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EasyPup, a blend of classical-Puppy and EasyOS

February 29, 2020 — BarryK

EasyPup is a blend of "classical Puppy" with EasyOS. EasyOS originally derived from Puppy, but is a complete redesign, based on use of containers. EasyPup may be considered as a traditional Puppy, but with many enhancements of EasyOS, sans container support.

Regarding the "Puppy part" of EasyPup, EasyPup is built with WoofQ, not with WoofCE. The latter is the build system used to create the latest official releases of Puppy. They both forked from Woof2 in 2013, and the Puppy-components of WoofQ have pretty much stayed as they were in 2013. So the Puppy-related infrastructure is a "classical Puppy".

Having said that, the "EasyOS part" of WoofQ has brought considerable enhancements to the infrastructure, quite different from WoofCE. For example, audit-tracking of installed packages, and hardware profiling for video and sound. There is a web page that has a table listing how and why EasyOS is different (https://easyos.org/about/how-and-why-easyos-is-different.html). That table is reproduced here, with the features not in EasyPup greyed-out:

Container-friendly
EasyOS is designed from scratch to support containers. Any app can run in a container, in fact an entire desktop can run in a container. Container management is by a simple GUI, no messing around on the commandline. The container mechanism is named Easy Containers, and is designed from scratch (Docker, LXC, etc are not used). Easy Containers are extremely efficient, with almost no overhead -- the base size of each container is only several KB.
Totally isolated running in RAM
The boot menu has an option "Copy session to RAM & disable drives", which boots to a desktop with power of administrator (root) in all respects except totally isolated from the drives of the PC. This is an alternative to using containers, and is intended to be even more secure than containers. An introduction is here.
Run as root
This is controversial, however, it is just a different philosophy. The user runs as administrator (root), apps may optionally run as user 'spot' or in containers as a "crippled root" or user 'zeus'. The practical outcome is that you never have to type "sudo" or "su" to run anything, nor get hung up with file permissions.
Deprecated ISO
Optical media is a legacy format. Very few desktop PCs are sold these days, it is mostly laptops, and most of those do not have optical drives. Easy is provided as an image file that can be written to any Flash-stick of 2GB or greater (and will auto-grow to fill the drive). Or, the file can be opened up and directly installed to internal hard drive.
However, an ISO live-CD is still offered, with session-save capability, mostly to cater for those users who have a computer that will not boot from USB.
No full install
In a traditional "full" installation, the filesystem occupies an entire partition, with the usual /etc, /bin, /usr, /proc, /sys, /tmp, etc. Easy does not install like this.
Easy installs to hard drive in what we call "frugal" mode, which occupies just one folder in a partition, allowing to co-exist with whatever else the partition is used for.
Roll-back, roll-forward
With Easy, you can take a snapshot, and later on roll-back to it. Then, you can roll-forward. This can work across version changes, kernel changes. This mechanism applies to the main filesystem as well as the containers.
Atomic version upgrade
Unlike distributions that perform version upgrade on an error-prone per-package basis, Easy is upgraded by replacing three files. Thus, successful upgrade is "guaranteed". This is analogous to "atomic transactions" in finance. Read more here.
SFS mega-packages
Easy supports SFS mega-packages, which are lots of packages bundled into one file, which is named with ".sfs" extension. These never get extracted, when in use they are mounted in the aufs or overlay layered filesystem, and can be uninstalled just by removing. For example, there is devx_<version>_amd64.sfs, which has everything required for compiling and debugging. There is also kernel source SFS, and so on. SFSs make life very simple!
Package manager audit trail
PETget, the traditional package manager, maintains an audit-trail. One outcome, if install a package that overwrites an existing file, the "deposed" files are kept (see /audit/deposed) and restored if the package is uninstalled. Read more here.
Run anything in containers
SFS files and containers, combined, are very powerful. You can even run other Linux distributions. For example, Puppy Linux Xenialpup 7.5.
pup_event service manager
Easy uses the Busybox 'init' system, no systemd! To provide management of services with dependences, there is pup_event, a simple extension to the init-system. For example, a daemon could be brought up only when network is active. pup_event also provides an extremely flexible and simple IPC mechanism, pup_event_ipc.
GUIs for everything
The objective is that everything in Easy be configured by simple GUIs, without having to fiddle about on the commandline. This includes management of SFS files, Easy Containers and pup_event.
Non-standard hierarchies
When someone boots up Easy, they will see that the menu (bottom-left of screen) is totally different from what they are accustomed to. Ditto the folder hierarchy. The thing is, keep an open mind -- it is very easy to adjust, and there are solid reasons for the differences.
JWM-ROX desktop
Everyone knows about Gnome, KDE, Mate, XFCE and LXDE desktops, very few are aware of JWM-ROX. This has been used by Puppy Linux since around 2004, and is an extremely lightweight (fast) yet powerful desktop. JWM is a window manager, and ROX is the ROX-Filer file-manager and desktop handler. They work extremely well together, and are the choice for Easy.
Encryption
The "working-partition" has folders that may optionally be encrypted. These folders are everything, all your work, downloads, history. etc. Encryption is by fscrypt, uses AES-256, and requires that a password must be entered at bootup.
x86_64 and aarch64
In theory, as Easy is built from WoofQ, it can use any binary packages, i686 for example. However, each architecture requires time and effort to support, so Easy releases are only x86_64 and aarch64 builds. In the latter case, may target RPi3&4 and Rock64 boards.
Network interfaces not renamed
Easy keeps the kernel-assigned interface names, eth0, wlan0, etc., does not rename them to something weird such as "enp2s0", as do most distributions. Easy network management has no problem with keeping track of the correct interface, even if the kernel-assigned names change.
Drive names not renamed
Ditto. The kernel-assigned names for drives and partitions are retained. For example drive sda and partition sda1.
Hardware profiling
Currently for video and audio. Boot EasyOS from a USB-stick on different computers, and automatically remembers the setup for that hardware. video  audio
Puppy heritage
Barry Kauler created Puppy Linux in 2003, turned it over to the "Puppy community" in 2013. It is only natural that a lot of "puppyisms" can be found in Easy, though, it must be stated that Easy is also very different, and should not be thought of as a fork of Puppy. Inherited features include the JWM-ROX desktop, menu-hierarchy, run-as-root, SFS layered filesystem, PET packages, and dozens of apps developed for Puppy.

Narrowing it down a bit more, EasyPup differs from the official WoofCE-built puppies in that it has these EasyOS enhancements:

  1. Package manager audit-trail
  2. pup_event service manager
  3. Hardware profiling
...well, that is an understatement, just mentioning the "big ticket" items. WoofQ has travelled its own path since forking from Woof2 in 2013, and there are a myriad of changes, some very small, that differentiate from WoofCE.

Which one to choose, EasyOS or EasyPup? EasyOS is where the exciting action is, however, if you have used one of the other puppies and would like to stay in that fold, you could give EasyPup a go.

Links

Download EasyPup from here:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/easypup/amd64/releases/ 

Documentation on "classical-Puppy":

https://bkhome.org/archive/puppylinux/development/howpuppyworks.html

https://bkhome.org/archive/puppylinux/install.htm

The main Puppy Linux site:

http://puppylinux.com

The main Puppy Linux forum:

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/ 

The main EasyOS site:

https://easyos.org/ 

Tags: linux