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The future of Quirky

September 22, 2017 — BarryK

My previous blog at barryk.org/news was merged into this blog. It lumped all posts for Easy, Quirky, Puppy, and anything else Linux-related, into one category "linux".

I have identified many of the posts that are about Quirky, and added the tag "quirky", so that they can now be separated out:

http://bkhome.org/news/tag_quirky.html

I don't have an automated method to do this, so did in manually, and haven't got them all.

I have announced Easy OS as the "next generation", however, Quirky is still good, and I reckon should continue. The thing is, they are different, with different strengths and weaknesses.

Quirky started out as an experimental distribution sometime in 2013, and settled into a full-installation-only distro, but different from other Linuxes due to its snapshot/rollback/recovery mechanism. There is also a special rollback mechanism for installing and removing packages. Then later, a live-CD and frugal install was added on, though I have never thought of that as the way I want Quirky to go.

Then early 2017 I conceived Easy, a complete rethink, going back to a layered filesystem, with just one "pupmode", and support for containers.

Regarding Quirky, one problem is the slowness of the snapshot/rollback/recovery. It uses the cmptree utility. However, I could use diff to do the same thing. I ran a test, compared roofs-complete/usr with /usr, where the former is a build of Quirky in woofQ and the latter is in a running Quirky 8.3.

cmptree /usr ./usr took 195 seconds,
diff -rq /usr ./usr took 44 seconds

EDIT
Ha ha, my memory gets a bit fuzzy when haven't worked on something for awhile. I have already removed cmptree. Did it back in Nov-Dec 2016, replaced with xdelta3.

Tags: quirky

Big changes are afoot

August 10, 2017 — BarryK
I have been swapping between using Quirky and Easy, and one thing has become very obvious: Easy is much faster.

No quantitative measurements, just eyeballing, noticing a significant difference in app startup times and general responsiveness. Compiling times are also remarkably faster.

Fundamentally, the reason is that Quirky is a full installation, and in my case on a magnetic platter mechanical hard drive. Whereas, Easy is a layered filesystem, where, if there is enough RAM, 'q.sfs' (which is all of Easy) gets loaded into RAM at bootup.

So, you pay the price of a slightly slower bootup, but faster running.

One extra point: q.sfs is xz-compressed, however, after download and at first bootup, there is the option to recompress it gzip-compressed. This can make a small but noticeable difference to the responsiveness.

Another point: aufs is configured without support for writing directly to the lower layers. This makes aufs faster.

In all, it is a pleasant experience using Easy. So, the title is hinting something!

Tags: easy, quirky

Quirky Xerus64 8.3 final

July 29, 2017 — BarryK
Quirky 8.2 was released only 10 days ago:
http://bkhome.org/news/201707/quirky-xerus-82-final.html

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:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/amd64/releases/xerus-8.3/release-xerus64-8.3.htm

Snapshot:


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:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/amd64/releases/xerus-8.3/howto-install.htm

Primary download site:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/amd64/releases/xerus-8.3/

Forum feedback:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=106460

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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:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/amd64/releases/xerus-8.2.2/

Tags: quirky, linux

Partition resize fixed

July 27, 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.

Read more...

XkbConfigManager fixes, plus more

July 27, 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

Pschedule overhauled

July 26, 2017 — BarryK
Puppy forum member zigbert has created lots of apps for Puppy, some of which are in Quirky. For example, Pburn, Pmusic and Pschedule.

Pschedule forum thread:
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=22166

There have been reports, every now and again, about Pschedule not working correctly, but it never got resolved, not as far as I know.
Most-recent discussion is here:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=961909#961909

I have taken another look at Pschedule, and redesigned it to use /etc/init.d/80-crond, rather than /root/.config/autostart.
80-crond comes from jamesbond, and I modified it to suit busybox crond and Pschedule.

Here is the PET (7KB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/noarch/packages/pet_packages-noarch/pschedule-1.1.6-2.pet

Note also, radky has upgraded PupSysInfo, now version 2.7.2 (39KB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/noarch/packages/pet_packages-noarch/Pup-SysInfo-2.7.2.pet

Read more...