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Primer for Puppy Linux Users

So you are a Puppy Linux user who wants to give Fatdog Linux a try. Welcome to the Fatdog Primer for Puppy Linux Users!

Fatdog is different from Puppy. While many concepts behind both are the same, the commands they each use are different. Some behaviour is also slightly different.

Fatdog was born in 2008→ as a derivative of Puppy Linux. Since then it has has grown to become an independent 64-bit Linux distribution that maintains the Puppy spirit but is not Puppy. Your valuable Puppy knowledge is still valued. However, some of your Puppy tricks are not going to work with Fatdog. Some could even be counterproductive. So, read this help document to avoid some common pitfalls for Puppy users, and enjoy your Fatdog ride.

Document Navigation Tip

This primer is written as a single file with lots of hyperlinks to the details. Due to limitations of the document viewer, hyperlinks can only jump to the top of a linked document – the middle or any other location is not possible. Therefore, we use the following formatting convention; a link label that starts with character “▶” spells out the actual heading of the target section/paragraph you are supposed to read. So, after clicking such a link scroll down to the heading that matches the label then start reading.

The “→” character at the end of a link label indicates an external link.

When we refer you to use the Fatdog64 Control Panel click the flower icon in the desktop panel to start the control panel. Think of Fatdog's Control Panel as Puppy's first-run wizard plus a bunch of other setup and system tools grouped in the following categories: Localisation, Appearance, Display, Sound, Network, Disk, Install, System and Third-party Software Installers (on older Fatdogs, the categories were Localisation, Desktop, Sound, Network, System, Utilities and Updates.)

Getting Started – Possible Issues


Fatdog's boot options differ from Puppy's→: only pkeys and pfix=nox carry over from Puppy to Fatdog. The others either do not apply to Fatdog or have been expanded and renamed to avoid collisions. Some cheatcodes:

The Fatdog ISO includes two initrd files, namely, initrd and initrd-nano. Initrd embeds the Fatdog system SFS file and is huge. Initrd-nano is much smaller for a reason.

If Fatdog boots slowly on your machine (or it does not boot, or the cursor just blinks), boot with initrd-nano and add mergeinitrd1=local:/path/to/initrd to the boot options ▶mergeinitrd{n}. Here's a grub boot entry template for this case.

    title Fatdog
    uuid xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    kernel /fatdog-directory/vmlinuz
    initrd /fatdog-directory/initrd-nano

Fatdog regards any system with less than 2GB RAM a low-RAM system.

If your low-RAM system does not boot or the kernel panics while booting add rootfstype=ramfs to the boot options.

After the kernel boots and before Fatdog kicks in, the system is initialized by Bulldog – in itself a specialized mini-OS that leaves the stage when Fatdog is fully initialized.

If boot fails showing “bulldog login”, and initrd-nano is used, and boot files are located on USB media, add waitdev=5 to the boot options.


Fatdog has many installers! We have BIOS installers, UEFI installers, manual installation steps, contributed scripts on the forum, and so on. Use one of the supported methods to install the system, including for a frugal installation:

The BIOS and UEFI installers can be started from the Fatdog64 Control Panel's Install tab ("Utilities" tab for older Fatdogs):

Note that Fatdog installers do not write an entry in your bootloader's configuration file. We do not because if it fails your whole system will not be bootable. The installer will output a skeleton grub entry that you can cut and paste to your existing grub configuration file. We also provide the following tools to assist you in constructing the correct boot entry:

Installing Your Own Way

If you prefer to use your Puppy and Linux tricks to install Fatdog read the following FAQs first.

Q: I don't trust installers. I already have a boot loader in my disk/USB stick. I install puppies by opening the ISO and copying the files to a subdirectory and editing menu.lst or grub.cfg myself. Can I do that with Fatdog?

A: Sure.

Q: I want to install Fatdog as a full install.

A: It is not supported but it is possible. See ▶Unsupported installation options from previous Fatdog64 versions.

Savefile and Savedir

Fatdog fully supports savefile and savedir, a.k.a. savefolder. To save to a folder make sure to select that option when you go through the savefile creation dialog at the end of your first session.

So you installed Fatdog by copying the ISO to a USB stick with dd and now you can't create a savefile on the USB stick (Fatdog complains about write errors)? This happens because the ISO filesystem is a read-only file system so dd created a read-only partition on the USB stick.

Use fix-usb.sh located in the ISO

You created a savefile and no matter what you do now you can't make Fatdog load it – even if you do specify pmedia, psubdir, pdev1, psavemark, etc. all to no effect?

Fatdog uses different boot codes. Specifying Puppy boot codes is harmless but has no effect.

Use boot option ▶savefile instead to specify the savefile location.

Or use the Savefile Argument Builder in Fatdog64 Control Panel Install ("Utilities" in older Fatdogs).

Or the Fatdog64 Savefile Tool in Fatdog64 Control Panel Install ("System" in older Fatdogs).

Or tell Fatdog to look at directories more deeply with search=2 (2 directories deep) or search=3. By default Fatdog looks at top directories only (1-level deep).

You did the above but Fatdog still can't find the savefile?

If the savefile is on USB add waitdev=5 to the boot options.

You did the above but Fatdog still can't find the savefile?

If you renamed the savefile/savedir away from the default name fd64save.ext4, then you need to use the savefile boot option. See above.

But if you renamed the savefile as fd64save.backup then Fatdog will find it and ask you to load either your backup or the correct savefile. This happens because Fatdog recognises all the names that start with fd64save..

Rename your backup as backup-fd64save.ext4 instead so Fatdog will not recognise it and will load the main savefile.

If none of the above remedies worked, head to the forum and post a help request in the Fatdog sub-forum or support thread.

First-Time Setup

You ask, where is the first-run wizard? How can I setup anything without it?

Use the Fatdog64 Control Panel to configure most aspects of the system. Start the control panel from the Fatdog menu » Setup entry or click the flower icon in the desktop panel.

You can't find how to connect to the Internet. You expected to be greeted by a network connection wizard.

Fatdog has Network Tool a unified tool to establish and manage wireless and wired connections. Puppy's tools SNS, Frisbee and Network Setup are not available.

Network Tool is automatically started and sits in the icon tray all the time. Click its icon to access it. The icon may look like this connected network icon – when no connection is active (no network) – or like this disconnected network icon – when a connection is active.

Network Tool is explained here.

GOTCHA Fatdog64 Control Panel Network includes a Network Setup applet. This is not the Network Tool. It is a different tool with a text-based user interface. It is useful in some special cases but we do not discuss it here.

So, click the Network Tool icon and proceed to configure your wireless and/or wired adapter.

If you plug in a wireless adapter (dongle) after the system has booted, you need to restart the connection before that adapter can be used.

Right-click the network tool icon and select “Restart Connection”.

If your system has two or more wireless adapters use Wireless Antenna to switch between multiple adapters.

Wireless Antenna can be found in Fatdog64 Control Panel Network.

If you have a Broadcom network adapter and in Puppy Linux you have to use the proprietary “wl” driver to connect, it will be the same in Fatdog Linux.

To enable the “wl” driver start Fatdog64 Control Panel, click the System tab, double-click the “Manage Servers and Services” icon to start the Fatdog64 Service Manager; when the Service Manager window opens, scroll down the list to the service named “BC-wl”, click its name to select/highlight its row, and click the “Enable” button, then close the dialog and reboot your system.

Using the System – Possible Issues

SFS Files

If you are looking for:

If you try renaming an existing SFS of yours to adrv.sfs or ydrv.sfs to get it automatically loaded at boot time, it will be ignored.

Load it with the ▶extrasfs boot option or use System SFS Loader started either from the Fatdog64 Control Panel System tab or from a console/terminal shell by entering the command load_sfs.sh.

System SFS Loader is the equivalent of Puppy's SFS Load. Unlike the latter, System SFS Loader does not setup menus, add symbolic links, launch programs automatically, and so on. It just loads/unloads an SFS.

Fatdog supports running an “install script” when an SFS file is loaded. The install script is embedded inside the SFS. Ask on the forum about this feature if you need to use it.

Whether you use boot option extrasfs or you use the System SFS Loader, Fatdog loads all SFS files above the base SFS details. Fatdog's fd64.sfs, the base SFS, is always at the bottom.

By contrast, Puppy loads adrv, ydrv etc. above pup.sfs, the base SFS in Puppy, and all other SFS files below pup.sfs.


Puppy's Package Manager (PPM) is called Gslapt Package Manager in Fatdog. You can find it in Fatdog64 Control Panel System. It taps into the Fatdog package repository allowing you to download and install/uninstall packages and their dependencies.

In the same tab you will also find the SFS Manager, which can be used to download and load various SFS files, including the DEVX, NLS, kernel sources, and many others.

So you can't find the package you need in Fatdog repositories. What are your options?

You can try converting a pet package. This is Puppy's native format. Fatdog's own package format is called txz. To convert a pet package to txz format right-click the pet package icon in ROX-Filer and select “Convert to New Package Format”. This will create a txz package alongside the pet package. Give the conversion process enough time to finish then install the package with right-menu click “Install Package”. There is no guarantee that the converted package will run on Fatdog. Some dependencies could be missing, etc.

You can try converting a deb package. This is Debian's/Ubuntu's native format. After downloading the right package right-click “Convert to Fatdog Package Format”, the rest is the same as the pet package case. To convert a pet package to txz format right-click the pet package icon in ROX-Filer and select “Convert to New Package Format”. There is no guarantee that the converted package will run on Fatdog. Some dependencies could be missing, etc.

Q: I see that Fatdog uses TXZ packages. Will I have more luck using Slackware packages instead?

A: Maybe. Fatdog uses the same TXZ format as Slackware, but it is not a Slackware derivative. It does not re-use Slackware packages. We build all our packages ourselves (with very minor exceptions). Slackware packages are considered as foreign packages, just like Ubuntu's, etc. Slackware packages may work in Fatdog but again, your mileages may vary.

You can try asking the developers or someone on the forum to compile a package for you.

There is a a long thread→ of contributed Fatdog packages in the old Puppy Forum, and a Fatdog Software sub-forum→ in the new Puppy Forum.

Finally, you could compile a package yourself. This is how the 4000+ packages in the Fatdog repository are created. Fatdog uses its own build system called pkgbuild to create reproducible recipes for each package and compile them. Pkgbuild can be found in /usr/src/pkgbuild when the DEVX SFS is loaded.


Fatdog is a true multi-user system, so you can add different user accounts from the Fatdog64 Control Panel. By default Fatdog starts as user root, exactly like Puppy. User spot is the other default user account. Spot is a “restricted” user, who can't change root's or the system's files. By default Fatdog runs most network applications – notably Internet browsers – as user spot. This provides some level of protection from malware but at a small cost. Since spot can't change root's files, a browser running as spot can't download directly into root's folder.

We recommend running network applications as user spot, but provide the flexibility to change them to user root as explained in the above linked page.

To simplify dealing with up/downloads when the browser runs as spot, we use spot's home folder as a sort of in/out basket. Drag a file in/out of that folder from/to the browser poses no access restrictions.

To quickly open spot's home folder press the Windows key, keep it down, and press/release the g key.


Some Puppies have the tapping for the touch pad enabled by default, Fatdog64 does not.

Go to the Fatdog64 Control Panel Display tab ("Desktop" tab on older Fatdogs) and double-click Adjust Touch Pad then enable the tap-to-click check box. touchpad