Quirky 8.6

What to do with old hard­ware would be a cri­sis-in­duc­ing ex­is­ten­tial ques­tion for Shashank Sharma, if not for projects like Quirky…

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What to do with old PCs would be a cri­sisin­duc­ing ex­is­ten­tial ques­tion for Shashank Sharma, if not for projects like Quirky.

Alot of dis­tri­bu­tions, es­pe­cially niche projects such as fire­wall and pen­test­ing so­lu­tions, ex­ist be­cause the cre­ators wanted a dis­tri­bu­tion that caters to their needs, and they found the ex­ist­ing of­fer­ings lack­ing. Quirky Linux was de­signed in 2013 for a dif­fer­ent pur­pose: to con­tinue push­ing the Linux desk­top metaphor.

While ini­tially an in­stall-only project, Quirky is now avail­able as an in­stal­lable-Live en­vi­ron­ment that can also run off a USB drive or SD card. The 400MB ISO packs all the use­ful ap­pli­ca­tions needed for ev­ery­day use, and gives you the op­tion to ei­ther in­stall it to disk, or to save your cur­rent live ses­sion onto the disk or USB stick, which you can then boot into later when needed. This makes Quirky a con­ve­nient por­ta­ble dis­tri­bu­tion, with per­sis­tent stor­age.

The in­staller gives you the choice of per­form­ing ei­ther a full or fru­gal in­stal­la­tion. The for­mer is the tra­di­tional in­stal­la­tion to hard disk that all Linux dis­tri­bu­tions are ca­pa­ble of. With the lat­ter op­tion, all your set­tings and con­fig­u­ra­tion will be stored onto a folder, whether on a disk, or USB drive.

Dif­fer­ent is good

You’re greeted by the Quick Setup tool when you first boot into the live ses­sion. This sin­gle-stop ap­pli­ca­tion en­ables you to con­fig­ure all the usual el­e­ments such as coun­try, key­board, time­zone, as well as net­work set­tings. You can also set a host­name, en­able the fire­wall, change the screen res­o­lu­tion and more.

Af­ter you’ve con­fig­ured your sys­tem, you can click the Save but­ton on the Desk­top to store the set­tings onto a re­mas­tered ISO or on your disk. On sub­se­quent re­boot, the sys­tem will au­to­mat­i­cally load the con­fig­u­ra­tion from this stored file, so you won’t have to con­fig­ure your sys­tem ev­ery time.

When in­stalling Quirky, you must use the Gparted util­ity to cre­ate a par­ti­tion for it. Then click the In­stall but­ton on the desk­top to launch the in­staller, which leads you through a se­ries of ba­sic steps. Un­for­tu­nately, the dis­tri­bu­tion doesn’t in­stall a boot loader, and in­stead in­sists that one must al­ready be in­stalled be­fore you choose to com­mit Quirky to your hard disk.

The desk­top is pep­pered with icons such as file, www, apps, setup and so on, and you can use these to launch ap­pli­ca­tions, and con­fig­u­ra­tion util­i­ties. The ap­pli­ca­tions and setup but­tons re­spec­tively launch the home-grown EasyApps and PupCon­trol util­i­ties.

Un­like most other light­weight dis­tri­bu­tions, Quirky fea­tures the com­plete Li­breOf­fice suite, and a large se­lec­tion of ap­pli­ca­tions. Best of all, it of­fers tools for en­crypt­ing files and stor­ing pass­words out of the box. An­other use­ful and much needed util­ity is PupAd­vert Blocker, which can be used to block all man­ners of ads on the de­fault SeaMon­key browser, or any al­ter­na­tive you may in­stall us­ing the soft­ware man­ager. As Quirky is built from the lat­est DEB pack­ages from Ubuntu 16.04.x se­ries, you can use the PETget Pack­age Man­ager to in­stall ad­di­tional ap­pli­ca­tions from the soft­ware repos­i­to­ries.

The choice of light­weight JWM and the stun­ning per­for­mance speeds make Quirky ideal for low-spec ma­chines, but cou­ple these with its de­fault set of ap­pli­ca­tions and there’s no rea­son why it can’t re­place your ex­ist­ing dis­tri­bu­tion.

We rarely come across such a well fleshed-out light­weight and ready-to-use dis­tri­bu­tion. But the in­abil­ity to in­stall a boot loader, is per­plex­ing. Some might even call it… quirky!

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