Episode 26 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what we did this month…

Moss – I received a used Lenovo T540p from Owen Peery (mintCast audio editor). It arrived with a broken case bottom. I got a replacement Back, and installing it (done by Dale) required removing the keyboard, which refused to cooperate and proceeded to decompose, throwing keycaps around the room. None of this was anything Owen could have known about or Dale could have prevented. [Dale interjects re: his skill level] We have another keyboard ordered, it should get here later today or tomorrow. I also got another Silicon Power 512 Gb SSD for it, to run alongside the 256 Gb Samsung which came installed. Dale has also been redoing the heat paste on all our computers, including the Zia800, which should be running cooler than ever right now. We reinstalled Mint and Bodhi on the Zia800, and I’m having driver problems on Bodhi, which I have never had before.

Dale – After recording Episode 25, I drove over to help a friend with his streaming/podcast studio.  I replaced two RJ45 connectors that had broken off retention clips.  My other task was to read the manual of one of his mixing boards.  We wanted to get all of the audio from one mixer to a second mixer so that another computer could get audio from the second mixing board and return it to the first mixer.  After some trial and many errors, we got it working.

I sold my Rode NT-1 USB microphone since I have been fairly happy with my Rode Podmic, but I am still adjusting my audio settings.

I continued my research on the Origins of the GUI series of articles I am writing.  I am currently writing my second article which continues into the ’70s and will soon enter the 1980’s.

I also did some Linuxing with KaOS and Elementary OS but I will save that for the Beautiful Failures Section.

Tony –   

For me I have been vacationing quite a bit. At the end of August and beginning of September we had a week’s walking holiday in the English Lake district, and we have just returned from a long weekend with friends in Birmingham and Harrogate and having another break.

Linux wise I installed Debian 11 onto one of my test laptops, not much to say. It works and it’s stable, it’s just Debian with a few updates as far as the Kernel and packages. I also swapped out the SSD on my Dell E7440 Laptop and put a 1TB WD Blue SSD into it and reinstalled Mint 20.2 Mate onto it. I’ve also played with the free version of Proton VPN which seems OK, although on the free version you only get three choices of countries for the servers and 1 connection. I have the USA, Netherlands or Japan, and the speed is rated at Medium. The lowest paid plan at about $48/year gives 2 High speed connections to servers in over 40 countries. I’m going to use this when accessing banking or other sites where I’m using personnel information, when connected to public wifi hotspots.       

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss – I haven’t heard much lately, other than the fact that Zorin 16 is out. I looked at the website for information of what they did, but other than theming it looks like Ubuntu’s work. We will consider a review in the coming episodes. I’m looking at the latest update on Endeavour, which looks more like Manjaro than it used to. 

Dale – Well Solus has been in the news but we don’t have time to get into all the details.  Joshua Strobl the lead developer at Solus announced that due to decisions made by the Gnome team,  Solus was going to re-base Budge 11 on EFL which is the Enlightenment Foundation Library.  It is the same thing that Bohdi Linux’s Moksha desktop is based on.  GhostBSD 21.09.06 moved back to FreeBSD’s rc.d init system used to start services.  Since the release of Debian 11 Bullseye, Debian Sid moved more code from the Experimental branch in its code base for review.  Debian Testing is now evaluating the next stable release code-named Bookworm.

Tony: – As I said earlier I did have a play with Debian 11. I installed it on my Dell E6220. I had to find the ‘Non-Free’ ISO as I needed the WiFi card to work for the install, with this you also get the advantage of the Calamares installer, which is not the default in the ‘Free’ .ISO and is a little more clunky. As I said, much of the improvements are incremental upgrades to the packages and utilities which many Distroes have been using for months if not years. A full list of the changes can be found here in ‘What’s new in Debian 11’. But all the new goodies in your favorite software will now be available as well as the 5.10 LTS Kernel. As usual Debian 11 seems rock solid, and if you are happy to have stability over the latest and greatest packages (by default) until the Debian 12 comes around then this is the Distro for you. I will add that if you do need a particular upgrade to a particular package then Flatpak and Snaps are an option but if it is for more than one or two bits of software and you need to be cutting edge Debian is not for you. In this case you are probably better off finding a rolling distro such as SUSE Tumbleweed which I have found a particularly good distro.      

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES – What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month

Moss: I tried to install Sparky Linux 6 LXQt version, and got past the splash screen but little farther. I tried again, and tried a different download, to no avail. You can’t rate a distro you can’t install. I reinstalled Bodhi on the Zia800 last night, and for some reason it picked up the wrong video driver and won’t see my sound card; I’ll need to look at that later.

Dale: The only failures I had was attempting to dual boot with KaOS using the XFS file system and Elementary OS using LVM (Logical Volume Management).  This all centers around the Calamares installer.  I had KaOS installed on my T460 that I was taking a look at.  I needed to install Xero Linux for my review.  So I thought I would dual boot it with KaOS.  There is some issue with older versions of Calamares that have problems resizing XFS formatted partitions.  I had ElementaryOS installed on my T430, so I thought I would try Xero Linux dual boot on it.  Calamares had issues resizing the partition.  The automatic wouldn’t even let me select a partition but the manual partitioning would.  Except it popped up an error when I tried to save the partition changes.  I rebooted into Elementary and saw they were using LVM.  Again apparently there is an issue with current or older versions of Calamares.  I didn’t bother trying to use the LVM tools to resize the volume.  I just wiped KaOS off my T460 and installed Xero Linux.  I will look more into XFS and LVM support in Calamares and report back.

Tony: My only failure this month was trying to install the ‘Free’ .ISO of Debian 11 onto a laptop as it would not recognise my WiFi card so I was unable to use it. Not an issue with the ‘Non-Free’ .ISO as I just talked about.





XeroLinux is a custom Arch-based distro using KDE Plasma.  It was created by TechXero and was started as a personal project.  He wanted a distro themed and configured how he wanted with all the apps he used available after installation.  Plasma was chosen because of his familiarity with it and its ability to be highly customizable.  Only KDE Plasma, base utilities, and selected packages are available after installation.  Others shared his vision and the XeroLinux distro was born.


The laptop I used is my Lenovo ThinkPad T460.  It has an Intel Dual Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz CPU, 14″ display using Intel HD Graphics 520, 16 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB SSD.


The installer is Calamares which is configured to use the option to install selected packages during the installation.  This is a feature that is seldomly used in other Calamares installed distros.

The usual sections are listed with some new ones specific to Xero, which are Core and Packages.

The core is where you can custom select specific system packages.  Such as: 

  • Processor microcode for AMD or Intel
  • LightDM Login manager
  • Nvidia Optimus Manager
  • Kernels (LTS, Zen-Patched, AMD Ryzen, AMD Raven Ridge)
  • NVidia + DKMS, NVidia LTS drivers, Nouveau GPU drivers, Intel GPU drivers, Nvidia Tools, AMD GPU drivers, Generic GPU drivers
  • Sound Service (Pipewire or Pulseaudio)

Packages are where you can select what packages you want to be installed.  There are many categories such as Audio Tools, Browsers and Cloud tools, Disk and USB, Game Launchers, Graphics apps, and Office.

After the package selection, I set my location and keyboard language.

Next was the partitioning.  I tried to dual boot it with KaOS but the automatic install alongside wouldn’t let me select a partition to use.  Except for a few megabytes of unused space.  I even tried to do manual partitioning and was able to resize and set my mount points.  When it came time to save changes to the partition, it failed again with no reason given.

I ended up choosing to erase and install, which was successful.  I don’t know what the problem was.  KaOS was installed with the normal partitions of EFI, root, and swap using XFS for the root partition.  It was using the entire 500GB SSD.  After some reading, I believe the issue as I previously mentioned is with Calamares.

The user account creation was the normal account name, user name, etc.

The next screen showed a summary of the chosen options.  After that, I continued with the install.  Since the installer is downloading the packages you selected, the install time is largely based on your internet download speed. 

Once finished I had the option of exiting the installer or rebooting.

TechXero released a new ISO as soon as I finished writing this review.  It was a couple of days before going on vacation.  Because of that, I had to re-review the changes that were made.  I purposely finished my review before my vacation.  With the help of Moss installing Xero as a dual boot with the previous install, I was able to compare them briefly last night.


Well compared to the previous ISO, I don’t have any sound.  This new ISO had Pipewire with PulseAudio support.  I tried installing PulseAudio and it partially conflicted with the Pipewire PulseAudio support.  I tried to remove Pipewire but there were several dependencies and I didn’t want to break anything more than it already was.  After all of that, I still didn’t have any audio.


BTRFS is the filesystem that is used which enables Timeshifts’ advanced functionality over Rsync.  Plasma is version 5.22.5, Frameworks 5.86.0, and QT 5.15.2 using X11.  As previously mentioned, you have the option of using the Arch kernel or the LTS.  The current Arch kernel is 5.14.8.

This is a heavily themed distro, from the Grub boot menu to the desktop.  The Grub menu is unique.  It looks like a computer interface you would see in a SciFi movie.  The desktop features a dark theme called Sweet and is similar to Garuda.  Picture Las Vegas Nevada at night with all the neon signs.  The panel is a Latte dock panel located at the top.  There is a separate Application menu to the left using the Application style and a separate Compact Shutdown menu on the right.  It has a launcher at the bottom with menus that cascade as the mouse passes over them.  Latte dock calls that the ripple effect.  The normal applets were shown on the panel such as the WiFi connection, battery, and update notification (the volume control was absent because of the previously mentioned audio server issues).  To round out the theme they also enabled the effect of the Wobbly windows.  I was kind of surprised they didn’t use the Magic Lamp effect when minimizing windows.

Pamac is installed for both terminal and GUI package management.  I like it better than Pacman because it uses more understandable command switches, like install, search, and update.  The GUI application is pretty nice.  It clearly shows the current version of the package and the version it is being upgraded to and the description.  Pamac also provides access to the Arch AUR, which are community-maintained packages.  Updates notifications are shown in the top pane on right as a red shield.  I noticed that after many of the updates I was instructed to reboot.

In the configuration of the Pamac GUI, you can enable the AUR (Arch User Repository), Flatpak, and Snap.  The available repositories are: Core, Extra, Community, Multilib, XeroLinux_Repo, LinuxKernels, ArcoLinux_repo, Arco_repo_3party, and Arco_repo_xlarge.

I noticed that when I would log in, the drop-down terminal would be open along with the settings for Latte Dock.  Sometimes only the Latte Dock settings would be open, with other times nothing would be open.  I don’t know why that happens because they were not open during the previous session.   

The apps in Latte Dock are :

  • Dolphin File Manager
  • Vivaldi Browser
  • Kvantum Manager (A theme manager)
  • Konsole (KDE’s terminal emulator)
  • Gnome Disks
  • Plasma System Settings

Connecting to my Samba share on my network worked fine.  I just opened Dolphin and clicked on the network then selected SMB.  After a brief pause, it showed my shares.  Once I double-clicked on one I was prompted for my username and password, then I was shown the files in that share.

Printer support was not installed and wasn’t an option during install.  So I installed Cups and configured it to enable printing to my HP Color Laserjet 100 MFP.


The memory usage using free compared to the previous ISO dropped from 740MB to 630MB in use.  The disk space used is 9.3GB.  Keep in mind this is a minimal install where you select what you want to be installed.


There is a Telegram group and a Discord channel.  He also has a YouTube channel with a couple of videos so far.


As long as the other distro is using Ext4 or BTRFS, then you shouldn’t have a problem.


I will give the same disclaimer I give for every Arch-based distro: Your mileage may vary.  TechXero even mentions this in one of his videos.  It is up to you to not install packages that can possibly break the system.  I will also add that sometimes you don’t even need to do anything other than install updates or wait too long before installing updates in order to break your system.






Ease of Installation                new user                1/10 (not new user friendly)

experienced user   8/10

Hardware Issues                                                  10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)              N/A

Ease of Use                                                          5/10

Plays Nice With Others                                        7/10

Stability                                                                 5/10

Overall Rating                                                     6/10


This is an enthusiast distro made by a passionate Arch fan.  He took aspects of Arch and Arco to make it his own.  It will be very interesting where this distro goes.  He mentions in his videos that things are subject to change between ISO releases.  I can definitely agree with that statement.  The previous ISO installed a working but quirky operating system.  Unfortunately, the current ISO has some issues.  Could they be fixed?  Yes, quite possibly.  The better question is, why should you need to fix a brand new install?  I am not saying to write this distro off completely.  This only shows how complicated creating a distro can be.  From what I saw in the previous ISO, I was quite impressed.  Considering that he learned how to create this with help from friends.

Before this new ISO was released I was going to rate it more around the 8 for an experienced user.  I would wait until he releases the next ISO.  I think this is a distro to keep on your list of ones to spin up in a VM or a spare machine. The previous ISO was very close to daily driver status, of course, if you are an Arch-based distro fan.


DISTRO NAME: Sparky Linux 6 Mate

INTRO: It has been a year since Tony reviewed Sparky, and they have a new full version that just came out so I thought I’d give it a go. This distro is based on Debian 11 Bullseye,. I tried to install both Mate and LXQt versions but as already stated the LXQt version failed. Plasma desktop is also available. 

The main features of SparkyLinux are:

  • – choice of stable or (semi-)rolling release
  • – lightweight, fast & simple
  • – your favorite desktops to choose (many to choose from)
  • – special editions: GameOver, Multimedia & Rescue
  • – CLI Edition (no X) for building customized desktop
  • – most wireless and mobile network cards supported
  • – set of selected applications, multimedia codecs and plugins
  • – own repository with a large set of additional applications
  • – easy hard drive / USB installation

In general, Sparky is not targeted to Linux beginners, rather to users with some amount of Linux knowledge. But beginners are welcome, and the forum is quite friendly to all.


I’m running on my new T540p, with an i7, both Intel and Nvidia graphics, 16 Gb RAM, and a 240 Gb Samsung SSD. With SparkyLinux, only the Intel graphics were recognized, which is fine with me.


The installer is Calamares, so there were no issues. Just about anyone can get through this sweet installer. I didn’t see anything special or new to this distro. 


Everything installed. In my opinion, there are way too many programs included, but it’s no problem to remove them. I did my usual thing of replacing LibreOffice with SoftMaker FreeOffice. Everything is Debian, everything works. I must say, Debian feels a lot more open than it did 5 years ago.


The system was so easy to use that I’m going to have trouble talking about it, but it did beg the question, what’s the difference between Sparky, Q4OS, MX, SolydXK, AntiX, or any of the various Exton OSes, other than selection of desktops? One answer is that Sparky seems to be the only Debian derivative offering Mate desktop. The biggest quibble I had was that the welcome screen comes up every time you boot and stays on until you close it. If this is a non-beginner distro, why do you not have a way to disable the welcome screen? There is nothing on the forum or help files about this.


RAM use is fairly light, 534 Mb. With Firefox open with 3 tabs, it’s at 2037 Mb, which should not tax most machines. Disk space taken up is 5.9 Gb.


The website touts their active and friendly forum (with grammatical problems). I didn’t ask about the welcome screen, just looked for solutions already provided.


Yep. Just like every other Debian derivative with a Grub bootloader.


Debian Bullseye. It’s Debian. Bullseye. Using the word “stable” is redundant. The “stable” version uses Debian Stable, the “rolling” is a tad bit more adventurous, but still less so than, say, base Ubuntu. Which is also stable.


MX Linux







Arne Exton OSes


Ease of Installation          new user               9/10

     experienced user 10/10

Hardware Issues                                          10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community,               9/10

Ease of Use                                                 10/10

Plays Nice With Others                                10/10

Stability                                                        10/10

Overall Rating                                             9/10


This distro runs beautifully, and there are few if any glitches, but I’m just not seeing anything that makes it different from all the other Debian-based distros, other than offering a wider range of desktops. It may be a better question to ask why we need all the other derivatives, since they tend to offer a single desktop or only a few. Thumbs up here, just as Tony gave it a similar rating last year.

While I am at it, I have recently become aware that Debian itself has some flavors, called Debian Pure Blends such as Debian Jr., Debian Science, Debian Gaming, Debian Edu, and others. They also have a version which runs the HURD kernel instead of the Linux kernel, and still support a variant running the kfreeBSD kernel, although that has officially been discontinued. So while you are looking at distros based on Debian, you might give a look at Debian itself.


from 08/18 –  09/28

KaOS 2021.08

SparkyLinux 6.0

Pardus 21.0

Clonezilla Live 2.7.3-19

Voyager Live 11

Ubuntu all official flavors 20.04.3

OpenMediaVault  5.6.13

Archman 20210826

Robolinux 12.10

Alpine 3.14.2

Manjaro 21.1.1

LibreELEC 10.0.0

EndeavourOS 2021.08.27

Linux Lite 5.6

Obarun 2021.09.01

openmamba 20210828

Alpine 3.13.6

Nitrux 2021.09.01

BLFS 11    

LFS 11

EasyOS 2.9

Lakka 3.4

Finnix 123

Tails 4.22

GhostBSD 21.09.08

Thinstation 6.2.11

ArcoLinux 21.09.11


Bluestar 5.14.2

ExTiX 21.9

Kali Linux 2021.3

Manjaro 21.1.3

Linuxfx 11-preview (Linux copy of Windows 11)

Ubuntu 18.04.6 all official flavors

[18.04.3 recommended for x86_64, amd64]

SparkyLinux 2021.09

Emmabuntus DE4-1.00

UBports 16.04 OTA-19

KDE neon 20210923

MidnightBSD 2.1.0

Bicom PBXware 6.4.0

Absolute 20210923

Archcraft 2021.09.25

Q4OS 4.6

4MLinux 37.1

Bluestar 5.14.7

Kodachi 8.12


Our next episode will probably be recorded around November 3rd, depending on Dale’s schedule. For chatting with us further, you may choose to join our 23 users in Telegram, our 51 members on MeWe, or the 7 users on our channel in Discord.

You can find us @

Dale: I’m @Dale_CDL on Telegram, Matrix and Discord #9433. My email is [email protected]

Tony: You can hear me nearly every week on mintCast, and contact me at [email protected], http://hackerpublicradio.org/correspondents.php?hostid=338, Twitter @TonyH1212, [email protected]

Moss: And you can hear me every week on Full Circle Weekly News, reach me as @bardictriad on Twitter, email at [email protected] (yes, I finally have a paid Protonmail account), and find me, along with Dale and Dylan, at ItsMOSS dot com.

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