Category Archives: Stiri IT Externe

Cinnamon Mint for Debian Just as Tasty | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Sep 7, 2018 9:53 AM PT

Cinnamon Mint for Debian Just as Tasty

The official release of version 3 of
Linux Mint Debian Edition hit the download servers at summer’s end, offering a subtle alternative to the distro’s Ubuntu-based counterpart.

Codenamed “Cindy,” the new version of LMDE is based on Debian 9 Stretch and features the Cinnamon desktop environment. Its release creates an unusual situation in the world of Linux distro competition. Linux Mint developers seem to be in competition with themselves.

LMDE is an experimental release. The Linux Mint community offers its flagship distro based on Ubuntu Linux in three desktop versions: Cinnamon, Mate and Xfce.

The Debian version is different under the hood.

For example, the software package base is provided by Debian repositories instead of from Ubuntu repositories. Another difference is the lack of point releases in LMDE. The only application updates between each annual major upgrade are bug and security fixes.

In other words, Debian base packages will stay the same in LMDE 3 until LMDE 4 is released next year. That is a significant difference.

Mint system and desktop components get updated continuously in a semi-rolling release process as opposed to periodic point releases. So newly developed features are pushed directly into LMDE. Those same changes are held for inclusion on the next upcoming Linux Mint (Ubuntu-based) point release.

Using LMDE instead of the regular Linux Mint distro is more cutting edge — but only if you use the Cinnamon desktop. LMDE does not offer versions with Mate and Xfce desktops.

Personal Quest

Linux Mint — as in the well-established Ubuntu-based release — is my primary computing workhorse, mostly thanks to the continuing refinements in the Cinnamon desktop. However, I spend a portion of my weekly computing time using a variety of other Linux distros on a collection of “test bench” desktops and laptops dedicated to my regular Linux distro reviews.

The most critical part of my regular distro hopping is constantly adjusting to the peculiar antics of a host of user interfaces, including GNOME, Mate, KDE Plasma and Xfce. I return to some favorites more than others depending on a distro’s usability. That, of course, is a function of my own preferences and computing style.

So when LMDE 3 became available, I gave in to finding the answer to a question I had avoided since the creation of Linux Mint Debian Edition several years ago. I already knew the issues separating Debian from Ubuntu.

The dilemma: Does Debian-based versus Ubuntu-based Linux Mint really matter?

Linux Mint Debian applications menu

Linux Mint Debian is a near-identical replication of the Ubuntu-based Standard Linux Mint Cinnamon version.

Confusing Scenario

Does a Debian family tree make Linux Mint’s Cinnamon distro better than the Ubuntu-based main version? Given the three desktop options in the Linux Mint distro, does a duplicate Cinnamon desktop choice involving a Debian base instead of an Ubuntu base make more sense?

Consider this: Ubuntu Linux is based on Debian Linux. The Linux Mint distro is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian.

So why does Linux Mint creator and lead developer Clement Lefebvre care about developing a Debian strain of Linux Mint Cinnamon anyway? The Debian distro also offers a Cinnamon desktop option, but no plans exist for other desktop varieties.

Clarifying Clarity

I have found in years of writing software reviews that two factors are critical to how I respond to a particular Linux distribution. One is the underlying infrastructure or base a particular distro uses.

A world of differences can exist when comparing an Arch-based distro to a Debian- or RPM- or Slackware-based distro, for instance — and yes, there are numerous more family categories of Linux distributions.

My second critical factor is the degree of tweaking a developer applies to the chosen desktop environment. That also involves considering the impact of whether the distro is lightweight for speed and simplicity or heavyweight for productivity and better performance.

Some desktop options are little more than window managers like Openbox or Joe’s Window Manager (JWN), IceWM or Fluxbox. Others are shell environments patched over GNOME 3 like Mate and Cinnamon.

Assessing performance gets more involved when a distro offers more than one desktop option. Or when a distro uses a more modern or experimental desktop environment like Enlightenment, Pantheon, LXQt or Budgie.

Reasonable Need

What if the Ubuntu base went away? The Ubuntu community is headed by a commercial parent company, Canonical. The road to Linux development is littered with used-to-be Linux distros left abandoned. Their users had to move on.

When the Ubuntu community years ago made its new Unity desktop the default, Lefebvre created Linux Mint as an alternative and replaced Unity with the infant Cinnamon he helped create. Ironically, the Ubuntu community recently jettisoned Unity and replaced it with the GNOME desktop.

In Lefebvre’s release notes for LMDE 3, he noted the development team’s main goal was to see how viable the Linux Mint distribution would be and how much work would be necessary if Ubuntu ever should disappear.

Same Difference Maybe

The challenge is to make LMDE as similar as possible to Linux Mint without using Ubuntu. I am not a programmer, but it seems to me that what Lefebvre has been doing is make square pegs fit into round holes.

It seems to be working. Debian, Linux Mint and Ubuntu all hail from the Debian repositories. Ubuntu also is derived from Debian. However, the base editions are different.

The main difference between editions, Lefebvre explained, is that the standard edition may have a desktop application for some features. To get the same features in LMDE, users might have to compensate by altering a configuration file using a text editor.

So far, that makes LMDE less polished than the standard (Ubuntu-based) edition, just as Debian tends to be less polished on the first bootup than Ubuntu, he suggested.

His point is well taken. Linux Mint modifies the base integration to create a better user experience. That is why years ago, as an Ubuntu user, I crossed over to Linux Mint. It also bolsters what I previously said about my two essential factors in reviewing Linux distros.

From Lefebvre’s view, LMDE likely is a smarter choice over the Ubuntu-based version for users who prioritize stability and security. Users looking for more recent packages likely will be less satisfied with LMDE 3. Despite the more rigorous updates, some packages on LMDE could be several years old by the time the next release comes out.

Linux Mint Debian screen shot

Some software package delays and other minor differences lie under the surface of the Debian edition of Linux Mint, but you will look long and hard to find them.

First Impressions

“Cindy” installed and ran without issue. Its iteration of the Cinnamon desktop displayed and performed like its near-twin from the Ubuntu family. That was a pleasant surprise that reinforced my longstanding reliance on the Cinnamon desktop over other options.

To say that the Cindy release *just works* is an understatement. The menus and configuration settings are the same. The panel bar is an exact replica in terms of its appearance and functionality. The hot corners work the same way in both versions. So do the applets and desklets that I have grown so fond of over the years.

Even the Software Center remains the same. Of course, the location of the repositories points to different locations, but the same package delivery system underlies both LMDE 3 and the Ubuntu-based Tara version of Linux Mint Cinnamon.

My only gripe with functionality centers on the useless extensions. I hoped that the experience with Cindy would transcend the longstanding failure of extensions in the Ubuntu-based Cinnamon desktop. It didn’t.

Almost every extension I tried issued a warning that the extension was not compatible with the current version of the desktop. So in one way at least, the Debian and the Ubuntu versions remain in sync. Neither works — and yes, both Cinnamon versions were the current 3.8.8.

Other Observations

I was disappointed to see LibreOffice 5 preinstalled rather than the current LibreOffice 6.1. Cindy has both Ubiquity and Calamares installers.

I suggest using the Calamares installer. It has a great disk partitioning tool and a more efficient automated installation process. For newcomers, the Linux Mint installer is easier to use, though.

As for the kernel, the Cindy version is a bit behind the times. It ships with kernel version 4.9.0-8; my regular Linux Mint distro is updated to 4.15-0-33.

Also consider the basic hardware requirements for LMDE. They might not be as accommodating as the Ubuntu version of Linux Mint Cinnamon.

You will need at least 1 GB RAM, although 2 GB is recommended for a comfortable fit. Also, 15 GB of disk space is the minimum, although 20 GB is recommended.

Here are some additional potential limitations for your hardware:

  • The 64-bit ISO can boot with BIOS or UEFI;
  • The 32-bit ISO can only boot with BIOS;
  • The 64-bit ISO is recommended for all computers sold since 2007 as they are equipped with 64-bit processors.

Bottom Line

If you are considering taking Cindy for a joyride, be sure to check out the release notes for known issues. Also, thoroughly test the live session before installing LMDE 3 to any mission-critical computers.

If you do follow through and install the Debian version of Linux Mint, consider the move a short-term computing solution — that is, unless you like doing a complete system upgrade. LMDE is not a long-term support release.

Unlike the five-year support for the regular LTS release with the Ubuntu-based version, Cindy’s support runs out perhaps at the end of this year. The developers cannot project an exact release schedule for LMDE 4, either.

Lefebvre warned that several potential compatibility issues loom in the near future. For example, Cinnamon 4.0 is likely to be incompatible with Debian Stretch. A contemplated change in the Meson build system may get in the way as well.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Released » Linux Magazine

The Linux Mint project has announced the release of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 3. What’s the need for LMDE, when there is already Ubuntu-based Linux Mint? Isn’t it waste of resources? Not really. LMDE has been created as a back-up for Ubuntu-based Linux Mint in anthe event when Ubuntu ceases to exist.

“Its main goal is for the Linux Mint team to see how viable our distribution would be and how much work would be necessary if Ubuntu was ever to disappear,” according to the project.

Since the Linux Mint community controls the UI of Linux Mint (Cinnamon), LMDE creates an experience almost similar to Linux Mint, minus the Ubuntu base. LMDE 3 (Cindy) is based on Debian 9 (Stretch).

In fact, LMDE could be the best distribution to use stock Debian with some fine-tuning. SinceBecause Debian is supported for a long time and there are no time-based releases, LMDE follows the same cadence. According to the project, there are no point releases in LMDE.

Those users who are running LMDE 2 can easily upgrade to LMDE 3. LMDE 3 comes in two versions – 32 bit and 64 bit. You can download LMDE 3 from the official page:


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A New Business Model for Open Source Projects » Linux Magazine

Storj is a fully open source and decentralized storage solution that brings an Airbnb-like business model to users withwho have extra storage and bandwidth. At the Open Source Summit North America, Storj announced a new program that extends the revenue generation model to open source projects.

The newly announced Open Source Partner Program enables open source projects to generate revenue every time their users store data in the cloud.

“Our Open Source Partner Program will help open source companies to remain open and free and invest in growth,” said Storj CEO Ben Golub.

The program can in fact be a boon for those open source projects whothat are often constrained by budget.

“It will also enable them to achieve more within their budgets, supporting them in becoming profitable, accelerating roadmaps, or meeting other financial-related goals,” Golub added.

Storj tracks usage on the network and returns a significant portion of the revenue earned when data from an open source project is stored on the platform.

Ten new open source players are joining Storj and integrating it with their products. These projects include Confluent, Couchbase, FileZilla, InfluxData, MariaDB, Minio, MongoDB, Nextcloud, Pydio, and Zenko.

On a side note, if you have extra storage and networking bandwidth, you can also join Storj as an individual.


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Enlightenment Has Limits in Bodhi Linux | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Aug 30, 2018 10:23 AM PT

Enlightenment Has Limits in Bodhi Linux

Bodhi Linux is an alternative to traditional Linux OSes that can change your desktop user experience.

It is one of a very few Linux distros using
Moksha, a forked version of the Enlightenment desktop.

Enlightenment is a Compositing Window Manager and Desktop Shell. It is radically different from other lightweight interface shells such as Xfce and LXDE. Its roots go back to 1996, when it started out as a project to build a Window Manager for X11. That project has started to transition to

It also evolved to handle mobile, wearable and tv user interface requirements. It is still viable in
Tizen, the Android offshoot platform.

Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 desktop design

Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 is a lightweight OS with a future-leaning desktop design.

The Bodhi community forked Enlightenment 17 several years ago in response to the lack of developmental progress from the
Enlightenment project.

The E19 (Enlightenment 19) release is relatively heavy and not suitable for older hardware, according to Bodhi developers. That gave rise to Moksha, actively maintained and updated with the latest Enlightenment libraries.

Bodhi is highly modular, with high levels of customization and choice of themes. This latest release brings a post-modern look and updated Ubuntu core (18.04) Bionic Beaver to the fast desktop.

The current Moksha desktop displays refinements over earlier releases. For example, it has a new default wallpaper, new themes for the login and boot sequence, and a Bodhi-branded version of the popular Arc GTK theme.

Enlightened Development

Moksha is very customizable. It has many features and options that contribute to its futuristic design and innovative desktop UI.

This gives the forked Enlightenment desktop an advantage over traditional Lightweight Linux desktops compared to choices such as GNOME, Cinnamon and KDE Plasma. While the Moksha desktop is light on resources, it has a modern look.

When creator Jeff Hoogland launched the Bodhi OS seven years ago, the distro used Enlightenment. In fact, the name “Bodhi” in Sanskrit means “enlightened” or “the one with sense.”

Hence, its developers called Bodhi “the Enlightened Linux Distribution.” That moniker stuck. The community earlier this month released Bodhi Linux 5.0 as the fifth major release of the distro.

Consistent Affair

This is my fourth review of Bodhi in its seven-year growing cycle. From my earliest hands-on assessment, Bodhi piqued my interest. It was different and surprisingly agile for a lightweight desktop. Even in its infancy, it impressed me.

The developers pushed the original concept to be more than impressive. The change in direction turned Moksha into a more functional desktop environment than the original Enlightenment release. Moksha was more adaptable to home use or office computing without a dumbed-down user interface.

Considering Bodhi’s limited developmental releases, you would expect considerable changes with each major release. However, version 5.0.0 lacks a lengthy change log, which Hoogland points out in his release notes. That is especially the case for updates to the Moksha desktop.

That results from the consistent stability the developers built into the Bodhi platform. Bodhi has been stable and well-performing for the last few releases. Other than the under-the-hood upgrades supplied from the Ubuntu 18.04 base, changes in this latest Bodhi release are design elements that improve its aesthetics.

Packaged Design

The Enlightened Linux distro takes a minimalist approach to computing. It does not give users an overstuffed collection of software that they will never use. Instead, it offers a modular architecture. Out of the box, the basic computing tools are present.

Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 desktop menus

Bodhi follows a minimalist software philosophy to keep down software bloat. It does this perhaps to the point of overkill.

What does not come bundled with the installation ISO, you can add from the Bodhi repository or the Synaptic Package Manager. If you do not like a particular look out of the box, you can change it easily.

Bodhi comes in three flavors for the one-desktop distro. All three choices maintain the minimalist design. The options are Standard Release, Legacy Release and AppPack Release.

Typically, you get essential software only out of the box. These include a terminal, Web browser, text editor, and the PCManFM file manager.

Mainly Minimal

The Standard Edition is geared toward typical 64-bit desktop, laptop and workstation computers, but it is extremely minimalist by design. The software and theme options are very limited. So be prepared to do a lot of package installing to suit your computing needs.

The Legacy Edition works on older 32-bit hardware. The Legacy ISO image gives you an older Linux kernel optimized for hardware that is 15 or more years old. This kernel lacks the PAE extension, which is not supported on many older systems. The software and theme limitations are bare bones, just like the 64-bit Standard Edition.

The AppPack Edition is the most complete of the three options. You can use it as a full-featured live CD or base install. It comes with additional themes and applications installed by default.

The range of software and theme choices is still strictly minimal. The goal is to keep the software bloat as low as possible. If you do more than surf the Web with a browser, use email and handle light office tasks, you will be installing your must-have packages.

How Modular Design Works

Bodhi Linux has system tray icons. That element is fairly standard. With Moksha, they’re gadgets and modules.

Gadgets are small applications that either provide system information or perform a specific action. Gadgets are highly configurable by right-clicking the gadget on the screen.

Modules are the traditional icons. Gadgets are more like a mini control center. You can monitor a lot of things, including screen brightness, system temperature and CPU speed. A gadget inventory is provided, but most are not loaded by default to keep Bodhi Linux as lightweight as possible.

Shelves house gadgets. The desktop structure allows more than one shelf on a desktop, so you can have different shelves on different virtual desktops.

This arrangement is similar to the Activities feature in KDE Plasma and GNOME. Each shelf can house its own unique set of gadgets and application launchers.

You can locate shelves at the middle or a corner of any screen edge. This lets you get better use out of different size display screens.

To configure shelves, right-click them and choose Shelf > Settings from the context menu. You can set stacking, Position, Size and more. You can locate shelves on a specific virtual desktop or on all desktops.

The Plus Factor

This is where the iBar gadget comes into play. It is an application dock that houses launchers for frequently used applications. It also tracks them with a small orange dot.

Bodhi’s iBar does what a traditional panel bar does plus a bit more. It serves as a dock for running applications. It also can be a very useful tool.

Hover the mouse over one of these marked icons to reveal its launch menu. Other options show a thumbnail of the application and its title bar label.

If more than one instance of an application has been launched, both will appear in this menu. Click on one of these to bring its window into focus.

Also, you can use it to restore a minimized window, or windows hidden behind another app.

Getting Personal

Another desktop feature not found elsewhere is the Personal Application Launcher for desktop files that you create yourself. They are hidden files stored in your Home directory at .local/share/applications. These folder names begin with a period. To see them, open the file manager and press Ctrl+H.

Personal Application launchers are very useful. You can create specialized on/off switches to make various desktop functions available with a single click.

They also are handy for launching a command line application without having to open a terminal manually and enter the command phrase. It is easy to learn the pattern for writing your personalized launchers. Open application launchers come bundled in the installation at /usr/share/applications in a text editor.

Many applications are launched with an argument, often %U or %f. These two arguments control the number of files that can be passed to the application. For instance, %f opens 1 file. %U opens multiple files.

Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 Quick Launcher App

Bodhi’s Quick Launcher app is a standalone menu that supplements the main menu. It provides a search window that speeds up finding apps and files.

Enlightened Highlights

One of Bodhi’s more useful user interface traits is the left-click feature anywhere on the desktop that pops up the menu. It is very convenient. A more traditional menu button is also present on the Bodhi panel bar.

This bar can be on any edge of the screen. Right-clicking on the panel opens configuration settings. The orientation setting provides a list of placement options for the panel bar.

In addition to standard key bindings for keyboard shortcuts, Bodhi Linux has an extensive edge binding setting. You can set up to eight edge bindings. You can select a desired behavior or desktop action for each edge location.

That makes one “pointer gesture” for each edge and one for each corner. By default no edge bindings are set. Find the setting in Main menu > Settings > Settings Panel > Input > Edge Bindings.

Disappointing System Tools

Bodhi’s AppCenter is one of my biggest disappointments with this distro. It is not uncommon for a smaller or newer Linux distro to forgo its own applications repository in favor of more general purposes software warehouses using the Synaptic Package Manager.

Given the developer’s fervor for minimalizing software to avoid application bloat, more emphasis should be placed on providing meaningful software. The AppCenter does not rise to this task.

You Add/remove Bodhi-specific packages with the AppCenter. This is a Web-based software installation tool. When you open the supposed software application, Bodhi loads the lightweight default Midori Web browser to install applications directly from the Bodhi Linux AppCenter.

That repository resembles a fire sale two days after closing, so you must do most serious application installing through the Synaptic application.

The Enlightenment File Manager (EFM) is tweaked to work within Bodhi Linux to add files and launchers to the desktop by moving the desired files and launchers into the desktop folder located in the home directory. You can opt out of displaying desktop icons at Main Menu>Settings>All>Files>File Manager under the Display tab.

You can add other file managers and designate other default applications for more traditional functionality. Go to Main Menu/Settings/All/Apps/Default Applications.

More Woeful Basics

You face a similar tradeoff in handling basic system maintenance. The eepdater app updates the system components. Despite its listing in the main menu under Applications > System Tools as System Updater, it merely launches a rebranded terminal window to automate the Command Line Interface commands with the esudo app.

Basically, the esudo app is pretty much like gksudo of GNOME or kdesudo of the KDE Plasma desktop. Like the AppCenter, the eepdater app is not a standalone application to update the system.

Even the Swami Control Panel leaves oh so much to wish for as a really functional system settings tool. Swami only has a few categories in its control panel. In order to gain access to other system settings, you must return to the System Settings portion of the skimpy main menu to hunt around for other options.

Considering that the UI should be more intuitive within the “enlightenment” design, all of this easily creates a sense of confusion. One such “other” control panel is the Everything application. It seems that what is not controlled in other configuration panels may be covered with the Everything app.

One of the more confusing aspects of Bodhi Linux is the appearance of seemingly new things that are little more than a naming game. They are not new features that do not exist in other distros — only their names are different.

For instance, Terminology is the terminal application for entering command Line Instructions. It is more user-friendly, however, with some handy menus.

Bottom Line

Bodhi Linux is elegant and lightweight. It is worth putting this distro through its paces. It will not please every power user, but it offers a nice change of pace.

This distro can be a productive and efficient computing platform. Bodhi is very easy to use. It has a low learning curve. New Linux users can get acquainted right away.

Bodhi’s minimum system requirements are a 500mhz processor with 256 MB of RAM and 5 GB of drive space. You will get better performance from a computer with a 1.0ghz processor powered by 512 MB of RAM and 10 GB of drive space.

The installation routine is driven by the Ubiquity Installer. No surprise there since Bodhi is based on Ubuntu Linux.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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Quirky Linux: Pleasingly Peculiar | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Aug 23, 2018 5:00 AM PT

Quirky Linux: Pleasingly Peculiar

Quirky Linux is a classic example of what makes Linux such a varied and useful operating system.

Puppy Linux developer Barry Kauler earlier this month released Quirky Xerus 64 version 8.6, which comes packed with the latest innovations for doing Linux stuff differently.

This latest in the “Xerus” series is a must-try if you like to push your computing experience envelope. It offers a slightly different approach to blending a traditional Linux desktop with the latest in usability options.

Quirky Xerus64 Welcome screen

Quirky Xerus64 is a far stretch from the look and feel of Windows 10. Its Welcome screen simplifies desktop setup.

Quirky is related to the Puppy Linux family of distros, but it is not a mainline Puppy Linux release. Rather, it is a distinct distro in its own right. Its website is minimalist, but you can search out technical support for Quirky in the Puppy Linux forums.

Version 8.6 is an incremental release with package upgrades and architectural improvements, including the Linux kernel 4.14.63. One of its newest tricks is providing support for file sharing with an Android phone via the EasyShare network file and printer sharing tool.

I am a long-time Puppy Linux fan. I’ve relied on it for years as a pocket Linux tool. Quirky goes several steps further with innovations for enhanced productivity.

Quirky Xerus64 tools

The main menu in Quirky Linux is stuffed with many of the tools and applications found in its cousin distro, Puppy Linux.

Different Strokes

Kauler forked Puppy Linux into Quirky Linux back in 2009 in order to explore new concepts. He had stepped down as Puppy Linux’s lead developer a few years earlier, only to return with a new dogpound of ideas in the Quirky distro offshoot.

Quirky is binary-compatible with x86_64 Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS. Otherwise, it is nothing at all like Ubuntu. It is architecturally very different.

Quirky is an experimental distribution that boots from a USB stick or CD and runs in system RAM for lightning-fast performance. Like its Puppy cousin, Quirky is a lightweight distro that provides a powerhouse of features and usability.

It looks like a Puppy Linux clone, but Quirky Linux follows a different path than its Puppy distro cousin. Quirky Xerus explores some new ideas while continuing the Puppy Linux tradition of providing a full suite of optimized applications, drivers and utilities in a very small size.

Common Ground

Quirky Linux’s desktop structure and appearance are similar to Puppy Linux.

Under the hood, Quirky is much different than Puppy, but its applications, utilities and user interface indicate a strong connection to Puppy.

Quirky uses Joe’s Window Manager for its desktop environment. JWM is a more compact desktop interface than found in GNOME or Xfce or LXDE. Both distros are designed to run on legacy, low-powered desktops and laptops.

However, Kauler did not stop at lightweight. He shoehorned lots of heavyweight performance into Quirky. For instance, he succeeded in weeding out typical lightweight applications in favor of full-featured heavyweights like GIMP and LibreOffice.

Puppy Linux is not meant to be fully installed on a hard drive. It lets you do a partial or frugal hard drive installation. That is where the persistent storage comes from by using a special personal savings file on the hard disk or a 2-GB USB stick.

Quirky Linux is sort of structured to function in reverse. It is designed to be fully installed. However, it does not have to be. You can run it from a CD or USB drive and maintain configuration updates for a pocket Linux system with a setup option.

If you are really adventurous and your hardware supports an SD card, you also can run Quirky from that storage device.

Strangely Functional

Quirky Linux is aptly named. It is peculiar compared to whatever operating system you use. Still, it has traditional panel bars, familiar-looking menus, and lots of configuration options.

Quirky Xerus64 main control panel

Quirky Linux is configured from a main control panel and many menu tools. You can access the menu from the button on the left of the panel bar or by right-clicking on the desktop.

I have a long satisfying history with Puppy Linux. I started using it a decade ago on a USB drive when I traveled around frequently and was working on banks of Windows boxes in whatever office I visited.

So Quirky Linux fits right into my computing routines. It offers the next generation of portable Linux power and productivity. It takes the Puppy Linux concept to the next level. That familiarity makes working with Quirky a comfy experience.

What’s Inside

Quirky is not a dumbed-down Linux distro crammed onto a USB drive. It comes complete with a full set of kernel, printing, scanning and camera drivers. It has an ample supply of multimedia libraries. The Adobe Flash player is included as an optional installation. Quirky offers a quick install option of some common programs.

Quirky also does not skimp on applications. It includes a full suite of top-rated programs. The current release sheds some of the earlier software baggage such as Ami Word and Gnumeric spreadsheet.

Instead, you get the LibreOffice 5 office suite and lots more business and multimedia software headliners. The default Web browser is SeaMonkey version 2.49.4, but other choices are available in the PETget Package Manager.

Also included are Leafpad text editor and Geany IDE/editor. Other standard apps are ROX-filer file manager, the MPlayer media player and CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) support for printing. Overall, the software available through the Quirky repository will handle most, if not all, of the typical user’s needs.

Look and Feel

If you are familiar with Puppy Linux, you will be right at home running Quirky Linux. If you know any of the Ubuntu Linux desktop flavors, you will need some time moving in and getting cozy with Quirky.

The menu is nearly overwhelming. The categories are stuffed with applications that appear foreign. You will recognize some classic software titles. Mostly, though, you will have to click around to see what the Puppy/Quirky titles do.

Like Puppy Linux variants, Quirky’s software format is the Pet file structure. The Pet repository has its unique characteristics. It gives you access to numerous Ubuntu software warehouses, but those applications are packaged in the Pet format.

As is typical for lightweight desktops, the JWN environment is bereft of glitz, glitter and animations. But the speed and the range of functionality will impress you.

Quirky Xerus64 background images

Quirky Linux has only a few background images. Its Qwallpaper switcher app lacks a random or timed display function.

Using Quirky

I last reviewed Quirky Linux in January of 2014. I was pleased with its performance then, but it didn’t displace my well-worn earlier version of Puppy Linux installed on a USB drive.

Quirky Linux succeeded this time around in replacing that well-worn Puppy distro. After testing this latest release, it was an easy decision to keep using it rather than process an upgraded installation of a more recent Puppy Linux release.

Being familiar with how Quirky operates, I was more concerned with newly developed differences Quirky Xerus 8.6 displayed in setting up and running its various options for full and partial operation. One of its chief advantages is using it as a live session OS with the ability to maintain persistent memory easily.

Installing an OS to a USB stick is a potential dogfight. The variables involve both the application that burns the system to the USB drive and the quality of the USB drive itself. The drive’s transfer speed is a factor in how well Quirky on a Stick performs.

Choices and Workarounds

As I expected, Quirky booted up from CD without any issues. However, running the OS from CD (or DVD) involves a long waiting period for the code to transfer to system RAM.

You can continue to run Quirky from the CD if you are satisfied with the default settings and software. Or you can click the SAVE button on the desktop to store your configuration settings and software updates in a special file anywhere you wish on the hard drive.

This approach gives you a computing solution that amounts to a live session on steroids. This method is a great way to run a first-class Linux OS on your Windows computer in a dual-boot setting without the hard drive partitioning issues.

From the live session startup, you can click the INSTALL button on the desktop to do a full installation of Quirky Linux to a hard drive. Do you have an external USB hard drive hanging around? Use that and take the full installation to any computer, but plug it into the external drive.

Be prepared for some troubleshooting if you opt for the USB stick installation method. You might have to try several different USB devices. It seems that the installation process for Quirky Linux can be a bit quirky.

Making It Work

The developer provides detailed
instructions for installing Quirky Linux to a USB stick as well as other storage options.

One of the tools for installing Quirky to a USB stick is the dd utility — but that did not work well. Neither did a few other tools.

What did work was doing the installation from the running live session using the Setup option in the main menu. I clicked on the Easy DD Frontend for dd tool and had Quirky installed on an 8-GB (recommended minimum size) USB thumb drive.

It is much easier — and apparently more effective with Quirky Linux — than using the dd commands in a console window. The application asked me to click on the location to the image file and then click on the location of the USB drive getting the installation.

It is a long process — it took 30 minutes — but it worked.

Bottom Line

Get Quirky Linux here. You have two choices. One is the standard ISO to burn to CD. The other is the gz archived package used for installing Quirky Linux to a USB drive.

Quirky Linux is not a distro that meets everyone’s computing needs. Unlike other distros, such as Linux Mint or Zorin, Quirky Linux does not have the look and feel of a Windows desktop.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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