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Bruce's Custom Sparky Gnome (Unofficial Sparky Gnome 3 Spin)

Started by eightbit, May 13, 2016, 02:44:15 PM

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I would like to add that if you are a GOG game player (Good Old Games) you will be right at home here. I have been a GOG account member since the introduction of Linux games on their service and I have quite a few games. All of the necessary libraries (or at least I believe all of them) are included in my spin as well as i386 arch enabled and those particular libs needed for quite a few games already installed. I have not found a game yet that will not play, but I do not own every game obviously. If you find any that will not run and play for you please let me know!


New editions of the custom spin are being uploaded now. Some changes/highlights:

1. Removed Gnucash as it (and its documentation) take up way too much space for a tool I never personally use
2. Cleaned up Retroarch cores. Removed non working cores and removed Mame/Mess cores (as full Mame/Mess is already installed need to have it there as well).
3. The free space created allowed me to add over 300 very nice wallpapers from previous Ubuntu wallpaper contests
4. Added AntiMicro...which is a "joy2key" type of application for customizing joystick controls. It is a really handy tool. I use it to assign buttons for my Wii U Pro controller for games that do not support it.
5. Chrome Beta is now installed as the default browser. It is more updated and makes more sense in a testing distro. It fixes the web browser being seen as the default and performs better.
6. Brought back SMPlayer as the default video player as it just creams VLC in performance (especially with x265 encodes)
7. Removed K3B and installed Brasero. I think K3B is a better burner personally, but I rarely burn anything these days and Brasero is pretty good now. I also never liked all of those KDE libs (almost 200MB!) of them for just the one app.
8. Lots of other updates and fixes (python lhafile installed so now lha compressed WHDLoad games are seen by FS-UAE...if anyone cared!)

Now, there are two versions of the spin. One with the Nvidia driver (352.79) pre-installed and one without it. They are essentially the same distro aside from the driver pre-installed in the Nvidia (NVDA) version. I did this in order to have a live spin with hardware accelerated graphics for my GTX 960. Make sure to check Nvidia's website for compatibility with this particular driver version and your video card prior to booting it. The NVDA version is ONLY for Nvidia cards and the OS will crash if launched on systems without one. In those cases the "62316" version should be the one you grab. You can grab that version without the driver and use the Display Driver Manager to install the driver yourself if you wish also.

***For those wondering what happened to the spin with the "latest" Nvidia driver, it has been removed. I find it to be way too unstable and don't want your experience to be less than perfect, not to mention the OS would have probably broken on you on the next kernel update. Better to use the driver available in the official repo. Sorry for any confusion***

This will be the last update for awhile provided I do not run into any show stoppers. I have been running this daily for months and it is rock solid...and so have many of my friends and co-workers. Input is always welcome!


Seems the standard ISO is still "Pending" on sourceforge, so you may only see the Nvidia version listed. Please be patient and it should be up soon. I'll give it another 24 hours and if it is still in this state I will contact SF support.


Ok, so it agitates me when something doesn't work and I always have to squash it quickly. I purchased Victor Vran (GOG game) the other day and it would not was seg faulting. I haven't had a single GOG game not work for me in this distro and I had to fix it. It was just a matter of adding a libcrypt that was not in the testing repos and i386 version of libglut.....and deleting the "i386" folder that installs in the game directory as apparently the developer decided to include his own i386 libs that are not compatible with this distro. All the libs required to run the game are in my spin so that i386 folder is not needed....and will cause the game not to launch if present which is why it is necessary to either rename or remove it so that the game looks elsewhere.

So, I have spun it up again and a few things have changed:

1. Fix for Victor Vran. If you own the game (buy it on, install it and delete (or rename) the "i386" folder in the game folder that gets created by the installer. That's it. Run it and enjoy. It is a pretty wicked game.

2. WPS Office just received a significant update and I have in turn updated it as well.

3. Spotify is now installed as well. I have an account (free one) and it is a really neat service.

Newly updated ISO's (both with and without Nvidia driver installed) will be uploaded tomorrow. Thanks!


New ISOs up. You will want to hold WPS Office as upgrading is trying to downgrade it to the one in the sparky repos. Not sure why as the version number is higher but anyway:

sudo apt-mark hold wps-office

Will do it for you.


Nothing is easy as it looks. Danielle Steel
Join at [url="//"][/url]


So today I was determined to fix the current issue with the kernel and the GTX 9xx (Maxwell) cards. Basically what happens is if you upgrade from 4.5+ kernel to the 4.6 kernel without first having the proprietary Nvidia driver installed it will not boot back to the desktop (you will merely get a blinking screen with three boxes). The reason why is because of missing firmware binaries used by the nouveau driver for the new cards that the new kernel is trying to point to. A little history on it:

After Nvidia made the open source community wait well over a year, in Feb of this year Nvidia provided the community with signed firmware binaries for the Maxwell (GTX 9xx series) cards ( that would allow hardware acceleration via the nouveua driver to function (the same old open source slow acceleration we are used to) for the new Maxwell cards. There was a commit to the kernel that introduced them and now the 4.6 kernel looks for them. But where are they? Well they should have been included in an updated firmware-misc-nonfree package, but that package (even in SID) is still dated at Jan of 2016 as of this writing. The new required Nvidia firmwares are not in there, thus anyone running Debian with the 4.6 kernel and a Maxwell series card (like me, a GTX 960) cannot boot to the desktop if the open source driver is being used.

It has been five months since Nvidia provided these and I am unsure why the package was not simultaneously updated with the kernel to include them (since the kernel is *looking* for them), but it certainly has caused a lot of headache for me. Maybe the package maintainer is waiting for other firmwares. I would like to believe there is a reason behind it and there probably is...but in my personal opinion at this moment is that this was a bad move....but then again we are in "testing" afterall :)

Good news is I have tracked down the signed binaries (as Alex's link is now 404) for the new cards and have added them manually to my spin....and now GTX 9xx cards work with the open source driver and hardware acceleration. The acceleration is still not as good as the proprietary driver of course, but at least it can boot in to allow you to install the proprietary driver using DDM, or use it now with at least some kind of respectable open source hardware acceleration present. When the firmware-misc-nonfree packages does eventually get updated it should simply overwrite what I have added with the same signed binaries, but at least now users with newer cards can launch a testing distro with 4.6 kernel and successfully get to the desktop to actually "test" it :)

The real problem is how long Nvidia took to provide them...and even bigger that Nvidia is adding so much security that ends up hindering open source GPU support from moving forward. I know it all too well as I work for an unnamed company that distributes their video cards. It is a love/hate relationship here. I love the way they perform with their proprietary drivers, but I hate how they treat the open source community with a passion.

So now I am only going to provide one spin with the stock open source driver just as with the official Sparky. If you want the Nvidia driver it is as easy as running the driver manager and clicking a box and install. No need for two spins. Also changed:

1.) Guayadeque has been removed in favor of Clementine. I really love Guayadeque (Smart Play feature is the best) but it is kind of buggy in the beta (screen redraw issues, weirdness with the cover art viewer) and the fact that it was "make installed" makes me worry about having to manually update it. Not to mention it would be hard to remove for the average user. Clementine is modern and very nice, in the repos and can be updated. I might revisit Guayadeque down the road but it just needs a little more work atm.

2.) is now the installed kernel

3.) Again new Nvidia firmware bins added so that users with new cards (up to the GTX 9xx series ONLY) will not have issues with the nouveau driver.

New spin will be labeled "62716" and will be up soon.


There have been a few downloads. Any input? I think the distro is quite complete in terms of everything I use it for at the present. I did change something after the previous release but it is so minor that I am not updating the ISO again just for it. I removed Clementine and installed "Quod Libet" as the default music player and changed the XFCE terminal to "Sakura" for the default terminal.

The reason is because I just really don't like Clementine after using it for awhile. It just does not seem to flow right with the GTK theme and the internet radio provided are mostly broken (not streaming anymore through it due to some stations "licensing"). Quod Libet is a GTK app, has tons of plugins to do just about anything, has a ton of open internet stations available and usable, has some really cool smart searching and handles large collections fantastically. It also handles a lot of audio file types...even mod! I am surprised I never heard of this excellent player...and there it has been in the Debian repos all along.

Sakura is just a nicer terminal in my opinion. It is faster (slightly) with screenfetch on launch and I like the options and layout. It just fits.

Again, I won't update for awhile. I am still trying to see if there are any issues to squash but I see nothing at the present at all. Updates are working as they should, nothing is broken as far as I can find...and it runs fast! In a few months I will probably release an update (with the updates at that time) after I upgrade to an SSD because I so drastically need one :)


OK, I lied :) There were enough fixes and changes to warrant one more update. Just some things that were annoying me and some things I wanted to add. Things that have changed:

1. WPS Office icons fixed. The ultra flat icon set was using low resolution png images for this. They are now updated to high resolution images and it looks normal now.

2. Same deal with the Vice icons. The higher res icons were there in the pixmaps folder, but just weren't being used. Fixed. They are also now moved out of the "other" section and into the "games" category. Same with FS-UAE Launcher.

3. Added icons for Mame and the Atari 800 emulators. The default emulator installations do not create them for these emulators. The emulators were always there (accessible via terminal) but an icon/link is always nice

4. Quod Libet is now the default music player/manager, Tixati the default torrent client, Sakura the default terminal emulator

5. Added Arronax, which is excellent and easy GUI method for creating application links for the menus (I used it to create some and it works wonderfully)

6. Added ScummVM, DOSBox, and Foobilliard plus

7. Added Google Earth because it is something I like to use on occasion. I had to manually add the icon/shortcut to the menus as well for this one.

8. Added Pencil2D as my kid is starting to get into pencil animation and it is a pretty nice tool!

I completed this today (July 4th) which is my country's independence day. So I guess this can be considered the Independence Day Edition :) As by using Sparky Linux you are exercising your computer independence as well! Downloads will be up in a few hours!


YAY! MY distro actually *does* work for UEFI installations! I just tested it. I used a WIndows machine and copied the ISO using "Rufus", enabled UEFI in my BIOS and was able to boot up. Created a 200MB EFI partition and have it successfully installed in UEFI mode. This is great as I am coming across some machines that are UEFI only....and it further future proofs the spin.

The only thing is, I cannot get it to boot via UEFI without using anything *but* rufus. I tried formatting a USB stick to FAT32 and turning on the boot flag in Debian and then simply copying the ISO contents but it will not boot. I am certain I am doing something wrong and if anyone has any insight I would greatly appreciate it. But at least for now I can say that UEFI does indeed work if you simply burn the ISO to a USB using Rufus.


For formatting usbs for iso's I have used dd for years.  I still use dd   Search engine "VastOne" usb DD is my goto example.  Debianistas are mostly changing to cp from dd

I used dd on the Debian alpha6 net-install with non-free firmware for lvm.  NOTE - it was not sparky but Debian testiing installed on a brand new machine.  I have not used Sparky yet on any lvm installs.  (Remember - the testing install cd is only to test the testing install cd, the testing install cd is only to test the testing cd.   Either it works or it does not - do not complain if it does not work.)   
CPU~Dual core Intel Core i3-4170 (-HT-MCP-) speed/max~962/3700 MHz Kernel~4.6.0-1-amd64 x86_64 Up~38 min Mem~709.2/7446.8MB HDD~3500.7GB(18.2% used) Procs~169 Client~Shell inxi~2.3.0           

sd1 is all lvm

inxi -pl
Partition: ID-1: / size: 9.1G used: 4.8G (57%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/dm-0 label: N/A
           ID-2: /mnt/2root size: 13G used: 8.1G (66%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sdb2 label: N/A                                                                           
           ID-3: /boot size: 237M used: 59M (27%) fs: ext2 dev: /dev/sda2 label: N/A                                                                                 
           ID-4: /mnt/windows2 size: 665G used: 80G (12%) fs: fuseblk dev: /dev/sdb1 label: win7                                                                     
           ID-5: /mnt/home2 size: 705G used: 29G (5%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sdb6 label: N/A                                                                             
           ID-6: /boot/efi size: 511M used: 132K (1%) fs: vfat dev: /dev/sda1 label: N/A                                                                             
           ID-7: /home size: 1.5T used: 463G (33%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/dm-2 label: N/A                                                                               
           ID-8: swap-1 size: 12.88GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/dm-1 label: N/A   

Search forum for "More info easier via inxi"    If requested -  no inxi, no help for you by  me.


Big update (well, if you consider the primary file manager switch big) coming soon. I ran into some issues mounting some formatted USB flash drives last week and also noticed the old USB copying issues I used to have. I tried to copy a 4GB file and the progress bar shot to 100% after a minute and then it sat for 15 minutes before it went away. It has to do with how USB flash drives (FAT32 and NTFS) are being mounted. I found that mounting with the sync command appears to solve the problem, but I could not find an easy way to do this for multiple flash drives from PCManFM. Sure you could manually mount from terminal (and turn off automounting in PCManFM) or add them to the fstab but ehh...

I found that SpaceFM can use udevil  for mount/unmount operations and additional mount options can be specified. Great! It works great and now all USB drives are mounted and copy operations work as expected. So PCManFM is out for the main file manager and SpaceFM is in. I set it up to look somewhat like PCManFM on launch and the file handlers are all pre-set so the transition will not be much of anything that will make people feel out of place in this file manager. It is better all around.

I also ditched Oracle Java for OpenJDK, as they do the same thing but OpenJDK gets updated with the Debian repos. I added file handling for .jar files so now you can just double click on them to execute as well. I was toying with the Java primarily because I am building my daughter a new computer in a week or so for her birthday and she is a Minecraft nut of course. I also added a special Minecraft installer. It is in the Games category and when launched it will download the latest version of Minecraft and request a login to start playing. It was installed as a deb package so it can easily be removed via Synaptic if you do not want it.

Also added Converseen as it is an excellent GUI way to mass convert/reduce size of photos. I use it all of the time to reduce photo sizes for forums that only accept a certain sized photo. I used to use "Pixresizer" in Windows all of the time and I am really glad I found this. I know it can be done via terminal with Imagemagick...and I was actually doing it that way for some time...but the GUI is just much more convenient.

And jGamebase has been added. A fine frontend for easily playing C64 (and other) games. I mainly use it for C64 and Vic stuff. It makes life easy when launching old C64 games and I just love it.

Other than that and of course updates it pretty much remains the same. I have not encountered any issues other than the USB issue but now it is all good :)

It will most likely be updated on Sourceforge over the weekend. Have a great week folks!


Ok, now with the above changes:

I have added C64 and Vic-20 databases to jGamebase. This of course does NOT contain any game files (you need to find the game packs yourself as with any other emulator). I use it primarily for these two computers...which I grew up on and love. More databases for others can be found on the sourceforge page for that project:

It also became known to me recently that Retroarch *finally* made it to the Debian testing repos. Previously I had to compile it and add it manually which I have done for previous releases. It is an older version (slightly) but for the sake of doing things the "Debian way" I have removed my build and cores and installed the version in the repos and what cores they are providing at the moment. It is the right thing to do for the future on my eyes, as now it will be updatable with the rest of the system as before the manual compile was not a part of apt and could not be updated or removed easily.

Cleaned up the menus a bit (as much as I love Commodore there were too many Commodore icons for my taste!) and added DeSmuMe which is a Nintendo DS emulator. There is a Retroarch core for this as well, but I find the standalone emulator easier to work with. Also, you can simply download additional cores for Retroarch and add them to the cores directory if something is not available in the repos...

All updated as of tonight July 14th @ 10:34EST. Enjoy everbody and I wish everyone a safe and happy weekend and my heart and my prayers go out to the people of France.

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