Release Notes

KaOS - 2021.03

KaOS is very proud to announce the availability of the March release of a new stable ISO.

With almost 60 % percent of the packages updated since the last ISO and the last release being over two months old, a new ISO is more than due. News for Plasma 5.21 include a new application launcher featuring two panes to make it simple to locate your programs and comes with improved keyboard, mouse, and touch input, boosting accessibility across the board, Plasma System Monitor, a new app for monitoring system resources and the sound applet now displays the live microphone volume.

The tool to manage, search, and install KaOS Community Packages, kcp has been completely rewritten (still in Go) in order to support the main new feature: the configuration.

Now, you can adapt kcp/pckcp to your needs in editing the configuration’s files (located in $HOME/.config/kcp/ directory). Notable options :

Other notable changes:

The installer Calamares has picked up the transition to QML again. All navigation is now done in QML for KaOS. The finished module was also ported to QML, this gives a simpler end page, with clear buttons showing two options. It also opened the way to give users a clear message regarding installation logs once the install is completed. Usersq is another module being ported to QML, a preview is included in this release, but is not the default users module yet.

The default mirror used for all KaOS installs is provided by [Fosshost]({:target="_blank"}. Big change with Fosshost is that with just one mirror users will have access to a worldwide network of mirrors through Fastly CDN. No longer is there a need to adjust a mirrorlist, you will always be connected to the fastest mirror in your area.

As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.80.0, Plasma 5.21.3 and KDE Applications 20.12.3. All built on Qt 5.15.2.

This ISO means the end of the non-free Nvidia 340xx support in KaOS. This driver needed to be heavily patched since Linux 5.6, but now with Linux 5.11, loading the module completely fails SDDM. Since upstream pretty much abandoned this driver, it is time to remove from KaOS. Users with Nvidia cards prior to 2014 will need to switch over to the in-kernel modesetting driver or install nouveau.

New applications added include VSCodium.

Updates to the base of this distribution were numerous and include Python3 3.8.8, **Systemd 247.5**, Proj 8.0.0, Git 2.31.0, LLVM/Clang 11.1.0, Protobuf 3.15, Hdf5 1.12.0, Poppler 21.03.0, Mesa 20.3.4, NetworkManager 1.30.2, ZSTD 1.4.9, Krb5 1.19.1.

Since LibreOffice 6.2, it is now possible to supply this as a pure Qt5/kf5 application. LibreOffice has thus replaced Calligra as the default Office Application for KaOS.

KaOS' creation Croeso (Welsh for welcome) for helping with configuring a new install is included. It will run on the newly installed system and offers to adjust some 15 commonly used settings, includes a custom Wallpaper selector, distribution info and the option to select packages to install from six different groups. It is written in QML and fits well with the Welcome application used in the Live system. The latter includes an Installation Guide.

There is an option to verify the authenticity of downloaded KaOS ISO files through GPG signature verification, see the Download page for further details and instructions.

A KaOS specific tool to write ISO files to USB is in use. Not only does IsoWriter write to USB it also gives the option to recover your USB stick after using it for an ISO, something that regular dd copy or the previously used Imagewriter were not able to do. It includes the option to verify the written USB in comparison to the used ISO file.

The artwork includes custom icon themes for light and dark themes. Midna and Midna Dark both create a complete unified look from boot-up all the way through logout.

This ISO uses the CRC and finobt enabled XFS filesystem as default. CRCs enable enhanced error detection due to hardware issues, whilst the format changes also improves crash recovery algorithms and the ability of various tools to validate and repair metadata corruptions when they are found. The free inode btree does not index used inodes, allowing faster, more consistent inode allocation performance as filesystems age.

Octopi is becoming a very crucial part of full system maintenance for KaOS. It is not just a GUI frontend to pacman. Tools like making sure a mirror is synced before starting any update, looking at the pacman logs, an option to get a paste from a complete snapshot of all info of a system with the SysInfo tool are included. Also included are very simple ways to open files, like copy to clipboard the file path shown in Octopi. To make sure the system doesn't start using too much disk space for the pacman cache, but still giving the user the option to retain some recent packages, the cache-cleaner tool is a great addition. The built-in tool to access KCP has now a much clearer place with the addition of its own "foreign" icon in the menu-bar. When viewing package info it is now possible to click the depends of such a package. New added is the option to select custom icons for the systemtray.

For UEFI installs, KaOS uses the simple, transparent but quite powerful systemd-boot as bootloader.

To learn more about the goals and ideas behind KaOS, please read the Home, About and FAQ pages.

To avoid any misunderstanding and confusion, KaOS is not based upon, derived of, or inspired by any one particular distribution. It is completely independent, build entirely from scratch with its own repositories. To read more about this see FAQ. A rolling release distribution never has a "final" release, every ISO is merely a snapshot of the current status of the repositories. An idea what is currently available:

The ISO ships with Frameworks 5.80.0, Plasma 5.21.3, KDE Applications 20.12.3, Linux 5.11.8, Systemd 247.4, Kmod 28, NetworkManager 1.30.2, LibreOffice 7.1.1, Krita 4.4.2, Elisa, Xorg-Server 1.20.10, Mesa 20.3.4, Glibc 2.32, GCC 10.2.0, non-free Nvidia 460 and Python3 3.8.8 to name a few.

The package manager is Pacman 5.2.2, with the simple but powerful Octopi 0.11 as GUI frontend. Default web browser is Qt based Falkon 3.1.0. GFXboot is included with KaOS artwork, Grub theme is Midna, Look & Feel is a KaOS exclusive version "Midna".

Repositories of KaOS will stay limited in size and expect it to stay at the current maximum of about 2100-2200. A gist of what is available, besides the stable kernel there is Linux-next 5.11, Calligra 3.2.1, VLC, Vokoscreen, Blender, Kodi, Calibre, Sigil, Vulkan packages, a few games like 0ad and Knights.
A limited number of the most well-known GTK applications are available, examples Firefox 84.0.2, Chrome 89, Ardour 6.5.0, Inkscape 1.0.1, GIMP 2.10.22 and Thunderbird 78.6.1.
Complete language packs are available for KDE, Calligra, Firefox, LibreOffice and Thunderbird. For IM, Fcitx is available as a rather complete group.

Known issues:

To create reliable installation media, please follow the instructions from the Download page. KaOS's ISO's do not support unetbootin or rufus, and DVDs need a burn speed no higher than 4x.