Not enough? The system is expandable, both with official plugins and ones you can roll yourself. In theory any Linux application could be bundled with xPUD, meaning this distribution could turn into your ultimate lightweight toolkit, if you’re willing to put in some work.
Whether you’re booting from a USB key or CD, the first thing you’ll notice is that this distribution starts quickly. When it does, you’re greeted with a simple startup screen:
Here you can connect to the wireless network of your choice, and turn off the system. You’ll also find a clock and your current battery life; neither have a place on a taskbar in xPUD because there is no taskbar.
To the left are four options: “Home”, which represents the main screen above; “Menu”, which lets you pick an application to launch; “File”, which shows you the file browser; and “Setting”, which is self-explanatory.
Click “Menu” and you’ll see what programs you can launch:
By default there’s not much, though that can be changed (keep reading). Launch a program and it will be neatly integrated into the interface:
This kind of integration is pretty slick in my opinion, though those wanting to use up more of their screen real estate need only to move their mouse to the top-right corner. The usual buttons will pop up there, allowing you to maximize the current program.
The “File” menu gives you a quick way to browse the file system, also integrated into the interface. This is very useful if you’re using xPUD as a recovery system.
Finally, there is the “Setting” menu, which allows you to configure the system:
If you need to change your language or network settings this is the place. There’s also a button for installing additional applications, but that didn’t work for me. Don’t worry; it is possible to get more applications working than Firefox!
Like xPUD, but need a bit more software? Don’t worry: there’s an online collection out there already:
As you can see the packages include Dropbox and Open Office, as well as additional drivers for the system. These packages can be integrated with your xPUD system; simply slip them into the “/opt” folder of whatever disk you’re using to boot xPUD from. Note that only 6 such packages can start at boot, though.
You’ll find that these add-ons an quickly make your 64 MB system take up 300 MB or more; Open Office alone is 121 MB. But if you need additional functionality it’s good to know these packages are around. You’ll find the official xPUD extensions and a collection of “testing” extensions.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? If you’re handy with Linux you might consider rolling your own packages; find instructions on the xPUD forums.
Ready to give xPUD a spin? Download xPUD here. You’ll also find instructions on getting it running from a burnt CD, in Virtualbox, or from a USB disk using a custom version of Unetbootin, the easiest way to boot Linux from a USB key.
Overall xPUD is a great example of Linux at its best: lean, lightweight and out of your way. I’m having a lot of fun imagining the possibilities of this distribution and hope you have fun with it too. Let me know of any successful experiments in the comments below.
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