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Quirky versus Puppy

October 04, 2015 — BarryK
Quirky Linux forked from Puppy Linux a few years ago. Quirky is my opportunity to experiment with new ideas.

The 7.x series, also known as the "April" series, has a particular configuration that I am sticking with for sometime, so I will explain about that, how it differs from Puppy.

Yesterday, I read a comment on the Puppy Forum that Quirky is not as good as TahrPup as the former boots very slowly.

"What?!" was my first reaction, then I realised that the person had probably tried the Quirky live-CD. Right, that would explain it.

People who have used Puppy come along with certain understandings and expectations. I do need to provide a simple explanation of how Quirky differs, so that an inappropriate impression as described above, does not occur.

The key technical thing to have a bit of an understanding of is PUPMODEs. Puppy is capable of operating in various PUPMODEs. If you want to read about them, look here:

...but you don't have to. The essence is that PUPMODE=2 is a full installation, the normal kind that all Linux distros do. It is just one of the modes supported by Puppy, but is the only mode supported by Quirky.

...well, kind of. Users kept telling me they wanted a live-CD, so I created that for Quirky. It is still a full installation, but totally in RAM, actually in what is known as zram (a compressed filesystem in memory). As it runs totally in RAM and doesn't even look at the hard drive at bootup, it has to copy everything from the CD to RAM at bootup, and create the compressed zram, and this makes bootup slow.

Hence that user's negative impression of Quirky.

However, the Quirky live-CD, unlike Puppy, is intended for evaluation only, and it can be used to perform a full installation to internal drive or a removable drive.

On the otherhand, there are some people who do use the Quirky live-CD in an ongoing basis, because of that very fact that it does not touch the hard drive.
The Quirky live-CD even has a rudimentary save capability, which involves burning to a new CD, which means that network setup etc can be burnt to the CD, so no setup is needed on subsequent bootups.

So, very different from Puppy, which was designed to run from a CD/DVD and save every session. The Puppy saved sessions are kept, usually, on the hard drive.

Getting technical, those different PUPMODEs are achieved by the Aufs or Unionfs layered filesystem. That means that SFS files can be loaded as layers, so even a live-CD can have those SFS layers, for "devx", LibreOffice, or whatever.
With Quirky, you have to forget all about SFS files. There is no layered filesystem.

Quirky still has "devx", LibreOffice, etc., but they are PET packages (or DEB or whatever). Normal packages, that you can install or uninstall.
So, no layered f.s. in a live-CD, it means if you want to install, say LibreOffice, it will be a normal package that will install into the zram -- whereas with Puppy, an SFS can reside on a drive.
Result, the Quirky live-CD will need lots of RAM if you want to install packages.

If you really want to compare bootup speed of Quirky with TahrPup, or any other Linux, do a full install of both, that is, PUPMODE 2. Full install can be to internal hard drive or removable drive.

I should also add, that, again due to user requests, I added frugal installs for Quirky. This is a long-time favourite for Puppy fans, where Puppy is installed into a folder in a hard drive partition.
For Quirky, essentially the contents of the CD are copied into a folder. At bootup it works the same, everything is copied into RAM, but it will be much faster than the live-CD. There is a similar limited save capability, and limited package install due to RAM size.

The Quirky live-CD and frugal installation require lots of RAM, probably at least a PC with 2GB RAM. Just for starters.

I encourage Quirky users to only use live-CD or frugal for evaluation, and go for a full install. Except of course, if the features of the live-CD/frugal are exactly what you want.

In summary, if you are coming over from Puppy, forget what you know! The mantra is "Quirky works best with full installation".

Tags: quirky, linux