit greatly from a dedicated repository. I don't know how much stuff can be hosted at ibiblio, but if it can be filled with more stuff would be great.
Is there a way to trawl the forum for .pets and extract them for loading onto ibiblio or similar?
Puppy relying on another distro's repository is a great adjunct for extending the functionality of puppy, but really, you just can't beat pets for puppy as a first choice.

8 - Look and feel?

Puppy has all the common things you might use on the desktop. Some love it, some hate it. http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=67881
Should it be changed? Simplified? Some things are there that are really useful for the first time, but not so much after that, eg connect. I do like the idea of having what you want easily at hand on the desktop, but probably don't need as many things there.
Having said this one, my main computer has everything on the desktop that was there originally, plus a few more, but looking in a long standing thread like "my puppy is more gorgeous than yours" the common theme is minimalist desktops.

9 - Root account

Could this be talked about any more? I hope not. I like having access to my computer. Many people are scared of it. Hands up everyone who keeps getting hacked in puppy? (sounds of crickets...)

Barry is addressing this here http://bkhome.org/blog/?viewDetailed=02240. So many reviews and forum discussions have put puppy on the banned list for not having a non-root user account. I think the choice is a good thing for puppy in general. I would hope it is implemented as a one off thing in the install / setup process, if you want root, it never asks again, if you want multi-user, it always is.

10 - Mime Types

I don't know if this can be made easier. In windows or ubuntu, if there is a filetype that you want to open, but it isn't associated with a program, you right click, and then click on the open with dialog. Puppy has this too. The difference is, in the big ones, it lists a whole bunch of programs that are optional to open with, including stuff that has been installed after puppy. In puppy, there are a few things to open with, but it doesn't update automatically. For example, .doc or .odt files. By default, these open with abiword in puppy. That's great. But many people install openoffice or libreoffice because of its extended functionality and better compatibility with MS stuff. If I install libreoffice and then click on a .doc or .odt file, the default to open with abiword still happens. It can be changed, I know that, but it's not as straightforward as some other OSes. Note, using gray's NOP puplets, this works fairly well. Not sure if its inherent in puppy, or the window manager / file manager.
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=736257538&t=48179

edit Both scottman and Iguleder have solutions for MIME types. Will have to play with them to see what I like most...

Iguleder's http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=56253

scottmans's http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=423496


Wow, ok I'll stop at ten, for now. I hope I'm not over stepping any lines here, or unnecessarily clogging up the forum. I am a user of puppy. I don't have the technical skills to implement these, but heaps of you guys do. And, like I said in the beginning, I'm not trying to have new things made as such, just trying to give my idea of what I think is good to include in puppy in future.

Thanks
Paul

Last edited by p310don on Thu 19 May 2011, 10:12; edited 5 times in total
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8-bit


Joined: 03 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 00:19    Post subject:  

Flash, can you transfer ownership of this post in this thread to p310don for continuation of his suggestions.
They look promising.

Last edited by 8-bit on Thu 19 May 2011, 01:02; edited 2 times in total
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p310don

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 00:20    Post subject:  

11 - SFS Loading On The Fly

Ok this one is a goody I think. I've used Shinobar's sfs load on the fly pet and it is excellent at allowing installation of sfs's without having to reboot the system. I'm not sure if it does it, but allowing the installation of lots of sfs's, ie more than six would be important. Some puplets allow more than six, so if this doesn't do it, there are answers somewhere!

This could link to my topic number 7 in the repository. Pets are great, but sfs is also a great way to install things, especially when they're larger, and have a lot of dependencies. Downloading from a webpage is what is done now, I don't know if it could be done, I don't think it'd be hard, but a script from PPM to download an SFS, put it in /mnt/home directory and then run the SFS_loader and you're up and running. No reboot, no nothing. Awesome

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=64354

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=36733

Last edited by p310don on Wed 25 May 2011, 00:10; edited 2 times in total
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8-bit


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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 00:27    Post subject:  

You might try pasting part of it in a post and then continuing with more.
Be sure to reserve a few with replies to your first post and then edit them to add more of your book.

I would also like to reserve this post for use by p310don if that is possible by the moderator.

And to p310don,
That would give you 3 in succession for future thoughts.
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nooby

Joined: 29 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 04:30    Post subject:  

p310don I think it is a good thing what you have done here but then you have to do it yourself or find persons that feel for doing it.

I felt for doing thumbs up so what is lacking is the transference to willing and motivated Devs to share in the effort.

Re install. I don't really know this but somebody else also independent on me had the notion that Windows users are very reluctant to do installs in that way.

So I would suggest that one have three or four different categories of potential Puppy users.

1. Those who already have Linux on their machine and see that Puppy are number 9 on the DistroWatch list and get interested.
They either burn a CD or a DVD or somehow make it to the USB.
So these need easy to follow descriptions to get the menu.lst going on puppy with examples on how to set it up on USB from within other Linux distros.

2. Windows users that are totally fed up with windows and accept that an installation delete their windows.

3. Windows users with machines less than 2 years old that want to make use if Warranty and such and therefor want installs that they can Dual boot in safe ways with Windows.

4. Windows users that are shit scare to do anything nasty but still what a test drive. So wmware or vbox or such could give them that experience or unetboot in to a usb or burning a CD/DVD with multisession so they can use it as a rescue CD. To expect this very big group to ever do a resize or partition is not gonna happen ever.

I am among the 3 category. I always only do things that allow dual booting and not touching the partitions so I only do frugal installs.

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p310don

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 09:36    Post subject:  

Hi Nooby,

Thanks for your input. I hadn't considered so many options when looking at potential puppy users.

To address your scenarios with my thoughts...

Quote:
1. Those who already have Linux on their machine and see that Puppy are number 9 on the DistroWatch list and get interested.
They either burn a CD or a DVD or somehow make it to the USB.
So these need easy to follow descriptions to get the menu.lst going on puppy with examples on how to set it up on USB from within other Linux distros.


I think people who have Linux already on their machine, usually have some knowledge of how to use it, and how to do menu.lst stuff. So, yes, you're right, just give them instructions on what to put in menu.lst to have puppy running is probably all that is needed.
I had ubuntu installed on my eeepc with grub2 at one stage. Grub2, as I think you know, is horrible. I did something wrong and the pc would not boot, and grub2 had no easy way of being fixed. Puppeee and grub4dos fixed this issue without much effort. I love grub4dos so much for its simplicity and ability to automatically figure stuff out.
For those that don't know enough to figure out their existing grub settings, offering grub4dos, or the new offering from akash_rawal to autodetect their settings is an easy option.

Quote:
2. Windows users that are totally fed up with windows and accept that an installation delete their windows.


There are always going to be those people. These are the people who I guess regularly format their hard drive and reinstall windows to fix problems. Of course taking this course of action would mean that all their stuff would be lost. Imagine the kudos if they could install puppy, and it automatically offered to copy over all their My Documents stuff before deleting windows, or leaving windows as is!!

Quote:
3. Windows users with machines less than 2 years old that want to make use if Warranty and such and therefor want installs that they can Dual boot in safe ways with Windows.


That's why puppy is brilliant. Frugal installs, as you know can dual boot without messing up windows. As I understand it, that is what the win32 installer does well, without messing with partitions or MBR bootloaders.

Quote:
4. Windows users that are shit scare to do anything nasty but still what a test drive. So wmware or vbox or such could give them that experience or unetboot in to a usb or burning a CD/DVD with multisession so they can use it as a rescue CD. To expect this very big group to ever do a resize or partition is not gonna happen ever.


I'll think on this one some more, but the beauty of puppy over other Linux live cds is that it runs full tilt as a live cd. I checked out the latest Ubuntu the other day as a live cd. Took ten minutes to boot, and 30 seconds from every click of the mouse to do something. Puppy takes 30 seconds to boot from live cd, and no time from the mouse click to do something.
For those people, who are probably the majority, after using puppy live for a while, they'll come to appreciate the good that puppy offers and want to make more permanent changes to their system. This is where a good hand held installation experience would be ideal. If they decide they're willing to take the next step, and go all the way with puppy, (almost sounds dirty doesn't it?), sure they'll be scared of doing partitions and resizing and all that nasty stuff, but, with paw firmly in hand, it can be made easy.

I know nooby you are a frugal install person, but have you done an Ubuntu install lately? Their installation system is very easy, and designed to take over from a windows machine, copying settings and files from windows automatically.

In this thread I have referred to Ubuntu a few times, but I think they do some things really well. User friendliness is why Ubuntu is the number one distro out there. There are some things to be learned from it.
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sc0ttman


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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 09:50    Post subject:  

For number 10, this might help: http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=423496

Also agree that hotkey support and drive labels should be available by default.
Maybe also patch GTK to show mounted drives from /mnt, not /media...

And I also hope that fido stays in puppy and gets fleshed out a little bit, I plan to play with it myself, but having never done any serious work on a multi-user distro, I dont think I will be of much use!!

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nooby

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 10:50    Post subject:  

grub2 is a bit different yes but not such a huge step that it is impossible.

Even I who fail on most things in life managed to manually install puppy and make it survive when it did an upgrade but it was a bit of tweaking and frustration learning the 40_custom or what name it has.

Yes very recently I did a frugal boot up on my ntfs hdd of a live version of Ubuntu 11.04 using grub2 on an usb that rcrsn51 helped to get from pendrivelinux and to make it work on puppy. I am not sure but Lance on Pen has made some kind of general set up that is not easy to understand for computer challenged people like I am because it behave most peculiar but I have used also lubuntu latest and Peppermint latest on it that way.

I did not manage with some other ubuntus though so maybe me try too hard or something. Smile

while we talk about small linux OS I am in Porteus now. Works rather good.

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technosaurus


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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 14:29    Post subject:  

1 I started working on a browser based cgi version of the network wizards that only has busybox httpd and any forms-capable browser as dependencies.
Plus - can be set to display if you try to browse and no network is detected
Minus - httpd needs to be running on localhost ...security issues?, but then other apps could run ootb too.

3 there already _is_ "hand-holding" for the <1% of users who bother to read the dialogs, perhaps the solution is to simplify it (both the interface and install types) instead and only give alternative methods if run with --expert

5 totally disagree, windows alphabetic drive names is the dumbest convention ever....now allowing the user to assign a tooltip - that is a different story.

10 see the tgz mime script for a template ... for each type you need a hierarchy controlled by something like:
[ 'which appname' ] && addtolist appname

Edit - re: patching
has anyone tried just symlinking media to mnt?

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sc0ttman


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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 16:36    Post subject:  

technosaurus wrote:
Edit - re: patching
has anyone tried just symlinking media to mnt?

Apparently jemimah tried that, or similar... But I think she solved it by using a patched version of libgio... Haven't seen it in action... But you can find the info by reading on from here: http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=475719#475719

There is also a 'fix' or workaround for this - http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=510081#510081

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p310don

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 18:56    Post subject:  

@Technosaurus

Thanks for your input. I've spoken with you before and every time I get confused!! Today is the same, sorry I am a user, and whilst I get a lot of stuff, you definitely operate on a much higher level than me when it comes to puppy and linux stuff. Sorry, I'll try and keep up Smile

To address your comments...
Quote:

1 I started working on a browser based cgi version of the network wizards that only has busybox httpd and any forms-capable browser as dependencies.
Plus - can be set to display if you try to browse and no network is detected
Minus - httpd needs to be running on localhost ...security issues?, but then other apps could run ootb too.


When you say you started working on it, does that mean you finished it? If so, is it something you want to share?
The plus sounds pretty awesome, as long as it can be set to redirect to wherever you were going before you dropped out. The minus is where I got confused. Would there be a security issue? I don't know, you would have a much better idea. Puppy's security, to me, seems pretty good being Linux based, and will be (apparently) higher if run with fido or spot user accounts. If there is a security issue, is it a real one, or a potential one?
Either way, I would love to see what you've got to offer, and give it a good testing to see how it stacks up against my user-ness!!

Quote:
3 there already _is_ "hand-holding" for the <1% of users who bother to read the dialogs, perhaps the solution is to simplify it (both the interface and install types) instead and only give alternative methods if run with --expert


Yup, there is, but, people are still getting it wrong. Its almost impossible to do, but it needs to be looked at from the eyes of the scared little new user who doesn't understand and needs a solid hand hold, and maybe a cuddle and a tissue to make it through the process. Like you say, simplify, maybe a nice gui rather that just text boxes. And then, offer a skip the simple stuff button for people that don't need all that.

Quote:
5 totally disagree, windows alphabetic drive names is the dumbest convention ever....now allowing the user to assign a tooltip - that is a different story


Totally disagree back Razz Everyone has their own idea of what's good. I don't know for sure, but I think you're in the minority, but we all are using Linux anyway. I like what akash_rawal and jemimah have offered, maybe that is something that can be offered in the hand held install process. Note offered, not insisted upon. Its about choice.
I do like your tooltip idea. Best of both arguments. Can it be done??

Quote:
10 see the tgz mime script for a template ... for each type you need a hierarchy controlled by something like:
[ 'which appname' ] && addtolist appname


Lost me again. Sorry. I'm trying to comment, but I keep going cross eyed!!
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technosaurus


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PostPosted: Thu 19 May 2011, 23:00    Post subject:  

@p310
1 I have most of the GUI backend parts written as well as the parser, so now it can at least be used as an interface to any program. The main reason I haven't released anything yet ... well 2 really - first being that I haven't written enough frontends with it to convince myself that the api is not going to need drastic changes and second being that it needs a case statement in the parser/executor to prevent running arbitrary commands like ??? rm -f / ....

3 I like the idea from the 1 click install, but I would use an additional check for RAM and do a full install for systems with <256mb of RAM

5 the tooltip can be done with rox ... probably even hacked into jwm if the text is overlayed onto the icon (like in goingnut's pupngo minimal tray app) ... jwm already supports tooltips. (for those of you who haven't used pupngo or puplite - they use jwm trays instead of rox for the drive icons)

10 a tgz (AFAIR) brings up a dialog box that allows you to open it with petget if it is a tgz slackware package or pupzip if it's really just a tar.gz tarball.
Ex. A .doc file may be opened by abiword, OpenOffice, libreoffice, koffice...
You would just need to check if they are installed ( using which) and then only give the option to use those that _are_ installed. to go further if it is a list of 1 just run it or if it is multiple, default to the "best" application ... of course you may not like having to choose all the time, so it may neneed a file for persistently (basically a combo of /root/.slipper_on and /etc/windowmanager) ... hopefully I can come up with something less convoluted - using default_chooser on first run if multiple apps exist - I think I can even do this method in bashbox so that all of the MIME scripts are just symlinks to bashbox.

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p310don

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PostPosted: Wed 25 May 2011, 01:28    Post subject:  

Techno

1 - I like the sound of your web / html based network setup tool. The main thing is that it works, and is easy to use for new and experienced users alike. The only issue I really see with your solution is lupu type puppies don't have a full browser in them as standard. It would obviously have issues in that situation - and a good argument for having a full featured browser of some sort as standard.

3 - good idea, but maybe an explanation to the user why that's the better choice

5 -

10 - I think I'm following you. You wouldn't want to choose all the time, but it is good to be able to choose a different program sometimes. Eg, I record a lot of mine and my friend's mountain biking rides, and we like to watch them in slow motion sometimes. In lupu, they play fine with mplayer by default, but VLC has great slow slow motion playback, so for that situation its good to be able to easily open with VLC instead of mplayer
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nooby

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PostPosted: Wed 25 May 2011, 02:05    Post subject:  

Scotman wrote:

"And I also hope that fido stays in puppy and gets fleshed out a little bit, I plan to play with it myself, but having never done any serious work on a multi-user distro, I dont think I will be of much use!!"

I want it to stay too and I started a thread about use of Fido but AFAIK none was interested. Maybe such a thread need to be started by somebody that can be of much use?

I don't know English or Latin but does not Fido means Loyal or trust worthy? We need such a person! Some body who is both loyal and trustworthy and savvy to get what it going on using fido.

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