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#1 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 08:45 AM

I know we have some Debian fans on this forum, and was wondering if anyone has any experience(s) with Sparky?

I'm still looking for a long-term rolling release distro that suits all my criteria for tech-support of my family/friends linux circle, so I can port my Mimetic desktop settings over and never have to re-install ever again.  I'm currently on Lubuntu, which would be the perfect distro if only for that LTS fixed-release issue.  I simply cannot deal with the upgrade issues of approx 20 'puters every 3+/- years (the LTS period of Lubuntu), and I sure can't be completely re-installing entire OSes.  The whole point of my Mimetic desktop was to create a "something for everyone" desktop that allowed me to focus my efforts on a single target for tech support.  And I'd say this strategy has been working wonderfully so far, but sometime in the next 12 months or so, my base LTS will force the issue.

So I've been experimenting with various rolling releases in VBox VMs to see what is viable.  I've looked at the obvious candidates, such as Arch and their derivatives.  I personally like Arch, and the "vanilla" approach to Arch packages, but I just don't see it as a solution for my tech support requirements.  The lack of a GUI software component is a problem, IMO, for beginning users; Octopi and Pacman are excellent, but not sure I can move users to that path.  And the frequency of Arch updates is a double-edged sword that I fear will CAUSE more tech support issues than it solves.  So, no Arch, nor derivatives...  Other source-based distros, such as Redcore, Sabayon, etc... are out for similar reasons.

Which leaves only DEB-based and RPM-based distros.  I'm much more familiar and comfortable within the Debian family, and given the prevalence of Debian, seems like that's an easy decision.  But Debian and rolling release is a tricky combination, IMO.  Debian has to be one of the most conservative distros on the planet...rock solid, but comprised of dated offerings.  Rolling release is the opposite....Sid repos seem to be a wild, wild west of cutting edge software...equal parts "quick breakage" and "quick fix".  I REALLY like Siduction LXQt, and it's been pretty darn stable for me; but even Siduction devs warn that Siduction shouldn't be used on production machines and to expect some breakage.  Furthermore, Siduction's update process to exit to a terminal emulator, login as root and init 3, dist-upgrade seems like a horror movie scenario for my users that will result in either (a) numerous tech support for completely borked systems or ( b ) systems that NEVER get updated.  So Siduction is out, no matter how much I like it for me!

It seems my requirements fight each other....until I learned that there are some Debian rolling-release distros based on "Testing" repos!  Is this the holy grail for me?  Trailing edge software...more up-to-date than Debian's dated offerings, but more stable than Sid repos?  This is how I stumbled onto Kali, Mint LMDE, BunsenLabs, and most recently, Sparky!

Tried the first 3 in VMs and all have a deal-killer flaw somewhere in their user-space, IMO.  But Sparky...seems like the holy grail?!  I've been getting update notifications 2-3 times a week, and they are difficult to ignore.  In fact, it's easier to click once and allow the update, whereas it's 2-3 clicks to put it off until later.  Furthermore, the updates happen within the GUI of desktop user-space.  Could it be any simpler for a beginner-level user to stay up-to-date on their system, and since the Sparky rolling-release repos are based on Testing, and further massaged by Sparky devs, I'm not seeing any updates (so far...knock on wood) that are threatening the desktop.  This appears to be a model that emulates the Arch>Manjaro ecosystem, wherein Manjaro is about 2 weeks behind Arch due to the massaging of packages for Manjaro.  I actually LIKE this model, as I see an extra layer of stability on a rolling distro..."trailing edge" rather than cutting edge.

Long story short...I'm really digging Sparky so far and am excited about its possibilities.  It's rolling release; based on Debian; has an LXQt offering (not quite ready yet, but where I want to go); a software GUI (gnome-software), with ability to use AppGrid, which I prefer; and all the software packages I'm interested in, so far; with the ability to add Debian-based repos and/or install DEB packages for anything I can't locate within Sparky repos.  So I've identified MANY pros so far, with the only cons being LXQt-related, which I expect to get resolved as LXQt matures.  And I expect the LXQt maturation process to accelerate once Lubuntu 18.10 drops into the real world.  Lubuntu has a large user-base, so I'm expecting bug reports, triage, and fixes to happen a lot quicker, as more users=faster pace, IMO.

But back to Sparky...anyone else have experience(s) with this distro?  In YOUR opinion, what are the pros and what are the cons?  What did you like?  NOT like?  Are you still driving it?  Daily or otherwise?  Why or why not?  Any and all feedback much appreciated!  Thanks in advance!

Edited by Hedon James, 04 September 2018 - 08:47 AM.


#2 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 11:32 AM

> But back to Sparky...anyone else have experience(s) with this distro?

Nope. Never heard of it.

Sorry for the concise answers. Without my fav keyboard, typing has become a dreary experience. :(

#3 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 04:27 PM

Interesting, I had never heard of that distro either.
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#4 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 05:16 PM

Oops...sorry guys, my bad.  I KNOW we have some Debian die-hards on here, and usually when a Debian derivative is discussed, it is ME who runs to google.  I just assumed I recently came across something that the Debian citizens have known about for years.  You know what they say about "assume"...

Here's a link to Sparky:
https://sparkylinux.org/

I'm VERY impressed so far...but I don't know what I don't know yet, if you know what I mean?!  LOL!  Any input appreciated, but perhaps I'm on the leading edge of this distro, for a change?

#5 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 07:13 PM

I have heard of it but I don't think I have tried Sparky Linux. If I have it would have been in a VM and in that case, it would probably have been the stable edition.
I have not been happy with Debian based distros that are rolling release - specifically Debian Sid. In my view, Arch does the rolling release best.
I am not a big fan of the lightweight window managers either. I did try Manjaro LXQt on an old netbook and it was pretty good - except it had a specialized repo in Norway that got messed up from time to time. I think you are on your own here and in fact, with your experience with LXDE and OpenBox you can probably teach us a thing or two. Maybe sunrat can comment further.
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#6 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:01 AM

View Postraymac46, on 04 September 2018 - 07:13 PM, said:

I have heard of it but I don't think I have tried Sparky Linux. If I have it would have been in a VM and in that case, it would probably have been the stable edition.
I have not been happy with Debian based distros that are rolling release - specifically Debian Sid. In my view, Arch does the rolling release best.
I am not a big fan of the lightweight window managers either. I did try Manjaro LXQt on an old netbook and it was pretty good - except it had a specialized repo in Norway that got messed up from time to time. I think you are on your own here and in fact, with your experience with LXDE and OpenBox you can probably teach us a thing or two. Maybe sunrat can comment further.

Agreed on the Arch comment!  If it was just me, and only me, I'd go with Arch...but for reasons cited, Arch isn't gonna work for my situation.  However, I would also point out that Sparky is based on Debian Testing, not Debian Sid.  Small detail perhaps, but I believe it is the very thing that makes Sparky a candidate for me while Siduction is a no go, even though I LOVE Siduction.  And I do LOVE my lightweight window manager distros.  Besides being lightweight on CPU and RAM resources, they are more modular in nature, rather than monolithic.

And truth be told, if time was a snapshot, I'd prefer LXDE over LXQt today.  But LXDE is based on the gtk2 toolkit, with devs on the record as opposing gtk3, so the handwriting is on the wall that LXDE is likely to slowly wither on the vine once LXQt is more polished.  LXDE is the ideal DE, IMO, but LXQt is the future.  Besides aesthetic polish and modern cross platform toolkits, I can only hope LXQt achieves feature parity with today's LXDE.  Although LXQt is already more "WM-friendly" with ability to swap LXQt default (usually XFWM, Kwin, or Openbox) for nearly anything you want it to be!  Swapping the default WM to my preferred Fluxbox or PekWM is so trivial in LXQt.  Saturnian turned me on to the wonders of Fluxbox and, for the life of me, I just don't understand why Flux isn't WAY more popular than it is.  JMO...

I'm hoping sunrat does chime in with thoughts/experiences on Sparky, as I specifically associate him with Debian distros.  If not, I guess I'm on my own, but that's okay too.  I'm kinda used to that, as I often take the road less travelled.  But I'm in good company with others who travel those roads also.  :P

Edited by Hedon James, 05 September 2018 - 09:01 AM.


#7 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:08 AM

One other thought. If you choose a distro based on Debian Buster (Testing) you will still be faced with what to do when Buster is becoming stable. Testing gets really dicey around the time it is frozen to become the next stable release. Honestly, the only true rolling release is Sid or its better behaved derivative Siduction.

Edited by raymac46, 05 September 2018 - 09:08 AM.

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#8 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:28 AM

I've looked into SparkyLinux but have never installed it. I'd be most interested in the MinimalGUI iso with Openbox, based on Stable.  I don't feel comfortable with the idea of rolling-release based on Debian; the way I look at it, "Unstable" and Testing are for developing the finished product (Stable). I don't think it works out so well to create something rolling-release from that development model, but others may feel differently. I might take a look at a live session later.

#9 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:36 AM

Duh..I checked my ISOs and yes I did install Sparky Testing LXQt in VBox a few months ago. Now I recall that I had trouble getting the Guest Additions to work so I had only a 1024X768 screen. This would obviously not be a problem if you were installing on the rails, but I have given up on any VM distro that doesn't make it easy to get a full screen. It worked OK for me until I installed the Guest Additions and although I got no errors a subsequent boot crashed the VM.

Edited by raymac46, 05 September 2018 - 09:38 AM.

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#10 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:38 AM

View Postraymac46, on 05 September 2018 - 09:08 AM, said:

One other thought. If you choose a distro based on Debian Buster (Testing) you will still be faced with what to do when Buster is becoming stable. Testing gets really dicey around the time it is frozen to become the next stable release. Honestly, the only true rolling release is Sid or its better behaved derivative Siduction.

Now THIS is the kind of information I'm fishing for!  You're holding out on me Ray!

#11 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:52 AM

Good call on the Testing>Stable transition.  Here's a link to the last transition from Stretch to Buster:

https://sparkylinux....pic,3799.0.html

So it appears that Sparky "Testing" remains a "Testing" repo, with a flood of packages from Sid once the freeze is over.  And it appears the main developer pavroo attempts to control the flow to Testing for a few weeks after that initial Sid>Testing migration, in order to mitigate the bumpy ride.  Debian has been doing this a LONG time, so I imagine it's time-tested and true.  What's the strategy during this period?  Hold off on updates for about 30 days or so during this period?  When is the next transition...I know, "when it's ready"...but approximately when?  Where is Debian in relationship to their historic cycle?

Not necessarily a deal killer for me, but that experience could be tell-tale as to whether Sparky is a viable distro for my needs.  Good stuff Ray!

#12 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:30 AM

Well, again this is a question that sunrat (with his long-term Debian experience) is better qualified to answer. I see that the Sparky guys are handling it a bit different than vanilla Debian.
Right now I'd say Debian has another year or so of Stretch before the upgrade to Buster but I wouldn't want to predict. Since I'm running Stretch on a machine where data is not critical I can just reinstall when Buster arrives - or follow directions to go to stable Buster.
I have found that Testing is a really strange animal, and so for me it became a choice between running around with my pants on fire (Sid) or snoozing in a hammock (Stretch.) I had the misfortune to try Testing right around the freeze and probably the best thing was not to update at all during that period. Of course, you don't get the security updates but hey...
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#13 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:42 AM

FYI HJ I have just reinstalled Sparky LXQt and went through a massive update OK. I am going to leave it in VBox for now and can check it if you want me to at any point. I will not try to install the Guest Additions as that just borks everything.
There were questions during the update about installing new config files and where to put GRUB that don't bother me but might be unsettling to your end users. Just sayin',,,,
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#14 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:32 AM

VB guest utils should be a default part of the kernel now Ray.  I have noticed some distros seem to display less than the host default in VB, but found if I toggle the window from "full screen" and then back to window mode with Host F key <rt ctrl F>, everything displays as it should.  Looks like a bug to me, but not sure if it's a kernel bug, a guest-utils bug in the kernel, or a VB bug; but it's easy enough to work around.  FWIW...

View Postraymac46, on 05 September 2018 - 10:42 AM, said:

FYI HJ I have just reinstalled Sparky LXQt and went through a massive update OK. I am going to leave it in VBox for now and can check it if you want me to at any point. I will not try to install the Guest Additions as that just borks everything.
There were questions during the update about installing new config files and where to put GRUB that don't bother me but might be unsettling to your end users. Just sayin',,,,

"When in doubt, always choose the default" is almost always good advice.  Again, good point though!

#15 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:44 AM

There's a masochist version of Sparky based on Gentoo. It's called... wait for it...

Spanky! :w00t:

#16 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:28 PM

I did some futzing around with the monitor settings in LXQt and in fact I was able to get the full screen 1920X975 setup to work OK.
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#17 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 04:03 PM

Now that I got Sparky working OK I think I'll keep it around. Looks nice and lightweight.

ray@ray-pc:~$ free -m
			  total		used		free	  shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:		   1997		 355		 945		  19		 695		1473
Swap:		  4394		   0		4394
ray@ray-pc:~$

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#18 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 04:18 PM

Here's how it looks in VBox.

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#19 OFFLINE   sunrat

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 06:59 PM

I think I booted a live Sparky in VBox ages ago, looked good iirc.
When it comes to Debian I tend to avoid testing. It doesn't seem any more reliable than Sid and sometimes breaks when Sid has not. I mainly have Stable based (Debian, MX, AVL) or siduction.
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#20 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:27 PM

Here's a shot of Spanky Linux...

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#21 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:11 PM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 05 September 2018 - 07:27 PM, said:

Here's a shot of Spanky Linux...

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:hysterical:
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#22 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:18 PM

I was looking for an image to make that, so I searched for "spanky". The Li'l Rascals popped up. I figured it would be better than some of the images from when I searched for "spank me". This is a family-oriented board, of course. ;)

#23 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 05:10 AM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 05 September 2018 - 10:18 PM, said:

I was looking for an image to make that, so I searched for "spanky". The Li'l Rascals popped up. I figured it would be better than some of the images from when I searched for "spank me". This is a family-oriented board, of course. ;)

Right....
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"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain." -George Orwell, 1984

#24 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 08:17 AM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 05 September 2018 - 10:18 PM, said:

I was looking for an image to make that, so I searched for "spanky". The Li'l Rascals popped up. I figured it would be better than some of the images from when I searched for "spank me". This is a family-oriented board, of course. ;)

:w00t:   bwahaha!  Trying to decide if you're :devil:  for telling us that, or o:)  for not following up with additional information?!  :whistling:

#25 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:06 AM

There's always the 1960s sunshine rock group.

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