Today is the last day of November. The Holiday Season kicks off a busy time for me and my family as I am sure it does for everyone. For the last week I have spent time with friends and family and maybe a few hours messing with Unity Linux. That doesn’t mean however I that there is no big news to share.
Last week OnlyHuman and I were able to get Enlightenment 19 up and running on Unity Linux. This marks the first desktop environment to run on Unity Linux as an official Linux distribution in years. It also marks a huge milestone. At this point in development Unity Linux as what it is today is moving from a proof of concept, which might work. To coming back as an actual Linux Distribution.
The Enlightenment branch will be the first Desktop Branch for Unity Linux. With LXQt most likely to follow. However in that time period between now and official branch releases a lot has to change and be redone.
When Unity Linux (code name Phoenix) is released it will be released as a CLI based Distribution. CLI meaning command line interface.. no graphical interface. On the CLI based livecd will be an easy way to install, a method to install packages needed for Xorg (maybe even Wayland), and tools needed to remaster once the install is to ones liking.
Not long after Phoenix is released. Using the same method and tools that are on Unity Phoenix two branches will be made and released. I am not sure what the official name of the Enlightenment 19 branch will be but it will be released and the LXQt branch which will also be released soon after will revive the Synergy Linux Distribution.
So that is where we are going. If you don’t want to get to technical in how we are getting there you can stop reading now. However, there are quite a few steps that need to be taken in my mind to get us from where we are now, to something release worthy.
Out of the gate comes a very big question. Why RPM5? I have been asked this a lot and I had various answers. The RPM5 community is small and though at times some might argue can be hard to work with for a while they seemed to have the most activity and a great feature set for developers. For example automatic retrieval of source packages when building spec files with rpmbuild. There were various advantages to using RPM5 in 2010 when Unity Linux first started and it was my attempt to hang on to it. However, I have been following the few distributions that have been using RPM5 for quite some time namely PLD and Open Mandriva. There have been talks about both distributions moving from RPM5 and the reason for these talks has been the number of patches that have been needed to fix issues in RPM5. The lead RPM5 developer will argue that some of these patches have not been submitted upstream however on the mailing lists you can find a few have, and have not been included. For various reasons, albeit maybe even good reasons, needless to say they address issues Unity Linux would have to address at some point as well. OpenMandriva has 300+ patches. Granted many are for urpmi computability and various distro specific tweaks, but many are not. PLD is closer to us then OpenMandriva and they maintain over 100 patches for RPM5. Compare that to Fedora who for RPM 4 or rather rpm.org maintains 20, some of which are Fedora specific. Mageia has 7 non up streamed, Mageia specific patches. A goal I have for Unity Linux is easy maintainability, having a core package that requires hundreds of patches does not fall into that goal. There’s certain development features one such I mentioned above that I can script around, however multiple features and fixes like memory leaks, I cannot script around with RPM5.
Going further into technical details, thanks to some help from Neal (uses multiple names on IRC) the crew over at rpm.org have been very much receptive to MUSL based changes and patches going into rpm.org (RPM4). That can be seen in git with version 4.14 of RPM having support for MUSL. Also major work by Neal and MUSL members on IRC has gone into getting libsolv to work. Libsolv is a core lib needed for DNF. Using RPM4, DNF, and company gives Unity Linux a relatable and much easier upgrade chain and a community at large to lean on despite having a non GNU Toolchain.
So a massive rebuild is underway. RPM4 has already been added to the repos and a few test packages have been built using it. More tweaks need to be done to scripts and spec files will need to be updated. I have allowed the macros to also be stricter in a sense as well.
Going even further multi arch support is being worked on as well with the major change, in hopes we will also be releasing a 32 bit version as well. I struggled with even doing a 32bit version, however my EeePCs keep staring me down and for some reason I have a soft spot in my heart for them. So if you made it this far in your reading.. Long story short there’s a lot of work to do. Things are getting hammered out. If you’re involved with us this early in the game thank you for your patience. I’ll save the init information for another post, still need to do some more research on nosh. Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday!