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Improving Surfer tiny web browser

August 01, 2017 — BarryK
Surfer is a web browser, see project home:

The chap who created Surfer, many years ago created version 0.0.7 which worked with libgtkhtml, forming a very tiny HTML viewer.

This tiny version has been in many pups (Puppy Linux and derivatives) as the internal HTML documentation viewer.

Tiny, which is great, very useful just to look at local HTML files, but there is one major problem -- libgtkhtml supports HTML4 and some CSS, there is no support for javascript.
Consequently, web pages on the Internet cannot be reliably displayed, and in many cases will crash Surfer.

What is needed is for Surfer to treat Internet links in local web pages as a special case, and launch "defaultbrowser" (which is the main browser, ex SeaMonkey).

I looked at the source code, and it wasn't obvious how to do that, so I posted the question to the Puppy Forum:

Fantastic, forum member SFR has created a patch!


Innostor fast and cheap USB3 flash sticks

July 31, 2017 — BarryK
I posted a couple of days ago about a 16GB USB3 Flash drive that I purchased for AU$7, that turned out to be very fast:

My memory is that it was purchased at Kmart, I think at least a few months ago, maybe more.

Anyway, I found another one, this time only 8GB, and in Woolworths, on sale for AU$5. Some photos:

...that AU$2 was just at one store in NSW, over a year ago.

Anyway, my new Hub 8GB USB3 stick identifies itself as "IS917 innostor" and here is my write speed test, to a fat32 filesystem:
# sync

# echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/sdc1/dummyfile bs=1M count=1024 conv=fdatasync oflag=direct
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB, 1.0 GiB) copied, 64.0743 s, 16.8 MB/s

...pretty good, especially when I recall my Emtec drive purchased yesterday from BigW, at only 1.6MB/sec -- and they cost about AU$7 each.

Here is more info on the is917 innostor chip:


Quirky Xerus64 8.3 final

July 29, 2017 — BarryK
Quirky 8.2 was released only 10 days ago:

Version 8.3 was intended to be a bug-fix upgrade from 8.2, however, in the short interval of 10 days, the development has been very intense, and 8.3 has turned out to be somewhat more than just a "bug fix" release.

Announcement blurb:
Quirky Linux 8.3 x86_64 is codenamed "Xerus" and is built using the woofQ Quirky Linux build system, with the help of Ubuntu 16.04.2 binary packages. Thus, Xerus has compatibility with all of the Ubuntu repositories.
Quirky is a fork of Puppy Linux, and is mainly differentiated by being a "full installation" only, with special snapshot and recovery features, and Service Pack upgrades, though recently there is limited support for live-CD session-saving and "frugal" installation.
Version 8.3 has many architectural improvements and package upgrades, including new packages JWMDesk, UrxvtControl, Take-a-Shot, SQLIteManager, MRUF-lst and Pmcputemp. Among architectural improvements, the overlay filesystem has been dumped in favour of aufs, mime-handling fixes, and network-connection refinements. A significant change in application selection is VLC dumped in favour of Xine. The Linux kernel is version 4.11.12 and SeaMonkey is version 2.48b1.

Detailed announcement and release notes are here:


There is a choice to download, either a live-CD ISO file, or an image file for 8GB or greater USB Flash stick. Install instructions:

Primary download site:

Forum feedback:


Emtec vs Lexar USB2 Flash sticks

July 29, 2017 — BarryK
Yesterday I purchased a set of three Emtec 16GB USB2 Flash sticks from BigW, here in Australia, for AU$20, just under AU$7 each:

I installed the latest version of Quirky Linux to one of the sticks, and booted up on my desktop PC (i5 CPU, 16GB RAM, in other words a reasonably snappy performer).
Right off, I observed that Quirky was incredibly slow. Unbelievably slow, absolutely awful.

These days, I tend to buy USB3 sticks, as they run fast even when plugged into a USB2 socket. However, there are some shonky USB3 sticks at the bargain-basement level. But leave that one for now.

A little while ago, I bought a Lexar 8GB USB2 stick from BigW, for AU$9.50. Though, I notice the Australian distributor for Lexar is now only importing from 16GB and up.

So, I decided to do some quantitative comparison, just a simple write test. Here is how:

# sync

# echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dummyfile bs=1M count=1024 conv=fdatasync oflag=direct
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB, 1.0 GiB) copied, 654.566 s, 1.6 MB/s

# sync

# echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/sde2/dummyfile bs=1M count=1024 conv=fdatasync oflag=direct
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB, 1.0 GiB) copied, 203.636 s, 5.3 MB/s

Horrifying, yes indeed! 1.6MB/s versus 5.3MB/s
I will use those Emtec sticks for archival purposes, as I keep old releases of Quirky and other distros. For actual usage, no!


Testing 8.2.2 flash stick

July 28, 2017 — BarryK
Development has been very intense since the release of Quirky Xerus64 8.2. There has been so much help on the Puppy forum!

Lots of bugs have been found, some improvements, and even new packages. So many changes, that the next release will be 8.3, not just a "bug fix" release.

I have a request for testers. I have built an image for a 8GB or greater USB Flash stick, now at version 8.2.2, take this as being a beta for 8.3.

There is a need to confirm that this image file works. Back in the early days of UEFI-firmware "BIOS" -- though, I use the word "BIOS" to refer to pre-UEFI PCs, for simpleicity, and just call the new type "UEFI". Anyway, the early days -- I read that UEFI does not boot on flash sticks with MBR, rather than GPT, because some early UEFI firmware was buggy, did not follow the UEFI Standard.

However, I think that might be OK now, so with great relief have built the 8.2.2 image with MBR rather than GPT. It still should bootup on PCs with UEFI, and "legacy boot " NOT turned on.
I tested on two UEFI PCs, but would like more confirmation.

Also, if write to a bigger stick than 8GB, say 16GB, there is a checkbox in QuickSetup to grow the partition to fill the drive -- I would like confirmation that this works.

Here is the download link:

Tags: quirky, linux

New network icons

July 28, 2017 — BarryK
Puppy forum member rerwin posted a patch for some network icons that are in woof-CE but not in woofQ (and hence not in Quirky):

I have put those icons in to woofQ, in /usr/share/pixmaps/puppy.

Tags: linux

Partition resize fixed

July 28, 2017 — BarryK
At first bootup from a USB stick, full installation, the QuickSetup window has a checkbox asking if want to resize the partition to fill the drive. This is for the situation where the nominal "8GB" image was written to a bigger drive.

Or rather, it is supposed to ask. In 8.2, the checkbox is missing. Which, it turns out, is a good thing, as resizing is broken.

It came about from a 12th-hour fix that I did before releasing 8.2. Fixed one thing, broke another.

Now have the checkbox appearing, testing with a 16GB stick. Also fixed the scripts in the "easyinit" ramdisk, so resizing now works.

Looking back over development since 8.2 was released, only 8 days ago, it has been very intense, so the next release should be much more than a "bug fix" release. Reckon will make it 8.3, with an RC before that.


XkbConfigManager fixes, plus more

July 28, 2017 — BarryK
Some quick notes about latest fixes.

The Advanced Xorg Keyboard Manager is broken. Non-US selections were staying stuck on US layout.
I think it is now fixed. It used to be that keyboard layout rules were in /etc/X11/kbd, with /usr/share/X11/kbd a symlink to there. However, a change occurred in recent builds of Quirky, with /etc/X11/kbd an empty folder, with the rules only in /usr/share//X11/kbd -- this breaks XkbConfigManager.
Now fixed.

Various other fixes:
Removed F12 key binding in JWM.
Improved messages when creating a boot-CD.

Tags: quirky, linux