PinguyOS 12.04 Review

This time of year is always an exciting time in the Linux world. This is because Ubuntu release a new version of their operating system and then, shortly after, the numerous Ubuntu based Linux distributions out there also release a new version. PinguyOS is one such distribution and in this article I will be reviewing it.

For those of you that don’t know PinguyOS, it is an Ubuntu derivative that is very much aimed at users that are new to Linux and Windows/Mac migrants. It has a lot of extra applications installed by default, for just about everything you can think of. This is so new users don’t have to find the best applications for most jobs – everything just works, right out the box. This isn’t my first experience of PinguyOS, I am actually a moderator on the PinguyOS forums and I am also the creator the new PinguyOS website.

The first thing you notice when you boot up into PinguyOS is that the default desktop is very busy. With gnome-shell as the basis, it has extras such as two docky bars, conky (the system information menu to the right of the screen), cardapio and numerous icons in the top panel. Personally I like a minimal looking desktop so for me this has just too much going on – but it’s nothing that can’t be easily changed in around 10 minutes flat.

PinguyOS 12.04 Default Desktop

PinguyOS 12.04 desktop after 5 minutes work


I ran PinguyOS 12.04 in live mode from a 16GB USB stick. Loading up the OS was surprisingly quick for something running from a USB pen. However, I did find that there were numerous crashes and problems whilst running it live. Every now and then the system would completely lock up for a couple of seconds – very annoying after a while. This was all probably due to the fact that I am running it in live mode as I haven’t seen any evidence of this problem in the PinguyOS forums.

PinguyOS is quite system heavy. The laptop I am using this on is pretty powerful with 6GB RAM, I currently only have Firefox (1 tab), Shutter & Chromium (3 tabs) running and conky is currently showing as having 745MB RAM in use, which is a lot! This number also seems to be steadily climbing. So maybe PinguyOS 12.04 isn’t the best if you have an old or poorly specced machine.

I’ve made no secret about the fact that I think Gnome-Shell is a horrendous piece of software; but PinguyOS makes Gnome-Shell usable for me. So if I can bear it then I’m sure that most people who like Gnome-Shell or are indifferent will really like the experience. One thing that I didn’t like was the fact that the super key (windows key) wasn’t bound to Cardapio. So, when I pressed it I got an extremely striped down Gnome-Shell interface asking me to search for applications. To me this is a waste as it completely bypasses the function that Cardapio was designed for – being a ‘start menu’.

PinguyOS 12.04 Cardapio


I briefly touched on the fact earlier that PinguyOS comes with a tonne of extra applications by default. Some of the applications installed out of the box are as follows – Firefox, Thunderbird, XChat IRC, VLC, Shutter, Clementine, Dropbox, Ubuntu One, Docky, PlayOnLinux, Cardapio, LibreOffice…plus a many, many more. Basically, it will do pretty much anything you need it to do right out of the box. It’s even configured to work with Lightscribe drives!

For some reason, most of people think that a lot of applications means more system resources used. This is wrong, PinguyOS will require more storage space on your hard drive (around 6GB) but that’s it – an application will only use system resources like RAM and CPU when they are being used. If applications are not open then they just sit there doing nothing. So don’t think that you will need a powerhouse computer to run PinguyOS. Any decent CPU (pentium 3.0GHz or above) and at least 2GB RAM will have no problems with PinguyOS.

One thing that does really annoy me about PinguyOS is the sheer amount of Firefox plugins that are installed by default. I have just counted a whopping 18 extensions running in Firefox – this may be why I’m using so much RAM in my live session. Personally, I use Chrome/Chromium with only 2 extensions - LastPass & FTP so I think that 18 extensions is far too many and are probably not required.

Some of the PinguyOS Firefox Extensions

Overall Look & Feel

PinguyOS 12.04 is extremely polished. The default theme is the Elementary theme and Blue icons. This Grey/Blue theme is continued throughout the OS and looks brilliant. The default wallpaper (shown above) also looks great. Ubuntu is getting better at theming it’s default desktop to make it look good, but I still do some tweaks to make it look more appealing to me – on PinguyOS 12.04 you don’t have to do this. It simply looks awesome straight out of the box.

PinguyOS 12.04 does also come with some other themes installed by default that all work really well with the default Grey/Blue colour scheme. These can be managed via ‘Advanced Settings’ again, installed by default.

Default Look Of PinguyOS 12.04


Overall PinguyOS 12.04 is a great Operating System that will do everything you need from an OS and more, with little or no effort. So if you’re thinking about moving over to the Linux community or if you want to jump ship from Windows because of the impending doom that is Windows 8 then you should take a look at PinguyOS 12.04. For me personally, I loath Gnome-Shell so even though PinguyOS make it bearable for me, I still prefer Unity for now.

If you want to find out more about PinguyOS 12.04 or to download, check out the buttons below. Do you use PinguyOS 12.04? Let us know what you think about it in the comments section.

PinguyOS Home Page Download PinguyOS 12.04
PinguyOS 12.04 Review
User Rating: 5 (1 votes)
  • FatGiant

    Nice review Kev.

    I use PinguyOS exclusively for the last 2 years, and I am quite happy with it.

  • Erik Wasmund

    Good review.

    On my 12.04 install the right super key brings up the Menu whereas the left super key brings up the activities window. I’m not sure if that was the default behavior or if I enabled an extension for that functionality.

    There are a few bugs and glitches that need to be ironed out before I completely replace Pinguy 11.04 with this release.

    I felt the same as you do about Gnome-shell until recently. I am starting to become more accustomed to it. I’m not sure if I like it yet, but giving it a fair shake.

  • Abhishek Prakash

    Nice review..

    Glad to know that you are an active volunteer of PinguyOS..

  • shadowguy14

    It’s funny how I love Gnome. I don’t hate Unity, it just doesn’t work for me.
    Nice review. I’m using it now, but you’re right, this does take up a lot of resources (according to Conky). I might go back to Peppermint OS

  • Stephen

    Nice review. I like the changes you made in 5 minutes. Can you maybe write a post about these changes, and how it can be replicated. Thanks

    • Kev Quirk

      Glad you like it Stephen, here is what I did:

      1) Changed the conky layout to ‘grey’ using the conky application included in PinguyOS

      2) Deleted the left hand panel and added the “bookmarks” plugin to the bottom docky panel (click on anchor > settings)

      3) Within the same settings window for Docky, I changed the theme to transparent.

      4) Deleted the desktop icons.

      That’s it really – all very simple changes :)

  • David

    the pager sometimes gives me 2 virtual desktops then only gives me 1, and sometimes when I have opened a program it has disappeared. I think perhaps it went to the desktop that the pager wasn’t showing at the time. The art work is fabulous though. Yahoo was the only search engine I could get to work well but perhaps its just some glitch in the internet or my service provider. It is the closest thing to a mint distro out there and it is impressive. Perhaps some cinnamon settings could be added? I like the pager better in cinnamon but I prefer kpager in kde due to the ability to install separate widgets and wall papers. It would be nice to be able to add some pics to the scrolling backgrounds of pinguy making it a bit more configurable to taste. I wish that someone would come up with easy ways to change the login music with bits from out of copy right classic music things to lift one’s mood, but again, the art in pinquy backgrounds is incredible and very artistic.

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  • Greg Styles

    I am using it right now. Has a Mac look with the Docky bars at bottom and side , it can see my Windows partitions and scans, prints, and connects to network flawlessly. Have used Knoppix up till now this feels better to use. Amazing that its free !

  • Barrie

    I have recently taken the plunge and installed Pinguy as my main machine with Windows 8 available on a dual boot only for my gaming needs and occasional use of my elderly scanner.

    I replaced Docky with Avant but that was my only alteration to the desktop; I really like Webilder selecting and changing my Wallpaper.

    It is a little resource hungry but what is the point of resources if you begrudge having to use them?

    I have tried a number of distros over the years but this one is the one I keep coming back to; I really did not like the latest Ubuntu or Mint but Sabayon & Zorin have their good points but Pinguy with its leanings towards media consumption was the one which suited me best.

    No regrets from me on this choice!

    • Kev Quirk

      Pinguy is a great distro, the polish and default apps are very good. Like you say, it’s “resource heavy” but most machines will more than cope with this nowadays.