- CPU – i486/AMD64
- RAM – 384 MB (Razor-QT edition)
- Disk Space – 5 GB (10 GB Recommended)
- Optical drive or USB drive
The way I would describe Razor-Qt is fast and functional. It isn’t the most attractive desktop I have ever seen but it gets the job done.
SparkyLinux has a dark background with a clock in the top right corner and the customary panel at the bottom that many an operating system adorns nowadays.
The panel contains a menu, 2 icons to represent virtual desktops, a browser icon, a clipboard icon, networking icon, an audio icon and a clock.
The menu is a traditional style menu and if you used Windows back in the day (i.e. around Windows 2000) then you will feel right at home.
The items on the menu is a little bit eclectic. There are the usual categories that I would expect to see such as Accessories, Games, Graphics, Internet, Office, Sound & Video etc.
The oddball item is the “Debian” submenu which branches out into a similar list of categories. In those categories are the same applications that appear in the main set of categories.
Customising the desktop
You may have noticed that I changed the desktop wallpaper in the previous section.
To do that simply click on the desktop and choose the option to change the desktop wallpaper.
“Get Wallpaper Image” lets you navigate the file system to find a suitable image to use as the desktop wallpaper.
“Get System Wallpaper” lets you pick from the wallpapers that come with the system (2 of them).
You can of course configure the panel at the bottom of the screen.
Perhaps there aren’t as many options available as the LXDE and XFCE desktops but you can choose the size, alignment and position of the panel on the desktop.
Further icons can be added to the panel by right clicking on the panel and selecting the option to add plugins.
You can also add plugins to the desktop itself by clicking on the desktop and choose add desktop plugins.
Connecting to the internet
Connecting to the internet is as simple as clicking on the icon on the panel and selecting the required network.
The default browser in SparkyLinux is one I had never heard of before called “QupZilla”.
Whilst it is largely functional I had a few issues on certain pages. For example trying to load an image into blogger causes the browser to crash and attempting to choose options on Flash based sites requires the use of the tab key as the mouse click doesn’t work.
SparkyLinux comes with a full set of applications for when you are online including the “Claws” mail client.
“Claws” is alright as a mail client but not as fully featured as Thunderbird. You also have to know how to set up an IMAP or POP3 account manually as there isn’t an automatic connection as with other applications.
There are other online applications available and credit has to go to SparkyLinux for including Hotot which is one of the more useable Twitter clients available.
Flash and MP3
The audio player in SparkyLinux is qmmp.
As with other applications included with SparkyLinux whilst the player is functional it isn’t the most attractive nor the most intuitive piece of software.
MP3s do work without hassle.
Flash also works without a hitch for both browsing sites containing Flash elements and Flash gaming.
As mentioned earlier though to navigate the Flash menus I had to use the tab key as the mouse would not work.
SparkyLinux comes with a whole host of applications so I won’t name them all.
LibreOffice is installed meaning you have a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool and database application.
GIMP is available for editing images. There are various video editors and disc burning tools.
PlayOnLinux is installed but when you run it for the first time you will probably see the following error:
To fix the error you have to install cURL which can be done using the Synaptic Package manager.
Synaptic is a good application for finding and installing software. Either browse the categories down the left hand side or use the search box to look for relevant programs to suit your needs.
PlayOnLinux provides a simple way to install Windows applications. Simply click “Install a program” and a list of possible applications and games will appear. You will need either a user account for the relevant download site or the installation CD/DVD to install the software.
For playing music there is QMMP as mentioned previously and there is also the VLC player for watching videos.
Other multimedia style apps include Minitube which lets you watch Youtube videos in a desktop application and Radiotray which lets you select from and listen to a range of online radio stations.
Dropbox is also available which means you can store files in the cloud. Now I’m not going to sing the virtues of the cloud but consider what would happen if you had a fire or your house was burgled. Wouldn’t it be good to get those family photos and videos back?
A rather strange pick on the menu was Teamviewer which lets you take control of another computer (and vice versa). Teamviewer is a Windows application and so when you run it within SparkyLinux it uses WINE.
SparkyLinux is currently riding quite high in the Distrowatch rankings.
There are plenties of plus points for using SparkyLinux such as the good performance and a good choice of software (PlayOnLinux, Dropbox, Hotot).
I did find a few errors whilst using SparkyLinux. Clicking on open folder from the dropbox icon on the panel for some reason opened qmmp which is the audio player, Qupzilla crashed out a few times and PlayOnLinux required cURL to be installed prior to using it.
The menu system also contains a spurious Debian category and I think this could be removed.
Thankyou for reading.