Review: Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini

Main Screen + Global Menu
Upon the advice of a commenter in one of my previous posts, I am reviewing Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini today. That commenter asked that I test Pinguy OS 11.04, and mentioned the existence of a Mini edition, so I became intrigued, because Pinguy OS is more known for being an "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink" distribution than anything else, so I thought it would be cool to see what the Mini edition would have in store.

For those who don't know, Pinguy OS is, it's an Ubuntu derivative that tries to improve upon the user interface and bring in as many useful applications as possible. Then again, the Mini edition seems to eschew that last goal.

I tested Pinguy OS using a live USB made with UnetBootin. I didn't test the installation because, well, it's yet another Ubuntu derivative, and I don't think there's going to be any huge surprises. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After getting past the boot menu, I was greeted by a slick gray Plymouth boot splash, featuring the Pinguy OS logo and a small spinner below it. That quickly led right into the desktop.

YouTube on Mozilla Firefox
Aside from the wallpaper, which is now a pretty bland dark-gray affair featuring the Pinguy OS logo, the desktop is virtually unchanged from version 10.10, which I tested before. I will say that the desktop feels less cluttered than before, both due to the more pleasant wallpaper and due to what appears to be fewer applets on both the top panel and the bottom dock, and that's a very good thing.

Mozilla Firefox, at version 4, is the default browser. It seems to come with most multimedia codecs installed out-of-the-box, which is only to be expected now of Pinguy OS; this also let me confirm that my sound card, wireless card, and volume keyboard shortcuts worked properly. As before, it comes with a bunch of extensions and a somewhat customized theme, but I think now it blends in with the rest of the desktop much better than before and it doesn't look as garish, which is great. Plus, the buttons to access extensions feel better placed than before.

Nautilus Elementary + Gloobus Preview
In an effort to keep the Mini edition ISO file under 700 MB, several programs have been stripped from the live ISO file, including OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice, Cheese Webcam Booth, Ailurus, and several others, The live session is now quite barebones; the only major programs included are, aside from Mozilla Firefox, a few typical GNOME utilities, GNOME MPlayer, a Conky modifier, BleachBit, Ubuntu Software Center, and Ubuntu Tweak. That's a whole lot more lightweight than before, so it's a good thing that it's ridiculously easy to install new programs with Ubuntu Software Center (and only slightly harder with the also-included Synaptic Package Manager). In fact, there's no screenshot utility like Shutter included, so I had to get it myself to take screenshots of the desktop. I also got programs like Cheese Webcam Booth and Skype, and they both recognized my webcam and mic correctly.

Linux Mint Menu + Synaptic Package Manager
Nautilus is of course the default file manager, and it has all the nice Elementary tweaks present, which makes it a whole lot easier to use. Gloobus Preview is also present, which is nice.
Compiz desktop effects worked great out-of-the-box, and they felt a lot faster than in other distributions.
Speaking of speed, although Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini requires no less than 380 MB of RAM at idle, the whole thing feels fast. It feels a lot faster than version 10.10, than Linux Mint 11 "Julia", and than a whole lot of other GNOME distributions that I've tried out. I don't know what the developer has done, but it has surely worked, and I like it a lot.

That's basically where my time with Pinguy OS ended. To summarize, the Mini edition has way fewer applications than before, but it also feels way faster, and the applications present are of course newer. In my comparison of Pinguy OS 10.10 and Linux Mint 10 "Julia" GNOME, I gave victory to Pinguy OS mostly due to its larger feature set out-of-the-box. That said, I did feel that it was more sluggish and not quite as snappy as Linux Mint; since then, I've been thinking that really, Linux Mint should have won that one, and I kind of regret writing that outcome. This time, though, given my gripes with Linux Mint 11 "Katya" GNOME and the blazing speed and polish of Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini, I would probably pick Pinguy OS over Linux Mint without regret; I say this even though Linux Mint has more stuff included than Pinguy OS, because on both distributions it's so easy to install new programs that such things aren't a huge factor anymore. And I think that says something, coming from an unabashed fan of Linux Mint.