SolusOS 2 Alpha 9 Released!

I am pleased to announce the release of SolusOS 2 Alpha 9. Please note that this is intended for developers and testers, to give us early feedback on the distribution. Consequently this should not be used in production environments.

Alpha 9 comes with the 3.11 kernel using LZ4 compression, Xfce 4.10, Thunar 1.6.3, Firefox 24.0b9,  glibc 2.17, GLib 2.37.3, and many other goodies. We’ve completely changed the artwork to be more in tune with the SolusOS look. 155 commits have been made to the source repository since the release of Alpha 8. Of those commits, 25 were new packages. The root account has now also been disabled by default, as the installer adds a sudo user to the system.

SolusOS 2

SolusOS 2

Download (652MB)

8ed8ec7651bfc09caa38c93a1a54608a  SolusOS2-a9-x86.iso

SolusOS 2 Alpha 9 is a hybrid ISO, enabling you to boot it from a CD (burn as one) or from a USB HDD/Flash drive (using dd). Note that EFI support was not possible, given that EFI systems should be 64-bit. If you are still installing to a UEFI system, you must disable UEFI mode and use CSM (traditional BIOS). On some systems you’ll need to disable Fast Boot/BIOS, as well as ensuring you disable Secure Boot itself and retain a GPT disk. Newer UEFI firmware will not allow you to boot from an MBR disk, however if you use traditional partitions while using GParted on a GPT disk (after essentially disabling UEFI) and allowing it to install GRUB, you will be able to boot SolusOS 2. With that said, I in no way recommend this procedure as we’re in such an early alpha stage.

What’s new in Alpha 9?

Firstly, you can now install SolusOS 2. Please note that although SolusOS 2 is now installable, this is not an indication of stability. We’re in very early stages and want to get everyone on board to help with packaging and completing the base system. The installer is in parts based on the installer I originally wrote for LMDE, and subsequently SolusOS. It’s not advanced in the slightest but it will get you up and running with a usable SolusOS, enough to dive in and help.

Fixes have been made to quite a few packages, and a number of security issues were addressed.

A new installer

Alpha 9 sees the introduction of os-installer, based on parts of the installer mentioned above. We’re keeping it simple here, so there are many missing features and known bugs.

Installer

Installer

To iterate:

  • You must manually partition with GParted (rectified in next release)
  • You can only chose a swap or root partition (ext4)
  • There is *no* lvm/luks/crypt/mdm/etc support whatsoever.
  • Keyboard layout page does not yet let you test your layout (but will set it)
  • Button still says “Next” after Summary page, going straight to install. Be careful!
  • dracut not yet regenerated. There should still be no issues with booting though.
  • No automatic login support yet.

There are many reasons for these bugs and missing features, the main one is that they’re not done yet. Quite simply, enough work was done to make the image installable. Real installer features, such as partitioning, etc, will come in the next release. As previously indicated this is mainly intended for developers and the curious. Downstream projects are more than welcome to collaborate on the design and implementation of os-installer, please note that everything is handled through our code review system.

Firefox + Thunderbird

We’ve added Firefox 24.0b9 and Thunderbird 17.0.8 to the images. Note that these are generated from Mozilla prebuilds, as it is no longer possible to build Firefox from source using a 32-bit toolchain (despite running on a 64-bit host). These packages will be revisited once the 64-bit toolchain is complete. Midori has now been removed from the default image.

System Improvements

SolusOS 2 now features the 3.11.0 Linux Kernel. We switched to this kernel on the 3rd of September, and have encountered no stability issues. As of now, we use LZ4 compression on the kernel image, allowing slightly better performance and kernel decompression times over the previous XZ vmlinuz images. FANOTIFY was also reenabled in the configuration, which has allowed us to enable systemd-readahead by default. Those with spinning disks will benefit from this change by way of a faster start up time.

NetworkManager also caused many issues, which has forced the decision to disable its start during boot. The boot process was hanging for anywhere in between 5.1s and 9.4s. NetworkManager is now started via D-BUS activation, by way of the nm-applet being autostarted in the Xfce Desktop. Consequently NetworkManager now only takes ~0.5s to start, though it is started after you login. To alter this you can simply re-enable NetworkManager at boot by issuing this command:

sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager.service

Plymouth Integration

SolusOS 2 now features a new Plymouth theme and it is preinstalled. This was made possible after we resolved an issue with nouveau. We submitted patches upstream to have this rectified, and consequently all of the device specific drivers have been removed from Plymouth. The upstream work can be found here.

System updating

A big priority with Alpha 9 was the ability to update the system with relative ease. Much of the feedback received on SolusOS will revolve around updates.

  • A new update-icon has been introduced, notifying you when updates are available
  • The PackageKit backend received numerous fixes, enabling notification of when the computer needs to restart, and the visual separation of bug fixes, security updates and standard package updates
  • Update notifications are passive, with a tray icon and a notify-osd bubble to tell you updates are available
Update client

Update client

Known Issues

There are a few bugs included for your pleasure. The most obvious will hit you upon initial launch of SolusOS 2. Compositing is not enabled by default due to an issue in xfm4, which causes the session to not start as xfwm4 thinks another compositing manager is already running. However it is possible to enable Compositing through Xfce4 Settings Manager, and it will work without issue (Even software rendering via llvm in VirtualBox).

On the topic of Xfce integration issues, you are prompted to enter a password to shutdown or reboot the computer from Xfce. One possibly workaround is to log out, and then shut down from Xfce. Another is to alter sudoers.

PulseAudio has not yet been integrated fully, so you will be stuck with plain ALSA. This will be fixed quite soon once we’ve completed the GStreamer Packages. A metapackage will be prepared to enable a pleasent upgrade path.

X takes a long time to start. I feel this may again be the issue of xkbcomp being run on every startup of the X server, work is underway to see how best to have this upstreamed and resolved, if applicable.

gpk-application and gpk-update-viewer are bypassing password prompts. polkit-gnome is included by default, and is known to work. Somehow it would seem that the environmental variables are not being passed to X applications started “normally”.

PiSi will not function correctly as a normal user. The log file is not writable. We will address this in a future version of PiSi. You can remedy this by doing the following command:

sudo chmod a+w /var/log/pisi.log

Last but not least

Thank you all for your patience while I got SolusOS 2 A9 together. Given that many of you will be installing SolusOS 2, I look forward to seeing your contributions on the SolusOS Infrastructure! More importantly, enjoy using SolusOS.