Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Inside SparkyLinux - An interview with Pawel "Pavroo" Pijanowski

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  22:24 3 comments


This is the third and final part of the current series of interviews looking at the distro development from the developers point of view.

If you would like to read the first two interviews you can do so by clicking the following links:
This week's interview is with Pavroo, the founder and solo developer of SparkyLinux.

According to the website, SparkyLinux is a lightweight, fast and simple Linux distribution designed for both old and new computers featuring customized Enlightenment and LXDE desktops. It has been built on the “testing” branch of Debian GNU/Linux. 

I reviewed the Razor-QT edition of SparkyLinux back in November of 2013. My general opinion is that it is functional and comes with a good range of software. There are a few quirks that could be ironed out but nothing that makes SparkyLinux unuseable.

Flash works out of the box, multimedia codecs are installed by default, PlayOnLinux is installed. The radiotray and minitubes application are good inclusions as is DropBox.

The interview is actually very interesting and clearly there are some frustrations that occur from time to time and is part and parcel of being a distro developer.

Pavroo asked me to correct his English as it isn't his native language and where necessary I have done so but I have tried not to change the tone and structure.

Who is Pavroo?

I am a Linux enthusiast.

I started my Linux adventure 7 years ago - my colleague gave me Kubuntu 7.04.

I didn't realise how much it could change my life and my point of view for good.

My wife and I like traveling very much - it's our second (maybe the first) passion.

Why did you start SparkyLinux? 

It's a difficult question.

I think it started when I installed the same Linux distribution with the same set of applications, configuration and layout as mine, to my wife's and then to my colleague's computers. Then somebody asked me why should I not try to share my point of view with more people.

Who is SparkyLinux aimed at?

Sparky is targeted to home computer users in general. It can be used for networking, watching movies, listening to music, writing documents, etc.

With such a small team how do you determine what goes in to each release?

It's quite simple - I listen to what Sparky users say on our forums and external forums, blogs and communities. Then I use some of the ideas and solutions which are useful for the system. I am aware that I can't make everyone happy, but who can?

Do you have a release schedule or does it just go when it is ready?

I try to release Sparky 3-4 times per year to provide up to date iso images.

Can you estimate how many users you have?

Not really, it's rather difficult to count users. I only know (everybody can find out) how many downloads of the iso images we have and how many users on forums are there.

Is it hard to stay motivated for each new release?

It's my passion so it is not.

But sometimes I am not sure I should keep doing that because some people create bullshits for me.

It happens because users are on the other side than me as a developer, they don't want to understand my point of view.

It's a difficult situation but I believe that interviews like this can open some people's eyes and let them understand that we (developers) spend our time (usually for free) trying to make something for others.

Are you looking to expand your team and if so what are you looking for?

We have some nice guys helping on Sparky forums, community pages and IRC channel.

My wife, Aneta, keeps her eye on the project's page, forum, structure, layout and SEO. I develop Sparky myself now and I've been looking for people with programming knowledge to help solve problems and put new solutions into the system. A guy with graphics skills will be helpful too.

If somebody said to you that they were thinking of starting a new distro what advice would you give them?

Listen to the people.

Don't paint a picture which is already painted.

It means - don't make your distro as close as possible to an existing one, but make something different and give what people need.

Do you use SparkyLinux as your main operating system?

Yes, I do. This is the only way to keep my eye on fast changes in Debian testing based system to make sure that everything still works fine.

Is SparkyLinux a full time commitment or is it something you do in your spare time?

It's my full time job now because I don't have a 'normal' job for a while.
I split my time to an another project around Linux called


I had a dilemma when including the question and answer to do with motivation as Pavroo used the word "bullshits" and he qualified this in the email to me saying that it is up to me whether I think it should be included or replaced with another word.

In the end I left it in because it is the word that Pavroo chose and it retains the authenticity of the sentiment.

The truth is that it doesn't matter what sort of project you are involved in, whether you develop software, write a blog or produce a podcast, there are always people out there that will knock what you are doing.

This can be terribly frustrating if you let it but if you enjoy what you are doing and you get rewarded for your work (and that doesn't mean financially) then you shouldn't give up just because of the naysayers.

If you stop enjoying what you are doing then you need to re-evaluate the situation. That doesn't necessarily mean stop, it just means you need to think about why you are no longer enjoying it and maybe look for a solution.

I think I mentioned in previous interviews that it is important to give back and sometimes giving back is just a morale boost. If you think somebody is doing a good job, tell them so.

Pavroo actively uses his own distribution as does his wife Aneta and his colleagues and friends. SparkyLinux is also Pavroo's full time job.

As mentioned in the interview you can contribute if you have programming knowledge or if you have graphical skills. You can also contribute financially as there is a donate button on the SparkyLinux website.

Thankyou for reading.

If you like the format of these interviews leave a comment below and I will see if I can set up a few more. 

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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  1. I am glad to see Sparky and Pavroo receiving much deserved attention. I am using Sparky Ultra Openbox to post this, which is a recently discontinued environment of Sparky. But I'm not worried, because at whatever point I decide to switch to one of the new (or a different original) desktop environment, I know that Pavroo will do what he can to help me make the switch.

    Although I am in Guadalajara and he is in Warsaw, I've received notice 3 or 4 times a day that pavroo has answered my question, and all difficulties that have arisen have been resolved.

    And there are many more versions of Sparky than the ones you mentioned. See:

    For the complete list.

    Not for nothing is Sparky the highest ranked Debian Derivative on distrowatch (after Crunchbang -which is based on Debian Stable, not Testing), and Debian itself. (The rest of those ranked above Sparky are Ubuntu based and aren't rolling editions).


    1. Regarding the word BS. As someone proficient in English and a user of the SparkyLinux Forums, I want to help explain what Pavroo was referring to (although frankly, the expressions of inconformity have been few and far between).

      Pavroo is referring to "Unnecessary (i.e. Sterile, Baseless) Conflicts" that do nothing to help anyone (in other words, non-issues).

      And I say that because no other Linux distro provides a greater number of choices, although all of Sparky's desktop environments and variations are based on Debian testing, which can deliver unexpected incompatabilities occasionally for which solutions are rapidly forthcoming.


  2. I'm running Sparky LXDE on an older Dell X1 laptop with a 1 GHz Centrino and 512 MB of RAM, but have no other connection to the project. It runs smoothly and well. I've been a Linux enthusiast for 10 years, and have run Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, Debian stable, Sabayon, Gnome, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, etc. etc. etc. Pavroo gives absolutely the fastest and most effective support I've ever found in the Linux community. Kudos!


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