logo Xerus Quirky

Quirky is a "quirky" Linux distribution created by Barry Kauler, that forked from Puppy Linux a few years ago. The original intention was to experiment with new ideas, and Quirky has evolved into an exciting and unique distribution.


The Puppy family are built by a tool named Woof, with divergence as projects have forked. A precursor to Woof, named Puppy Unleashed, became the build system for Fatdog. Woof2 was the last Woof maintained by the creator of Puppy Linux, Barry Kauler, before he retired from the Puppy project -- the "Puppy community" forked Woof2 as woof-CE (Community Edition) circa 2013, and Puppy continues to strongly evolve.

Barry created Quirky as something to keep playing with Linux and to try new ideas. The main conceptual differences with Puppy have emerged as Quirky being a "full installation" only, special snapshot and recovery features, and Service Pack upgrades.

For Quirky, Barry forked Woof2 into woofQ, which has steadily diverged as new ideas have been experimented with.

In a nutshell, Woof enables Puppy (or Puppy-like distro) to be built from the binary packages of any other distribution. Historically, these distributions have been mostly Debian, Ubuntu, or Slackware. Also, T2 has been used to compile packages from source, the resulting binary packages used as input for a Woof build

Early Quirkies were the April series, created from binaries compiled in T2. Later Quirkies were built from Ubuntu binary DEBs, the most recent named the Xerus series. A ballpark conceptualization of the timeline is that Quirky version 7.0+ was April and 8.0+ was Xerus.

Quirky Xerus is built for x86_64 PCs and armv7 Raspberry Pi3. In 2016, i686 support was dropped. Further information on the Xerus series is here.

In December 2016, Barry suddenly decided to build Quirky from Slackware 14.2 binary packages, and SlaQ was created.

SlaQ 8.1.6

The predecessor Woof2 had been used to build Puppy from Slackware packages, the most famous of these being Slacko, created by Mick Amadio. Slacko continues to this day as one of the official Puppy builds, created via woof-CE.

woofQ required a lot of work to build a sane SlaQ. Many improvements were made, and packages carefully configured, and in some cases recompiled, with an aim to create a very compact distribution. The first release of SlaQ is version 8.1.6.

Here are the highlights of SlaQ 8.1.6, in no particular order:
  • System infrastructure and utilities improved and fixed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Easyinit, a tiny ramdisk Quirky for f.s. check and recovery 1 2 3
  • Linux kernel 4.4.40 1, SeaMonkey 2.46
  • New "peachy-red" theme for GTK, JWM, icons and wallpaper
  • Small download, yet has huge selection of packages
At the time of writing, there are some known issues, only minor. For example, SeaMonkey is stuck on using DuckDuckGo as the search engine. See the forum link below for updates on issues and resolutions.

Xerus 8.1.6

Xerus is the Quirky series built from Ubuntu Xenial Xerus 16.04 x86_64 binary DEB packages.
The latest is version 8.1.6, and this matches the infrastructure of SlaQ 8.1.6, as documented above.

Functionally equivalent to SlaQ 8.1.6, however, a slightly different selection of packages. Xerus is bigger, with Libreoffice instead of Abiword and Gnumeric. The media player is also different, VLC instead of Xine in SlaQ.

The last release of Xerus was version 8.1.5, announced here:

Version 8.1.5 uses Linux kernel 4.8.8, however, Barry Kauler had problems with his Asus E200HA laptop, and decided to roll Quirky 8.1.6 back to the latest kernel in the LTS 4.4 series, 4.4.40.

Note, for Xerus 8.1.6, it was decided to keep the same "dark brown" theme of version 8.1.5.


The recommended file to download is 'xerus-8.1.6-amd64-8gb.img.gz', which is an image that can be written to an 8GB (or greater) USB Flash stick.

Ibiblio is the primary download site:

For instructions on how to write the image file to a Flash stick, see the above link. This is easy to do for Linux and Windows users.

Quirky can run very happily from a USB stick, especially if it is a reasonably fast one (some el-cheapo sticks are incredibly slow). Note: if you have USB2 sockets, consider a USB3 stick -- Barry has found these to run about twice as fast as most cheap USB2 sticks, even in a USB2 socket.

Alternatively, a full install to internal hard drive can be made. You first need to be running Quirky from a Flash stick, then read these instructions:

There is a single "devx" PET package with everything needed to turn Quirky into a compile environment (including compilers, svn, git):

Kernel source and patches can be found here:
u#se#rn#am#e: p#up#py  p#as#sw#or#d: l#in#ux

For those who want an ISO file, 'xerus-8.1.6-amd64.iso' is on the download site. This is a live-CD and can be burnt to a CD or written to a Flash stick.

More information

The place to go for news about Quirky is Barry's blog:

To read about user experiences with Xerus and post your own questions:

Other announcements
Quirky SlaQ 8.1.6 for x86_64 CPUs: http://barryk.org/news/?viewDetailed=00493
Quirky Xerus 8.1.5 for x86_64 CPUs: http://barryk.org/news/?viewDetailed=00482
Quirky Xerus 8.1.4 for Raspberry Pi2: http://barryk.org/news/?viewDetailed=00473

All releases of Quirky, including SlaQ, are provided in good faith, but there is a disclaimer of any responsibility for unexpected or adverse behaviour. Usage implies acceptance of this complete disclaimer.

Date: January 13, 2017