Whether you want a light OS to use on unfamiliar PCs, or just want to experience a Linux distro, Puppy is a good choice for a flash drive based system.
Step 1: ISO Recorder
First, you need to burn Puppy's live CD. If you're using Windows XP and don't have advanced CD creation tools, I recommend downloading ISORecorder.
Once you've installed it, you will find a new option "Burn CD Image" in your right-click context menu.
Step 2: Burn CDDownload the puppy .iso and follow ISORecorder's steps in burning a CD Image. Note that ISORecorder for WinXP SP2 cannot image to DVDs, you must use a burnable CD.
Step 3: Change boot sequence
Once you have the live CD, reboot your PC and enter setup [usually F2]. Change the boot sequence to boot your optical drive first:
1. IDE CDROM-Device
2. Hard Disk
Save settings and exit.
Step 4: Reboot into linuxYour PC will now load Puppy's live CD; it will prompt you to define your mouse, keyboard, and video settings. These menus are fairly self explanatory, just follow them and you should be fine.
Step 5: Universal Installer
In the main menu, navigate to Setup>Puppy Universal Installer.
The installer will take you through the steps of installation. When prompted to choose how to install [partition, etc], pick the first option [install to present partition].
Step 6: PartitionIt will likely prompt you to use GParted to partition the drive. Gparted will load on its own- go to Device>Disk Label, then you will be able to format your drive [choose FAT16, as recommended].
Remember to set the Boot Flag on the drive. [Go to Manage Flags> and check Boot.]
Once it has completed, you may close the program- you will automatically return to the Universal Installer.
Step 7: End Linux Session
When Puppy has completed installing to the drive, the CD will likely pop out and you'll be prompted to save your session- choose no.
Step 8: Reboot & Change boot sequence backReboot your computer and enter setup again. Re-instate the HDD as first priority in boot sequence. Then enter Hard Drive Boot Sequence to choose the USB as first priority within your available drives.
1. USB Device
2. System BIOS Boot Devices
Step 9: USB Key CompleteYou should now boot into Puppy automatically upon restart.
There's no need to enter setup each time you wish to switch to Windows; simply reboot without the USB key plugged in, and the system will default to Windows.
Step 10: Resources & Tips
Note that some pen tablets aren't recognized right off the bat- you may want to favor a standard mouse for the setup. If your mouse doesn't work, F12 will pop up the main menu, and ALT + hotkey will allow you to navigate menus.
ISO recorder can be found here: http://isorecorder.alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm
The Linux distro can be found here: http://puppylinux.org/main/index.php?file=Overview%20and%20Getting%20Started.htm