1 Mar 2011

Magical Pinguyn Tux

Do you think I made a typo in the post title? No, I have not.

Have you ever heard name Pinguy? Have you heard name Pinguy OS? If you answered "no" to both questions, you're not alone. I also did not hear much about this OS until recent.

When browsing the web, I read several reviews of Pinguy OS. They all seemed to be very nice. If this is nice, why should not I have a look? Surely I have to try it myself!

Pinguy is relatively new operation system. That's why you might not know about it before. First version was released in November 2010. Latest version available for download is 10.10.1 and was released in February 2011.

Does version number resemble you anything? Yes, Pinguy is actually not the stand-alone unique OS. It is based on the Ubuntu code, and latest Ubuntu version 10.10 is basis for Pinguy 10.10.1. There are many more distros which use this approach: Mint is most famous.

If you remember, Ubuntu is distributed as a CD. Everything you need is in your hands well-packed on one CD only. Pinguy is slightly bigger in size. To be precise, almost twice bigger. Disk image weights about 1.3 GB. That's why I had to burn it to DVD

DVD-ROM of my usual guinea pig Compaq C300 laptop does not read DVD any more. That's why I have to test on Toshiba laptop.

So, DVD image is downloaded and burnt. Disk is in the drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!

Pinguy OS boots itself  without silly questions. Just choice of several boot options where Live goes as default. I think it is even less annoyance to user than Ubuntu has.

But once I pressed "Enter" at boot options' selection screen, it took ages for Pinguy OS to actually boot. It takes too much time to prepare itself from my perspective.

So, I had lots of time to see how actual booting goes and read messages there. Some of them looked quite strange for me. They told me that VirtualBox failed to load. Does Pinguy really include VirtualBox in distro? Is VirtualBox really required in Live environment? Or maybe that are just traces of not very clean up of developer? It gave me some confusion.

Penguy is based on Ubuntu 10.10. I have written several times (1, 2) that Ubuntu 10.10-based distros work fine with Toshiba's hardware. But Realtek WiFi card did not work on my laptop when I first booted it with Pinguy. There was nothing in Network Manager. Though, it was listed in lspci output. I was very much surprised. But when I looked at Network Manager few minutes later, all networks available in my area were listed. Magic? I do not know.

Magic continued when all the networks were immediately available after reboot. Of course, I saved nothing during my Live run, so Pinguy was booted exactly the same manner, but with different result. May it be that during my first run used a command which I learnt during my first unsuccessful try to install Debian Squeeze? Terminal -> sudo ifup -i wlan0.

May there be a reason that WiFi card was switched off by Windows 7 installed on my Toshiba laptop during its shutdown? Anyway... After that trick Network Manager showed up my WiFi network and was able to connect OK. But sure enough, user-friendly system based on Ubuntu should make WiFi card active by default or should allow switch it on in GUI. Well maybe Pinguy OS has this feature, but I could not find it.

There is a shortcut on the Pinguy default desktop which offers you localisation. Russian version is in the list! But it should be downloaded. Why? Ubuntu has all the international versions immediately on CD. What made me even more stuck is that even English localization was not included. I am not sure, but most likely "localisation" actually means dictionaries and other useful stuff for OpenOffice.org. If so, why this shortcut should be on the desktop? It is not task No.1 for the user, I believe.

If we are not talking about full localisation, I still may need Russian keyboard. Is it available? Yes, it is. Actual configuration was easy as 1-2-3, like in any other GNOME-based distribution. While configuring my Russian keyboard layout, I noticed something which nicely surprised me. UK (not US) keyboard goes as default in Pinguy!
You might not know the difference, but there is a difference between UK and US keyboard layouts. For example, UK version has " and @ signs swapped. And, of course, British people need £ (pound) sign.
I am sure that I have never told Pinguy I am from the UK, so that might be a standard keyboard layout for the distribution! UK based people can be proud.

As long as I started to speak about desktop shortcuts, I need to tell you about desktop itself. All the reviews of Pinguy tell you about this. They almost go bananas about Pinguy desktop. Yes, it is very fancy. But for me it looks like it is too fancy. Would prefer to be less overloaded with gadgets.

What do I have on the desktop?

  • Docky at the bottom. Nice choice of pre-installed shortcuts there.
  • Menu with taskbar are at the top.
  • Buttons for quck access to folders in /home on the left.
  • Nicely looking Conky on the right. Small issue with this Conky. It does not let you to use maximize-minimize buttons on the application window when maximized. They are hidden beyond the Conky widgets.
Overall design of the desktop is very nice. Very good wallpapers, fonts, and Conky which I have already mentioned.

Main menu is just a button with Pingui OS logo. To be honest, it was difficult for me to find it initially. There are several other menu options right next to it. When you have clean desktop without any application launched, these menu options are part of Nautilus file browser menu. This is slightyly confusing... Looks like top panel of Pinguy serves as menu panel for current application.

Main menu itself has three panels. First panel is Places and System sections, which you usually see in Ubuntu top panel. Second panel is list of Applications groups, and third panel lists applications in current group. Very similar to Mint menu.

There are lots of applications included into the distro. Will list just a few.

  • Internet: Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge Bit-torrent, and even Skype and Sun Java Web Start.
  • Graphics: OOo Drawing, but no GIMP.
  • Multimedia: half a dozen of different players. Good choice, including VLC, MPlayer and Rythmbox. Even OpenShot Video Editor.
  • There are no games, but instead there is a link to "Play at Linux" site. 
  • Office: OOo in reduced set, without Math. Though, that is enough for first time.
Wine is already installed, so you might start to use your Windows-based applications straight away.

Looks like Pinguy has good choice of software "onboard". It can be used for almost any purposes "out of the box".

As usual, I wanted to mount my network drive and listen to some music stored on it. Unfortunately, network drive mounting was not successful. My usual command sudo mount -t cifs... came back with dmesg log stating "No username specified" even though I have -o guest parameter. Looks quite strange for me.

So, no music this time... :-(

What I liked very much is that Pinguy has good response time, even when booted from DVD. It makes my feelings about long boot time little bit better.

So, in essence, did I like Pinguy? Yes, I did. It is

  • Very attractive in design
  • Quick running
  • Well-packed with software.

Are there any downsides in Pinguy? Yes, and I have already mentioned them:

  • Too long boot time
  • WiFi requires tricks to switch on
  • Desktop is overloaded with gadgets

Useful links:
http://www.pinguyos.com/ - homepage with download links
http://distrowatch.com/pinguy - Pinguy OS on DistroWatch web site


  1. Nice, It seems it has a lot of nice apps, well 1.3 gigs!.
    But not a very good hardware support.

    Would you recommend it to a newbie over Mint or Ubuntu?

  2. @Guillermo
    You know, first love is the most strong... I have strong love with (K)Ubuntu. From my perspective, Mint is just a wrapper which is made to simplify life of newbie. But from another point it is overloaded with "simplification", which makes life even more difficult: to understand whether this is "true" Linux or just additional feature which can be switched off.
    On this basis, Pinguy is even more overloaded.
    I could recommend Pinguy and Mint as *second* system to try after some more basic. Then you can distinguish between core and additional features.